Thursday, March 08, 2007

Equal Rights! We're all for Equal Rights! Truth and justice for all. . . Isn't that the way it goes? Equal rights for women, gays and lesbians, blacks, hispanics, the disabled, pit bull owners, religious minorities, Asian-Americans. . . Oooops--hold on a sec. We seem to have lost someone. What pit bull owners already know: Some people are way more equal than others. You may not have realized it, but this country is busy constructing a brand-new set of second class citizens. Law-abiding owners of certain dogs are rapidly vanishing from the Equal Rights radar screen. What's up with that, anyway? Here's a little sampling of what pit bull owners are looking at-- Privacy? not for pit bull owners Eden, North Carolina, Police Chief Gary Benthin's genius plan was to maintain police files on citizens who have committed no crimes--including their photographs, physical descriptions and places of employment. Why? Because they own pit bulls. Housing? No place at the inn I Find , a rent-to-own specialist in Las Vegas, Nevada, pretty much summarizes the prevailing attitude in their FAQ section :
Can I have pets ? You can have any animal(s) unless:

  • You are getting into a condo. Some condo associations have weight restrictions. . . .
  • You own a pit-bull. We have no issues with pit-bulls. We love pit-bulls! We don't care how well behaved your pit-bull is. Even if your pit-bull uses the toilet and serves tea with a bow-tie, we can't help you. . .

Here's an experiment for you: Substitute the racial or ethnic group of your choice for the words "pit bull" in the above statement. How's it feel? Muzzles ( no right to live without Welcome to Hannibal Lechter's domain. In a world where image is everything, its hard to imagine a more devastating form of discrimination than mandatory muzzling. Places like Boston make pit bull owners muzzle their dogs and put "beware of dog" signs on their homes (lettering no less than 2" high). There are other restrictions on pit bull owners, too. "Its not the dogs, its the owners" Talk about a mantra that backfired in a big way. The "its the owners" concept allows self-serving, dog-hating bigots like NYC Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Queens) to trash both dogs, and their owners, in a single breath. He wants to kick pit bulls out of the Big Apple, and the distinctly racist rhythm of his modest proposal goes : "Dogs are often the weapon of choice of drug dealers and gangs seeking to intimidate and terrorize neighborhoods." So its the pit bulls that have to go. And their meth lab-operating, gang-banging, juvenile delinquent owners can take a hike, too. I hear pit bull owners don't put the toilet seat down after they pee, by the way. Who needs 'em, anyway? Managing stigma, pit bull owner-style Its not your imagination. Discrimination is a reality for pit bull owners, and it is not easy to live with. In fact, the very special people at Tufts University did a study on social deviancy pit bull owners. Managing the stigma of "outlaw" breeds found that . . . ". . .[in ] negative portrayal of pit bulls have been depictions of their "owners" that threaten mainstream America. Media reports of attacks by these dogs were invariably accompanied by value-laden descriptions of their owners as people whom "average citizens" might find dangerous. According to Hearne (1991), these reports often described pit bull owners as white thugs or poor urban blacks and Latinos who kept their dogs in dope dens and fed them raw meat to make them as mean as possible.' But "stigma" is not the issue here. We're not talking about the heartbreak of psoriasis. We're talking about civil rights, and "truth and justice for all". The concept that justice is blind, and that we are all equal under the law. Pit bull owners aren't thugs, deviants and dope dealers. . . Pit bull owners are coal mine canaries. Marginalize pit bull owners at your own peril, because once pit bull owners are definitively stripped of their rights, such as. . . --their right to due process and equal protection under the law, which breed specific laws like California's its-ok-to-require-mandatory-castration-just-of-pit-bulls is all about, or -- their right to privacy--impossible to protect where breed specific mandatory microchipping is the law, or --their right to assert ownership because of "guardianship" laws which allow their property--which would be their pit bull dogs--from simply being seized and destroyed by freaks like Tom Skeldon in Toldeo, Ohio . . . . . .then we will all be so seriously screwed that it won't matter any more. Really. Kicking pit bull owners to the curb is wrong. For many reasons. And equal rights count. They count a lot.

No comments: