Sunday, June 12, 2005

Pit Bulls and War Plans

The banner headline of Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle is "Mother Shut Boy in Basement to Protect Him from Pit Bull." Here in San Francisco a few days ago, a 12yo boy was mauled to death by his family's own pit bull. The boy's mother, Maureen Faibish, called the newspaper yesterday to give her side of the tragic situation.

I put him down there [in the basement], with a shovel on the door. He [her son Nicholas] had a bunch of food. And I told him, "Stay down there until I come back." Typical Nicky, he wouldn't listen to me.
Maureen was concerned because her female pit bull, Ella, was in heat, and the male pit bull, Rex, was acting "possessive." But did she control her pets? Did she lock the DOGS in the basement? No, she locked her 12yo son in the basement to protect him from the dogs.

In a recent newspaper article, a doctor who treats pit bull bites said, "When you have an animal like [Rex the pit bull] in your house you are recklessly endangering your family." Incredibly, Maureen Faibish takes issue with that statement, saying, "They made it sound like we put our kids in a war zone. That's not true. My kids got along great with [the dogs]. We were never seeing any kind of violent tendencies." Well then, Maureen, why did you SHUT your son in the BASEMENT to protect him from the dogs?? Unsurprisingly, Maureen said that it was destiny, that it was Nicky's time to die. She even says, "I have no regrets about that day."

If I seem insensitive to the pain of a mother whose child has been horrifically killed, that's because I am insensitive when that pain was caused by her own grotesque gross negligence as a parent. Of course I don't know all the facts of the case, but from what I've seen so far, I would support pressing criminal charges against the parents, and I would certainly support placing Nicholas' brother and sister into protective care.

Nicholas Faibish
Nicholas Faibish (family photo, via SFChronicle)

As for War Plans, I'm referring to another headline in today's Chronicle (page A11, "British memo shows pre-invasion doubts," by Walter Pincus, originally for the Washington Post). Even before the (not nearly famous enough) "Downing Street Memo," a briefing paper prepared for Tony Blair "concluded that the U.S. military was not preparing adequately for a 'protracted and costly' postwar occupation of [Iraq]." The article notes that Paul Wolfowitz portrayed the Iraq invasion as a more attractive alternative than spending another $30 billion over 12 years, as the U.S. did in its post-Kuwait containment strategy. So it's better to spend 40 times as much money, and far more dead and wounded soldiers, without a postwar plan? Don't worry about it, they'll greet us as liberators; you know, flowers and chocolates and that sort of thing.
A postwar occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise. As already made clear, the U.S. military plans are virtually silent on this point. — July 21, 2002, staff memo to Tony Blair
There was a perceptible shift in attitude [in Washington]. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.Sir Richard Dearlove, chief of MI6 [British counterpart to the CIA], reporting to Tony Blair, July 23, 2002
So why on earth have I juxtaposed a local story about a boy killed by his family's pet against an international story about the lack of planning for the Iraq war?

George W. Bush and Maureen Faibish both ignored obvious signs of lethal dangers, and both are contorting themselves to evade any responsibility for the deaths that ensued.

I'm not saying that the United States should never go to war; in particular, I think entering World War II was a pretty good idea. However, I think that the Marshall Plan was a really great idea, and I don't see anything on remotely the same wavelength coming out of the Bush White House. I'm also not saying that all pit bulls are evil and should be destroyed; I have good friends who own pit bulls. However, when you're so concerned about your dog's aggressiveness that you lock your child in the basement for his own protection, that should be a red flag about the size of Kansas.