Wednesday, August 29, 2007

what about little dogs? do little dogs pay taxes?

Leona Helmsley, who allegedly once told her housekeeper "Only the little people pay taxes," has left $12 million dollars to her Maltese, which works out to $2 million more than the sum of what she gave to the four children of her previously deceased son.

Speaking of doggy discrimination, I was on the bus the other day when the driver refused to let this woman with cerise hair on with her pit bull. As he closed the door, he said to the passengers nearest to the front--a woman with three children who had been let on, no questions asked--that "A chihuahua, fine. One of those things, no way." Where are the symbolic interactionist criminologists to consider whether part of why pit bulls are so violent is the way they get "labeled" by social authorities?

12 comments:

Ken Houghton said...

A chihuahua fits on a bus; may not be a question of "dangerous" so much as "unwiedly and a potential hazard."

Collaterally, pit bulls earned their reputation, since the type of person who owns them tends to treat them to bring out the meanness of the dog. (As with Jessica Rabbit, they're not bad, they're just drawn that way.)

Ang said...

The, uh, Dog Whisperer talks about this a lot, how dangerous some owners can be, and how they've ruined the pit bulls' reputation. I think as evidence, he notes that Petey, the Our Gang mascot, was a pit bull.

Jamy said...

Nice use of labeling theory! I used to teach that in my criminology class. The students never bought it.

Kieran said...

Where are the symbolic interactionist criminologists to consider whether part of why pit bulls are so violent is the way they get "labeled" by social authorities?

Maybe in an ER with twenty five pounds of overbred mutt with a jaw-lock reflex attached to their leg.

Brady said...

Labeling? Pah. Everybody knows it's a selection effect.

Ang said...

Jamy: my students used to love labeling theory - then, again, maybe they just liked talking about pot.

I think Shamus once told me that pit pulls look meaner because people clip their ears. Someone remind me again - why do they clip ears?

mary_m said...

I misread this post at first, and thought what was at issue was that a dog would not be allowed on the bus, but that a woman with her three children would.

And, I mean, I could sort of go along with that, depending on the size and disposition of the children.

Jamy said...

Ang: your students may not have been from the bible belt.

My fav incident from teaching criminology was putting a question on a test about the "dramatization of violence" and having about half the class answer with an explanation of why tv violence was bad. Unfortunately, we'd never discussed crime and media. They got pissed when I gave zero credit to anyone who answered that way.

monsoon said...

Labeling theory is an interesting take on why pit bulls are considered dangerous, and I do agree with what Ken said about the type of people who tend to own such dogs... but what about the breeders? What kind of traits are they maintaining and creating? Last year I had a friends Pit Bull maul my hand until someone could get the dog off of me (I did not pull my hand away to lessen the tearing). I was scared shitless!

shakha said...

Malcolm Gladwell wrote about this in the New Yorker.

See:

http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/02/06/060206fa_fact

The idea: if you track dog attacks over tme you find that the breed of dog who is most likely to attack people has changed since the 70s/80s. What doesn't change: the folks likely to own dogs who attack. IN other words, different dogs become more desirable to these folks (first it was dobermans, now it's pit bulls). At least that's what I think it says. I read it over a year ago and haven't bothered to re-read it.

I, for one, would own a pit bull if I owned a dog. I'm not sure what that says.

carly said...

I'm more or less convinced that if chihuahuas were the size of pit bulls they'd be the scariest dogs on the planet by far. Those things freak me out.

Ang said...

And they can be seriously vicious little f*ckers, too. Because they're small, I think people just sort of laugh. Like that little dog that ran next to the huge bulldog in the Tom & Jerry cartoons.