Sunday, May 14, 2006

"Teach...your children well...."*

SHAMblog regulars know that from time to time, I reserve the right to stray from this forum's usual mission in order to address some other event that strikes me as worthy of comment. In this category is one of the hot stories in my region (Allentown, PA) of late: the rise of dog-fighting. Much like the cock-fights that proliferated 20 or 30 years ago in U.S. border towns and then spread rapidly inland, these stakes matches take place in dimly lit basements or out-of-the-way backyards, are publicized on the street via word of mouth, and become big-ticket gambling venues. The impresarios driving this latter-day blood sport tend to be folks who've already "made it" in drugs or prostitution; they arrange and promote the spectacles much as Don King promotes boxing. For a few days before the match itself, dogs typically will be deprived of food and proper amounts of water in order to make them leaner and meaner. Once in the fight ring, the dogs, usually (but not always) pit bulls, are expected to fight to the death. Animals who lose the will to continue after sustaining severe and/or painful injuries may be given added incentive with electrical prods. Aside from taking home a nice purse, the owner of a victorious dog earns a fair amount of street cred. Among a certain set of young urban males, it's a point of pride to parade the animal through the neighborhood, showing off its horrific battle scars. "The dog is an extension of their manhood" is how one cop recently put it.

Last week local police made a major bust on just such an operation, and a few days later the young defendants were hauled into court to answer the charges. As it happens, on the same day these gentlemen were arraigned, another young man was in court in a domestic-battery case. When he wound up receiving a lower bail than the members of the alleged dog-fighting ring, the latter group beomaned the unfairness of it all loudly and in open court. As reported in the Morning Call, one of them yelled, "We shoulda beat us some bitches instead...!"

Regular readers will also know by now that I'm dubious about whether there's much choice (if any) in life. Though I'm not at all sure where I come down in the nature vs. nurture debate, I'm pretty sure that whatever the respective degree of causation, nature + nurture = inevitable. Still, I think about stories like the above--I think about the singular heartlessness and brutality embodied in that quote, no matter which way you look at it--and I ask myself: How does someone (let alone an entire group of someones) turn out that way?

* Any CSNY fans left out there? For that matter, anybody out there who knows what CSNY stands for? (And no, it's not a new crime show...)


Cal said...

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Heck yeah CSNY fans are still out there!

Rodger Johnson said...

Steve, most of the guys and some girls I attended college with know of and listen to CSNY.

Young seems to be the most active, nowadays with his new release "Living with War." You ought to check it out on iTunes sometime.

As for the dog fighting, that's just horrible for the dogs. But, the people are to be pittied.

See, I think the we are predetermined to choose, and some of use choose for the worse.

Anonymous said...

If only hateful people could be euthanized like dogs!

thera said...

The title you gave this article is exactly the crux of the issue. It's all a matter of what we teach our children. Parents/educators as children's initial/major point of orientation for their behavior have the moral obligation to take responsibility and show them that all that is living is to be respected.