Washington Post Editorial Board makes shameful mistake, even for an opinion piece

According to the Washington Post, their Editorials “represent the views of The Washington Post as an institution, as determined through debate among members of the editorial board.”  Hmm.

Apparently then, The Washington Post as an institution sees no problem with beginning an editorial piece with such a profoundly gross inaccuracy that it renders all content to follow totally unpalatable.

Yep, these lovely Girl Scouts seem intensely concerned with myths about Peaches’ “locking jaw.” The only thing this dog knows how to lock are her eyes, on you, before she leans in for a hug.

There is plenty to nit pick over in this rather brief and limited commentary on the Solesky case in Maryland and some of the subsequent related legal decisions and discussions involved, but those are nothing compared to one glaring factual error in an already graphic chain of sentences clearly written for one purpose–to scare.

IN APRIL 2007, a neighbor’s pit bull mauled and nearly killed a 10-year-old Maryland boy named Dominic Solesky behind his family’s house in East Towson. With a pit bull’s classic locked jaw, the dog mauled the entirety of Dominic’s small body and punctured his femoral artery — usually a fatal injury.

Amidst the horrifying description provided intended to yank the heart strings of every sentient human and parent on the planet, we find mention of the “classic locking jaw” of the “pit bull” that folks just love to use to scare the bejesus out of the public.  Except there’s one small problem:  Their jaws–like those of every other breed of dog on the planet–DON’T lock, nor do they function differently or disproportionately to that of other dogs.  Because if they did, that would mean they’d have to be classified as a different species, not canine.  But nope, do a quick Google search for locking jaws and animal species and you’re sure to be met with pit bull oriented page ranks.

I truly long for the day when more folks turn to the Carl Sagans of the world for profound cosmic answers than they do astrology and tarot cards.  Similarly, I hope there comes a day when a more informed and thoughtful public might consider consulting resources like those available through the National Canine Research Council than the fear- and hate-driven pseudoscience peddled on sites like Dogsbite.org. Sigh. Baby steps.

 “. . . in the aftermath of a highly-publicized event people are often more fearful than they ought to be – the phenomenon of ‘availability bias.’ An available incident can lead to excessive fixation on worst-case scenarios – just as the absence of such an incident can lead to an unjustified sense of security.”

                                            – Cass R. Sunstein, University of Chicago

About emily douglas

Emily Douglas authors The Unexamined Dog blog and writes regularly about "pit bull" advocacy, humane education and the parallels between the education field and the dog world. Emily and her dog, Peaches volunteer as a registered therapy dog team in the Southeast Michigan area, where their visits are affectionately known as Peach Therapy.
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