Posts tagged ‘red herring’

“Pit Bull Hack”

Pit Bull Hack
A “Pit Bull Hack” is generally a pit bull protectionist given a media platform to spread misinformation to the public. A Pit Bull Hack can also be a lazy journalist who reuses circular or red herring arguments (“Are Pit Bulls Dangerous?”) that have been around for three decades. A Pit Bull Hack can be a “pet writer” too or dog lover journalist sympathetic to pit bulls, sometimes recklessly so. The term “Hack” usually involves deliberately using polarizing language to “generate” page views or social media shares while knowing the piece does not contribute to reducing the number of maulings and deaths routinely inflicted by pit bulls. A Pit Bull Hack can also refer to an entire news group, such as the Toledo Blade and Huffington Post, who indisputably advocate for pit bulls and promote false myths about them. All in all, a Pit Bull Hack is a derogatory term as it either means a journalist who is blatantly biased, is lazy by reusing circular debates and/or has failed to address the real issue: “How do we stop creating new victims?” #AdvancetheDebate. Asking the same questions for 30-years after a new disastrous mauling or deadly pit bull attack — which often “resets” this debate back to 1985 — is unacceptable today.

Once Upon a Time in America

During the mid 1980s, when journalists were asking similar questions, they were doing so because parts of the country were in crisis. The epidemic of “headline” pit bull maulings and fatalities had just erupted. Animal control departments and humane groups were in crisis too — these dogs were coming into shelters and eviscerating dogs. By 1983, new shelter policies had to be established to “isolate” pit bulls. Journalists then were investigating this issue and trying to understand it, as well as reporting how cities were responding to it. Aspects present in articles back then usually included the history of the breed, dogfighting and “gameness,” and the devastating injuries pit bulls inflict on their victims. Some of them include: Pit bulls: part terrier, part terror (1985), The Pit Bull Friend and Killer (1987) and Pit bulls: Foes, fanciers agree dogs are a breed apart (1987). Browse through them (view longer list), then compare them to the all too often lazy journalism of today that continue to “frame” this issue as if the public is hearing about it for the first time (or worse, perpetuating a “fake” controversy), and also leave out the vital details of why pit bulls are inherently dangerous: selection for bull-baiting, dogfighting and “gameness.”

Examples of Common “Pit Bull Hacks”

  • Are Pit Bulls Dangerous?” — This is a red herring question, appellate courts in multiple states have already determined that they are. This circular debate is a 100% failure in advancing the honest debate of: “How do we stop creating more victims?” This overused, irrelevant question returns over 11,000 Google results. This particular example shows a live chat debate between several guests that inspired some blockbuster anecdotal comments like: “can stop by my house anytime and see for yourself, they are not dangerous. I’m more afraid of Chihuahua” #AdvancetheDebate
  • The Truth About Pit Bulls” — This phrase is most often used by biased journalists, sympathetic to pit bulls, to hide the truth about the breed. It usually implies misinformation and is also used to “generate” controversy and social media shares. This wildly over used phrase returns 84,000 Google results. Seeing the volume of propaganda web pages using this title, someone created a blog using the name and points out that “facts are stubborn things” and wishes “cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” This blog DOES offer the truth about pit bulls. #AdvancetheDebate
  • Pit bulls versus everyone: Should they be banned?” — This piece came after the horrific pit bull mauling deaths of Xavier Strickland and Rebecca Hardy. It qualifies as a Pit Bull Hack because 1.) The title perpetuates a fake controversy — right off the bat the piece admits that Detroit was not considering a pit bull ban ordinance — and 2.) It resets the debate back to 1985 and 3.) It sank to include Petey & Company. The public deserves better after 30-years of grisly maulings and deaths. #AdvancetheDebate
  • Pit Bulls: Menace or Misunderstood?” — This “For or Against” framing is another red herring that comes in many flavors. The framing sets up a circular debate that contributes little or nothing to preventing new mauling victims. Again, this should not be a debate about pit bulls, but about reducing violent attacks. As with most “Pit Bull Hacks,” it comes after a deadly pit bull attack and carries the traits of “let’s examine the divide” and introduces very little or no new information at all. #AdvancetheDebate
  • Similar “For or Against” framing questions — Pit Bulls: Bad Dog or Bad Rap?, Pit Bulls: Man’s Best Friend or Worst Enemy?, Pit Bulls: Dogs or Monsters?, Pit Bulls: Docile or Dangerous?, Pit Bulls: Friend or Foe? Also, “Is it the Owner or the Breed?” is yet another red herring “framing” question that accomplishes zero. The question is irrelevant. What is relevant is reducing serious attacks, maulings and deaths by pit bulls. This dated question from 30-years ago returns a whopping 100,000 Google results.

Since 1987, the news media has been seeking out mainly the same “experts” for “balance” when they “examine the divide” who have been diverting with “Petey was a pit bull” (irrelevant) and lying with the Nanny Dog myth.

What “Pit Bull Hacks” do not understand, is that even pit bull advocates are tired of these circular debates from 1985. Looking at the Virginian-Pilot’s social media campaign (for Pit Bulls: Menace or Misunderstood), there was only one Facebook share with 43k Likes on their page. Their Twitter campaign hardly fared better. They promoted the article in 4 Tweets out to their audience of 50k. There were ZERO “Loves” and only 3 “Retweets.” That’s all the response they got even by using photos designed to bait people. In a separate case, after creating the “earth shattering” piece, “The Truth About Pit Bulls,” the story did not even get one Facebook Like after the author shared it with a popular pit bull page. Finally, while these types of red herring and circular debate titles commonly indicate a Pit Bull Hack is behind it, certainly there are legitimate articles that also use them. Headlines have always been a primary marketing tool for newspapers. What truly defines a Pit Bull Hack is its “predictable content” that fails in anyway to #AdvancetheDebate.

Identifying a Pit Bull Hack

  • Does it “reset” the debate back to the 1980s or 90s?
  • Does it use a red herring or “For or Against” title?
  • Does it fail to contain any useful new information?
  • Does it invent or perpetuate a “fake” controversy?
  • Does it sink to include Petey or the Nanny Dog myth?
  • Is it from a Pit Bull Hack source? (a writer or entity)
  • Is it blatantly biased or perpetuating misinformation?

A “yes” answer to two or more qualifies it as a hack.


PS. Because these articles so commonly appear after a serious or deadly pit bull mauling, one can also call it a Post Attack Hack. Feel free to intermingle the terms.

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“Ban stupid owners!”

“Ban stupid owners!” is a reactionary phrase used by Maul Talkers following a serious or fatal pit bull attack. The phrase denies the pit bull’s responsibility in the incident and directs the blame onto the dog’s owner. Despite the U.S. Constitution, specifically the 14th Amendment, Maul Talkers will have you believe that banning stupid owners is legal in our country. This distortion works to further confuse the public about the underlying source of the pit bull problem: the dog was bred to bite down with its powerful jaws, hold that bite and shake whatever is in its mouth until it’s dead. (See: pit bull bite style).

Why don’t they ban stupid people instead? I’m no fan of a pit bull chained to a tree in the trailer park – Bootz Fan
Ban Stupid People… not dogs – Pit nutter Myspace page
Ban stupid ownersPit nutter Facebook page
Stupid owners have stupid dogs. Maybe the ban should be that stupid people shouldnt be allowed to own pit bulls – Julie and JoJo Fink
I say ban stupid owners not the breed. =) – Pit nutter
Ban Stupid People Not Dogs (Tee-shirts) – Pit nutter
it’s not the dogs. it’s the stupid owners. there is a reason they call pits the “ghetto mascot” guess who owns them and treats them badly to make the dog mean. they should bad stupid people. – Chris Crawford

“Must have been trained to attack”

This statement is often made by Maul Talkers after a horrible pit bull attack. It is used to deny the pit bull’s responsibility and the breed’s genetic history by shifting the blame onto the dog’s owner. The term is also used to victimize pit bulls. What goes notably unmentioned by Maul Talkers are the many disfiguring and deadly pit bull attacks that involve “loving household” pit bulls that were never trained to attack prior to the dog’s berserking incident.

What Little Bear also didn’t know is that the pitbull breed gets a bad rap because of a handful of pitbulls who were either trained to be mean, or not trained correctly. – Nicki Mann
And just becuase criminals take this breed and fight it and make it do terrible things, you want to punish us all? Guess what, get rid of them and the same criminals are going to go after your beloved Labs and Retrievers who can be trained and tortured just as easily to fight… – Anonymous pit nutter
Just another horrible pet “owner” that will continue to tarnish the reputation of a perfectly good dog breed. Ignorant people that have no clue about Pit Bulls or dogs in general will latch onto this to support their xenophobic fear of the dog rather than the stupid owners that mistreat and train their animals to behave poorly. – Fuzzle1
If any dog is trained to fight by (probably by your distant igrorant lowlife realtives) humans, thats what the dog will do. Get it- still HUMANS FAULT. No different then teaching your son to go rob 7-ll and shoot someone. Does that mean the entire human race should be punished because of your stupid family?? – Pit nutter Jen
“We try to keep track of them, and we have very few incidents,” he said. “A lot of them are not because of what breed of dog it is, but how it has been trained.” – Pit nutter police chief

“Media hysteria”

Maul Talkers often say that pit bulls are the victims of “media hysteria”. A Google Search on the terms: media hysteria pit bull yields 14,000 results. It’s the media that makes life miserable for pit bulls; it’s the media that has damaged the breed; it’s the media that creates hysteria about pit bulls… According to Maul Talkers, the only time the media reports (or identifies) a pit bull correctly is when it is a “positive pit bull” article. In any other context, such as a serious or fatal pit bull mauling, the media erroneously identified the dog and once again victimized pit bulls.

The continuing media hysteria generated by bad press and bad owners – Rescueeverydog.org
Breed Specific Legislation and Media Hysteria Make life Miserable for Pit Bull Owners – Pitbulllovers.com
Could have been ANY breed of dog that ‘attacked’ you, BUT since it was a PitBull AND media hysteria, YOU don’t blame THE OWNER. Shame on you. – Onekingstar

The truth about the media is that they report gore and death, and pit bulls rarely fail to deliver. Pit bulls are also the subject of berserking incidents, when a single pit bull attacks and seriously injures multiple people. The media traditionally reports such dramatic events. Back when rabies killed many people, the media reported dramatic headlines like, “FIGHT WITH A MAD DOG.; Policeman Kills It While Its Teeth Are Buried in His Leg.” There was a reason for this too. A bite by a rabid dog without treatment meant a horrible death by hydrophobia.

“Anything to please their master”

Another way pit bull owners and advocates victimize pit bulls is to say that they will do “anything to please their masters”. The intention of the statement is to imply that the pit bull only attacked because its master ordered it to, and the only reason why it did not stop attacking is because the animal wanted to please its master. So the next time you read a headline like, “Pit Bulls Break Through Window to Attack Woman and Dog“, remember that the dog was only trying to please its master.

ANY dog could be trained to kill, even Chihuahuas. But Pit Bulls are the ones used MOST in fighting, therefore, people often say ALL the breed are bad dogs. My aunt being one of them. I think Pit Bulls are BEAUTIFUL dogs myself. But they ARE owned by Drug Dealers & Thugs more then anybody. But is that the dogs fault? No. ALL dogs are born innocent. Any dog will do ANYTHING to please their masters. Even if winning a Fight is one of them. – Cuddles and Jasper are my life

“The most ‘abused’ breed”

Along with the term, “The most ‘maligned’ breed,” pit bull owners and advocates use the term, “The most ‘abused’ breed” to gain sympathy for pit bulls. The truth is the pit bull is the most abused breed in the world because its entire selective breeding foundation is based on dogfighting, and pit bulls continue to be bred for dogfighting today. The act of dogfighting is horrifically abusive and outlawed in all 50 U.S. states. Maul Talkers, however, will have you believe that every pit bull is born angelic and that it is due to owners’ beating and torturing the animal that it continues to maul and kill human beings and animals at an unmatched rate. Note below that 83% of the human fatalities involved family dogs, not pit bulls that were abused or used in dogfighting by their owners.

Mid Year Results: U.S. Dog Bite Fatalities from January 1 to July 22, 2010
DogsBite.org – Of the 18 fatal dog attacks recorded by DogsBite.org so far in 2010, pit bull type dogs contributed to 67% (12). This is equivalent to a pit bull killing a U.S. citizen every 17 days during this 203-day period. 83% (10) of these incidents involved a family pit bull killing a family member.

According to Google News Archives, usage of the term picked up in the late 1990’s and shot through the roof in 2005. One cannot read a mauling thread without hearing the verbiage echoed throughout. After two loose pit bulls killed William Parker in July 2010, pit bull advocates, owners, and apologists were out in full force to victimize the offending pit bulls who not only killed Parker, but injured four others:

I would bet that most posters would agree that not all pit bulls are vicious. Those dogs who are vicious have been shown no love, starved, and have been repeatedly abused and agitated, so much so, that anyone or anything approaching is seen as a threat. Undoubtedly, that was probably the case in this sad, sad story.
This is by no means a racial or location issue. It is about being a responsible pet owner treating an animal as a pet, not a means for what some sick people call “entertainment.” – illindtenn

“The most ‘maligned’ breed”

This term appears to have taken root in the early 1990’s, just after pit bulls spent the 1980’s on a killing spree, (which has only increased since). During the 1980’s, the pit bull breed amassed 45 deaths versus the next top killing breed, the German Shepherd, which amassed 13 in the same period. The Rottweiler community adopted the same verbiage in 1996, just after the breed catapulted to the top killer from 1993 to 1996. “The most ‘maligned’ breed” terminology, however, is primarily used by pit bull advocates in an effort to gain sympathy for the dog.

The stranger may see only a “pit bull” on a leash held by an obvious fool. Your behavior and the behavior of your dog may be the only opportunity this stranger will ever have to see the positive side of what has become the most maligned breed in the history of dogdom. – American Pit Bull Terrier Handbook

“Why is she uninsured?”

One of the most infamous “blame the victim” comments left at DogsBite.org was left by an anonymous user following the horrific attack of Charlotte Blevins. The commenter blames the child’s mother for not having insurance (which is false; Wendy did have insurance coverage) after a pit bull owned by a third party nearly killed the child.

Question, why does Wendy Blevins not have insurance to pay for this? Not that it’s her fault that her daughter was attacked, but if the attack happened to me, insurance would cover it. Why is she apparently uninsured? – Anonymous
–snip–
The commenter also questions whether or not Wendy is a good mother. Wendy immediately straddled the attacking dog and pulled it off of her daughter. As the scalp ripped off, blood flew everywhere, including all over Wendy. – DogsBite.org

“Are you a biologist?”

As demonstrated by the question, “Are you a geneticist?” the similar question, “Are you a biologist?” comes up at the first mention of the pit bull breed’s genetic heritage. In a lovely YouTube video that depicts a pit bull owner egging his dog to “get it boy” (to continue clamping down on a rope), user “bizzo518” responds to a comment:

where did you pull your info????? are you a vet, dog behaviorist, biologist….or what…..the avg domestic dog bites at around 320psi, a german shepard,pitt, and rotty were tested….guess what the pitt generated the LEAST amount of psi….DONT TALK SHIT AND POST STUFF IF YOU ARE AN UNEDUCATED ASS………. – bizzo518

“Are you a geneticist?”

The term is often used by pit bull advocates to derail or condemn a person who mentions the genetic heritage of the pit bull breed, which was selectively bred for explosive aggression to “rule” the fighting pit. Dogfighters even took selective breeding further for the breed by selecting for the “gamest” dog, a dog that will fight to its death. A recent article published by the Commercial Appeal and authored by Tom Graves (My Thoughts: Pit bull epidemic requires passage of breed-specific ordinance) exemplifies this.

1) Are you a geneticist? Are you a biologist? No, you are a professor of literature. You have no scientific backing for any of your claims about “fighting DNA” or that one breed of dog is genetically unlike any other dog. In fact, you should know all about writing statements with no support. I’m sure you do not let your students get away with such claims. – PitBullOwner