I love wordplay, anagrams, and word origins. Sometimes, I imagine to myself that the subject of this post must be how some people see this sign:
NO DOGS IN PARK
At least, that’s maybe what I hope… that they have some learning disability, a reading comprehension problem, are from a foreign country, or are just flat-out illiterate. I’d rather believe any excuse over the probable truth; They just don’t care.
Before we get the animal lovers all riled up… I’d like to make it clear that I’m not arguing against dogs being allowed in the park. In fact, I think the paths in the park are a perfect place to walk your dog, and that animal lovers everywhere ought to band together to get this rule appealed.
Barring your (and my) personal opinion though, the rule still stands that our canine friends are prohibited from the park. I mean, that sign is pretty clear. There’s not really any way to misunderstand the message put forth, and there are plenty of them all around the park. (If you need to actually see it in writing from an authority, I have done you the favor of finding the Dormont Borough Code online, and you can see in Article I of Chapter 75 [The Animal Code] § 75-2, that animals are prohibited in the park areas.)
I’m not suggesting that the Dormont police patrol the park to hand out pointless citations, as they most certainly have better things to do with their time.
I mean, I get that we were brought up with Fred Rogers telling us all that we’re special and different. Somehow that may have translated to the belief that rules that you don’t like simply don’t apply to you. I also get that to a certain extent. I mean, it’s got to be some kind of inherent human nature to question authority. When you’re told do do something, you recoil a little bit with an internal “excuse me?” At least, I do. The reaction is stronger and longer if it’s something that you don’t want to do or something that you don’t agree with. Perhaps I have just listened to too much anarchy-themed punk rock over the years.
How this translates to the “laws don’t apply to me” mentality, I just don’t get it. This is just another take on my shopping cart rant, I guess. The main difference being that that only applied to general guidelines of polite and decent behavior, and this applies to an actual law… however trivial that law may be.
I’m not saying I’m better than you, or that I never break any laws. I had a problem a long time ago with collecting speeding tickets, and barring my recent Illinois interstate relapse, it’s common knowledge among my friends and family that I pretty much drive like someone’s grandma these days. We generally all go faster than 25 MPH in 25 MPH zones (unless we’re on a school campus, busy city intersection, or in front of a police station). Living in Pennsylvania, I remember the collective sigh of state-wide relief when the speed limit was raised from 55 MPH to 65 MPH. People didn’t like the law, so they wrote, campaigned, and things were changed.
Perhaps it’s a risk thing? If I’m speeding, I’m generally thinking the probability of being caught is low… so it’s rationalized as OK with me somehow. If you bring your dog to the park, are you thinking that there’s never really a police presence in the park, and no one’s going to turn you in so you’re safe?
Is it the classic “well, other people are doing it”? I can see this one working in someone’s head too. My wife & I walk in the park probably 5 days out of the week most weeks. On any given day, we see at least one dog in the park, sometimes as many as 5 or so at a time. If I were a dog owner in an urban area with access to a beautiful nearby park where other people are walking their dogs, I’m sure I’d bring my dog out too. Rationale being that all the other dogs are out, so it must be OK.
In fact, not to long ago, we helped a lady corral her unleashed little beagle mix. He was clearly not ready to go home, and she was in no condition to run after her dog. Standing and yelling “come here, Casey!” apparently doesn’t work all that well with small excitable furry friends. He was quite eager to romp over to us ready for more play. Unfortunately his unconditional offer of puppy playtime was betrayed by us turning him over to his owner.
When I started out, this was going to be another “what’s wrong with you people”* blog with a “what is wrong with a society that stops paying attention to the little rules” tone. I think the latter has taken precedent, with myself included.
I have just realized that I too would probably be an ass that ignores the sign, and brings my dog to the park until I got that 1st citation.
This leaves me still with the questions of what makes one think that the rules don’t apply to them? Is it a belief of being “above” the rules? No fear of penalty? The thought that if the next person is doing it, it’s OK for you? The general disagreement with the rule in the first place? Lack of a presented penalty? (ie., if the sign also said “$300 fine for violations,” would it deter you?) Is it an aggregate of all the smaller rationalizations?
We’re (arguably) a country founded on breaking the rules… but have we gotten to a point where fighting for a rule change is beneath us, or are we just too lazy to change it?
I’m guessing the NO DOGS IN PARK rule is in place mainly because people don’t pick up the pooch poop once it’s dropped, closely followed by a certain amount of fear of the angry biting dog. This rule was probably enacted because people weren’t controlling their animals in the first place out of laziness or an “I’m better than you” attitude. Wow. It’s just a vicious circle, isn’t it?
As someone who suffers from a severe food allergy, and only somewhat irrational fear of all things shellfish… I can imagine that someone coming to the park with a dog allergy and/or a fear of dogs might have a heightened sense of anger and betrayal at the appearance of a giant hairy dog walking right by the “NO DOGS IN PARK” sign.
Perhaps people ought to get together to create pet-friendly and pet-free sections of the park? Perhaps the rule could be changed to “pets only on leashes & pickup poop or it’s a $___ fine” rule?
I guess I’d just like to hear everyone’s thoughts on rules like this.
- Do you think the law is a good one?
- What is your opinion of those who violate the law?
- Why do you think they have no problem ignoring the posted signs?
- What do you think of the lack of the local authorities’ enforcement of the law?
Thanks in advance for your thoughts…
(*Note: Comma omitted per the advice of my grammatical advisory panel, Dave and Kristin!)