Saturday, April 05, 2008

Fencing Up the Good ... and Fencing Out The Bad

Back in mid-February, Christie Keith wrote a very nice piece about fencing.

And by fencing, I do not mean four-board-and-post fencing to keep the dogs in and the neighbors out, but fencing as in intellectual sword fighting, and the need to draw sharp lines between good ideas and bad.

Fencing seems to be a hard idea for some people.

Folks are constantly barking at me that I have to herd up with whatever group they think I am a member of, whether that is Democrat or Republican, dog owner or father.

They tell me that because I support stronger immigration law enforcement it is impolite for me to note out loud how many racists also feel the same way. "We must hang together, or surely we will hang apart," they say. But I am afraid of no rope, and perhaps the Klansman might change their metaphors next time they deign to speak to me?

Because I believe in the Second Amendment, I am told that I must march lock-step to whatever the NRA is saying, never mind that organization's near-complete rejection of time-place-and-manner ordinances. But I stand firm: I do not think we should allow terrorists to walk through our airports with bazookas on their shoulders, and I think people who walk into bars with sidearms strapped to their hip are small-dicked idiots. You will pardon me if I do not believe the Constitution is a suicide pact, or that taunting the public to intolerance is a good idea.

Because I have worked for "Big Green" environmental groups, and have worked on such proto-feminist issues as access to family planning, it is assumed that I am a bunny-hugging, we-are-the-world romantic who is only too happy to put abortion politics front and center. Sorry; wrong idea. I believe in borders, I believe in hook-and-bullet conservation, and I believe in family planning, not family non-planning. And if you do not understand the difference, please fish somewhere else.

And of course, because I hunt with terriers, and because I am opposed to breed bans and mandatory spay-neuter laws, I am (apparently) supposed to give a big "thumbs up" to dog fighting, while ignoring the fact that American Kennel Club dog shows are financed with blood money collected from puppy mill registrations. Nope. Sorry, you have the wrong guy. I am pro-dog, not pro-stupidity. Ethics still has a place in my life, and I try to fight evil, not sign up for a second tour of duty with it.

And so, because Christie Keith's piece says it so much better than I can when it comes to dogs, I rip-it-and-strip-it into the blog below, and recommend her column in The San Francisco Chronicle as well. She writes:

I'm tired of ... the assumption that people who believe in preserving heritage dog breeds, support the right of people to own, show, and breed dogs, and who want to hold government, including animal control, accountable for its actions on their behalf must also be Republicans.

I'm not. As you have probably previously noticed.

There's also something of an assumption that anyone who fights against mandatory spay/neuter laws will also support a whole host of other things, none of which I do... like the mass commercial breeding of dogs, selling puppies and kittens through third parties, whether brokers, websites, or pet stores, factory farming, or fur ranching.

I not only refuse to get in bed with the Hunte Corporation in order to preserve my right to own intact purebred dogs, but I think the argument that I have to do that is bullshit.

That's because just because I advocate for something, write persuasively about it, and believe it myself, does not mean I think it's a good idea to make it mandatory. I believe in people making up their own minds.

I also believe in speaking mine, and yes, I try to be persuasive when I do. That's my form of advocacy.

I will not sacrifice one right -- the right to speak freely about what I believe -- for another -- the right to preserve the Scottish Deerhound. In fact, with all due respect to my beloved breed, if it's a contest between the two, I'll pick the first.

I understand that some of the people I've stood with in opposition to mandatory spay/neuter laws believe they have to support the sale of puppies in pet stores in order to be "consistent," and in order to have the support of the pet industry for the cause. As I said to one of those people a few nights ago, I sat on the floor once with an Italian greyhound who had spent the 8 years of her life or so in a puppy producing facility. I would call it a puppy mill, even though it may well have been clean, USDA-approved, and had its own little team of vets and vet techs supervising everything.

She didn't react when you petted her. She didn't see you when she looked at you. She didn't care about being cuddled or walked, didn't want a toy or even a treat. She wasn't curious, or interested, or aware.

When I looked in her eyes, she was dead.

And that's why I don't care how clean the mill was, and I don't care if a thousand studies say that puppies are just as healthy and loved if they come from a pet store as if they come from a home breeder. Because it's not about the puppies, it's about their mothers.

And their dead eyes.

I believe mandatory spay/neuter harms animals and the people who love them. I believe it's designed to impede pet ownership in furtherance of an anti-pet agenda, not to reduce the number of animals killed in shelters. That's why I fight it.

I believe that the way to change things is through free expression, speech, persuasion, and education, not legislation.

I believe that the only way to shut down puppy mills is to dry up the market, because there's no just way to legislate them out of business without trampling on people's freedoms, and in the end, harming the human/animal bond.

But I believe that as a liberal, and as a dog lover, and as the opponent of the mass commercial production of puppies, and someone who is against the sale of puppies and kittens in pet stores.

And I don't find any of those things a contradiction.

To which I can only reply, Neither do I, neither do I.


1 comment:

Andrew Campbell said...

Pat: thanks for putting this up and for the Christie Keith link. I don't spend enough time visiting her site -- and am glad to find she has an ally here. Keep up the good work.