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« Wallace the pit bull unable to defend world title | Main | Helping urban youth »

October 02, 2008



Although I'm still working the issue around in my head, I've been meaning to write a racism, culturism, and breedism post for a long time.

In many ways I feel that our treatment of dogs illuminates our more human concerns and that practices that are not-P.C. in humans are commonplace with dogs.

I personally don't think that most racism is actually racism... I don't think people now, or ever, were more threatened by race (specifically skin and hair color, body shape, physical features, etc) than by culture. Talk of racism, I believe, skirts the real issues, which I think are culture conflicts.

And despite having laws and mores against racism, I don't think society has weighed in on culturism.

And how does this apply to dogs? Well, I think people will have prejudice against certain breeds due not to their recent breeding away from aggression, but from their historical ties to a culture we still find threatening.

It's a different issue than judging a book by its cover, it's judging the correlation between what kinds of books covers like that used to represent.

It's a very hard sell to say "we bred these dogs from those dogs, these dogs look like those dogs, but they are not the same."

This is only compounded by many in the dog fancy who are obsessed with linking their look-the-same but don't act-the-same dogs with more-glorious pasts. Many breeds are trying to cling to their pasts, whereas the bully breeds seem to be trying to distance themselves.



I think you're absolutely right in so many ways...and it's a topic that certain is worthy of discussion. One thing I'd add is not just difference in culture, but also class.

I think about how "mainstream" america has treated groups that are "culturally different" - -like many different ethnic groups, goths, hip hop, etc.

But if people though of what a "pit bull" owner looked like, they thought of someone like me, or Rachael Ray, or John Stewart as the representative owner, I really wonder if we would be having the same discussions about the dogs. However, in spite of the success stories of the dogs rescued from Bad Newz Kennels, I would say that Mike Vick would be more representative of the "average american's" view of a pit bull owner. Certainly paints things differently. Whether that's race or culture is interesting -- the brain doesn't do that great of a job at discerning the difference. Gladwell has a great chapter on it in "Blink" that's worth the read.

If you get something posted, certainly let us know.


I think it's simpler than that. I did a post a couple of years ago about the racism angle, the misogyny angle (most 'pit bull' owners are women), etc.

There has been a relentless media campaign by animal rights/liberation groups, media themselves, and tin-pot politicians and if you aren't knowledgeable, you have very little information with which to form an opinion.

'Pit bulls' and their owners are just the current scapegoat because throughout history people have felt the need to blame problems (real or otherwise) on a minority that is not well known and is easily depersonalized. Corrupt politicians love scapegoats as a nice distraction from their own failure to lead. Groups who like to manipulate public opinion for their own gain also make great progress through scapegoating.

I really think that's all it is - a media war that we have to win.

As for 'original purpose', if one more person tells me that the original purpose of the bull-and-terriers was to 'fight', I might lose it.

They were employed that way by callous individuals who took advantage of their attributes and some still are today, yes. That's a felony, by the way, and the dogs are hardly signing on for that.

That was not the original purpose of the many breeds erroneously dubbed 'pit bulls' though and even if it were, so what? It's an irrelevant piece of trivia whether it is true or not, since it has nothing to do with canine behaviour or with the primary purpose of those (and many other) breeds today.

If people are so concerned about dogs that chase and kill other animals, why are we keeping hounds, terriers, livestock dogs, heck, any dogs at all? Opinions that are founded on irrational beliefs are not worth the same consideration as those founded on facts and science.

See: inmates, asylum


C'mon! The fact is, that the proper paperwork was not done ahead of time, and the school district has liability issues, that it must comply with -- in order to maintain a HUGE insurance policy that protects the tens of thousands of students, and the thousands of staff members. This is nothing that they can take lightly. There is no denying that the guests were not approved ahead of time. My grandma shouldn't be on campus without school approval. THe schools have to protect these kids from abductors, pedofiles, solicitors, gun-slingers, and yes, dogs. NO ONE should be on campus without approval from school authorities.

The teacher's claim that she hasn't had speakers approved before is ridiculous. That's like me getting pulled over for speeding, and if I don't have a license, claiming, "But officer! I have driven LOTS of times without a license!" Not getting caught before does not make it okay to do it again! Furthermore, I can no sooner claim, "BUt the DMV never specifically told ME that I need a license" than Calnan can claim not to know she needed to have speakers approved. It is her job, her career, to know school and district policies, and to adhere to them. Ignorance is never an excuse!



You could well be right. We may never know for sure. It does seem quite odd that a) Calnan has had guests before without incident and was unaware of this type of paperwork and no one notified her and b) that instead of the principle telling her the proper conduct for the next time, instantly asking Torres to leave even though she was clearly there on a teacher's request and not a pedofile.

We may never know for sure. It would be particularly interesting to know what other teachers thought, or how any similar situation was handled before. I doubt you or I really will ever know for sure. But if you think you can rule out predjudice and bigotry as a possible explanation you are terribly naive.

Divide &Conquer-Boy it`s working!

I wonder if this same comment was made about the Guide dogs that she had brought into the School previously?

[quote]“The assistant principal came into the room and said the dogs looked menacing,” [/quote]


I don't rule out prejudice and bigotry (although I take issue with Torres' use of "racism"). I am sure that pit bulls' reputation (deserved or not) did come into play. However, like you said, we may never know. The administration may have been unaware of the guide dogs' visit. I doubt that they would allow them to stay if they were aware, without parent permission slips. There are many issues that factor into approving a visitor, and with dogs, that list includes allergies (in students), immunizations (in the dogs), phobias, etc. These are things that should be considered BEFORE the dogs come onto campus. However, perhaps the administration did know, and allow the guide dogs to stay.

But I still have more questions:
Were the dogs muzzled?
Were they on leashes?
Were parents aware ahead of time?
What were the dogs expected to do during the lesson?
What type of student interaction did the lesson involve?

And these questions pertain to all dog visits, not just pit bulls.The answers could potentially make a HUGE difference.

Divide &Conquer-Boy it`s working!

Oh for God`s sake.
How the hell do you think people have lived long enough to end up in Nursing homes?
Shouldn`t they all have been bitten to death,mauled to death died of allergies to animals or had panic attacks due to phobias.
Get a grip.
Have you ever heard of show and tell in schools?
Everything under the sun and moon was brought in.
Nothing was muzzled or leashed or caged.
No permission slips required.
Believe it or not we used to actually live AND survive without all this nonsense.

To hell with educating people,just get a *** and defend your dog when they come for it.
I`m not sure where the line should be drawn but there are people born after a certain year who just have NO commonsense whatsoever.
They`ve been told what to do for so long by Gov`t that they just have no clue how to live without being controlled.


We used to chum around with all the dogs in the neighbourhood as kids. They were usually not leashed and were unsupervised. Most of the males were intact. We used to let them out to wander around for an hour or so with their friends.

Funny, hardly anybody ever got nipped or chased and if they did, they kept it quiet because they would have been the ones to get into trouble.

People seemed to understand that dogs were dogs back then. Not dangerous criminals with evil motives, not slavering beasts waiting to devour the non-alert, nothing but our friends, pals, imaginary creatures, sidekicks, buddies, confidants and members of the neighbourhood.

Dogs are the best people on the planet. I love 'em.

Stupid humans, not so much.

Were the dogs muzzled LMAO!!!

Have dogs changed? I don't think so, they seem the same.

Must be the stupid humans.


Normally dogs at schools require permission regardless of what kind of dogs. It makes a great MEDIA story to say it was prejudice, so since someone said "menacing" (bec it was a pitbull?) then stick with prejudice. The teacher isn't an idiot. The principal was acting on MEDIA stories. It was prejudice. The "permission" is a technicality. ARs don't care about technicalities, so neither do I in this case. It was prejudice.

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