Posted the following on my MySpace blog two days ago. The contents of the essay herein pretty much speak for themselves, so I'll spare thee the usual introductory blather.
Be seeing you.
There's a MySpace blog to which am currently subscribed, called the Truth About PETA, which is, to say the least, rather critical of many of PETA's stances on various animal rights' issues.
Well, was reading to-day's blog post there, about the support given by both PETA and the Humane Society of the United States, to various local and state ordinances either regulating or banning the breeding and keeping of American Pit-Bulls and other related dog breeds, of which the blog poster was extremely critical.
Well, went to make a comment or two about this topic, and, in my rather wordy fashion, crafted this mini-epic, that, because of its length, wasn't accepted on that blog.
So, am posting my comments here, for all the world to see, or, at least those people who occasionally stop by here to read whatever silliness I get up to.
If you wish to see the original post, please go to http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=119667166&blogID=322038865&Mytoken=CD7AF368-9EB4-491E-9352BA89F40132625777666, and see it for yourselves.
My comments follow immediately below this introduction.
Be seeing you.
My own feelings about this are so mixed, that they'd make a See's or Whitman's Candy Sampler look like a model of uniformity by comparison.
Have never had an American Pit-Bull, nor any of the other, and, being the human parent of a feline, probably never will.
From the extremely limited experiences I've had with members of the breeds mentioned here, I would say that some individuals in those breeds are and can be highly aggressive and dangerous to humans, dogs, cats, and members of other species not in their pack group.
On the other hand, have also experienced these animals' softer side, specifically in the 150 lb shape of one Bronx, who was likelier to lick one to death(assuming that one COULD be licked to death), than to maul one.
I agree far more with the premise that pit-bulls, like any other dog breed, aren't necessarily 99 and 44/100ths, vicious as all get-out. That line of reasoning is simply an ad hominem, or, in this case, ad canem, sweeping generalisation about the breed that is erroneous, because it makes no room for any possible exceptions to it.
One could, and it has been done quite enough throughout human history, make similar sweeping generalisations about any human group, and make massive, radical prescriptions for the elimination of such groups.
The Holocaust is the best known example of this kind of logic being carried out in recent history, but it is far from the only one, alas.
Please don't forget that, early in the 20th Century, American and European eugenicists called for the compulsory sterillisation of developmentally disabled people, and especially those from African-American, European-American ethnics and immigrants, especially those from Central, Southern and Eastern Europe, and the mentally ill.
In many American states, such procedures were carried out, in the hopes of "improving" humanity, by weeding out the "un-fit" members of the human race, and supposedly making room for the "fit".
The laws that supported such procedures were eventually struck down in the 1950's and '60's, but considerable damage had already been done to those individuals regarded as "un-fit" and sterillised in mental institutions and other medical facilities while they were in force.
The major problem with making public policies based on such generalisations ultimately comes down to this question-who or what is fit, and, most importantly, who gets to decide who or what should be allowed to live or die????
Far too often, it has been members of the intellectual classes, whether in academia, politics, business, the military, or the media, most of whom are, if not born into them, either come from the upper and middle classes in their respective societies, or have successfully been absorbed into them. If such individuals fall into the latter category, one of the reasons WHY they've been successfully absorbed by the upper and middle classes is that many of them have, in varying degrees, bought into the assumptions, and even some of the intellectual fashions and fads of their employers and colleagues.
I would say that this particular movement to regulate and ban out-right the breeding and keeping of pit-bulls and other dog breeds falls within this category, and, that while many of its advocates may have the very best of intentions, they often fail to recognise that their assumptions are perhaps rooted as much in their social positions, as they are in whatever other ideological or humanitarian motives they have.
Had an African-American left activist and newspaper columnist acquaintance here in Las Vegas(That's right, Sin City, Folks), Nevada, whom I heard express on a couple of occasions, the sentiment that it was easier for European-American animal rights' advocates to get worked up over the plight of animals, than it was for them to become upset over the plight of African-Americans.
Now, even with taking his own personal and ideological biases into account here(He has his, as I've mine, and all of us, in one way or another, do), I would say that there is at least a grain of truth in his statements, because a fair number of animal rights' advocates do come from European-American, upper or middle-class backgrounds.
This was recently evidenced, in a small way, in the spectacle of demonstrators and counter-demonstrators outside of the Virginia courthouse where Michael Vick was sentenced for his crimes.
According to the Washington Post articles I read about the demos, the majority of those who wanted Vick punished as severely as possible were European-American in origin, while Vick's supporters were predominantly African-American.
Now, the demonstrators on both sides, I'm sure, had their own individual reasons for being there, and it would be wrong of me to say that race and class were the only motivations behind their being present outside that courthouse.
But, I also wouldn't be surprised if, in the cases of some of Vick's supporters, there weren't at least some feelings that the animal rights' supporters, and the Federal justice system, didn't have at least similar feelings to those expressed by my activist acquaintance.
Given the general history of how African-Americans have been treated in this country, I wouldn't blame them for feeling that way, even if, as in the Vick case, I didn't think that they were supporting an individual whose actions merited being locked up.
Cruelty is cruelty, whether it's manifested in the forms of whipping a slave, lynching an African-American man because he whistled at a European-American woman, as in the 1955 Emmett Till case, pitting dogs against each other in a fight to the death for the amusement and enrichment of humans, or in calling for, and implementing, the extermination of certain dog breeds and categories of humans, whether by "hard"(mass executions)or "soft"(sterlillisation and the like)means.
Ultimately, the intentions, saintly or sinful, behind these actions, matter far less than the actual results, period.
Mind you, this is coming from someone who recently had to have his 15 and a half year old feline companion euthanised, because, according to the veterinarian's diagnosis, she had either Feline Meningitis or a brain tumour, with the latter being far likelier than the former, so, please take any statements I've made here thus far, with that in mind.
Had my family and I had the monetary resources to have an MRI done on her, perhaps it might have been done. But, we didn't, and, while she could have been given a shot that would have reduced her brain's swelling, it more than likely wouldn't have cured her. Hence, I made the decision to have her euthanised, and that is one I shall have to live with all my living days.
The reason I state this here is so you know that am not necessarily speaking from an ivory-tower, inexperienced, point of view on this issue, and because it would be dis-honest of me not to mention this in light of the statements I've made above.
Judge them, and myself, as you will, according to your own standards.
To finish up, I personally think that massive programmes of education about the benefits of animal companion spaying,neutering, and proper treatment in all forms of animals, because of the fact that urban and suburban environments, with their greater concentrations of people and animals, and all the hazards that accompany such concentrations, as well as a real social effort to ensure that low-or no-cost spaying, neutering and other forms of veterinary care are made widely available throughout the society, and tougher civil and criminal penalties, fairly applied, regardless of racial, ethnic or class origin or status, for the ill-treatment of animals would be good steps in reducing, and, I hope, eventually eliminating the very real problems of animal over-population, cruelty and neglect in this country.
The real trick, I think, will be to carry this out in as fair and humane a manner as possible to both animals and humans alike.
My apologies for the lengthy comment here, and my thanks to you for your attention and patience.