Just days ago a news report stated that a dog had literally eaten its owner, gnawing away at their ribcage. It was a horrific story, which brought up hysteria over something that I thought had somewhat dissipated. People are attacked by animals all the time. Dogs attack their owners all the time. Of course, it isn’t “regular”, but many pets turn against their owners. What’s the big deal this time?
The dog was a pitbull.
I’m an owner of a pitbull. It is a breed that has been characterized as vicious, man-eating, and having “locking jaws”. All of these myths are easily disproved upon a bit of research and interaction with a pitbull. Regardless of the truth, pitbulls have been labeled as bad dogs. Here’s a bit of truth.
Pitbulls were used hundreds of years ago in bear baiting events in Europe, where a bear would be tied to a poll, and dogs would be sent in to attack it. Numerous dogs would be killed by the bear, but eventually, the dogs would win. Once bear baiting was outlawed, people decided to pit the dogs against each other. The dogs were trained to attack other dogs, but there was usually a person in the pit with the dogs as a referee of sorts. If any dog showed aggression towards a human, it was removed from the breeding pool. This led this breed to be very friendly towards humans, and aggressive towards other animals.
That said, generations have gone by, and the dogs have softened towards each other and retained their affection for humans. Pitbulls, contrary to popular belief, are actually poor guard dogs, because they regularly meet strangers with a wagging tail and licking tongue.
So why the hysteria? Pitbulls have muscular jaws, wide shoulders, big mouths, and an overall intimidating appearance. They are also incredibly popular. There are literally millions of pitbulls in the United States today. For sure, these dogs require an authoritarian owner who demands more respect of a pitbull than say a shih tzu. But the dog itself is not the problem.
This is exactly what has happened in recent times with so-called “assault weapons”, which are nothing more than normal semi-automatic hunting rifles with mean looking stocks. The gun is the same, but because it looks different, it is pointed out as evil. The fact that there are far more people killed by .38 special revolvers than by AR-15s is ignored, just as the fact that more people are bitten by Chihuahuas than pitbulls is ignored. That story wouldn’t make the news. Chihuahua attacks don’t get on the 6:00 news, but pitbull attacks do; the same way gang shootings with pistols aren’t mentioned in Congress, but an attack with an AR-15 is.
Hysteria Destroys Reason
People get riled up, they jump to conclusions, they neglect to just sit back for a moment and LOOK AT THE FACTS, and they go with a newsworthy idea. Pitbulls are the problem. AR-15s are the problem. We’ve gone through this multiple times, and in retrospect we laugh at our own foolishness. Looking back and laughing isn’t enough though. We should learn from our past mistakes.
Another example of hysteria is the “low fat”craze. For years, people were seeking out low fat foods, thinking that if something was low in fat, it was healthy. Years later, we realized that this wasn’t the case. I spent years studying nutrition and exercise, and the bottom line is that what makes a person fat is a high calorie intake and a sedentary lifestyle. Why is America fat? Simple: Because we live sedentary lives and eat calorie dense foods. It really is that simple!
Since that time the craze has gone from low fat to low cholesterol to whole grain to “organic” to non-GMO to gluten-free. It is all hysteria. To live healthy you don’t need these fad diets. But being realistic about exercise and nutrition doesn’t get ratings; a secret cure to obesity does. Telling someone to just walk more and eat less doesn’t sell any product, but overpriced “organic” eggs cost five times as much as a normal dozen eggs. Hysteria SELLS! Hysteria means loads of people SPENDING BIG BUCKS! Here’s the rub – it doesn’t work because it doesn’t address the real issue. Eating 6 organic eggs versus 6 regular eggs won’t result in weight loss because you’re still eating 6 eggs! Come on! It IS THAT SIMPLE!
More than dogs and food
It isn’t just dogs and food though. Hysteria has been seen in the social and political realm. In the late 1800s people in Salem Massachusetts were literally burning people who they thought were witches. Innocent people were killed because of hysteria. There was no truth behind it, but because people were hysterical and caught up in a foolish story, they threw away reason and killed innocent people.
In the 20th century, following WWII, there were incredible judicial hearings that charged people with cooperating with the “evil communists”. Senator Joe McCarthy lead hearings (along with special council Roy Cohn) that put multiple innocent people in jail. Hysteria had set in. The communists were supposedly among us, and were plotting to take down America.
Truth be told, there were communists in America, but the media outrage blew the story completely out of proportion. There are threats to American security, and there are evils in the world. The key is approaching things rationally and reasonably. Unfortunately, rationality and reason doesn’t get ratings, it doesn’t get views, and it doesn’t get clicks. Think for a minute – what would get more clicks on an ad: communists are attacking YOU HERE AND NOW; or communists exist but they’re a minor threat. What story are you going to click on?
Today we see the same hysteria
Currently on the right we see the same nonsense of pointing fingers at a vulnerable scapegoat. The interesting thing is that the bad guys are made into giants that in reality are nothing. Social justice warriors have been made into a strong enemy BY the people who oppose them. When left to themselves, SJWs are a small minority of a fraction of college campuses. The right’s most popular personalities are opposing a group of people that wield very limited power. SJWs aren’t as big and bad as they seem. I oppose their agenda as much as Milo Yiannopoulos, but I don’t spend as much time on them because I realize that while they make for great YouTube content, they aren’t a threat.
The same goes for feminism. In earlier decades, feminism was women fighting for the right to vote, and equal rights under the legal system. Most people in contemporary times agree that women should be treated the same as men in terms of law and employment. However, we are seeing a new wave of feminists who seek not just equality, but absolute power over men.
The good news is that these people occupy a shrinking minority of women. Despite what the media portrays, feminism grossly lacks in popularity. According to a recent study by YouGov/HuffPo less than 1/4 of women identify as feminists. Is feminism a problem? Sure. Does it deserve our attention? No.
Let us now turn to the worst – Islam. I don’t mean that Islam as a religion is the worst, but that the issue is the worst. I come from a place where hating Islam is the norm. However, I recognized, after a conversation with founder of Muslims for Liberty, Will Coley, that perhaps Islam was not the problem.
Opponents of Islam claim that Islam has from its inception been a religion of force. Is this actually true? Muslims were for years a minority in the middle east, so this brings up a big question – how did a minority of muslims “conquer” the territories that surrounded them? Did a minority really conquer a huge majority more than a thousand years ago? It doesn’t seem to make sense.
If Muslims DID conquer the middle east, it seems a little strange that they would just spread like cancer to the rest of Europe and Asia. Let’s just be honest here – its a little far fetched, right? Unfortunately, much of what is proclaimed as “history” is nonsense. For instance, the Hadith is more or less a bunch of random reports of Muhammed’s life. It is the same as a bunch of random reports of Donald Trump’s life. What is true and what isn’t is anybody’s guess.
What is making up the difference is hysteria. Some will jump and think that I’m only saying “Islamophobes” as hysterical, but “hysterical” also includes the terrorists. Terrorists are being hysterical. They aren’t acting rationally. Spreading a religion successfully doesn’t come through force – even the Koran acknowledges this.
We are at an important point. Both religion and politics believe that their side will win through force. Both sides are driven by hysteria. I don’t want sharia law, or communism, and I don’t want bans on extra large soft drinks or pitbulls. Let’s be reasonable.
The solution to gun violence isn’t a ban on guns. The solution to obesity isn’t a ban of 40oz soft drinks. The solution to communism isn’t a rigid anti-communist trial. The solution to sexism and racism isn’t affirmative action. The solution comes down to individuals and changing minds and hearts. This is the hard work that the right and left neglect. If we want to change the world, we have to change the people in it. Hysteria will not drive us in a better direction.
Tim Preuss is the host of the Tim Preuss Podcast, available Monday-Friday on iTunes, the Liberty Radio Network, Talk America Radio, and everywhere else. More of his work is available at PreussPodcast.com.
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