Al Sharpton and the Reverend Jesse Jackson climbed on a pulpit that has become very dusty since America elected an African American to the highest office in the land, the most powerful position in the world and Jesse said, at least I THINK this is what he said…”Treyvon Martin is a Martyr, and Martyrs have POWER!”
I’m not discounting that racism still exists, it certainly does. I have heard of disturbing horror stories from my non-Anglo friends, especially what life was like in the 1950’s when Jim Crow laws still ruled in the south. My husband is biracial, he has stories of his own, especially that of his parents who had a very difficult time moving out of East L.A. to a better neighborhood. My own husband remembers the famous Latino “walk out” of Garfield High School in 1969. However, even I have been denied jobs because of my ethnicity. Being Anglo-American is not a part of multiculturalism, as it turns out. I have suffered perceptions of being a certain way, just because of the color of my skin. I think there is something very deep and primitive that comes to play in being part of our tribe, and racism will never be eradicated. It’s often first ploy when there’s nothing to use as the expression of outrage, to play that race card. Many times, that ploy of playing the race card is the first move of a racist! However, as a society, we should continue to try, and teach our children to be more enlightened and accepting of different races, but also in all expressions of diversity…. sexuality, religion, political views, or those who just march to a different drum. I also have to say, humans in all of the multitudes of flavors we come in should not be tolerated, as in one would tolerate old stale bread, but CELEBRATED.!
Still, I see there is fervor when the cause of racism is incited, that we don’t often see in churches, whose attendance seems to be waning. This indicates a strong need for fellowship, for rituals, for coming together for a cause that is “bigger than ourselves”. This “racism” business is a big thing, a multi-billion dollar industry. I suggest that by their very existence, these institutions create more harm and hinder the great work that was already accomplished by the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez. I personally think there is more harm than good that comes from these race specific and exclusive clubs. After “racism” was incited in the O.J. Simpson murder case, it seems that racism may be a worse crime than murder. Karma came to the rescue for at least O.J. Simpson.
So why discuss the issue of “racism” on a blog about pit bulls? Because the pit bull advocacy knowsthat this is a word that will incite this very passion and fervor...which translates into plenty of donated money and stirs hearts into wanting to help the poor maligned, even enough to adopt one of these dogs. There are more points awarded if the pit bull came from atrocious circumstances like a dog fighting ring, a horrible abuse case, or maybe even a dog that attacked somebody and is now “rehabilitated”. The same sort of “vigils” and marches are being held for pit bulls as were for Treyvon Martin, namely the suicide of Nick Santino, and the case of Lennox the “lab mix” in Ireland. The pit bull advocacy incites “racism” and “racial profiling” and collects over a billion annually. No money ever goes to victims. Most of the victims, by the way, are African American children.
There is also a real power in displaying oneself as a compassionate person, and for advocating for the maligned. The pit bull advocacy has been successful in casting itself in the role as the compassionate, and those who favor regulations, often because they or a loved one have suffered in the jaws of one of these dogs, are the big meanies. This is commonly witnessed in statements such as this posted in the reader’s comments on an incident involving a pit bull:
”You just hate pit bulls because of ONE incident. That’s like hating all blacks because you had your purse stolen one time by a black person. You are a RACIST!”
Using the word “racism”, and calling those that favor some controls, Breed Specific Legislation, or
The advocacy not only knows the power of inciting racism, but also using the appeal of the concept of FREEDOM, and civil liberties. Owning a dog is not a right, it’s subject to licensing and regulation. Speaking of plants…it turns out that we Americans cannot just have any plant we desire, there are certain plants that are illegal. Certainly, Cannabis and Papaver somniferum for their illegal narcotic use, but many others such as Salvinia molesta is federally prohibited, for environmental reasons. As for animals, it is usually against municipal codes to keep any livestock, from goats to honeybees in city limits, even though it’s been quite a while since I last heard of a goat mauling someone to death. If one desires to keep an exotic pet such as a lion or a tiger, there are certain kinds of permits and liabilities that are in place to safeguard the public. These safeguards are in place to protect our civil liberties: the right to life. This trumps one’s personal freedoms to keep whatever animal one desires.
The pit bull advocacy has however, been successful in passing some state laws that prohibits labeling of certain breeds of dogs as "dangerous", but local municipalities are finding ways around it. Coming soon to a city near you, will be laws in response to the pit bull advocacy's failure to educate owners of these nonetheless DANGEROUS dogs (2008-2011, roughly 64% of fatalities were caused by pit bulls) in their cause of needless and preventable injury and death. This is in response to the public outrage of the frequency of these events, and due to the fact the owners of these dogs either refuse to pay restitutions; they are not able to afford the liability, if an owner can be found at all. Note, that the pit bull advocacy is in unity in opposing any regulation with the likes of dog fighters and criminals who use these dogs to guard their drugs.
Just as folks who fancy wearing “hoodies” don’t like to be classified as gang members, pit bull owners
apparently do not like the negative connotations of many of the stereotypes of pit bull ownership, which usually goes with “hoodies” and wearing one’s waist band below the curve of the buttocks, thereby exposing the undergarments. Not in the twentieth century has such a cultivated fashion “look” had such an enduring presence, although I note that many young folks are wearing much tighter pants these days, crotch still at the knees, and now they waddle like penguins. This is often accompanied with the team mascot, Buster the pit bull, pulling their hoodie wearing teen owner on an extremely large chain, large enough to hold an anchor of a sizable sailboat. I’ve never seen such a large chain used on so much as a horse or a bull. I used to really hate them, but these days, I’m seeing the wisdom of such a large chain when it comes to controlling a pit bull. I digress. In any case, pit bull advocates will insist that THEY are responsible, and not to JUDGE them, how dare you! I think judgment is a good thing, a gift; it can save your life! I’m staying away from that hoodie and saggy pants wearing kid and his dog, as if it were a highly contagious disease, thank you very much.
This ties into a common outrage expressed by pit bull owners, that they detest being "judged", being lumped in together with all of the thug pit bull owners, or that their sweet precious dog is being prejudged to be "dangerous". Well, it is! There are some definitions of judgment that appeal to me as a concept, although, by this crowd the term has been maligned:
1. an act or instance of judging.
2. the ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, especially in matters affecting action; good sense; discretion: a man of sound judgment.
3. the demonstration or exercise of such ability or capacity: The major was decorated for the judgment he showed under fire.
4. the forming of an opinion, estimate, notion, or conclusion, as from circumstances presented to the mind: Our judgment as to the cause of his failure must rest on the evidence.
In response to these negative perceptions, pit bull owners and advocates spend much of their energy in vain to repair reputation of the dog, which is just a dog and isn’t aware of their negative reputation. In actuality, it's about their owner's self esteem, when they should be helping the rest of us pass laws to get the dogs out of thug hands in the first place. It would be a win win situation for everybody included.
”Pit bull owners have been dehumanized. On Internet message boards, in news articles, and in political speeches, pit bull owners are routinely disparaged as nothing more than criminals, drug dealers, “trailer trash,” liars, lunatics, or social deviants. Consequently, pit bull owners find themselves struggling against both legal discrimination and social discrimination—and the majority group (non-pit bull owners) isn’t bothered by this discrimination. In fact, the majority group may even endorse it, or worse, fight for it, as in the case of breed-specific legislation. Such discrimination is only possible because of the dehumanization of pit bull owners and the decanine-ization of pit bulls. By making both the owners and the dogs seem abnormal, frightening, and even dangerous, society easily endorses inhuman policies like breed-specific legislation and other forms of discrimination.”
Another article that does a wonderful job of exploring this self-preservation of esteem in pit bull owners can be found in the Scientific American.
However, try as they may, these good owners often have bad experiences with their pit bulls. Sometimes, it’s a next-door neighbor, or their children, or themselves…all of those good intentions for naught.
If you delight in the ironic as I do, you will find many apologists so outraged in “racism” and “breedism” will quickly show their true colors, should they learn that the dog injured was a Chow Chow, Daschund, Lab, Chihuahua, or _____ insert breed of dog that was injured or killed in the attack. The same crowd that blames the media for the “bad rap”, will use media reports to show that children have been killed by other breeds as well, and of course they do, just not as frequently. They will often “rejoice”, when there is a report of the mauling perpetrated by another breed, as in the case of a recent mauling of a child by a Lab mix. What the media didn’t report, as they didn’t know, was that the "mix" was pit.
They will also engage in a dishonest tactic I have seen used in the very hallowed ivory towers of higher education, so desiring of finding "positive" history to promote self esteem, "historians" use conjecture to the point of turning history into fairy tales. The pit bull apologia uses revisionist history as well, in their creation of the "nanny dog" myth. Another example can be found in their oft quoted falsehood that "in the 19th century, bloodhounds were the feared breed of dog", when easily we find that what used to be called a "bloodhound" was a pit bull type of dog, and not the floppy-eared and wrinkled scent hound we currently call the "bloodhound".
And like Obama, so quick to “judge” without knowing all the facts, we later learn that Treyvon had his
He had recently purchased a handgun for his wife and himself
due to frequent run-ins with pit bulls.
I’m looking in the mirror; I look a lot like George Zimmerman.
Since writing this, I learned of other "vigilantes" who took public safety into their own hands, due to the non-response of animal control.
Case 1, Sacramento, CA, August 2011.
Case 2, Phoenix, AZ, May 2012.
Case 3, Oregon, 2008.
Other good articles, essays, blogs, that explore this bastardization of the term "racism" as applied to dogs.
Lee, Alcia. New York Times, 2003: Discriminating? Yes. Discriminatory? No
17 Barks: Thoughts on "Canine Racism".