But it wasn't the story itself that got to me, it was the comments! There were a lot of people reading that news story who were more than willing to kill someone else's pet because they did not like what it was doing. The more I thought about it, the more disturbed I got. Many of the would-be dog killers felt that they had no alternative but to kill a barking dog to get resolution of the noise problem. Going to the owner--no, didn't work. Going to the city--no, didn't work. Only killing what basically is an innocent party would work. The anger--and helplessness--in the comments was scary to read. I began to wonder if we are being held prisoner by our anger and helplessness against our own uncivil behavior!
It just seems as if the social graces that used to lubricate daily life have become, at the very least, extremely rare. Furthermore, it seems as if the volume on rude and self centered behavior gets turned up every day, until it reaches the "10" of unruly mobs of people tearing stuff up and committing criminal acts in public spaces. Further, we seem helpless to stop this tide of rudeness and inconsideration that seems to signal changes for the worse in American culture and public life.
I am not sure if the rule of law is being used properly to come against this tide of uncivil behavior in our nation. If neighbors cannot work out the noisy dog issue, city ordinances should be enforced. But then they are not and there is frustration on the violated person's part. This causes escalation and anger. The mobs of kids are handled, not with firm application of laws against assault, vandalism, disorderly conduct, curfew violations etc. but with kid gloves, not holding either minor or parent responsible. One of these days, one of these mobs will bother the wrong person, and there will be dead kids.
Can we stem the tide of uncivil behavior? We all hate it, and many of us recognize it for the corrosive nasty thing that it is. However, stopping it is hard work. If you chose not to retaliate, you are seen as weak. You got to start somewhere to stop this chain of escalating helplessness and anger. Before long we will be fighting and killing each other even more over meaningless crap.