Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The One About Defective and the Rhetoric
This past weekend in Tuscon Arizona, a young man made a somewhat conscious decision to shoot a congresswoman, kill a young child, a federal judge, a few other folks and wound over a dozen more. I have no words for the act, just prayers for the families and those who were hurt or killed.
Himself and I watched and listened with interest in the next few days, and I think we were both disheartened by what we heard and saw.

I have known my vets since they we were all in high school. We have a friendship as well as a business relationship. They have cried with me, debated with me, and worked with me over more than twenty years. I have never known them to be anything other than thoughtful, compassionate and responsible. So it came as a great surprise to me when I brought the Sentinel and I encountered what I did.

As I was leashing up the Sentinel, a gentleman in a truck next to me took out his Pitbull. The animal was beautiful. Huge head, muscular but proportionate body and that strut... they headed into the office. I chose to wait a few moments, because the 27 pound Sentinel believes that she is a 160 pound Rottweiler. She was in heat at the time and I had noticed that the Pit wasn't neutered. Discretion is the better part of valor and all. A few minutes in the waiting room and I could hear the low, throaty growl of the Pit in the exam room. Then the vet tech came out. And there was more growling. I ushered the Sentinel into another exam room while the receptionist closed the door and windows to her office. 

I heard my vet, my friend, tell the dogs owner, "This dog needs to be destroyed." "He is a liability." "He is dangerous and shouldn't be around people." "This animal is defective." The owner was none to happy and as he strode out of the office, my friend ended with "For God's sake keep that dog away from children!" Needless to say, I was appalled. 

When we stopped talking about the Sentinel, I made mention of the fact that I was shocked by his reaction to that animal. I'm a bleeding heart when it comes to animals (and kids, and old people) and I just couldn't wrap my head around what had happened. "Sometimes, no matter what you do or how you feel, things are just defective" he told me. "As much as I want it to be different, I can't change it and I can't, in good conscience, pretend that it doesn't exist." I spent days thinking about what he said.

After the shooting in Tuscon, the television, radio and internet were abuzz with a singular theory. That somehow, someway, political rhetoric and the divisiveness of the current political climate caused this young man to do the things he did. 

First the blame was laid at the feet of the Tea Party. Then the "right-wingers", then came the right as a whole, and we mustn't forget Sarah Palin... What was missing was the idea that this man was responsible for his own actions. Not that, the rhetoric made him do it. What was missing was the idea that this young man might just be "defective". 

As of this writing, it has come to light that this young man had a very troubled past. That he was refused by the military, dropped out of school, removed from community college, and a whole litany of other things that in hindsight, were warning signs to the nth degree. He is, by all reasonable criteria, "defective". But that's not what people are going to remember. That's not what's going to be printed on the front page of every newspaper, that's not going to be what fuels discussion in the next few weeks...

But maybe it should be.....

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