We live in very odd times. A conversation with a friend who has a Pit bull dog, yesterday, led to his saying casually of course he couldn’t have a pit bull in Denver. I was aware of this, but had never given it any thought. Mostly I come across it on Craigslist as people who MUST move to Denver are getting rid of their dogs so they can move.
And here we come to my experience with the dogs. Like everyone else – though this happens mostly on TV it leaks to real life as well – I’ve seen pit bulls tied in front of houses I wouldn’t approach anyway – though the last time that happened was seven years ago when I got lost walking the kids back from middle school, so it might be a trend that’s passing away.
Yes, those pit bulls look like terrible dangers and generally scary. But then the houses the dogs were tied in front of looked scary too, an indicative of the people who lived there.
Then there are the Pit bulls I still meet. The office I rented at the end had only one other office rented, which means I didn’t feel very safe. Perhaps the people in the front office didn’t either, because the owner brought in his Pit bull, who was a sweet, slobbery dog, very well behaved. Other Pits I meet while walking or at stores, are exceptionally well behaved.
This is, of course, because they’re high dominance dogs, naturally. And if you are a responsible owner who has a high dominance dog, you TRAIN that dog until it’s one of the best mannered creatures around and far safer in public than most humans.
Yes, of course if you are stupid and you get a Pit and raise it the way most people seem to raise their kids – by indulging their every whim and never setting limits or consequences, you’ll end up with a feral beast. People who raise their kids that way do too – and yes, I know a lot of the left thinks the solution for this is to outlaw kids. But people who raise their animals – or kids – that way would only be safe with stuffed dolls.
(Yes, I know Pits were bred to fight. So were your ancestors. Take a powder.)
This connected in my brain with the whole outrage over the Connecticut shootings and how we absolutely, imperatively must outlaw private ownership of guns because… shuddup, do it for the children.
As though criminals care whether something they do is illegal or not, and as though crazy people can’t come up with other ways to cause massive damage: less survivable ways. Need one remind everyone that the first World Trade Center bombing was achieved by fertilizer?
Perhaps they intend to outlaw manure? (Maybe that’s the aim of the Carbon Laws.)
Yes, guns are horribly dangerous. They’re not the only thing that’s horribly dangerous, though. I know several gun owners who could arm entire small countries, and when I visit them I feel SAFER there because I know if SOMEONE unsafe were to attack for whatever reason or none at all, they have the armament to protect us.
Forbidding the owning of guns doesn’t ban the danger because the danger is always in the human mind. We’re a curious monkey, and some of the things we’re curious about are very, very dangerous. As Terry Pratchett put it, if you put a button in the most distant cave in the world and painted a sign to put next to it saying “Pressing this button will end the world” the paint wouldn’t have time to dry before someone pushed it. Worse, they’d push it not to destroy the world, but to see what it would do.
And yes, I know of the several bans to keep people from eating/playing with/drinking whatever they want, but the one that totally makes my jaw drop is forbidding all peanut products in schools and planes because of people’s allergies. Yes, I’ve heard that just being in a room with peanuts can start the allergy. Can I say bullhockey? People with that violent an allergy wouldn’t be able to be on a plane, period – people like us travel with nuts. We have to, because it’s the only portable thing we can eat on a plane. Sometimes they’re peanuts. We have yet to kill anyone. And since the airlines do not search everyone for peanuts, I’m going to assume this is bullhockey. Because if peanuts ANYWHERE on the plane were that dangerous, they would search people.
Yes, I can see where rubbing peanuts on someone might be an issue. I’ve known people that allergic. BUT most people are allergic to EATING peanuts. So… we’re banning peanuts in public because… some people might not be able to help themselves and might gobble down stuff that could kill them? Um… As someone who can’t eat carbs, in the few flights that have lunch (usually bread-stuff) or snacks (pretzels) this affects me adversely. Note, however, that I don’t fall, helpless-victim like on the pretzels or bread, because they’re in the same space with me.
And no, banning peanut butter from schools isn’t justified because these are kids. These kids are in school. That means by definition they are house-broken and capable of following instructions. “Don’t eat that because it will kill you” should be a hard and fast one. I mean, when I was a kid we were turned out to play outdoors at three or four, and there were a list of things we couldn’t do because they WOULD kill us (like run out in front of cars. Drink bleach, etc.) Weirdly all of us failed to DO those things just because we could. (Yes, there are mentally handicapped children in the schools, but those have assigned teacher-aides, so the point is moot.)
What these three cases have in common is a curious mental confusion about what is what and where responsibility lays.
And some of this was part of the great liberal project (real liberals, the kind I identify with) started in the seventeenth century. In a time of swift and sudden penalties, that took no extenuating circumstances into account, and which were unimaginably harsher than we can think of (torture being a normal method for extracting confessions for such crimes as pickpocketing) real liberals brought in a more nuanced justice and a weighing in of causes and consequences. If someone steals a loaf of bread for his starving children, it’s not in any way the same crime as stealing a horse to resell in the next village. (Okay, some judges took that into account, in England at least, but it was a big on the discretion and didn’t always happen.)
The problem is that what real liberals started, insane liberals finished. The end game of this project in law can be seen all over Europe where murderers are condemned to some time in jail (in Portugal it was less than ten years at one point. We used to joke about dragging the people I wanted to off to Portugal, because I was willing to pay that penalty) because there’s always “extenuating circumstances” and where even in safe neighborhoods like my parents’ people live in fear of criminals breaking in.
Here the end run of that system by and large was the seventies – at least in criminal law – and we’ve been walking it back to some extent ever since.
On the other hand, the same thinking has gone from the law to everyday life. No one is responsible for anything, because there’s always explanations and reasons and “I couldn’t help myself.”
In many cases this is even true – probably. I am forever in shock by how many of my kids’ classmates seem to be well… feral. No one ever bothered to teach them to control their impulses or to think rationally about what they have and what they need and how to get there.
The end result is minds that confuse feelings with thoughts (the corollary of “if it feels good, do it” turns out to be “if it doesn’t feel good don’t do it” even if the momentary discomfort is needed for future happiness.) wants with needs and who can see nothing further than instant gratification.
I submit to you NOTHING can make society – or the world – safe for those people. In the end they either learn otherwise (painfully) or they die. On the way they cause untold misery. BUT the more you try to protect them from the induced stupidity of their own upbringing, the more misery you cause to people how had nothing to do with it.
Worse, you place the blame on the wrong THINGS – or animals – and not where it belongs: in the people who choose to use the things or animals to create harm (or choose to do nothing and let animals cause harm.)
We want to excuse everyone and think everyone good at heart… and maybe this is true to an extent. Everyone certainly has good potential. But those that choose to do good can also do harm. And yes, sometimes they can do harm without meaning to – but it’s still their choice.
When you remove that, you’re putting the blame on things and creatures who can’t choose. And you’re restricting the choices of everyone.
To absolve the guilty you must ALWAYS blame the innocent, even if it’s innocent THINGS. And that mis-placing of blame will always result not just in curtailed liberty, but in greater pain for everyone in the long run and in a society that rolls over and begs for tyrants to save it from itself.
The monkey mind that chooses to press the button that says “end the world” can also choose NOT to do it. But for that, it must be able to think through causes and consequences. And to be taught that, we must start by putting the blame where it belongs. And we must understand that mercy, like all other admirable qualities, has dark twins called indulgence and misplaced blame. Even virtues aren’t free and we must always be aware of their costs. TANSTAAFL.