This ridiculous story has apparently “gone viral” in some corners of social media, I suppose because it involves race (sort of), dogs, and sex. I was blissfully unaware of the whole foofaraw until a friend sent me a link.
Here we go!
In Attleboro, Massachusetts, a dog identified as a pitbill mix belonging to African-American Franklin Baxley began doing what frisky dogs sometimes do to other dogs, human legs, and pillows, to a dog belonging to Grace Sandland, who apparently freaked out. She demanded that he and his dog leave the park, and when Baxley refused, she called the police on her cell phone.
“Why are you calling the cops right now? Because I told you I wasn’t leaving the park?,” Baxley, 42, asks the unnamed woman in the video posted online. “Because my dog humped your dog?” Another women, identified as park staffer Carol Cobb, according to the Daily Mail. Cobb, took the side of the sexually assaulted dog;s owner, and is seen on the video telling Baxley that the pit bull’s behavior was “inappropriate for the dog park.”
I swear, I’m not making this up.
Sandland told police that Baxley had “verbally assaulted” her, and that Baxley’s dog wouldn’t stop humping and assaulting her dog. Baxley said that he immediately pulled his dog off of hers, but Cobb said that his dog was breaking the rules: no humping permitted. Eventually an Attleboro police sergeant arrived to the scene. No charges were filed, but Baxley has been banned from the dog park.
But wait! There’s more!
Baxley claims that the incident was sparked by racial prejudice, and took to the news media and his Facebook page to make sure everybody knew it. “If I were not black, she would not have felt threatened by me talking to her and defying her orders for me to leave the park,” Baxley told the Daily Mail. “I am a responsible dog owner, and my dog is super friendly. Anyone who goes to that park regularly knows me and will attest to that fact. The dogs were living their best lives the whole time.” The news media quickly dubbed Sandland “Dog Park Diane,” emulating “BBQ Becky,” the sobriquet affixed to a white woman who called the police on a black family grilling ribs in a public park in California. Meanwhile, Baxley began a relentless attack on Sandland on Facebook, whipping the social media mob into a frenzy. The confrontation occurred five days ago, and Baxley is still writing about it, giving interviews, and doing everything he can to ensure that Sandland is labelled a racist for life.
What’s going on here?
Oh, lots of stuff, none of it good. The episode sounds like a scene cut out of “Crash,” with Sandra Bullock playing “Diane” and Don Cheadle playing Baxley. In addition to racial hypersensitivity and race-baiting, there are also elements of social media-bullying, anti-pit pull hysteria, and malfunctioning ethics alarms all around. I was also reminded of the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin tragedy, which arose out of two people behaving like assholes toward each other. In that case, one of them had a gun. Luckily, that was not the case in Attleboro.
1. The dog park’s rules are ridiculous, if it really “forbids” humping. Dog owners are supposed to control their dogs, but the boys will hump, and as long as an owner separates the dogs, which it sounds as if Baxley did, there should be no repercussions. Leave the park because a male humped another male? I would have refused to leave too, and Rugby has been both an offender and a “victim.”
2. It seems as if Sandland is a dog breed bigot, and panicked because her little whatever it was was being molested by one of those evil pit bulls. But who can tell what she was thinking, or if she was thinking. Calling the police under these circumstances is signature significance for an asshole; the only question is what kind of asshole and what made her that way.
3. Assuming, however, as Baxley does, that Sandland was motivated by racism is unfair, and blatant race-baiting. He’s assuming she’s a racist because she’s white and blonde, and apparently because he has been conditioned to see every slight, every example of bad behavior, as based on race prejudice if his adversary is white. How did he get that way? It’s sad, but he is socially crippled by whatever it was. Here’s Baxley on Facebook last night:
“I am always amazed whenever a racist person accuses me of being a racist (which I have no power to be, by the way) by saying some racist ass shit. Like, huh??? You just inadvertently screamed White Power, but you’re calling me a racist.”
He is, of course, a bigot himself.
4. The social media bullying is a Golden Rule breach, and unethical per se. Baxley is trying to destroy someone. She was ridiculously wrong, it appears, but an ethical person would let it go. OK, she’s a jerk. Let her be a jerk: she’ll suffer enough without tarring her as a racist in public.
Thanks to social media, this stupid incident, which once would have stayed in Attleboro and evaporated over night, is adding to racial distrust and anger. It’s a blessing that “Dog Park Diane” wasn’t wearing a MAGA cap.