Is it just me? Or has some of the recent news about dogs and their relationships with human beings been really, really weird?
The stories themselves are sufficiently bizarre, yet as I see it, the public reaction to these stories is even more troubling.
First, there was the news last April that a home in Virginia owned by Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick had been raided, and evidence of “dogfighting” had been discovered. Prior to this, I knew very little about dogfighting, nor had I ever given it much thought.
But the night that the news broke, I got an eyeful while watching a debate about Vick on a television sports talk show. As the program guests chattered away, video of two dogs mauling each other rolled on the screen, and I didn’t have to watch very much of this to understand quite quickly that dogfighting is inhumane.
In fact, the images I saw were so raw and so absolutely disturbing I quickly understood that anyone who would pursue this as a “hobby” must have some severe psychological problems.
TERRIBLE FOR EVERYONE
Weeks later, we learned the terrible fate of Chandler police dog Bandit, when he was accidentally left unattended in a police vehicle for over 12 hours by Sgt. Tom Lovejoy. When I heard this news, I was sorry for the suffering and the loss of the dog, but, crazy as it may seem, I was more concerned for the police officer.
I assumed — yes, it was merely an assumption since I do not know the man — that Lovejoy is a good man with a distinguished public service career (and I have learned nothing about him that would suggest otherwise). Furthermore, I was disappointed to think that this career was likely going to be tarnished, at least a little bit, by a very tragic mistake.
I have viewed, and will continue to view, these two news stories through the lenses of two specific presuppositions. Call them “facets of my worldview” if you want — but I’m beginning to believe that I’m much more alone in my world view than I had originally thought.
My first presupposition is that the unnecessary and intentional mauling, maiming, and killing of animals is wrong. This seems obvious to me.
But since the raid on Vick’s home in April, I have seen a disturbing number of people defend his participation in dogfighting, some even suggesting that dogfighting is commonplace among African Americans and those of us who don’t like it are “racists.”
Vick himself said publicly this week that his actions were “immature,” but this doesn’t fit with my presupposition either. Vick’s behavior has been sociopathic — and he hasn’t even come close to conveying that he understands this.
My other presupposition is that American law enforcement officers are generally good and decent people who intend to serve the public interest. There are always aberrations, but I honestly believe this principle to be generally true.
Yet given some of the nasty statements made about Lovejoy on talk radio and in blogs, it seems that in the minds of many he obviously intended for Bandit to die the slowest, most painful death possible, and that he is guilty until proven innocent.
In fact, on the radio talk show that I co-host a listener actually called in to say that Lovejoy needs to be charged with “manslaughter” (no, I’m not making this up — it actually happened).
JUDGE, JURY, EXECUTIONER
The respective fates of these men remain to be seen. Vick’s future will be determined largely by a decision of one judge, and the leadership of the National Football League, while Lovejoy’s future will likely depend upon the outcome of an ongoing investigation by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department.
And I hope that my views of the world, antiquated and unpopular as they may be, will prevail among the decision makers involved in these two situations.
I realize it may be ‘just me,” but with these two cases, the court of public opinion looks pretty scary right now.