“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.
No photo of Buster is available, but this is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and if this image fills you with fear and revulsion, you’re dangerously ignorant, at least when it comes to dogs.
In Waterloo, England last September, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier named Buster (or Butch…he apparently answered to both names, much in the way I answer to my wife when she calls me “Jack” or “You Idiot”…) found himself in a situation reminiscent of the infamous 1972 Andes plane crash that forced its survivors to resort to cannibalism. His master died suddenly, leaving the dog trapped in the apartment without access to sustenance. After an undetermined amount of time and increasing desperation, Buster decided “Oh, the hell with it” and ate a sufficient amount of his best friend to stay alive..
I know—“Ick.” Buster may well have felt the same way. Once police had made the grisly discovery, however, Buster found himself in big trouble even though he was was in an emaciated state that suggested that he didn’t do this for fun. The police claimed he was a danger to the community, and the deceased’s family made it clear that it wanted Buster to be put down. Dog lovers and animal rights groups insisted that Buster was a victim of circumstance and that absent evidence that he had plotted to convert his live master into a feast, there was no precedent for blaming the victim in such a case.
After all, those passengers who survived in the Andes by eating the bodies of their less-fortunate companions were not executed. They appeared on talk shows.
Why the different attitude? Well, let’s see: Continue reading
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