Category Archives: X issues & dialogs

Penn State: Why did no one do anything?

In the wake of the Penn State child sexual abuse scandal, a wave of moral outrage and second guessing has washed across the United States. Somebody should have done SOMETHING! Why didn’t they?!

When the heads began to roll, however, and a beloved coach was revealed to be one of the “somebodies” who should have done something, many ran to his defense and sought to proclaim his valor. Their lack of knowledge about the details and circumstances not withstanding, they sought to protect their beloved hero at all cost. HE was the victim in their eyes.

That wave has now crashed upon the beach, and the prevailing concern has shifted. Now we are all wondering, how did this venerable institution fail to protect young people from abuse?

I do not profess any specific knowledge of the details myself, but I have seen the pattern many times before. The Penn State debacle demonstrates a very predictable pattern of human behavior.

In the Penn State case, as well as that of the Catholic Church failing to protect victims from predatory priests, denial and ignorance of the truth led to victims being left in danger. Instead of protecting victims, efforts were made to protect the institutions from the repercussions of an abuse scandal.

Why is it that we build institutions that should protect as well as serve us, yet when they fail in their protective capacities, we seek to protect the institution, not the actual victims?

One word. FEAR.

When we see a neighbor ruthlessly punishing a child, what is our first thought? Do we rush to the child’s aid? Do we call the police?

If we see a relative whipping a puppy mercilessly for pooping on the carpet, do we report him to animal control?

Some may answer yes to these questions. Most would not. Because our thought processes would probably be more like this: “If I report this, will he retaliate against me? Will the rest of the neighborhood get mad at me? Will my family be upset about my report?”

Just like the beloved coach and his superiors, we are likely to try to handle abuse situations ourselves rather than face the repercussions of reporting. We fear the fallout from getting involved more than we fear the dangers present if we do nothing.

Part of the reason this human behavior pattern exists is because sexual abuse is still a topic that we want to avoid. It is so uncomfortable to think about the topic, we resist gaining more awareness about it. Yet it is a very insidious problem in our society. And its victims cannot view life without thinking about the trauma that pervades their lives.

It is not just wealthy coaches and educational administrators who avoid the issue. It is all of us.

Let’s change that.  Now.

Learn about child sexual abuse. There are numerous resources available on the internet. One good resource is the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

 

Zanesville’s Exotic Animal Tragedy

UPDATE: Since writing this post, I have heard from people who have “exotic” pets that are not considered dangerous and are not deemed at risk because of domestication. I have no complaint with these individuals, provided that they adequately research and provide for their pets’ unique needs. In my opinion, any legislation brought forward needs to allow for reasonable care of non-dangerous animals by responsible pet owners.

I am very scanton-mountain-lion-art-BZTATad and very angry today.

A senseless tragedy has happened in my state of Ohio, and it was totally preventable.

Terry Thompson’s so-called exotic animal farm in Zanesville, OH is 91.4 miles from my home in Canton, OH. Yesterday, Mr. Thompson apparently opened the cages of over 40 exotic wild animals on his property, purposefully releasing them, then proceeded to kill himself, according to the Muskingum County Sheriff.

Faced with several dangerous wild animals on the loose, the sheriff was left with few options for securing the public’s safety. Killing the animals was the only viable option.

At this writing, most of the animals have been killed and only a handful recaptured.

I do not have complaint with the Sheriff’s choice of hunting down and killing the animals. I DO have complaint with Ohio’s governor and legislature for not taking action sooner to prevent the sale and ownership of exotic wild animals in Ohio.The sheriff should have never been put in the position of hunting down wild animals.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, Thompson, a convicted felon and convicted animal abuser, would not have been able to have exotic animals on his property if an emergency rule passed by previous governor Ted Strickland had been maintained. Our current governor John Kasich opted to allow the emergency rule to expire.

Ironically, Kasich claims that there were no resources to enforce the law. I wonder whose resources will pick up the tab for the law enforcement effort going on right now? It cannot be cheap to enlist deputies, state police officers, helicopters, zoo officials, etc. to track down wild, dangerous animals.

Ohio has been very backward in it’s attempts to address legislation affecting the care of animals. Communities often go over the top with Breed Specific Legislation, using very ineffective legislation to address the problem of aggressive dogs, yet they have done basically nothing to address the problem of puppy mills and exotic animal auctions/farms that create serious problems for humans and animals.

I hope that the international attention focused on Ohio currently will help Ohioans see the error of their ways.

This blog focuses primarily on the issues of domestic animals and the bond between humans and pets. I could not ignore this egregious example of animal abuse, however. When animals are abused, as they were in this case (inappropriate captivity, reportedly poor conditions in the past, animal hoarding, and intentional release into inhabited areas) humans are also in danger.

The Humane Society has been appealing to the Ohio authorities for a long time to address the lack of effective exotic animals legislation in the State of Ohio. They have released a statement about the Zanesville situation, and they have developed an action page for the public to voice concern on the subject. I hope that you will visit these pages and let your voice be heard.

I am sure that there are people with exotic pets who are well-meaning, good people. Wild exotic animals, though, are unpredictable, and for most, it is in their nature to be aggressive. Often, people who are ill-equipped to manage them “collect” (another word for hoarding) wild animals, thinking they are rescuing them. As in this case and another Ohio exotic animal farm recently in the news, the owners are people who have had troubles with the law and psychological instability. They abuse the very animals that they claim to rescue, and they put their communities at risk.

Ohio is one of less than 10 states that do not have legislation banning the ownership of wild exotic animals. Let’s hope, in light of the present tragedy, that will end soon.

BZTAT

Oregon passes law to protect animals in domestic violence situations

The safety of a family’s pets is often a consideration for victims of domestic violence as they contemplate leaving an abuser. That is why it is extremely important for courts to have legal recourse in dealing with animals in homes affected by domestic violence.

Oregon just passed Senate Bill 616 that “authorizes courts to include order providing for safety and welfare of parties’ animals in restraining order under Family Abuse Prevention Act.” The law allows judges to include family pets in protection orders afforded to human family members, thereby providing an extra layer of safety for the entire family.

Right or wrong, some women stay in abusive situations when they cannot provide safety for their pets. Many abusers also manipulate their victims through threats or actual acts of violence towards pets. By allowing this extra layer of legal protection for pets, the State of Oregon is making it more possible for families to seek safety effectively.

I applaud Oregon’s efforts as it becomes the 17th state to enact such protections for animals and families. Let’s hope the momentum continues and spreads to other states as well.

Dog Wars: Just a Game? Really? That’s how you PLAY?

If engaging in brutal simulation of an illegal activity against animals is your notion of playing, then you are not likely to be reading this. You also are not likely to be reading this if you think there is any value in pretending to be engaged in dog fighting. My usual readers do not fit these descriptions.

Since you are reading this, you are probably as appalled as I am that Android, owned by Google, is allowing a virtual dog fighting game app to be available for download in their system.

Owners and users of the game Dog Wars defend the app, saying “It’s just a video game.” I beg to differ. Finding pleasure in such a virtual game would have to suggest that the user has an acceptance of the activity in real life. And that would suggest some serious concerns about that individual.

Child abuse and animal abuse are clearly linked by substantial research. Do I need to spell out the conclusion? I didn’t think so.

Defenders of the game also claim that there is no difference between it and the popular game app Angry Birds.  Such a rationalization is ridiculous. Angry Birds is a farcical fantasy that in no way has you engaging in any realistic illegal activity. Dog Wars, on the other hand, has its players engaging in very real illegal dog fighting activities. Sure, the images are cartoonish, but the activity is very real. Not so with Angry Birds.

There are links here if you are interested in voicing your displeasure to Google about this.

And just to give fair warning, if any Dog Wars users have found their way here, no comments defending it will be allowed past my moderation. This is my blog, and I do not have to be democratic about it.

BZTAT