Thursday, September 20, 2012

BSL musings, numero dos

Liberty is essential. Without it, you would literally not be able to survive.  Imagine a trip to your own restroom requires permission from a government bureau?  Of course, to have true liberty, you must marginally restrict it.  In other words, my right to swing my fist ends just BEFORE your nose begins, and vice versa.

If a bunch of us were to start our own Mars colony, and I was elected Governor, the first thing I would do to protect human health and safety would be to establish a non aggression rule.   This would be rigorously enforced.  Non aggression rules, or non initiation of force rules, are (or should be) the foundation of ANY legal system.  I believe the Non Aggression Principle (NAP) is the only just foundation of any legal system.  It is an excellent rule that protects everyone.

Therefore, we are setting limits on behavior.  Initiation of aggression is any behavior that infringes the rights of others. 

When aggression is, or has been, initiated, resultant outcomes and penalties would depend on a couple of things:
-          How much aggression was applied, and
-          What was the result of that aggression?

For example, death threats are considered aggressive.  However, that is considered to be less aggressive than say, actually murdering someone.  Therefore, we take action against those who threaten but not as much as those who actually murder.

The use of weapons to threaten, coerce, or intimidate others is considered more serious than using mere words.  This is sensible due to the fact that, in addition to violent intent, the aggressor has demonstrated the means to carry out the attack.  Additionally, the type of weapon used may also be used as a determinant in the severity of the aggression.  For example, threatening someone with a firearm is considered a more aggressive stance than threatening them with a pocketknife.  Firearms generally present a greater threat when compared to small knives.

So, what you have is a “sliding scale” that ranges from no aggression at one far end of the scale, to lethal aggression at the far opposite end of that same scale.  The severity of penalties associated with those actions is indicated on that same scale.

It’s noteworthy that the non aggression rule allows for the use of force, up to and including the use of lethal force, in self defense scenarios.  For example, if you are sitting in your living room watching television, and a blood soaked maniac kicks down your door and swings an axe at you, you are free to use whatever means available to defend yourself.  What is important to consider is, YOU did not initiate the aggressive act:  HE did.  It also grants the State the right to arrest and punish aggressors after the fact.  These uses of force are considered justifiable. 

Keep reading, I am getting to the point!

While I see many problems with BSL, I generally support it.  The breed history and statistics of the Pit Bull, and similar breeds, speak for themselves.  Treating Pit Bulls and other “power” breeds of dogs with prejudice is sensible from BOTH an individual AND a societal standpoint. The threat presented by a Pit Bull is greater than the threat presented by a Shih Tzu.   Placing restrictions on Pit Bulls (or Shih Tzus for that matter) does not violate one’s core rights as housing a dog in a human city is not recognized as a core civil right anywhere that I know of.  You may treat Pit Bulls with prejudice for no other reason than You CAN.

One nagging problem with BSL is that it is apparent to me that most BSL arrangements do NOT directly address the behavior of dogs or dog owners.  Sure, there may be a lot of low hanging fruit in a Pit Bull restriction BUT you are still not addressing the aggressive actions directly.   There is STILL no “non aggression principle” applied to dog owners! 

Non aggression principles dictate that you do NOT initiate aggression against ANYBODY with ANYTHING.  While the type of weapon is a determinant in the outcome, the use of “lesser” weapons remains intolerable.  “Lesser” offenses should likewise be treated with affirmative action.  Face it, ANYTHING can be used as a weapon.  One of the few things that Pit Nuts say that is sensible is “any dog can bite”.  Of course, none of them has quite the bite of the Pit Bull, but should that give owners of mixes and other breeds a complete pass on bad behavior?  NO!  It should not, but it does in many cases.

Here is a good for-example.  One of my problems with BSL is that it is an arbitrary hard line in the sand.   Let’s say for the sake of argument, I have 2 dogs, Rex and Fido.  Both are Pit-Lab mixes.  Rex is 7/16 pit bull and Fido is 9/16 pit bull.  Up until now, I have not only been allowed to KEEP the dogs, I have been allowed to use them to facilitate legalized assault:  They have been attacking neighbors and passerby, barking all night, destroying property, attacking other pets, crapping in neighbors yards, etc…  All of these are aggressive acts initiated by me, using the dogs as “agents”.  Authorities have been contacted but refuse to do anything. I have had NO legal restraint imposed upon me whatsoever.  I have been using my dogs to initiate aggression towards others LEGALLY.  You see this type of scenario in neighborhoods all over the world.

So, some folks come along, perhaps my victims, and they say “Look, these Pit Bull type dogs are dangerous, lets ban them!”.   So, the city comes up with a rule that specifies that all dog owners must submit their dogs for DNA testing and any dog that is 50% or more pit bull will be confiscated and destroyed.  As a result of this new policy, Fido is destroyed by the government.  However, I still have Rex, who continues the reign of terror throughout the neighborhood unchecked.  Passerby continue to be routinely harassed, people STILL can’t sleep in their homes due to frequent barkathons, there is dog crap everywhere (but only half as much), people aren’t safe in their own yards, etc… AC and the cops continue to ignore my neighbors when they call, as they always had been.   It is noteworthy that while no restraint is placed on MY behavior, severe restraint is placed on my neighbors’ behavior:  If they were to poison or shoot Rex, they would face the most excruciating penalties!

Agreed, in the scenario above my victims are arguably better off BUT they are still being victimized. They are still being victimized because, as dog owner, NO LIMITS HAVE BEEN PLACED ON MY BEHAVIOR!   Not only am I allowed to keep Rex, I may continue to do whatever I want with him!   I may not only possess the weapon, but I may use it completely at my discretion with no boundaries or limits defined whatsoever!  WooHoo!  

Now, you could change the hypothetical Pit Bull ban indicated above so that any dog that meets a DNA threshold of 25% or even 12.5% Pit Bull would be summarily destroyed.   Such a threshold might solve the “Rex Problem” temporarily but it STILL DOES NOT ADDRESS THE AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR OF THE DOG OWNER!

An allegory would be, due to an increase in shootings we will implement a strict ban on automatic rifles.  However, shooting at people with “lesser” guns continues to be completely legal.  Therefore, as long as your gun is semi-automatic, you may act with NO restraint of any kind whatsoever.  How sensible is THAT?  Under NAP rules you do not initiate aggression with ANYTHING EVER.

What I am getting at here, is that it is sensible and fair to place limits on behavior FIRST.  This is because it is the AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR that is damaging.  Therefore, it is the AGGRESSOR that will be the object of restraint and punishment.  The TOOL, or “thing”, that is used to facilitate that aggression is of secondary consideration.

I agree that it may become sensible to put limits on ownership of “things” as well.   Perhaps some things are just too dangerous to leave in the hands of individuals, including those with peaceful intent.  However, I would only restrict “things” AFTER non aggression rules have been firmly established.  I have argued that if reasonable non aggression principles had been applied to pet owners all along, the “Pit Bull Problem” never would have presented itself.  Even now, if you were to start locking up ALL dog owners that use their dogs as weapons that would be completely devastating to the Pit Bull community, perhaps even more so than a ban that does not address behavior.

Non Aggression Principle (NAP).  Learn it.  Know it.  LIVE IT.


  1. I think I get what you're saying, and I believe I agree with your conclusions for the most part.

    I am not opposed to BSL, but I too see many, many problems with it.

    I propose that dog owners should be liable for all damages, human or animal, for anything off of their property and the only "pass" the dogs get ON property is if there is clear trespass into a well HUMAN fenced area that is properly posted and secured so the young and illiterate cannot accidentally get mauled. I suppose dogs can also get a "pass" if they protect their owners from muggings, etc. and/or there is CLEAR evidence of abuse.

    I think there also should be MASSIVE fines for negligent owners who do not contain their dogs properly and the result is a serious bite. I also think it should be a felony to own a dog that mauls or kills a person.

    If laws like that were adopted nationwide, I bet the 99% of pitbulls and other aggressive dogs would vanish faster than you can say "insurance premium".


  2. i like your utopian society animal uncontrol, only one problem, most people who engage in aggressive acts do so because they lack impulse control.

    just banning pit bulls is not the best solution. that leaves those affected by the truly freak accidents high and dry.

    i think mandatory insurance and mandatory proper containment (no electric fencing, no flimsy fencing, no tethering), are a better solution. ohio had it right but the pit nutters dismantled it on the grounds that the law was unfair.

    in addition to the massive fines, insurance and proper containment, felony assault charges if the victim is human, felony animal cruelty charges if the victim is an animal plus a lifetime bans against owning dogs. i have seen some serious fines down under and in canada, TEN GRAND!! now that's what i'm talking about!

    we need to get serious about lesser violations too. roaming, barking etc. three strikes your out. no dogs for you.

    the nutters always say these are unenforceable like guns laws but i don't agree. unlike guns, dogs are difficult to conceal.

    1. Dawn,

      How is it utopian? I would say that banning everything that might be a problem would be a "utopian" solution. Again, the thing I find so frustrating about this discussion is THERE IS NO CURRENT LIMIT ON BEHAVIOR! Not until someone is killed spectacularly, anyway.

      Sure, a back end loaded legal system leaves us open to screw up at least once. However, for many things that one pitch is all you get.

      Dogs are an outlet for psychopaths because not only is there no restraint before the fact, there is none after either.

      You are right in that you can't compare guns to pets and another reason is, we have STATUTORY PENALTIES for gun crimes. In my state, brandish a gun=5 years, discharge a gun=10 years, injure someone 20=years. I don't see anything like that in the pet world.

      I like all of your other proposals, BTW.

    2. i was only referring to this as utopian:
      Non Aggression Principle (NAP). Learn it. Know it. LIVE IT.

      it sounded like you were proposing that violent and aggressive people should inhibit their own violence and aggression. i do not belief that violent aggressive people can control themselves, just like pit bulls.

      i think there is one similarity between guns and dogs and that is the damage they can do. i do think they can and should be regulated similarly (background checks, licensing and especially the ease at which you can lose that license) and i think enforcing the restrictions is much easier for dogs. dogs bark, they're too big to hide in your pocket. i'd like to see felons banned from owning dogs, all dogs or just large fighting and guardian breeds.

    3. Well, I AM suggesting they restrain their behavior. Again, the Miami Pit nuts had the rug pulled out from under them because they refused to self regulate. So, not only are they not allowed to use their weapon of choice, they can't own it either!!

    4. i never denied that owners are the problem, that is why i devote so much of craven desires to the pit nutter. this is why i like the professor's blog so much. he has tapped into the real problem.

      i think you'll find at the root of all psychopathology are varying degrees of poor impulse control ie, an inability to self regulate. if you subscribe to the position that dogcravers, pit nutters suffer from various psycho pathologies, then you also must recognize that they posses zero to poor ability to control their behavior. take miami for example, the megalomaniac that is the miami talking head for wiggle butt, dahlia canes. she is surrounded by felons, which explains why canes fought so hard FOR this habitual offender after his mutant bit a letter carrier and it was seized. canes should be fighting against the criminal element, but she can't because that is her audience. and the new york megalomaniac JANE BERKEY, she is fighting hard to do away with background checks for people who want to adopt pit bulls. why? because the overwhelming majority of people who want pit bulls are damaged goods.

      they won't self regulate because they can't self regulate. the sooner that legislators recognize this FACT, the better.

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  4. How come that the cat pet ownership is limited to domestic cats and the biggest thing you can get is Maine Coon, but anything bigger than that is a no no? You can't even get the permit for a lynx and it is the same size as pit bull? How about having cougars, they are slightly bigger than dogo argentino or other calf size dogs? It is allowed to have an puma size dog but it is not allowed to have puma size cat. So why not limit the size of the dog to a non threatening size? Of course, we all know why, cause dog's are our friends and they can be taught tricks and stuff.

    Limiting behaviour instead of limiting breeds sounds like a good idea, in theory, but in practice, well....This choice looks to me like a choice, when you have to hold the iron bar that has just came out of the furnace, with your bare hands and without glows and you have the choice to hold it either on the right or the left end.

    1. Greetings Professor,

      Again, I'm not opposed to breed restrictions per se, its just that I believe it would be more productive to place restrictions on behavior FIRST, then focus on the means.

      As you noted in one of your essays, the reports of pit bull attacks may indeed help boost the popularity of the pit bull, particularly among the criminal element.

      One other thing that frustrates me about these discussions (in addition to the behavior vs. ban conundrum) is that the focus is always on the DOG. It becomes an entirely dog-centric discussion. You have people blaming the dog, people trying to SAVE the dog, breed aficionados and breed haters pour out of the woodwork, the dog hater movement dances in the blood, etc... Its always the dog dog dog dog DOG!

      In my opinion the focus should be on the HUMAN parties. It should be a HUMAN centered focus. The victim should get the support they need from the rest of us, and the wrath should be focused on human perpetrator that created the situation. What to do with the dog is an afterthought.

    2. My odd and wicked mind would tell you that it is not the dog, but the dogcraver and that they are one, one symbiotic organism. So attack on the owner is considered to be the attack on the dog, cause the owner is defined by the dog, cause he owns the dog. Therefore you have to sanction them both, the dog gets a good night kiss from the syringe and the owner gets jail time. That is the only way, by my opinion.
      However, I have a much darker thought about this whole issue and I will try to work it out in further blogs.

      Keep up the good work

    3. Professor,

      Agreed. While the focus belongs primarily on the human parties, I would definitely destroy all of the maulers. Regardless of breed, there is NO WAY I would tolerate a dog that is *demonstratably dangerous* loose in the community.

    4. "My odd and wicked mind would tell you that it is not the dog, but the dogcraver and that they are one, one symbiotic organism. So attack on the owner is considered to be the attack on the dog, cause the owner is defined by the dog, cause he owns the dog. Therefore you have to sanction them both, the dog gets a good night kiss from the syringe and the owner gets jail time. That is the only way, by my opinion. "


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    6. "As you noted in one of your essays, the reports of pit bull attacks may indeed help boost the popularity of the pit bull, particularly among the criminal element. "

      even in fatal attacks. after the presa canrio killed diane wipple, there was a surge of interest in the breed. people calling breeders and saying "i want a dog like the one that killed that lady in san francisco."

      how sick is that?

  5. I guess I disagree with the example that the right to swing a fist ends where the other person's nose begins. I think the right to swing a fist ends considerably before the other person's nose.

    For example, I am a regular jogger. I've been snapped at and chased and followed and charged by dogs on and off leashes. None of these dogs actually caused physical damage or broke my skin, but I would say their owners allowed them to breach my rights all the same.

    I don't have a single run where it doesn't cross my mind what the hell I would do if/when I am attacked by someone's dog. It's a serious enough fear that I am considering carrying a knife of some kind. I don't see or aim well enough to trust that I could use a gun safely in a neighborhood.

    I am of course most worried about pits and pit mixes, I'd be crazy to be more worried about any other breed of dog...but I find that this "dogcraver" description, as I understand it from Prof Hilder's blog, is apt across most owners of any breed.

    For example, a couple weeks ago I was stretching after a run and here comes an older man with a tiny little dog on a leash. Yes it was cute, yes it was not going to maul me...but he had it on like a 10-ft retractable leash and allowed it to run right up to me and sniff and climb my leg. I didn't make any sign that I wanted to pet or interact with the dog, and when it touched my leg I moved back and said "I don't like dogs." The dog owner said "Oh yeah, she's really vicious." I said "Vicious or not, I don't like dogs." He retracted the leash and dragged the dog away, muttering something assholish. If this person ever decides to own a pit, the whole community is effed.

    In fact I think the retractable leash is generally a god-awful invention and has made sidewalks useless in many neighborhoods.

    Another digression while I am at it: I have been to Serbia and the dog problem is just as hideous as Prof Hilder describes it, based on what I saw when I was there. I actually guessed that the person writing the blog was in Serbia before I saw him confirm it, just based on his descriptions and pictures.

  6. Well, to be accurate, it ends BEFORE the other person's nose begins. Also, any behavior that is obviously threatening is prohibited. I can't point a gun in your face, squeeze the trigger, and then say "Ah, don't worry, its not loaded!"

    I hear what you are saying about the threats on your jogs. I see them on my hikes from time to time and I now carry a gun while hiking.

    Stay safe.

  7. I think there's a better or at least equal answer to this conundrum: