Here’s One Way Websites Lose Credibility On Ethics Alarms…

…Publishing ignorant “pit bull” hysteria.

I like “Not the Bee,” an oddity-collecting, usually political website that up until today sent me a daily bulletin. Today, however, the site decided to join the ranks of those who spread ill-informed anti-pit bull breeds propaganda. I saw a new wave of this coming: a recent news story had recounted how two “pit bulls” in Tennessee had killed a five-month old and a two-year-old and attacked the mother, wounding her grievously. “Not the Bee’s” appeal to authority is conservative pundit Michael Knowles, who as far as I can determine, has no special expertise about dogs whatsoever. Nonethless, NTB quotes a Knowles tweet [“I know some people like them, but we should obviously kill all the pit bulls.”] and headlines its irresponisble (and damaging) story, “Michael Knowles is 100% correct about pit bulls and I could care less how much you think I’m a monster for saying so.”

No, I don’t think the NTB writer (Jesse James) is a monster; he just doesn’t know what he’s talking about. His screed relied heavily on this chart…

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Ethics Dunce: Ann Althouse

Bad, bad Ann. I’m very disappointed and surprised. In a post this morning, the usually reliable if eccentric law professor bloggress highlighted the anti-“pit bull” propaganda of DogsBite.org, an Ethics Alarms Unethical Website of the Month, and a vile purveyor of bad information that shares responsibility for the destructive “dangerous breed” laws around the country, discriminatory home-owners insurance rates, and the deaths of thousands and upon thousands of innocent, loving dogs.

Like the execrable website and the incompetent Times article it highlights, Althouse never clarifies the critical fact that there is no such breed as “a pit bull.American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire TerriersStaffordshire Bull Terrier, and any mixture thereof, plus a number of breeds like American Bullys, Corso Canes, Doggo de Argentino, and especially American Bull Dogs are all lumped together as “pit bulls” by ignorant reporters and police, and even veterinarians, making the website’s assertion that a disproportionate number of dog attacks come from that “breed” a statistical whopper. Yet Althouse, whose husband once had a blog dedicated to dog photos and who is a dog-lover herself, just goes along with the deception, and worse for a lawyer, never points out the “evidence” is absurdly flawed. If you combine many breeds into a single “breed,” of course that “breed” will have a disproportionate share of whatever dog incident one is counting.

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P.M. Ethics Dispatches, 1/11/2022

We have to keep baseball ethics alive even if baseball itself is in a state of suspension: the owner and players are, for the first time in decades, arguing about how to divide up their billions, everything from roster size to minimum salaries are on the table, and as of now, the two sides aren’t even talking with the season just a couple of months away. One of the issues to be settled is whether the National League will finally capitulate and adopt the designated hitter rule, which was accepted in the American League on this date in 1973, a day which many traditionalist fans then and now regard as an unforgivable scar on the integrity of the game. Baseball has always been celebrated for its equity and balance: as it was envisioned, every player on the field had to both hit and play defense. The DH, which is a batter who never uses a glove, also allowed the pitcher to be a defense-only specialist, never picking up a bat which, advocates of the new rule argued, was a result much to be wished, since the vast majority of hurlers are only slightly better at hitting the ball than your fat old uncle Curt who played semi-pro ball in his twenties. All these decades years later, the National League and its fans have stubbornly maintained that the DH was a vile, utilitarian gimmick spurred by non-ethical considerations, mainly greed. When the rule was adopted, American League attendance lagged behind the NL, which also was winning most of the All Star games, in part because that league had embraced black stars far more rapidly than “the junior league.” The DH, the theory went, would make games more exciting, with more offense, while eliminating all the .168 batters in the ninth spot in every line-up.

I had a letter published in Sports Illustrated in 1973 explaining why I opposed the DH as a Boston Red Sox fan. Since then, I have grudgingly come to accept the benefits of the rule: it gave the Sox David Ortiz, allowed Carl Yastrzemski to play a few more years, and let American League fans see such all-time greats as Hank Aaron at the plate after they could no longer play the field. It was a breach of the game’s integrity, but it worked.

1. At least that’s fixed. The Supreme Court issued a corrected transcript of the oral arguments in the Biden vaccine mandate case, and it now accurately records Justice Gorsuch as saying he believes the seasonal flu kills “hundreds…thousands of people every year.” The original version wrongly quoted him as saying hundreds of thousands, which allowed those desperately trying to defend the outrageously wrong assertions by Justice Sotomayor regarding the Wuhan virus to point to Gorsuch and claim, “See? Conservatives are just as bad!” Prime among these was the steadily deteriorating Elie Mystal at “The Nation,” who, typically for him, refused to accept the correction. Sotomayor is one of the all-time worst Supreme Court justices, though she will be valuable as a constant reminder of the perils of affirmative action. Her jurisprudence makes the much maligned Clarence Thomas look like Louis Brandeis by comparison. Continue reading

Anatomy Of A Pit Bull Narrative

american-bully2

Rhoda Wagner, 60, was killed by three dogs that appear to have been some variety of pit bull-type breeds or pit bull breed mixes. She was caring for the dogs for her roommate. Jonathan Turley flagged the story for his own purposes: he was interested in talking about how the law treats such attacks. This one was in Pennsylvania, which has no “dangerous breed laws” (yet), and the owner had the dogs euthanized. However, as in almost all of the tragedies exploited by dog bigots to cast any dog that looks like pit bull supposedly looks as dangerous monsters, this story is missing too many facts to know who to blame and what happened.

Turley doesn’t help, and reveals himself as a a dog breed tyro by referring to the dogs as “pit bulls.” “Pit bull” isn’t a single breed, and as I’ve written here already too often, incidents involving eight or more distinct breeds, as well as mixes, are routinely reported as involving “pit bulls.” This accounts for the extreme statistics reported by anti-pit bull breed propagandists like dogsbite.org (which was naturally used as an authority in several of the articles about the Pennsylvania attack).

The police called the dogs “pit bull terriers.” The American Pit Bull Terrier is a breed, but unless abused or trained to fight, not one known for aggression. The few, inconclusive photos I’ve seen of one of the dogs suggest a Staffordshire Terrier mix of some kind, but who knows? There is no information so far about whether the three dogs were even the same breed or mix or from the same litter: police don’t know dog breeds. An incident can’t be used to impugn a breed or breed of dogs without accurate identification of what they were.

Next, as Turley notes, we don’t know if any of the dogs had been abused or had any prior incidents of aggression. Were they rescues? Many, maybe most, pit bull breeds and mixes are. Rescues—of all breeds— have special issues and triggers. Most important of all, how well were the dogs trained? All of the pit bull breeds are intelligent and train relatively easily. They also often will obey only their master. Not training large dogs adequately is negligence. (No, I still can’t get Spuds to lie down.)

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This Ethics Alarms Rebuke Of Instapundit Is Brought To You By Spuds

Spuds head small

Proving once again that dog ignorance and breed bigotry knows no partisan, ideological nor erudition boundaries, a bunch of conservatives are spreading false anti-pit bull propaganda. As is often the case, they don’t know what the hell they are talking about.

The impetus was an anti-pit bull abuse organization citing the work of Ann Linder, a Legislative Policy Fellow with Harvard Law School’s Animal Law and Policy Program, who wrote a paper, “The Black Man’s Dog: The Social Context of Breed Specific Legislation,” that argued that pit bulls have been unfairly tied to “gang violence by urban youths, as well as the hip-hop music scene.” The group then made the leap to arguing that anti-pit bull restrictions in the many American cities that have them are racist. Well, that’s demonstrably idiotic: the reason for all of those ignorant laws isn’t racism, but that the legislators passing them know zilch about dogs and are pandering to public hysteria. The hysteria is spread by the news media, popular culture, and a lot of otherwise intelligent people who should know better but don’t, and are too lazy and irresponsible to educate themselves. This group includes Conservative law prof and conservative pundit/blogger Glenn Reynolds. Shame on him.

Here’s the way it goes: since the pro-pit bull group cited a race-baiting Harvard scholar, that meant that the group must be made up of progressives, and thus wrong about everything in Instapundit Land. Conservative site College Fix posted about the foolishness of the “racism” claim. Instapundit host Reynolds snarked to his millions of followers:,

“Academics say fear of pit bulls is linked to… racism? I thought it was more about the biting: “Despite accounting for just 6.5% of all dogs in the United States, pit bulls were responsible for 66% of total fatal dog attacks between 2005 and 2017.” Why aren’t these academics following the science? I think they should be banned for “spreading misinformation.”

HA HA HA! Good one, Glenn! Why isn’t this academic checking his sources before making a high-profile ass of himself by spreading misinformation? As anyone with a smattering of canine education knows, there is no breed called a “pit bull,” but anywhere from four to eight distinct breeds that are lumped together as “pit bulls” by people, apparently like Reynolds, who don’t know a dog from a garden hose.

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Ethics Dunce: The Florida Bar. Again.

The reluctance of the legal profession to acknowledge that members of the public are as qualified to recognize metaphors, puffery and hyperbole in the marketing of the legal services as they are when they are buying cupcakes or hiring plumbers continues to astound. Many state bar associations still have, and enforce, ethics rules that make the kind of obvious analogies routine in TV, online and print advertising violations because they are deemed “misleading or deceptive.” Florida has long been one of the most notable laggards in applying common sense to lawyer advertising. In contrast, the District of Columbia, with the largest bar in the nation, has largely eliminated such rules. except in conduct constituting outright lies. Just a few days ago, I told a client that the other bars were slowly moving in D.C.’s direction. I did not expect Florida’s bar to again embarrass itself and its lawyers–AND MY DOG—again, after making itself the butt of jokes over a decade ago with virtually the same complaint it made against a lawyer’s ads more than a decade ago. I thought the Florida Bar had learned. I thought eleven years was more than enough time for it to accept the basic concept of advertising…and to learn about dogs.

Guess not.

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In Honor Of Our New Dog Spuds, A Timely Ethics Alarms Encore: “Unethical Website of the Month: Dogsbite.Org”

That’s not Spuds above; that’s Brad Pitt’s wonderful Staffordshire Terrier in “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood,”, one of many breeds dog ignoramuses lump into the category of “pit bull.” Spuds, whom we brought home today, is almost certainly at least part American Pit Bull Terrier, like the dog in the “Our Gang” comedies, but we’ll know better when he gains back more of the weigh he lost when his owner stopped feeding him. Here he is in our kitchen tonight..

Since he is among the  types of dog who will be subjected to the breed bigotry that has led to the deaths of so many smart, loyal, affectionate and harmless dogs across America and Europe, I’ve decided to re-post this essay from 2015. It is the all-time champion Ethics Alarms post for comments, with 339 and counting. It is also the post that has continued to attract comments the longest after a post went up: the last flurry of reactions from anti-pit bull hysterics was in February of this year.

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Unethical Website of the Month: Dogsbite.Org

This despicable website, created by phobics, liars, fools and bigots to promote dog breed prejudice and persecution of responsible dog owners, is discredited by the vast, vast  majority of dog experts, breeders, and people with any knowledge of dogs. It is useful in a way, in that its rhetoric mirrors that of the anti-Jewish, final solution advocates of the Nazi regime, and the most virulent American racists, like the KKK. (A dog breed is exactly like a human race.) It also apes the logical fallacies of those who want to ban guns or engage in racial profiling.

Although a mass of data and history proves that pit bull-related breeds are no more inherently dangerous than any powerful breed and arguably less, Dogsbite.Org is leading a vendetta against both the breeds and lawful, loving owners, reasoning that dogfighting uses pit bull-type breeds, and pit bulls used for fighting are more likely to be dangerous (as any dog so abused  may be), so to kill two birds with one stone, it makes sense to wipe out not just any individual dangerous dog of the type but any dog that is a hybrid of the a “pit bull breed” and any dog that looks like what people think is a “pit bull”, in part because there is no such breed as “pit bull.” Continue reading

A Case Study In Dog Breed Libel

With 331 comments and still active, my 2015  post about the anti-pit bull site “Dogsbite.org” features the longest-running debate on Ethics Alarms. It isn’t much of a debate, really: on one side are people who know something about dogs and understand that the hysteria over “pit bulls”—really several breeds that dog-ignoramuses lump together–is utter, destructive, cruel nonsense, and opposing them are the hysterics, who give a vivid example of the brain malady defined by the statement, “My mind’s made up, don’t confuse me with facts!” with every comment.

As explained in multiple EA articles, one of the primary reasons people who aren’t paying attention think there is a deadly monster dog called “the pit bull” is that police and journalists so frequently misidentify the breed of dogs involved in attacks on humans. Amazing as it seems to those of us who love dogs, most people have minimal knowledge about dog breeds: they call any large or strong dog with short hair and a broad muzzle a “pit bull,” including boxers, American bulldogs, and Mastiffs, as well as mixed breeds and mongrels. As I have related here before, my first Jack Russell Terrier, the kid-loving Dickens, terrified a woman when he was a seven pound puppy by happily bounding up to her toddler in the park. She scooped up the child as if death were imminent and started screaming, “IT’S A PIT BULL!!!!” I replied in kind with “YOU”RE A MORON!!!!” She was, sadly, more typical than not.

In today’s news is a revealing story of breed misidentification that, interestingly, does not involve defamation of pit bull breeds and what I refer to as dog racism. It’s  a nice change from the norm: for once, at least, another breed is being falsely blamed for an attack.

“Woman Mauled To Death By Great Danes In Ohio” is a typical headline about the death of Elayne Stanley, mother of three. Her ex-husband told reporters that the dogs had always been vicious, and that he “never wanted to have Great Danes.” Well, he didn’t have Great Danes. The two dogs involved in the attack are pictured above. They are obviously mixes, and not even mixes of the the same breeds. One appears to be some kind of St. Bernard mongrel, and the other looks like a Dogue de Bordeaux mix, the variety of mastiff that starred in Disney’s “Turner and Hooch.”

This is an uncropped Great Dane:

Oh, never mind: Great Danes, pit bulls, what’s the difference? Dogs don’t sue for slander and libel, and lazy journalists don’t think that properly identifying the dog breed in an attack is important, just as they usually don’t care why an attack occurred (most of the time they involve abuse or negligence of the dogs, and, as in this case,  pack behavior). Great Danes are among the gentlest of breeds, but any breed can be dangerous under certain conditions.  For example, here is a September story about a woman mauled to death by her coonhounds (another gentle breed) in New York—if they were coonhounds, You simply cannot trust these stories. If those dogs in the Ohio attack can be called Great Danes, then those coonhounds might be poodles.

The “Dog Park Diane” Affair

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? Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/11/18: More On De Niro, A Censored Valedictorian, A Heroic Pit Bull, And A Popeye

Good Morning.

1. Still angry... Here are some prime comments from Ann Althouse’s blog (she posted on DeNiro before 6 AM, beating me to it.) I should have posted last night; it might have let me get some sleep:

  • I think the Democrats have just found their 2020 Presidential Candidate…and his campaign slogan. Speaking as a Republican I am quaking in my boots…

  • Well, no more Robert DeNiro movies or shows for us then. The magic of the screen, the verisimilitude, is shattered. You can no longer look at the actor playing a character and forget that he HATES you in real life. He has no longer any status as Actor since he decided to play on the Political Stage. Why can’t they just STFU? Are you an entertainer [actor/singer] or are you a Politician? Pick one. Choose wisely.

  • I’ve been around people in the arts, including actors, most of my life, and there are two things I’ve found that are true about them: (1) except for their craft and whatever arts they’re involved in, they tend to be fairly uneducated, and woefully ignorant about history and economics; and (2), although they see themselves as free spirits and rebels, they’re usually brainwashed tools of the “liberal” Hive, and fall in lockstep like so many Eloi when the Hive calls. The whole evening, from what I saw, was one big anti-Trump rally. Strangest to me were the Gays who were reacting as if Trump were loading them onto box cars and shipping them off to death camps. And yet as members of the Hive, almost certainly falling into line with the Hive’s goal of a bigger and more powerful State. Bad news, artistes: if you think you can have full freedom of expression where the State is omnipotent, think again. Maybe actually open a history book every once in a while.

  • On my way down to NYC today with my wife. I thought we might try to see a play if I can get some cheap tickets. Last night she was watching the Tonys in our hotel room. I was reading about the history of disease but could not avoid seeing/hearing some of it. I was reminded why THEATRE!!! has no interest at all for me. What a bunch of pretentious dreck. I’ve always liked Robert DeNiro as an actor. But FUCK HIM!!! as a person.

  • In 1936, the New Yorker ran a cartoon about some old rich white people. We know they’re elites because there is a butler hovering in the background. The caption: “Come along. We’re going to the Trans-Lux to hiss Roosevelt.” Our betters didn’t use the f-word so often in those days.

  • I’m calling my shot: Trump wins 40 states. My liberal friends seem resigned to the fact that he will get reelected, that is unless, how did one guy put it, “overwhelming evidence is presented.” They take it for granted that Trump must be guilty of something. He simply has to be. Trump’s ascendance to the presidency is an offense against their worldview. Its rather amusing because Trump isn’t really all that conservative. Hell, Bernie Sanders campaigned on controlling illegal immigration and reworking trade agreements in order to improve job prospects for Americans. I don’t bring that up with my liberal friends though. I just ignore their comments about Trump and change the subject. They probably think I can’t refute them, but I just don’t want to piss them off. 

  • Life imitates “A Fish Called Wanda”:

Archie: You are a vulgarian, aren’t you?
Otto: You’re the vulgarian, you fuck!

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