Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pit Bulls and the Art of Communicating With People Who View the World through a Haze of Pseudodigitization

Not my picture. Uncredited photo from Internet. Growl bark snap bite.

Rule 22 for communicating with right-wing pseudodigitizers of complex analog phenomena: 
Always bear in mind that they tend to be EXTREMELY literal-minded. Case in point: I recently had the opportunity to participate in a discussion among quasi-acquaintances about whether one should shoot pit bulls, or if stabbing is a better idea. Yeah, an entire discussion focused on tactics for dispatching menacing pit bulls. Some guys apparently stay up nights planning their next possible dire dog dilemma. I actually have some first-hand experience with dog aggression and biting. True, it was decades ago, and the dogs that bit me were well-trained and under the control of a handler, but I've actually been bitten more times than the average person. Hundreds (thousands?) of instances, three of which involved protective equipment failure and/or mistakes on my part that resulted in emergency room visits. Canine behavior is canine behavior; the control of humans over dogs is an operational model that complements the innate behavioral template of the animals; it does not replace it. That's the whole idea--you don't train an animal to display behaviors that are absolutely out of its hardwired repertoire; you modify and shape pre-existing behaviors.

Yes, there are some very definite differences between an aggressive and uncontrolled dog attack and a law enforcement K9 operating under human control to neutralize a threat. Under the most commonly encountered circumstances, uncontrolled dogs are much more likely to break off an attack in the face of substantial resistance than is a highly trained K9. A well-trained and dedicated police K9 will sustain his use of toothsome force in the face of extreme resistance by the suspect. He will keep biting even if stabbed between the eyes while the knife remains embedded in his skull, missing his brain by mere millimeters.

The horror stories about pit bulls confer powers beyond doggie possibility: "Locking" their jaws, automatically going for the cojones, and other myths. Yes, some of 'em are very aggressive and won't back down unless incapacitated. These are a small fraction of the total population. They can be threats to other dogs and to children and small adults. They can pose problems for large adults, too--don't get me wrong. I'm just saying that the relative risk of dire pit bull attack to the average person walking around, although real, tends to be grossly overstated. Back to the original topic--right wing ideologues and the binary, either-or manner in which many seem to view the world. This characteristic must be taken into account when trying to communicate with them, because if a person sees no shades of gray in much of anything, it's hard for him or her to interpret nuance. In the discussion about plans for every possible pit bull contingency, I offered the following bit, which I'd written several months before in the style of the  tradecraft tips offered weekly by the Michael Weston character in the TV series "Burn Notice."  I don't always go around reciting things I've written and memorized, but when I do, I try to be entertaining. People usually remember the "hits" and forget the frequent "misses," and I am generally regarded as possessing an adequate sense of humor.

Pit bulls, Presa Canarios, and Rottweilers are the dogs of choice for drug dealers, tin pot dictators, warlords, and mob bosses. If you find yourself on the receiving end of an attack by one of these brutes, sacrifice your non-dominant arm and use your other hand to press your thumb and forefinger into his eyes. The key is to do this quickly, before he's had a chance to chew through your tendons or get your radial artery. If he gets your radial artery, reflect back the muscle with a broken beer bottle and cauterize the end of the severed vessel by removing a round from your gun, opening a cartridge, pouring the powder into a piece of that paper they use to pick up donuts at the donut shop, rolling the powder inside the donut paper, placing it into the artery, and igniting it with a Bic lighter. Or...skip all of those steps and just press your wheel gun right up against the mad dog's eye and send him a .38 Special delivery along the same route the optic nerve travels to the brain.

Okay, admittedly it's not all that funny, but if you're thinking at all, it's pretty obvious that this was an attempt at humor, not a serious answer. However, several people though I meant it seriously. I should've just told 'em that going on and on about their plans to dispatch pit bulls and avoid persecution by one of their most hated and feared adversaries, the "liberal media," doesn't exactly inspire confidence in their reasoning abilities.

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