I’ve changed the title of this post from the original ‘Dog legislation & same-sex marriage’ as a result of an unintended offensive juxtaposition of the two. As I sought to explain in the opening section, there’s no connection between the two. I thought that would be sufficient, but I can appreciate that many found the title misleadingly offensive. As a result I’ve changed the title accordingly.
The way wordpress works though, I believe the original title will still show up when it’s linked to however. I cannot do anything about that really, but hope that readers will recognise that no offense was intended. Apologies.
I realise the title for this post is likely gonna confuse many – to be clear, there’s no connection between the two of them other than they’re current events issues in Bermuda right now.
I realise I haven’t been posting all that regularly of late; I’m trying to focus on my research at the moment and so ‘non-essential’ things like blogging and social media in general are kind of on the back-burner right now…
I’ve got a new opinion piece on Bernews concerning the need to amend and update our legislation relating to dogs, particularly the need to end breed-specific legislation (the ‘pit-bull’ ban as it’s commonly known in Bermuda).
This is a subject I’ve touched on before, providing an overview of the amendments I think are needed back in December 2014. Last week a group of activists launched a petition and a more general awareness campaign concerning breed-specific legislation, and I thought I’d take the opportunity to contribute to it, and build on my earlier writing on the subject.
In particular, I’ve provided links to a detailed review of the problems with breed-specific legislation from the American Bar Association (see the article itself for the links), and highlighted an often overlooked aspect of our dog legislation which allows authorities to search premises without the safeguards that the Police & Criminal Act 2006 has in place concerning such searches. This is a direct threat to civil liberties and very much open to abuse – and some would argue it is already being abused by authorities.
I don’t intend to repeat the article here, but I did want to address some of the comments that have already been left on the article at the moment. As I’ve written elsewhere, I generally don’t comment on such opinion pieces directly, as I find it detracts from the article even more than usual. Rather, I’d like to just make a few observations.
- A poster going by the name ‘Ringmaster’ takes me to task for writing about animal rights but not on the rights of PRC holders and voting in Bermuda. This has absolutely nothing to do with the article in question and seems to be more about a deflection than anything else. Having said that, I’ve explicitly touched on this issue before – during the 2012 election campaign and both before and since. In particular, I’ve said I support:
- All PRCers to have Bermudian status and the right to vote;
- The introduction of term limits (say for five years at a time and only renewable once) to prevent new PRCers being created;
- A naturalisation system to be put in place to manage this problem going forward.
- I’m accused of ignoring facts. Despite being the only one there bringing references and facts. Yes, pit-bulls can be dangerous animals – the same is true of any medium to large animal, especially of dog breeds. No one breed however is inherently dangerous (in terms of temperament) and this is a factor of training, medical care and socialisation. Any dog breed can be trained (intentionally or accidentally) to be dangerous, and so the focus should be on ensuring this is not the case. By forcing these breeds underground (and c’mon, has prohibition ever worked for anything?) one reduces the ability for them to receive appropriate training, medical care and socialisation, not to mention the risk of inbreeding (which increases the chance of dogs with dangerous temperaments), and thus making the argument that pit-bulls are dangerous a self-fulfilling prophecy. There are alternatives to prohibition, through better regulation, that are more effective and don’t lend themselves open for abusing civil liberties.
This issue has raised it’s head again with news that a cruise ship, registered in Bermuda, has told it’s customers that it is unable to perform same-sex marriages on board due to it being subject to Bermudian law on this matter. I doubt that many considered the wider impact of our refusal to adopt a progressive approach to this issue as regards cruise ships, however it does serve to bring the issue back into public thought.
I wrote about this issue two years ago on Bernews, calling for the island to do the right thing and allow same-sex marriage. That position remains the same, and I hope that our politicians will put aside electoral calculus to do the right thing. I wrote a reaction piece on the matter, but will be rewriting it for a more full article in the coming days, hopefully.
The recent news story has, however, sparked a new campaign on the matter, with a petition being launched. Hopefully this might just help push the matter along.
In my view, these social changes tend to be resisted for a long time and then quickly alter, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we see a change on this going forward.