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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I Am Lennox

Today in Belfast, N. Ireland, after a two year court battle and amid world-wide outcries, protests, social media frenzies, petitions, thousands of emails, letters and even death threats, a dog named Lennox was destroyed because of what he looked like.  

DNA tests showed he was a Lab/Staff cross. It didn't matter. 

The so-called "expert" that "assessed" him was debunked by veterinarians, behaviorists, animal trainers and dog experts world-wide and even in court.  It didn't matter. 

Lennox's legacy is he may join the ranks of the Vick(tory) Dogs and Patrick the dog tossed down a garbage chute.  He may be the face of injustice. He may help eventually to end BSL.  If you don't know what that stands for it's "Breed Specific Legislation."

Why does Lennox's death matter?  Who cares if one more dog dies today?  It's just a "pit bull" thing, isn't it? Or maybe a German Shepherd or Doberman or Rottweiler thing.  It doesn't affect me. it doesn't affect my dog.  I have a (insert breed or type or size dog here).

Here is why it should really truly matter if you never, ever, EVER own a dog or any pet for that matter for the rest of your earthly existence. It should matter even if you don't like animals very much.  (I worry about you if that's the case....)

It matters because The Government came into Lennox's house, onto his owner's property and seized the dog without cause. A dog who had NEVER bitten anyone, never attacked, was never a "nuisance.".  A dog who actually was helping the daughter of the house.  A family's pet.  Well-loved, not chained out in the backyard or left with no food, shelter, water.  A pet.  A family member.  It matters.  A lot.

It matters even if you are not a "pit bull" fan. It matters even if you really do not like that type of dog at all. it matters because, at any time, the pendulum could swing and your breed or type of dog could be the next target. It matters because if you are a good neighbor, you take care of your dog(s) or cat(s), at any time your animals could be seized and destroyed.  Lennox could be my Elke or my Artie.

I'm talking regular people, not puppy millers, hoarders, stupid, careless, abusive, neglectful people.  Lennox's family were just regular folks, like most of are.  A Joe who went to work to provide for his family, a little girl with some special needs, a Mom like anybody's mom.  They could be your next door neighbor.

It matters because Lennox was judged on his looks alone. And killed for his looks alone. He looked "bad."

I am Lennox.  

I am a middle aged female home-maker who makes a bit of scratch here and there doing this and that with a vision disability.  I don't see as well as most folks do.  I can barely drive a car.  I read things up real close.  I'm colorblind. I wear sunglasses even on cloudy days.

I am Lennox. I am judged by how I look.  

My over-50 husband has a fused spine; he can't turn his head and he has more metal in him than most formerly heavy-metal appliances. 

He is Lennox too. 

According to TV demographics we're "too old."  They are cancelling high rated shows because we're the "wrong" demographic.

We can overcome, we can persuade people, convincing them that we can "do" a ton of stuff "better" than many.  But in the end, in this increasingly superficial society, we are judged.  We're seasoned, we're a bit tattered and torn. We're not "young and beautiful."  (Just beautiful!)

We are Lennox: we judged on our age, sex, looks, sexual preference, religion, perceived abilities. We're "put out to pasture" because of perception.  We're disregarded. In times not-so-past we would have been destroyed.  Killed because of perception.  Because of how we looked.  

It is the barest stretch to liken Lennox the dog to a disabled child, a person "of color,"  they guy with the turban on his head, the lesbian couple next door.....whatever the different scary thing "du jour" is.  We all have our prejudices.  I do. I really do. (Scientologists, I admit, scare the heck out me.)  One would hope that our prejudices might be based on behavior rather than appearances!  

Lennox was a dog.  Plain and simple.  Canis lupis familiarus.  He was never judged as any dog would or should be. He was judge solely on how he looked. It's the same as judging a person on color, sex, gay/straight, age, etc.  There is no difference.  None. If you think there is, you have lost a touch of your humanity in the seconds it took you to read and process these sentences. 

It does not take an Asimov or a STAR TREK writer to imagine a world where being judged on your looks signs your death warrant.  This feeding frenzy regarding dog "types" is not one whit different that anti-Jewish hysteria in Nazi Europe. Anyone who says it's like comparing apples and oranges, even apple and rocks has their heads hidden in the sand.  They are in denial.

She is Lennox.

He is Lennox.

I am Lennox.  Are you?

(PS: Lennox was a Lab-American Bulldog. I erred.)

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