Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Pitbull

An Allegory of the Left

One fine late summer day, Larry strode down the sidewalk next to a tall wooden fence. As he walked, a dog began barking spiritedly from the other side. "Hmmm," thought Larry "that poor, poor animal is being oppressed by the authorities who erected this fence." This thought filled Larry with a rush of self-esteem. "This fence is not right," thought Larry. "I see no sense in it, other than to concentrate power in those who built it. I shall help the poor animal inside." The resulting jolt of self-esteem left Larry lightheaded. He nonetheless took it upon himself to pry loose a board in the fence, feeling he had now freed the dog to follow its conscience about which side of the fence to stay on.

Larry continued down the sidewalk, buoyed by the gossamer wings of esteem for himself, and his own sense of wonderfulness. His thoughts were interrupted by the unmistakeable sound of a pit bull, who had apparently decided that it preferred to be on the same side of the fence as Larry, if only because that made mauling things easier. Larry turned to see the snarling animal bearing down on him, teeth bared, snarling violently, anticipatory saliva flying off into the slipstream.

"Maybe this dog will bite me," Larry considered, his self esteem momentarily displaced. "Perhaps I can reason with him. I'll get him to consider tofu, or some other less meat-oriented diet." A chastening thought then occured to him. "What if attacking me is reasonable? I really shouldn't impose my value system." The familiar opiate of self-worth again comforted Larry.

"Perhaps I should jump the fence to get away from this doggie," thought Larry as the distance between them was becoming uncomfortably small. "No, I shouldn't assume that just because this is a charging pit bull that it is any more likely than any other dog to bite me. Unless Clifford the Big Red Dog would send me over the fence, I won't let my prejudices get the better of me."

As the dog was now airborne, jaws agape, Larry thought "I wonder what we all did to provoke this dog. I can't help but feel some collective responsibility." The expected rush of esteem was interrupted by the animal sinking its canine chompers into the flesh of Larry's upper arm. The pain was intense and it took some effort for Larry to reason: "You know, this is why we need universal healthcare."

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