by liberal japonicus
Though one might think so, given that the first open thread was sports and the second was pets. I was up early to get stuff done and saw wonkie's comment in the open thread, where she talked about a Lab who apparently had been abandoned and said this
He was obviously a former pet who desperately wanted pet status again.
which reminded me of this Malcolm Gladwell piece. Sometimes, Gladwell overreaches, and I think he may a bit in this piece, but wonkie's comment made me think of this:
The most damaged, scarred, and belligerent of Michael Vick’s dogs—the hardest cases—were sent to the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, on a thirty-seven-hundred-acre spread in the canyons of southern Utah.
What happens at Best Friends represents, by any measure, an extravagant gesture. These are dogs that will never live a normal life. But the kind of crime embodied by dogfighting is so morally repellent that it demands an extravagant gesture in response. In a fighting dog, the quality that is prized above all others is the willingness to persevere, even in the face of injury and pain. A dog that will not do that is labelled a “cur,” and abandoned. A dog that keeps charging at its opponent is said to possess “gameness,” and game dogs are revered.
In one way or another, plenty of organizations select for gameness. The Marine Corps does so, and so does medicine, when it puts young doctors through the exhausting rigors of residency. But those who select for gameness have a responsibility not to abuse that trust: if you have men in your charge who would jump off a cliff for you, you cannot march them to the edge of the cliff—and dogfighting fails this test. Gameness, Carl Semencic argues, in “The World of Fighting Dogs” (1984), is no more than a dog’s “desire to please an owner at any expense to itself.” The owners, Semencic goes on,
understand this desire to please on the part of the dog and capitalize on it. At any organized pit fight in which two dogs are really going at each other wholeheartedly, one can observe the owner of each dog changing his position at pit-side in order to be in sight of his dog at all times. The owner knows that seeing his master rooting him on will make a dog work all the harder to please its master.
This is why Michael Vick’s dogs weren’t euthanized. The betrayal of loyalty requires an act of social reparation. (emphasis mine)
I know we have a few NFL fans here, so there might be some pushback against the notion that football has anything to do with such a heinous phenomenon as dog-fighting. Gladwell is a big football fan as well, and so I also direct y'all to where Gladwell answers questions from the readers.
(I'd also note that Gladwell gives a glowing recommendation to Bill Simmons book about the NBA, a book that seems to have its own problems. But that is a whole nother topic.)
For another view of NFL injuries, this article is worth reading.
Dr. Science mentioned the phenomenon of people coming into a conversation about marriage equality with complaints about the social construction of marriage, which often seem at cross purposes. I'm not pointing any fingers right now, I have done this in other topics, wading into a conversation where I feel like I have a logically unassailable position, and pressing it to the point that it raises hackles. There's an obvious danger of that here as well. This might be viewed as the perfect opportunity to discuss the immorality of pampering pets while there are people in the world who are much worse off. Which is why I move this to the front page, because I don't think that this sort of thought should be embedded in an open thread devoted to pet stories. Anyone is welcome to argue for the 'we'd be better off without pets (at least until we cure world hunger') line, but I'd just suggest that this might not be the place to do it, but no one is going to stop you.