A Cup of Conversation – June 2016

When good is called evil and evil is called good, moral relevancy is replaced by something else. In the 21st century, it is political correctness. Free speech in the public arena is now about silencing speech. That’s pretty warped but nothing novel. The free press has lost its way. The once independent, junk yard watchdog keeping the wealthy and powerful in check, is now a noisy lap pet of the ideologue class. That’s a recipe for fascism. In fact, it’s been simmering for a generation now and ready to be served.

Speaking of dogs and twisted politics, a man came into one of the stores recently with a large service dog. The animal was so big, it’s high wagging tail and exposed backside was at face level of seated patrons as the man searched for a place to land his canine Airbus. The pet owner noticed his dog’s tail was whacking adults in the shoulder and children in the face not to mention the broad brush strokes across plates of food and cups of coffee. He attempted to mitigate the damage by holding the animal’s tail as it passed by table to table. It was something you’d see in a movie, written and directed for a laugh but no one was laughing. At first glance, the pet owner was not outwardly disabled and certainly not blind. After my initial shock over the nerve of someone so indifferent to another’s personal space or property, I approached him and said the dog was too large for this crowded space. His response told me a couple things. One, he wasn’t speech or hearing impaired either, by any stretch of the imagination, and it wasn’t the first time someone called him out on his dog-horse in a food-serving establishment.

After listening to a well-rehearsed offensive on his rights both federal and state, including threat of lawsuit, fines and my impending imprisonment, I simply asked him if he was for real. The look on his face told me everything I needed to know. He was for real and this was his world now. Along with the loss of free speech is a massive erosion of traditional property and privacy rights. I’m a dog lover but not everyone is and most do not want to dine next to a dog licking its chops and other parts.

For the record, we honored the service dog idea even before the force of law and our patrons certainly make compassionate allowance. The problem is the exploitation by a minority few to move unrestricted in public areas with their pets. There are psychiatric and other medical disabilities not necessary visible to the untrained eye a trained dog can service but how does one differentiate between legitimate need and the vastly more common emotional comfort dog NOT covered under the law? The same law prohibits asking for documentation or the reason for the dog. Maybe the large animal here was legitimate but this particular fellow (every merchant’s nightmare) understood his new right to take the pet anywhere now trumped traditional rights to protect property or patronage. In addition, he knew it is now enforced at the point of a gun (federal law). That’s breathtaking but just a small sign of a much larger issue.

Recently Mary and I traveled south for Mother’s Day and stopped for dinner at a nice restaurant. We were seated next to a man in a booth with his Pit Bull sitting upright on the booth-bench alongside the owner. We heard the man order a steak for himself and a cheeseburger for the dog. After a few minutes, the dog jumped down and put his face in my lap looking for something to nibble on. Needless to say, our dining experience was paid for by a completely flabbergasted restaurant manager who was paralyzed with fear and indecision. That is just wrong.

So the discourse continues to coarsen as the election season darkens the horizon. People are choosing vastly polarizing extremes to represent them in ways adversely affecting everyone else. The balance of power has shifted from the reasonably well-lit center to the darker unknown, unsustainable and unpredictable. Frankensteins and Brides of Frankensteins are created in this kind of cultural laboratory. A storm of epic proportions is here and when it’s over, freedom’s landscape of the sane will be gone. The new service dog law will be just a tiny flea on the back of a raging monster. Are we ready?