Breed specific legislation (BSL) IS discrimination.
Yet Dogsbite.org, and frankly a number of pro-pit bull advocates, continuously misconstrue or misstate the truth.
The fact is BSL, or breed discriminatory legislation (BDL), singles out PEOPLE. People that own a dog that some unqualified individual identifies as a targeted breed, are treated differently by lawmakers, law enforcement, and animal control. They are classified as a different type of dog owner by officials and members of society alike.
- the act of discriminating, or distinguishing differences
- the ability to make or perceive distinctions; perception; discernment
- partiality, or bias, in the treatment of a person or group, which is unfair, illegal, etc.
- an act, policy, pattern of behavior, etc. characterized by such partiality
The term discrimination refers to the treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit. Discrimination can be the effect of some law or established practice that confers privileges on a certain class or denies privileges to a certain class.
The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution provide protection against discrimination by Federal and State Governments. The Fifth Amendment prohibits the Federal Government from depriving individuals of “life, liberty, or property,” without due process of the law. It also guarantees that each person receive equal protection of the laws. The Fourteenth Amendment prohibits states from violating an individual’s rights of due process and equal protection.
Dogsbite.org continuously diminishes the rights of individuals nationwide with their attempt to remove the equality and treatment of people that are, by Dogsbite.org’s own accusation, different or of a different class. They deflect by claiming it is impossible to discriminate against a dog, as it is not human.
This is simply a lie. Dogsbite.org wants to keep the focus on pit bulls. Only when there is a victim to tout do they want to associate the human/canine relationship.
Dogsbite.org members regularly attack individuals in the same fashion that member William Johnson displays in this exchange. But Aba refused to consider this self-proclaimed dog bite expert organization as an expert on the matter of discrimination also. Instead, we chose to rely on an independent, and true, expert .
Dr. Gregory Stanton is one of the world’s foremost experts on human rights and genocide. Dr. Stanton is President of Genocide Watch, the Director of the Cambodian Genocide Project, and the James Farmer Professor of Human Rights at Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He holds degrees from Oberlin College, Harvard Divinity School, and Yale Law School, as well as a Doctorate in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Chicago.
He has also served in the U.S. State Department, where he wrote the United Nations resolutions that created the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. In 1996 he presented the Department with the briefing paper, The Eight Stages of Genocide, which reviews each step in the systematic process of genocide. It is used today as a predictive or risk analysis model to determine if a class/race/group of people are at risk for, or have become victims of genocide.
When our friend, B. Haywood, specifically inquired during an online conversation with Dr. Stanton whether breed bans could be used to eliminate groups of dog owners, she compared the processes by which governments justify the marginalization, criminalization, and denial of rights of a particular group (s) in order to achieve the suppression or elimination of said group. She wanted to know if the systematic process of genocide – the criminalization and elimination of a group of people – follows the same path as the systematic process used to criminalize and eliminate groups of dog owners?
Dr. Stanton’s response was a resounding “Yes!”
It is the dog’s human owner in which BSL/BDL discriminates, violating our right to equal protection from illegal search and seizures and removing our protection under the law to be treated equally among other dog owners. But what BSL/BDL also creates is an atmosphere of false public perception. It reinforces a campaign that was originally pursued in the early 1990′s by PeTA and HSUS.
Just as communities were redlined as far back as the 1950′s, BSL/BDL was first made popular with the same purpose in mind. Targeting inner-city, low-income, minority-based communities. While it’s certain that “pit bulls” were not necessarily owned by one class of people, it is just as sure that when local ordinances were first being passed in such areas, it had no immediate effect on owners that were outside of those targeted boundary lines.
This fact permitted the breeding ground for a perfect storm.
“Hey, is that a pit bull?”
Law Enforcement agencies wanted shortcuts. They wanted to be able to harass any individual they suspected of breaking the law, primarily of being a drug-dealer, but were looking to do so without having to perform their duties by the letter of the law. If they persuaded officials to propose a ban or regulate pit bulls, they were freed from accusations of discrimination and harassment when they would inquire about a person’s dog.
Instead of stopping someone based on their appearance and asking if that person had any drugs on them, (“Hey, is that a pit bull?”) they no longer were required to have probable cause to stop or detain an individual, place him under arrest and/or search him. Now, they could simply use their own judgement to determine if a dog was or wasn’t a pit bull. And more times than not, if a clean-cut, middle-aged white man was walking his pit bull type dog in a middle-class neighborhood he would never be stopped, questioned, detained or searched for doing so.
But if an African-American or Hispanic male was walking his dog down a street a few blocks away in the same manner and fashion as the white guy? Immediate cause to stop the individual and perform an, otherwise illegal, search.
Well that’s not discrimination!
The media, as has been proven repeatedly, swarmed the controversial matter once the concerted voices of common sense became impossible to ignore. But the myths were already planted. The seeds had taken root and the public’s perception was tainted with the poison that pit bull owners were bad people, doing bad things, and certainly weren’t the kind of people any upstanding citizen would be affiliated with.
By 1994, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) had perfected their race-related statements so that the fine white folks sitting at their middle-class kitchen tables and upper-class board room tables had a clear and defined mental picture painted for them. Statements such as the following from an LA Times article exemplify the common practice used for nearly twenty-years of redlining.
“We’re seeing a disturbing new trend, a nationwide trend. Members of street gangs are using pit bulls as status symbols and as weapons,” said Rachel Lamb, a spokeswoman for the Humane Society of the U.S., based in Washington, D.C. “It’s a huge problem in Washington.”
This race-targeting campaign went unchallenged really for nearly two decades.
In 2005 on the “Paula Zahn NOW” ZAHN:
“The Humane Society estimates that 40,000 people in the U.S. stage animal fights for sport and profit. Among them are drug dealers, backyard breeders and gangs, who abuse pit bulls to create fierce, aggressive dogs, prone to attack.”WAYNE PACELLE, HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES: “Pit bulls are the dogs of choice for dog fighters. And the combination of a strong dog and a person with the wrong ideas and wrong attitude makes for a combustible situation.”GAVIN NEWSOM (D), MAYOR OF SAN FRANCISCO: I think it’s time that we get serious about pit bulls in this city, we get serious about pit bulls in this state, we get serious about pit bulls across the United States of America.
And don’t think PETA hadn’t contributed throughout the years. For instance, in a 2005 Op-ed piece, Ingrid Newkirk, co-founder of the organization, had an article published in the SFGate declaring how she had waded in personally to retrieve pit bulls trained to attack from owners that had beaten, starved and chained the dogs to metal drums in the DC area. Dogs with names like “Murder” and “Homicide” were filling Newkirks file drawers in her account.
Certainly, no middle-class American could relate to that described brutality. There was no common ground produced from statements like that to encourage action to save a dog from these vile 2-legged beasts that were inflicting such barbaric and heinous treatment of any animal. Surely these animals were deserving of such treatment. Afterall when Ingrid Newkirk states that these are the same animals that “have torn the faces and fingers off infants and even police officers trying to serve warrants,” what law-abiding good citizen would hesitate to question the abuse of the human owner? And, without actually stating the obvious, ‘those’ people are inner-city if they’re in the DC news.
‘Those’ people are…not like the readers of the SFGATE, or the LATimes. ‘Those’ people don’t watch shows like Paula Zahn NOW! We know who ‘those’ people are, don’t we?
But I’m an elected official, it’s my job to protect the people that voted for me!
And the final element to the perfect storm? Politicians! No, they can’t escape their part in the history of BSL/BDL and certainly must own their portion of the discriminatory practices.
Time and time again they have been presented with facts based on peer-reviewed scientific studies, expert opinions and testimony, and with examples of the dogs themselves behaving as any dog that has been given a positive environment and socialization will behave. Time and time again, we witnessed the spread of BSL/BDL. We saw the surge in knee-jerk policies enacted without a thought as to how the policy would be enforced, if it could be enforced. No regard to whether it would accomplish public safety or if it would only target a certain class of people. People that owned pit bull type dogs.
By the time this stampede of racially based laws had reached their peek, dog owners of all creed, race, nationality, religion, sex and financial status had finally noticed. Voices of common sense that had been shouting from the rooftops for nearly two decades were finally being heard, and the masses joined to help them.
But at what cost? The thousands of dead dogs that were targeted because they happened to live in an inner-city, economically crippled, and crime riddled neighborhood had died. There was the occasional severe attack that would be paraded by proponents of BSL/BDL, a token sacrifice on their part, to reinforce the dangerousness of the pit bulls.
Pay no mind to the fact that science had already surpassed this fear-mongering tactic these proponents had perfected.
Scary, drug-dealing, gang-members with their vicious dogs creating an unsavory and dangerous environment….that was still far more believable to officials in some areas than the reality of science and experience. The line from the Wizard of Oz comes to mind often when this writer reflects on the history of BSL/BDL. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain….” Pit bulls were villains, and while some may agree with Dogsbite.org in the opinion that a society cannot discriminate against a non-human entity, no one can deny that it was the human element that was touted repeatedly for more than a decade that generated the fear of the public.
Certainly society could not admit they feared the young black man in the inner-city. They would not admit that their disgust with the violence that resulted from the drugs and the gangs of minority-filled neighborhoods could influence their level of fear, it may paint them as a racist.
“But if we blame the DOGS? Well, that’s completely acceptable. They’re just dogs. Well, they’re just pit bulls, and ‘those’ dogs aren’t owned by my constituents!”
Times are changing, but the discrimination continues.
In 2013, the Washington Post ran a story with the headline, Breaking Fad: Alligators becoming the new pit bulls for drug dealers, cops say. The media can’t help themselves, it’s such common-place practice to paint those mental pictures for their viewers and readers of the terrible things that lurk around the ‘wrong neighborhood’s corners’ (you know, where ‘those’ people usually live?), the article would have one believing that, nationwide, we face the dangers of scaly reptiles threatening our safety and well-being.
Noble writes, “The scaly version of the guard dog isn’t showing up just in drug dens near its native Southern swamp lands, police are finding the reptiles in raids from Oakland to Philadelphia.”
The truth about this article? It was pertaining to a single incident that occurred in Maryland. And, if you read the article? Police and the alligator’s owner both denied there was proof that the purpose of the alligator was to ‘guard any drugs’ – which turned out to be a whopping 5 ounces of marijuana….a drug that is becoming increasingly supported by both citizens and lawmakers as a potentially useful drug and that has been legalized in a few areas across the nation.
Sensationalism? You betchya!
Fortunately, 2014 appears to be gaining a more positive and professional position with the journalists that present news without seeking sensationalism, as is represented in the Kansas City, MO article that was also picked-up by numerous outlets.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – For much of the past three decades, pit bulls have been widely regarded as America’s most dangerous dog — the favorite breed of thugs, drug dealers and dog-fighting rings, with a fearsome reputation for unprovoked, sometimes deadly attacks.Hostility toward “pits” grew so intense that some cities began treating them as the canine equivalent of assault rifles and prohibited residents from owning them.But attitudes have softened considerably since then as animal activists and even television shows cast the dogs in a more positive light.Eighteen states now have laws that prohibit communities from adopting breed-specific bans. Lawmakers in six more states are considering similar measures.The dogs’ foes complain that their message is being drowned out by a well-funded, well-organized lobbying effort by pit bull advocates.
It has taken nearly 30 years to undo the harm that has been caused to good dog-owners. The responsible, tax-paying, registered voters that happen to own a dog that may appear to be some part pit bull. We’ve fought through decades of presumptions, baseless accusations, judgmental pre-conceived stereo-types, and mythical accusations that cost us the right of simply being a dog owner.
And yes, it is a right, as dogs are private property and we’re promised equal protection as all other citizens owning private property. We’ve endured finger-pointing, lived by special rules and regulations, and we’ve suffered from bias lists made up by white-collar statisticians who wouldn’t know an American Pit Bull Terrier from a Boxer, let alone a pit bull mix.
If that’s not discrimination, this writer is not sure what is!
LA Times 1994 Police push for pit-bull restrictions _ MailTribune_MedfordSFGate_Newkirk_05Police push for pit-bull restrictions _ MailTribune_MedfordSFGate_Newkirk_05ZAHN NOW_2005
More to come……