Saturday, April 12, 2014

Guns, Weed and Pit Bulls - Satirical Memes Weaken the Good Fight

     The FB experience is a hotbed for political expression.  The funny thing about the social media phenomenon is that many of the shared political and social memes are inaccurate.  “Satirical” material is the king now, designed to inflame and impassion people into action with outrageous claims.  The old adage about putting your best foot forward is definitely good advice.  With all the crap flying through the web these days, nothing beats solid facts.  I have some experience in these matters so  I’m sharing what I think is the best argument that cuts through the hype.


   Let’s start with an informational toke to let the inspiration flow.  Let it be known that I have never been able to use marijuana.  I got my student pilot license at 14 and have been in jobs that require drug-tests throughout my civilian and military career.  Pot just wasn’t on my radar.

     First of all, marijuana is not a miracle cure.   Sure, some studies have shown it to be beneficial in cancer treatment but marijuana doesn’t seem to stand out as a cancer fighter among other homeopathic treatments.  There’s no conspiracy keeping weed down to help the chemo companies make money.  Nothing works better than the current treatments, and no single treatment cures everything.  Believe me, if burning a doob dropped a patient’s CEA (tumor marker), M.D. Anderson Cancer Center would open a hooka bar.  I am a cancer patient and have discussed this with doctors and other patients as well as having done plenty of web research.  Money is made based on cure rates, not the sale of medication.  If a medication doesn’t produce satisfactory results, it’s kicked to the curb.  Weed is a hit-or-miss thing with cancer.  It’s highly beneficial to some in helping with chemo side effects, but not for others.

     Any cop will tell you that a stoner is typically non-violent and easier to deal with than a drunk, junkie, speed freak or coke head.  I don’t know the numbers on driving incidents involving weed, but I have extensive experience in arresting DWI’s and the number of marijuana related stops were dwarfed by those of alcohol.  The best argument for weed is that the criminal and sociological impact is far less than other drugs.

     I don’t support the “gateway drug” ideology.  It’s not the substance that leads a person down the path of destruction, it’s the person.  I was raised to believe that only losers smoked dope, so I didn’t.  Experience has since shown me that many mainstream successful people use it, but it’s still common among losers.  I’ve heard people say they stopped because it made them unmotivated.  Others report a Ritalin-like effect that helps them focus and endure monotonous tasks.  This seems pretty consistent with alcohol.  Some people become lifelong drunks, others like a couple of drinks to loosen up before going on stage (ok, I can vouch for this one.)  In day-to-day calls for service, the average complaint about a pothead was that they wouldn’t get off the couch.  Drunks are a different story with far more violence and family impact issues.

  I don’t currently support marijuana use.  I do take my oath to uphold the law seriously and ganja is still illegal, but more importantly in our area, buying the stuff likely supports the brutal Mexican drug trade.  I’m hopeful that legalization will help topple the cartels, at least in the weed market.  They still have the harder stuff to profit from but weed remains a big moneymaker along the border. 

     The bottom line is that people smoke weed to feel good.  It’s not a miracle cure but there are some medical benefits.  It’s not for everyone.  It won’t make someone a heroin addict and it won’t turn everyone into Tommy Chong.  Heads are less likely to be violent and don’t seem to be the public risk that drunks are.  I’ve personally seen booze and prescription drugs cause more damage to families than weed.  I believe this ideology will help turn the tides into a legalize-and-tax situation.

 The Pit Bull

     I’ve seen some memes out there that tell us that people discriminate unreasonably against the breed.  The most frequent thing I hear is that a Pit’s behavior depends upon how it’s raised.  I know several owners of Pits, and there’s a common thread.  While they praise the animal’s friendly disposition, in other conversation they are leery or even proud of their potential for aggressiveness.  There’s a reason for this, and it’s not the fault of the dog or a responsible owner.

     I’m very lucky to have attended a seminar led by Lieutenant Colonel David Grossman.  He is a leader in the psychological effects of killing in soldiers and police.   He teaches police and military leaders how to deal with PTSD and other problems caused when a normal person is forced to kill another in deadly force situations.  In his teachings, he points out that animals are normally resistant to killing their own kind outside of a few circumstances like infanticide (i.e. a lion killing cubs of another male to make room for his own).  Most animals will fight and injure each other over mating rights and territory, but even the most dangerous animals don’t routinely kill each other.  In the case of the pit bull, however, animals are trained to kill their own kind.  The ones that kill are bred to similar dogs.  The less aggressive dogs are destroyed.    The breeding is fast and plentiful, unlike the breeding practices of responsible owners.  Over years of the fast-moving dog fighting market, this produced a sociopath.  Breed traits are very difficult to train out, and the traits have triggers.  Herders herd.  Pointers point.  Retrievers retrieve.  Greyhounds chase.  Terriers dig.  Fighting dogs kill dogs. 

     In my years on the streets, Pits were common in crappy neighborhoods and were often aggressive.  I was never attacked by a Golden Retriever, Great Dane or any other large breed.   Pits were a different story.  Especially in those crappy neighborhoods, owners were proud of the breed’s aggressiveness, citing protection for the owner.  Any breed will show protective behavior for their owner.  Some will alert and run, and some will hold at bay, some will attack.  I’m married to a former animal control officer who bears more scars than I do from Pit Bulls.  There is definitely a tilt in the scales toward aggressiveness in Pit Bulls, so it’s not discrimination that caused a cautious eye to be cast on the breed. 

     Even the ASPCA is very cautious in their attitude toward the breed.  U.S. Studies typically show the Pit Bull at the top of the list in attacks against humans.  The best any opposition has been able to spin the numbers is to show that the population per capita of attacking Pits is lower than any other dog.  I don’t understand how they know the numbers of all breeds, but even the more favorable studies show Pits as the top attacker.

     The absolute best argument for the pit bull is that media popularity is causing more responsible pet ownership.  Dogs with strong pet traits grow in number while those with sociopathic aggression diminish.  This takes longer because pets are loved, nurtured, live long lives in good care and are bred more slowly than fighters.  The support in rehabilitating the breed is hurting the fighting industry.  Responsible pet owners are slowly winning the battle of attrition against years of intentionally malicious inbreeding.

   Like plenty of other problems in society, it’s a problem caused by stupid, greedy, criminal people who victimized the innocent.  It can only be fixed by responsible, civil and caring people.


     The most near and dear argument to me is that of firearms.  The second amendment is very clear, and is the default in most arguments.  Add to it the statistics showing that big cities with strong gun control have the highest murder rates.  The problem is media sensationalism.  It’s like a plane crash.  You’re safer in an airplane than a car.  I’ve never offered someone a car ride and had them appear nervous about crashing.  When I offered an airplane ride, some completely refused because they were afraid of crashing.  News media will report on a plane crash for weeks even when more people died in car accidents on the same day.  It’s the same for gun violence.  So, there are some of the best arguments.  Now let’s talk about some BS that hurts our case.

     The “Assault rifle” title has been around for a long time.  The concept of lighter, multi-purposed fighting rifles started with Germany in WWII and continues to this day.  There is absolutely no denying that weapons like the AR-15 were designed for shooting people.  If I were going to plan a mass shooting, it would be a semi-auto shorty and a wheelbarrow of magazines.  (They’re NOT “clips,” dammit!)  We’re better off countering with the second amendment along with the fact that it was designed as a multi-purpose weapon and there are plenty of “sporting” uses for it today.  Many sports have descended from combat and warfare and there’s no reason that the evil assault rifles can’t come along.  The overwhelming stats of responsible ownership versus criminal use are very much ignored by the anti-firearm community and are among the strongest arguments for keeping government away from black guns. 

    I can’t warm up to the concept of open carry.  For me, open carry is a pain.  To this very day I prefer to carry concealed when I’m in public.  The mere presence of a weapon changes the dynamics of everything.  It’s very popular for an idiot to cross a plain clothes cop in an everyday conflict only to later complain that they were intimidated by the holstered gun.  It’s a magnet for people I don’t know to talk to me.  There’s also the less-frequent occurrence of the personality change of some people when they strap on a heater.  I’m also very concerned that people will open carry when they are not able to retain their weapon from a criminal determined to take it.  Disarming someone is pretty easy, and there’s no shortage of prison training on the skill.  In some situations open carry may be a deterrent, but I’m not sure how much more so it is than widespread concealed carry.  Opinions may vary, but I’ve found that society grinds along much more quietly around me when my weapon isn’t visible.  It’s very comforting that I can ventilate an armed criminal if necessary.

     I’ve followed some local stories and had conversations with other officers in bigger cities about the popularity of open carry demonstrations.  There’s a trend among these groups to be a bit obstinate in arranging the proper permits and following the restrictions for use of public property for demonstrations.  It results in a cop telling them to disperse or be arrested for violation of a city code.  This turns to spouting of second amendment violation accusations and the show starts.  Liars like Alex Jones fuel the fire and we have a mess on our hands.  It is far more effective to demonstrate that gun owners are very much law abiding citizens.  I believe that gun rights demonstrators should show the public that we gun owners are respectful of the law so much that we’re willing to fill out the monotonous paperwork and pay the fees to demonstrate.  Neckbearded dimwits marching in the streets and taunting local cops is not going to sway opinions.
     In the recent memes about Eric Holder's bracelet idea, the concept of GPS tracking has been added by detractors.  The bracelet isn't a new idea.  Decades ago, Smith and Wesson introduced a revolver that required the shooter to wear a special ring before the weapon would fire.  Years later there was an electronic fingerprint ID holster that was marketed to police that required the shooter's thumb to be scanned before the holster would release.  These were well-meaning ideas but they both had fatal flaws.  They were useless if the shooter had to use his non-dominant hand.  I don't trust any system of this kind with my life.  Sure, I suppose GPS tracking could be added to the bracelet, but it's not worth muddying the waters while trying to make a good argument.  These systems are unsafe and there's more than enough government involvement in firearms ownership already.

     There’s my inflammatory $0.02 on some recent hot-button issues.  I encourage everyone to Google anything they’re considering passing along on social media and make sure it’s factual before passing it on.  Not only does it keep egg off  the user’s face, it perpetuates a better argument for the cause.  After all, if you’re taking the time to share something, it’s most likely very close and important to you.  Fight the good fight and fight it wisely!