My life as a dog

Burt Prelutsky
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Posted: Jul 30, 2007 12:00 AM
My life as a dog

The last time I saw “The Wizard of Oz,” I found myself identifying not with the Scarecrow, the Tin Man or even the Cowardly Lion, but with Toto. I mean, one minute, the pooch is in Kansas, and the next thing he knows, he’s in Oz, and hundreds of midgets in weird costumes are prancing around and singing about a dead witch. Oh, sure, Dorothy Gale was confused, too, but at least she spoke the language. But what was her little dog to make of such strange goings-on? He really had no idea which end was up, and the truth is, neither do I.

For instance, who sits down and determines the length of prison sentences that go with certain crimes, and how is it that they make such a hash of it? For instance, why do convicted rapists, pedophiles and animal abusers, ever get to walk out of jail? Even if you’re opposed to capital punishment, what excuse is there for ever releasing one of these monsters?

Frankly, I think that whereas there might be mitigating circumstances where murder is concerned simply because, I’m sure we’d all agree, certain people are simply asking for it, there is never a legitimate reason to commit these other crimes.

This brings us to Michael Vick. I realize he hasn’t been tried and convicted of anything except of being a mediocre quarterback, but let us say, for the sake of argument, that he is guilty of having staged dog fights at his home and of having tortured, hanged and electrocuted, the underachievers. Wouldn’t the appropriate punishment for committing such barbaric acts be to treat this Falcon the way he treated those canines?

Speaking of professional athletes, will someone please explain why people will spend good money on over-priced products simply because some fellow, say Arnold Palmer or Tiger Woods, who’s been paid millions of dollars by the manufacturer, endorses it?

Also, why was there so much pressure on Camel cigarettes to rid its advertising of a large-nosed cartoon camel, but nobody squawks when guys like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Mr. Vick, cynically hawk $120 sneakers to children? Anyone who claims that the difference is that smoking is harmful should be reminded that selling tobacco products to minors is already illegal, while getting kids to pressure their parents to blow a bloody fortune on made-in-China footwear they’ll outgrow in a month or two is immoral and inexcusable.

Next, I’d like to know if anybody has ever done a study of the ACLU crowd to determine what makes them tick. Is it nature or nurture that causes them to turn out the way they do? Why is it -- especially in a post 9/11 America -- that they regard every sensible precaution taken against Islamic nutsies as an assault on our basic liberties?

Consider, if you will, that more than 200 police departments have recently begun using roof-mounted infrared cameras on their squad cars. The cameras are capable of scanning license plates at the rate of 15 to 25 a second. The information is sent to a database in the car’s trunk, where it’s compared with a digital list of vehicles connected to traffic violations, car-jackings and alerts for kidnapped children.

To most people, it sounds like one small step for technology, one great leap for our society. But for Christopher Dunn, the associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, it’s merely another example of American style fascism. He says -- with a straight face, mind you -- “From our perspective, police should be in the business of investigating crimes, not tracking law-abiding citizens.”

Of course only a buffoon such as Mr. Dunn would intentionally overlook the obvious fact that cops are always eye-balling citizens, law-abiders as well as the other kind, and that this device merely helps them focus their attention on the other kind.

Trying to figure out how it is that some folks manage to reach adulthood when their heads are filled with straw is probably as pointless as trying to determine how it is that some people have absolutely no sense of humor, irony or perspective.

Still, how is it that even after all these years of suicide bombers, beheadings and the events of 9/11, not to mention the ongoing murderous rants emanating from mosques, so many millions of Americans elect to ignore the fact that Islamic fanaticism is a far more dangerous threat to the future well-being of the planet than global warming, second-hand smoke and Lindsay Lohan’s driving, put together?

It astounds me that Islam’s propaganda arm in America, CAIR, is treated with such respect by the media when its purpose is essentially, like the German Bund during the 1930s and early 40s, to put lipstick and formal attire on Nazi pigs.

Obviously, millions of my fellow countrymen are quite willing to turn a blind eye to lunatics blowing up embassies in Africa, trains in Spain, school buses in Israel, cars in France, discos in Bali and skyscrapers in the United States. I guess they won’t take the threat to heart until the crazies do something truly despicable, like find a way to interfere with TV reception during a Super Bowl game.

Now I hope you better understand why, like Toto, I, too, sometimes find myself running around in circles, trying to make sense of all the madness. As an exercise in futility, it’s like trying to figure out why the only two things harder to break into than Fort Knox are a package of computer ink jets and a box of matzos.