Ethics Hero: Chandra McKinnon

 

There is moment in my favorite Saturday matinee movie, “The Vikings”—okay, it’s tied with the original “Journey to the Center of the Earth”–where Ernest Borgnine as Ragnar, the Viking King, is about to be thrown, hands bound, into a pit of ravenous wolves by his Britsih captors, A Viking, we have learned, can only go to Viking Heaven, Valhalla, if he dies with a sword in his hand. Just as Ragnar about to be tossed, Tony Curtis cuts his restraints and hands  him a sword, and the Viking King, beaming, leaps into the pit with a victorious shout of “VALHALLA!” They didn’t have CGI back then, so we only got to hear the sounds of him killing snarling wolves left and right until he was finally mauled, but I always could picture Ragnar’s battle in my mind.

That’s also how I picture Chandra McKinnon, a Canadian law clerk, as she fights off the hoards of mindless anti-pit bull breed hysterics over at The Post That Never Dies, Unethical Website of the Month: Dogsbite.Org . which has over 5,000 Facebook shares and which has been attracting dog breed bigots regularly since 2015.

Chandra leaped into the pit shortly after I gave up trying to reason with these idiots. I finally added this to the post:

In the future,  comments to this post that consist of nothing but repeating the same disproven myths and ignorant beliefs about the various pit bull breeds will not get through moderation. Any serious, well-researched, civil comments presenting counter arguments and genuine statistics to the facts and expert opinion discussed in these posts are welcome. Citing dogsbite.org as authority will guarantee rejection. Lumping multiple breeds together as “pit bulls” proves laziness, bias and ignorance, and will also result in the comment being spammed. Dumb arguments like “You can’t prove they aren’t pit bulls!” will have the same results.

It is depressing how many people will hold on to a factually unsupportable bias despite every effort to enlighten them, but then prejudice against humans works the same way.

It was getting ridiculous. The commenters, sent my way in intermittent waves by the website’s defenders, are usually semi-literate and always immune to reality.  I have banned more commenters on that post than any three elsewhere on the blog. Here is part of a typical rant from one of them, since banned under the Ethics Alarms Stupidity Rule:

Mr Marshal, why is there a FB page titled Our Pets were Attacked by Pitbulls?… If pitbulls are no more aggressive than other breeds, then why are there no similar pages for other breeds?? Why no “Our Pets were Attacked by Poodles” FB page??…Because these breeds have never killed a human EVER, so most likely will not maul another dog!! …As an ethics person, do you think it’s ethical to prioritize the lives of one breed, the fighting pitbull, over the lives of numerous other breeds, and say well I don’t care about the lives of all those other breeds as long as we can own our pitbulls?? Doesn’t matter that pitbulls kill and injure multiple other breeds each and every day, as long as I fullfill my selfish want for a breed that has no purpose in today’s society since it was bred for a sick bloodsport, then I’m fine with that!! IS THAT ETHICAL???

Continue reading

The Diggy Fiasco : Pit Bull Bigotry Madness With A Happy Ending. THIS Time.

My post of two years ago about the horrible anti-pit bull website dogsbite.org continues to attract comments from dog breed bigots who have either been deceived by dogsbite, or who go there to confirm their own ignorance. What is remarkable about these posts is that they are almost identical. They repeat the same falsehoods and the same debunked arguments, as if every one of their points hadn’t been thoroughly discredited by experts, dog breeders, researchers, and rational sites like Ethics Alarms. Pit bull hysterics simply will not yield to reality, and they don’t appear to care how many families their disinformation harms and how many loving dogs they kill with the “dangerous breed” legislation they extract from lazy lawmakers.

Here is a recent story showing  how deranged these laws are, their cruelty, and the kind of scenarios dogsbite.org and its fans encourage.

In June 2016, Waterford Township, Michigan, resident Dan Tillery and his girlfriend Megan  purchased their first home. The couple wanted to adopt a dog, and eventually found Sir Wiggleton, a big, white, happy canine nearing the end of his stay at a shelter after 100 days. Dan posted a photo of him with his new companions, with the caption,   “We know this photo is going to break the internet and we apologize, but we had to share…Sir Wiggleton and his new Dad are celebrating adoption day with huge smiles all around!”

Damned if the photo almost did “break the internet.”  But the viral picture of Sir Wiggleton, now renamed “Diggy,” inspired nightmares in some local pit bull phobic, so he or she reported Dan, Megan, and Diggy to the police.

The officers knocked on the door and informed Dan that he had violated Waterford’s ban on owning pit bulls. According to the township, pit bulls and pit bull mixes are considered to be “dangerous dogs.” Obviously Digby was a killer…

This possessing a vicious canine like Digby…

was a punishable crime. The dog police told Dana and Megan that Diggy would have to be returned to the Detroit Dog Rescue or else there would be consequences, even though Diggy’s adoption papers stated that he was an American bulldog. Continue reading

The Washington Post, Pit Bulls, And How We Know It Is Foolish To Trust The News Media

 

If you think about it, you know you shouldn’t trust the news media.

Decades ago, I realized that almost any time I read or watched a news report involving something I knew about, it was almost always wrong, confused, left out important data, or lied.  Initially this realization manifested itself in sports reporting about baseball in general and the Boston Red Sox in particular, but later, as my knowledge expanded, so did my experience with authoritative news reports that were, metaphorically of course, full of crap. When I ran a research foundation for the US Chamber of Commerce, this phenomenon really came into focus. Reporters misunderstood what researchers said in answer to their questions. They misrepresented the press releases. They obviously didn’t read the full studies, and pretended they had. They misquoted me.

I didn’t think this was sinister. Mostly, the cause was laziness and inadequate intellectual training and cognitive skills. Most reporters I dealt with just weren’t very bright or well-educated. And I it suddenly hit me, one fine day in the Spring of 1981, like bolt from the blue:

Tf news reports are so often significantly wrong when I know a lot about the topic, why do I believe and rely on news stories about topics I don’t know much about? It makes no sense to trust these people.

The depressing thing is that the news media was far less biased and far more professional then than now. At least you know, however, that my distrust of U.S. journalism isn’t of recent vintage.

I thought about my 1981 epiphany when I read this story in the Washington Post this morning. It is crafted as a heart-tugging report about the tragic death of a 7-year-old boy, with the headline,  “‘It’s my baby. It’s my baby’: Two pit bulls fatally maul 7-year-old boy in Mass., authorities say.”

As readers here know, Ethics Alarms has thoroughly researched and covered the topic of ignorant anti-pit bull breed bias. The argument that the three to five breeds commonly regarded as “pit bulls” are inherently dangerous and more so than any other large breed rests on the same illogic as racial bias against humans; it has no factual basis in science or experience. I also, quite separately from my research, have a lot of personal experience with dogs of all kinds, including the so called “bully breeds.”

The reporter obviously does not, nor did he do the research necessary to write this story competently. The first sign is that the dogs are identified as “pit bulls” according to “authorities.” The authorities are obviously not authorities on dog breeds, and multiple studies have shown that few people are capable of accurately identifying a “pit bull.”   First, there is no such breed. The breeds commonly called “pit bulls” are American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers  and the American Pit Bull Terrier, as well as the American Bull Dog, because it kind of looks like a pit bull, and the Bull Terrier, which has “bull” in its name. Pit breed mixes are also often identified as pit bulls, though a lab/pit bull breed mix, for example, is as much a Labrador retriever as a “pit bull.” Never mind. If a large dog has short ears, a muscular body, a square muzzle and bites someone, that’s plenty, along with confirmation bias, to lead an “authority” to identify a dog as a “pit bull,” and for the news media to report it that way. Continue reading

A Definitive Tome About Pit Bulls, Which The Breed Bigots Will Ignore, Naturally

“I’m just a dog, sitting in front of a human, asking him to love her.”

Among the posts on Ethics Alarms that still get comments regularly long after they were written is the 2015 designation of Dogsbite.org as an Unethical Website of the Month. That site is a pit bull hate nest, notable for its bad science, bad history, bad logic and hysteria. Even though the Ethics Alarms post and previous ones here explain in  detail why the propaganda on Dogsbite.org is wrong, makes so sense, is pure fearmongering  and does terrible harm, people keep writing in to Ethics Alarms, citing the same false statistics, the same debunked facts, and the same lies that too many municipalities have used to ban many dog breeds and mixes, essentially for looking like what people think are pit bulls. I don’t know that there is any other topic where the commenters are so immune to fairness and reason.

Well, other than the President, of course.

Now  award-winning journalist Bronwen Dickey has written  Pit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon , which just came out in paperback on April 4. Her goal was to take as objective and analytical look at the breed (and breeds) as possible, using genetic science, research, expert testimony and reliable data, neither sentimentalizing the dogs nor demonizing them. Dickey’s  conclusion, already obvious to anyone who has had prolonged or extensive contact with them: Pit bulls are just dogs.

The author was recently interviewed in New York Magazine, which couldn’t resist adding a misleading title to the feature: “How Both Sides of the Pit Bull Debate Get It Wrong.” Talk about false equivalency: one “side” believes the dogs are demonic killers that should be wiped off the face of the earth, and the other mistakenly says they were “Nanny dogs,” when they were just called “the Nanny Dog.” See? Both ides are wrong!

There are no sides. Pit bull phobics are driven by fear and ignorance, while those who understand dogs try to mitigate the harm their lies do to families and animals

Bronwen Dickey would be in the latter category. I note that she owns a pit bull. She knows what she’s writing about. The hysterics will say she’s biased.

Tidbits from the interview, in which she comments on some of her findings… Continue reading

Unethical Website Of The Month: Reality Dive

The Pitbull is amused. He's a good sport.

The Pitbull is amused. He’s a good sport.

One should know that this is a really incompetent website. The title can be read multiple ways, one of which is self-indicting (and as it happens, accurate). The motto is just stupid: “The Truth As It Was Meant To be Heard.” Funny, I didn’t hear anything. And what I read wasn’t true.

I kept seeing a featured link to the Reality Dive’s slideshow, “The Most Incredibly Dangerous Dogs” on legitimate sites that should know better. Ethics Tip to these “sponsoring” sites: posting links to low-life outposts like Reality Dive undermines trust in your own site. You’re vouching for this crap.

I will remember.

Finally, I had to click. Sure enough, the title advertised was clickbait, aka a lie. The feature wasn’t even titled “The Most Incredibly Dangerous Dogs.” It was titled “Most Dangerous Dog Breeds” ( Most Dangerous Dog Breeds what?) The text of this mess indicated, if one thought about it, that the most dangerous dog breeds aren’t dangerous at all. Even that doesn’t plumb the sheer incompetence and misrepresentation on display in the slide show.

But first, a comment.  Many people, an amazing number, are stone ignorant about dogs. Never mind that dogs are all around us, work for us, play with amuse us, love us, help us, make us laugh and protect us, there are millions and millions of people who, out of phobias, traumas, negligent upbringing or just inattention, go through life regarding dogs as mysterious, sinister, untrustworthy, hairy noisy drooling things with sharp teeth to be feared and avoided. I feel sorry for them, but as with all ignorant people, I don’t feel too sorry. This condition is fixable, curable, but most of these dog-dummies choose instead to infect others with their malady, which is communicable. Worst of all are The Smugly Ignorant Who Think They Are Not, who actively work to create more people like them. I flagged one of the vile offspring of such Typhoid Marys of dog-hate in an earlier Unethical Website, Dogsbite.org.

Whether features like “Neat Pictures Of Dogs Pulled From The Internet With Meandering And Mostly False Text That Supposedly Explains Why They Are Dangerous But Doesn’t Because The Slideshow Was Created And Authored By a 16-Year-Old Intern From Madam Louisa’s Home For The Bewildered”—okay, that’s what it should have been called—are more or less ethical than the canine-breedists whose propaganda kills thousands of innocent animals every year is a good question. Reality Dives doesn’t care about dogs, one way or the other, just clicks. It assigned this feature to someone whom I seriously question whether he or she could tell a dog from writing desk. Nevertheless, these posts spread ignorance and fear, and set up people to think like the creators of Dogsbite.org.

Now let’s examine the slideshow a bit.

Numero Uno of the “dangerous breeds” is, you guessed it, the American Pit Bull Terrier. The writer  picked the most sinister picture he could find of the breed once called “The Nanny Dog” for its wonderful way with kids (still true, you know):

pitbull-1

 

I found the site he took it from: interestingly, it is a website that celebrates what great dogs these are. This picture on that site also could have been used, but that wouldn’t support the “narrative’: Continue reading

Ethical Quote Of The Day: Marjorie Ingall

pibull pile

“Let’s not generalize about an animal based on the shape of its head or the texture of its coat… Individuals are individuals. Generalizations—about dogs, or about people—are odious.”

—–Marjorie Ingall in her review of Bronwen Dickey’s new book, Pit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon

I have several times,in posts here about the senseless, ignorant and unethical vendetta pursued against “pit bulls” [Ingall: “Pit bulls’ (meaning ‘any dog that looks the way we think a pit bull looks’) “], compared the reasoning of the anti-pit bull Furies to the logic of racism. Thus I was especially pleased to read Ingall’s essay, while she called “Pit Bulls—the Jews of the Canine World.” Another sample…

Nowadays, people associate pit bulls with thugs. And the word “thug,” as we all know, is barely coded shorthand for a young African-American man. (Truthfully, I’d thought of pit bulls being Jews … but comparing pit bulls to African Americans is even more resonant, in terms of the stereotyping both face.)…Study after study has shown that pit bulls are no more likely to bite than any other breed…Fear of the word “pit bull” and misplaced fear of the breed, combined with a healthy dose of racism, have trumped common sense.

You can find the Ethics Alarms post on this topic here.

Comment of the Day: “Unethical Website of the Month: Dogsbite.Org”

staffordshire

Ethics Alarms is about ethics. It is about what is right, wrong and how to decide which. Here, we go where the facts, ethical systems, valuable and logic take us, as convoluted as the process may be. There is no other cause, here. occasionally I have pointed out a developing case of ethics perverted, and  by dint of timing or good fortune, it has had some tangible effect. The Sweet Brier College rescue was such an example, I am told. There have been others.

The cruel and ignorant persecution of dog breeds grouped under the category of “pit bulls’ and the “dangerous breed” litigation that has been passed by hysterics bullying craven legislators is another ethics issue that Ethics Alarms has tried to alert the public about for years. I am not an activist however; the idea of labeling something as wrong is meant as education. If it also engages activism, that is a bonus. Activism in pursuit of a more ethical society is an unequivocal good, much to be desired by us all. In addition to spur much needed activism, the dog breed bias story is also unusually relevant to other issues: racism, genocide, ignorance, government over-reach, gun control, profiling, fear-mongering, misinformation, cowardice among elected officials…it’s a long list. There will be more about this issue in coming months.

New commenter sadingo advances the issue with a discussion of pit bull banning in Great Britain. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post Unethical Website Of The Month: DogsBite.org.: Continue reading