As we have noted elsewhere in these pages, there are a limited number of arguments for advocates to rely on, which we hear over and over.
- Judge the deed, not the breed
- Punish the deed, not the breed
- It's not the dog, it's the owner
- There are no bad dogs; only bad owners
- It's all how they're raised
- and above all, All dogs bite
These phrases are so common that even those who have no interest in dogs are aware of them; they resonate through the collective conscience like advertising jingles, which is what they are. The speakers believe these phrases carry content, but they are bled of all meaning and they are sometimes uttered in the most inappropriate circumstances. They fill a verbal vacuum much the way auto-complete fills in the blanks in your email program.
The use of these phrases has interested SRUV because the speakers believe they still have the power to alter opinion. We have arrived at a point in the pit bull controversy when this kind of speech, consisting almost entirely of phrases plucked from a reservoir of belief, takes the place of original thought. The phrases are repeated until they assume an incantatory, ritualized meaning, and work in the same way a prayer or magic spell is believed to work.
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Just after 9pm on Friday, May 27th, "Honey" Jubeark ran from her house screaming “Help! He ate my baby! He ate my baby!”
Within minutes after news of Jayelin Graham's death was posted, pit bull advocates were flooding the internet with comments. Many of the posters seemed disinterested in the child's death and used the occasion to defend their breed of obsession.
I have copied below a comment, and below that, a response to the first comment. (Note: the comment on the Golden Retriever has taken on aspects of an urban myth and is recounted using a variety of breeds including dachshunds.)
no such thing as a bad dog just bad owners.. Pitbulls are beautiful
dogs and a great breed. It takes assholes like this guy to make the
breed look bad. I say we just put him in a cage with a bear and
let the bear rip his head off. Poor child never had a chance with
a monster parent like that.
it's all about how they're raised/trained. Some of the smartest/
gentlest dogs I know (known) have been Pits and Rotty's...
I work with a woman who was just attacked by a vicious
golden retriver... it's all on their environment...
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These comments were posted in response to a news story about the death of a human child. Nearly every thought in these two comments is a variation of the five statements at the top of this post. Literally thousands of additional posts echo these two.