Somehow, I knew they were going to be trouble. A college-age girl and her (sugar?) daddy, each walking some kind of pitbull-mix thing, taking up the entire width of a ten-foot-wide pedestrian bridge. I rode up behind them and rang my Spurcycle bell. The woman’s dog, a Spuds-McKenzie thing, turned and stared at me. As I rode by, it bit me on the right calf, just under the knee.
It took me a second or two to realize what had happened. That dog actually bit me. I stopped the bike. The woman regarded me with the slack-jawed look of someone whose perceptions are lagging reality — possibly the same expression I’d had when I’d been bitten.
“Your dog,” I said, in a tone that suggested I had just seen a fascinating food truck of which she should not go unaware, “just bit me.”
“OH GOD DID IT BREAK THE SKIN?” I wasn’t certain of whether it had. The only thing of which I was certain was that I was becoming authentically furious about the situation as the fractions of seconds ticked by. The smartest course of action was to simply ride away, so that’s what I did. About a hundred yards away, I saw another cyclist coming towards me, so I stopped him and provided a short warning on the topic of the crazy dog. Then I went to my office, where I poured alcohol on the half-dollar-sized wound. It’s mostly a bruise, with some missing skin.
I could have called the police, gone to the hospital, all that business. It just didn’t seem worth the effort. Nothing would change. The woman wouldn’t control her dogs any better in the future. If this bite was enough to give me rabies, then I probably deserve to die anyway. And I would have made a pair of permanent enemies for both me and my employer in our very small town.
The irony of the situation is that I’ve been reading a “subreddit” called Dogfree lately, having stumbled across it thanks to a previously-bitten cyclist who sent me a link. The subreddit chronicles America’s love affair with dogs, which has become fairly Glenn-Close-in-Fatal-Attraction-esque lately. We are embracing dogs almost as quickly as we are abandoning the idea of having children. These two phenomena are not unconnected. Dogs really are replacing kids. How many young couples do you know who swear up and down that they can’t afford kids, can’t make time for kids, can’t provide a home for kids — and then they go ahead and endure an equal or greater amount of expense and suffering for a dog? “Oh, I can’t take a vacation right now, our dog is sick. We can’t stay out tonight, the dog needs to be walked.” And this is less bothersome than having an actual child of your own?
Dogs in the country injure 800,000 people per year enough to seek medical care — so I’m not part of that statistic, which suggests that bites are far more frequent than 800k a year. American dogs kill thirty or more people per year and hospitalize 10,000, which means that they are more statistically dangerous than the AR-15-pattern semiautomatic rifle. If you think the gun regulations in this country are lax, you should see the dog regulations. Nobody background-checked the woman whose dog nipped me. She can have as many “assault dogs” as she wants. Unlike the AR-15, a dog has a mind, and agenda, of its own. Sometimes they kill children. It doesn’t happen often, but if you’ve heard the phrase “If it saves just one child’s life” a million times with regards to gun control, perhaps you’re wondering why you never hear it about dogs.
The more I think about my minor canine incident, the more empathy I have for the people who hate guns. I don’t own a dog and don’t see why anybody “needs” one, so consequently I don’t see why we can’t have “sensible dog control”. I can’t take a Steyr AUG on a plane, so I don’t see why someone should be allowed to bring a dog, which could kill a child just as easily as an AUG could and with considerably less input on the part of the owner. Lastly, if I saw someone walking down the street carrying a Desert Eagle in his hand I’d probably call the cops. Shouldn’t I do the same when I see a pitbull or German shepherd?
You could euthanize every dog in America tomorrow and I wouldn’t blink. So I understand why some people cheer when Beta O’Rourke says he’s going to take all the AR-15s away. What’s perhaps more relevant to his website is that I can see how a significant percentage of the American people won’t lift a finger to prevent the eventual banning and destruction of, in this order:
- sports cars
- gas guzzlers
- jacked-up trucks
- trucks of any kind
- gasoline-powered cars
- gasoline-powered motorcycles
- 50cc Ruckus scooters
- classic cars in museums
Don’t think for a moment that the 30-year-old “social media engineer” who takes the subway from Bushwick to Manhattan every day would greet the proposed destruction of personal automobiles with anything other than a Twitter Like. Don’t assume that our private ownership of anything, whether it be a Barrett .50 or a tenth of a Bitcoin, is sacrosanct. Chances are that a significant percentage of Americans would either ignore or actively assist a confiscation or “voluntary surrender” of anything you can name.
Fifty years ago, this country worked a bit differently. I recognized your right to have a dog as long as it didn’t bite me. You recognized my right to have a straight-piped Rat motor. We both recognized our neighbor’s right to shoot his M1 Garand. All of us were brought up with a common curriculum which heavily emphasized the American position on rights like that. Not any more. The Millennials are having “fur babies” instead of babies. An entire generation has checked out of the game; they will vanish from the earth leaving nothing but unpaid student loans and vast cathedral-like doggie-daycare buildings. By contrast, the most common age of Hispanic-origin people in the United States is… eleven. Those are tomorrow’s adults. They are growing up in a society that vilifies the Founding Fathers, and America itself, as entirely rooted in the original sin of slavery. Consequently, they are unlikely to put much stock in your, or my, claptrap about “inalienable rights” and “sovereign citizens” and whatnot. As soon as your dog — or your gun, or your car — proves inconvenient to the majority of them, don’t expect the ghost of Antonin Scalia to rise up and save you from their coordinated community action.
In the unlikely event that the humanity of 2300 exists in any state of organization, literacy, or sophistication whatsoever, how will they regard this era of American exceptionalism? Will they see it as a ridiculous aberration, a racist and capitalist stain on an otherwise unbroken history of communal poverty and tribal loyalty? Will they be puzzled by the mere existence of “individual rights”, the way we gape at the Mayans’ casual acceptance of human sacrifice at the top of a ziggurat? Or will they see the American Century as a brief moment of warmth and decency in the otherwise miserable and humiliating march of human history, the Venerable Bede’s sparrow flight, a tantalizingly unfathomable moment in time where our natural cruelties and insane inanities were suspended in favor of something better? And what will they make of the haste and alacrity with which we dismantled and destroyed that moment? From whence will they date the fall? What will they say caused it, what will they say marked it? Indeed, will some future gibbering psuedo-Gibbon document the precise moment when the greatest nation in history went… to the dogs?
At Hagerty, I suggested a left-field idea for the future of Lotus.