A few weeks (months?) ago I had to adjust the comment settings on this blog because we were getting inundated with a ton of spam, including “comments” written entirely in Chinese (I know, WTF?) so I made it so that I personally had to approve a person’s ability to comment (after which, the person can post freely). I got a lot of comments from new people to some of my recent posts but they were delayed somewhat before I could approve them.
I’ve never once censored anyone for anything on topic, just once or twice deleting something that was clearly abusive or hate-filled. You can see for yourself that I’ve left several comments attacking me severely. I’ve also gotten feedback in other ways (Facebook messages, emails, etc) about some of my recent posts so today I’m going to pool all of my answers together in one place.
Most of the comments were about my piece The Perfect Dog Storm and a brief follow-up in Revelation 9:10. The only significant change in the story since then is that the Bucharest City Council unanimously voted to annul the upcoming referendum on dog euthanasia. The (national) Parliament looks like it will authorize some kind of limited euthanasia measure but that’s not batut cu cuie (set in stone) quite yet so we’ll see what happens.
Now onto the rebuttal!
1) What can be done (humanely) about the 68,000 street dogs in Bucharest?
I linked to it in my original piece but I described two years ago how Oradea, a city in Romania the last time I checked, has managed to humanely sterilize, adopt out and otherwise manage their homeless dog population, all without costing the taxpayers a fortune.
If Romanian is your first language, go to your favorite search engine and type in “Oradea maidanezi” and see the dozens of articles about how they’ve done it. Likewise other cities in Romania such as SIbiu are doing a good job.
It’s only cities like Bucharest and Craiova (regular dog attacks on people) and Brasov (cruel mass slaughter of animals) where there’s a problem so clearly this has to do with the failure of the local government, period. Punct.
2) The city government of Bucharest is responsible for the boy’s death!
Total horseshit. The little boy and his brother were playing on private property. If I had a big piece of property (which I don’t) and a pack of fierce dogs that lived there (which I don’t) and two little kids wandered onto my land and my dogs attacked and killed them, that’s hardly the local government to blame, is it?
That’s exactly what happened here. Two kids, completely neglected by their grandmother, wandered onto private property near a park and were assaulted by dogs. The dogs in question were not “pets” or even owned by the company that owned the land BUT the company clearly allowed the dogs to live there. Their land, they permitted the dogs to live there, therefore they are responsible.
That being said, indirectly the local government is to blame because again as in #1 above, they have failed to do anything about the stray dog population.
3) The grandma is innocent!
Again, utter horseshit. The grandmother supposedly “watching” these two little boys (ages 4 and 6) was so far away from them that she didn’t even hear a pack of FIVE dogs attack and kill her grandson.
There are pet dogs that live at the top of my street over 150 meters away and I can hear a single one barking and yelping when he gets fired up. How far away was the fucking grandmother that she can’t hear FIVE dogs barking?
A pack of wild dogs does not bite two children, one of them to death, silently like ninjas.
If those two little boys had jumped into the middle of a busy street and been run over by a car, would she also then be “not responsible” for that? At what point is the grandmother responsible for anything?
Why bother even have her “watch” the kids if all she’s going to do is let them run around half of Bucharest (a major metropolitan city, let’s remember, with hundreds of dangers from live electric wires to open manholes to trenches being dug for construction work, etc) unattended? What if the kids picked up some kind of toxic thing on the ground and ate it and were poisoned? Two little boys of those ages NEED someone to watch them.
If I had two kids that age (which I don’t) and I left them in the hands of their grandmother and she let them wander off and get mauled to death and didn’t hear or see a thing then I’d damned sure be blaming her, not the christing local government.
4) Kids and families have a right to be safe from wild dog attacks!
Absolutely right. Except that this right only extends to public spaces. Again as in #2 above, nobody can wander into my massive estate that is patrolled by guard dogs and expect the local government to assure their personal safety.
The issue here is that yes, people are bitten and/or menaced by wild dogs in public spaces and this is definitely a problem. In the case of the little boy’s death, it happened on private property and therefore NOT the government’s problem (directly).
5) Look at that snarling German shepherd in the photo!
Uh, I saw the dog being wrangled into a van and it was clearly some kind of Labrador retriever or golden shepherd. Furthermore, the alleged killer dog had an implanted microchip and was identified in the adoption papers as being some kind of yellow dog.
In no fucking way was it a German shepherd dog so using a picture of one snarling next to the face of the dead boy in all the posters and materials by the protestors is total horseshit.
There are real problems that need real solutions, not this hokey agitprop crap.
6) The pro-animal rights NGOs are a mafia!
Uh, what? I realize some of them are extreme but as I said in #1, there are viable options in Romania today of how to deal with the stray dog population that include partnerships between NGOs and local governments.
Romania has about the clumsiest and most hamhanded public relations strategies I’ve ever seen. Even the ambassador to Great Britain can’t speak English (but insists on speaking it anyway) and official letters to the EU are full of errors and mistakes.
You know what inflames people against Romanians as well? Seeing pictures of mountains of dead dogs as I see every frigging day on Twitter. Not just this week and last week but every day of the year. It’s why I wrote my first article on the subject years ago.
The animal rights “mafia” are exceedingly easy to get rid of. Just quit slaughtering thousands of animals. How hard is that to understand? Leave them to go protest against Vietnam and Korea and CAFOs in America and they’ll forget about Romania once there is no more abuse of animals here.
And in case you don’t give a whit about dogs and would be happy to execute them en masse yourself with your bare hands, please remember that millions of Romanians live abroad and sometimes get treated very badly with suspicion, hostility or open racism partly because of persistent images like these.
7) Street dogs exist on a diet of pure sunshine and fresh air
Okay no one has said this :P but I asked it before (both here on the blog and to several local journalists), how much food per day are 68,000 dogs eating?
There’s a hell of a lot of people feeding those stray dogs and it’s not just NGO activists either. There’s a pet dog, clearly owned, on a nearby street to my apartment and people regularly stop and pet him (through the fence) and give him treats.
Lots and lots of people feed street dogs as well, sometimes just as a way to get rid of old food and sometimes as a way to have a “proxy” pet. They can’t afford to maintain one at home but they can form a bond with a street animal by feeding it.
Otherwise street dogs are eating several metric tons of garbage that they’ve scavenged themselves. This is probably saving the city (and its taxpayers) millions of euros because less trash has to be picked up and thrown away in landfills.
Whether it’s preventing people from feeding stray dogs or better controlling garbage, if the food supply was cut off the dog problem would disappear. This is Biology 101, folks. All populations increase or diminish based on food supply.
But I’ve yet to hear a single person bring up the subject of controlling the food supply of the stray dog population.
7b) Why not just eat the dogs?
Seriously, I never understood the hypocrisy of meat eaters in Romania or Britain or America or anywhere else. If you can eat a pig or a pigeon, why not eat dog?
Not only is it still common practice in some parts of Asia today but dog meat was a staple of many pre-Colombian cultures in South America. It’s healthy, nutritious meat, at least as healthy and nutritious as the chemical-filled goo in hamburgers which people are willing to pay good money for.
I bet you 100 bucks I could grind up some dog meat, flavor it with spices, grill it and sell it to anyone who eats meat and they’d love it.
8) In your story about being arrested the other day, you criticized the police for not doing their job but in another story you criticized them for also not doing their job!
Yes, I swear that was a real comment.
I realized today that I’m coming from a vastly different situation than most people reading this. Most Romanians never, ever deal with the police outside of paperwork issues. However every single American you will ever meet (and most Britons) have been “stopped”, pulled over, or otherwise dealt with the police in an official capacity.
Therefore most Romanians have (thankfully) never had to go through what I have, which is a good thing, but this means that most people in this country never really think or understand what the purpose of policing is.
I used to watch “Law and Order” here on TV and it was subtitled in Romanian so I thought everyone knew the opening sequence, which always begins with the phrase the police, who investigate crime. L&O and other cop shows like CSI or 48 Hours are largely bullshit but that one line is actually true.
Let’s review how the Romanian police are organized:
|Traffic Police||Gendarmes||National Police||City Police||Specialized Units|
|Enforces traffic laws, registers cars, gives speeding tickets, handles and investigates collisions and crashes, wears a light blue shirt with a white horizontal band on the upper third||A branch of the Interior Ministry. Maintains order at public events like protests, strikes, sporting events, musical concerts, etc. Also works extensively in rural areas and handles situations on an ad hoc basis, such as aiding in fire suppression, etc. Usually wears dark blue uniforms, occasionally augmented with riot gear.||Subdivided into county jurisdictions. Handles fights, thefts, robberies and other violations of the criminal code. Is responsible for maintaining population lists and registering of addresses as well as the criminal history of all citizens. Wears a light blue uniform.||Only used in larger cities, they are responsible primarily for parking enforcement although they also do some other code enforcement of city laws and regulations. Generally dresses identically to the National Police.||Various but also includes units like DIICOT (theoretically “terrorism and organized crime” but roughly akin to the FBI in America) and DNA, all of whom regularly use anonymous masked agents that don’t wear a uniform. Also includes other units like the Railway Police.|
Note: there are also some “Rural Police” units which have broader duties.
It must be remembered here that none of these various units coordinate with each other except in rare circumstances.
What’s interesting to me (and of vital importance to this country, in my opinion) is understanding exactly which of these units are actually doing police work.
Traffic Police are enforcing legal codes about things like speed limits and vehicle safety. This is a form of policing but the bulk of their responsibilities involve paperwork such as driving licenses and registering vehicles.
They issue citations for moving violations (amenzi) so rarely that Romanian drivers get upset that the cops have the audacity to actually do their job once in a while. Meanwhile the Traffic Police will not even respond to minor collisions and will tell you over the telephone to go down to their headquarters and fill out the paperwork your fucking self. They only do an investigation into a crash in extremely limited and rare circumstances (like someone getting killed).
Likewise the Local Police only do code enforcement of one kind or another, a lot of it dealing with parking violations. The Local Police do zero investigation.
The gendarmes spend about 99.9% of their time walking around at public events, thus “ensuring” law and order and are mostly used for tactical suppression. They rarely arrest anyone and never (as far as I’m aware) issue citations or tickets. Only if you’re flagrantly caught in the act of public mischief (like rioting) will you be tackled, thrown in the back of a scary Communist-era armored vehicle and arrested. The gendarmes do zero investigation.
The specialized units, particularly DIICOT, are highly unusual in the sense that they work with the prosecutors to build cases. These are the guys who look at surveillance footage, who tap phone calls, who set up stings, who chase down leads, who interview witnesses all to build a criminal case against someone. But again, this only involves “major” crime like terrorism or large-scale smuggling operations.
And thus we arrive, finally, to the “regular” police. As I discussed at length, their primary job is to identify people. That’s it. Anything else, they don’t give a shit. Now let’s imagine that you were walking down the street when a criminal punched you in the face and stole your wallet.
What would happen next, assuming you called the police?
The police will respond to where you are. They will interview you and take a statement from you, possibly also audio (or sometimes video) recorded. If you are injured, they will ask you if you would like medical attention. If you say yes, the treatment will be free. If there are visible marks or injuries, the police will take photographs of them. The police will ask you detailed questions about the suspect. If your credit cards or bank cards were stolen, the police will contact the bank and see if the suspect used the cards. The police will put the information in a computer that other officers (including in other jurisdictions) can access. The police will then exhaust every investigative lead until the criminal is arrested. The case will then be turned over to the prosecutor.
You have to go down to the police station yourself and fill out the paperwork. The police will ask you zero questions and will not record your statement in any way. You have to describe your attacker. If you’re illiterate or not a good writer, too bad for you because the police won’t lift a finger to help you.
Even if you have obvious, fresh injuries the police will not take photographs of you. You have to go to a hospital yourself and pay for a special forensic certificate that officially states your injuries are the result of a criminal act, not your own negligence (to prevent you from punching yourself in the face multiple times and claiming a criminal did it). If you can’t pay for the treatment for your injuries and/or the forensic certificate, too fucking bad. Nothing will be entered into a computer.
If you don’t know the name and home address of the criminal who attacked you, the police will do nothing unless the officer on duty personally recognizes the guy in question. Even if the police figure out who attacked you, they won’t arrest the person. Instead, the case is turned over to the prosecutor’s office and it is they who must order an arrest.
If the prosecutor’s don’t deem that the crime was “bad enough” to warrant an arrest, the case proceeds along in the courts under the assumption that the defendant can easily be located via his “permanent” address if need be. It’s perfectly legal for the defendant to settle the case by paying cash to the victim and so the prosecutors will pressure the defendant to take the money.
So that explains why the police in Romania are so obsessed over identifying people, because that’s their sole job. They’ve got the guns on their belts and the lights and sirens on their car so that they can respond rapidly to situations and identify everyone.
Only in the most extreme cases will they make an arrest on the spot (assuming of course, you’re not a “bad citizen” like me and refuse to identify yourself). As long as they know who everyone is and their “permanent” address, it’s up to the prosecutors to do all the investigating. The police don’t interview anyone, don’t take statements from anyone, don’t follow up with businesses or banks to get video camera footage or ATM usage. That’s for the prosecutors to do, not them.
The Romanian police don’t set up stings, they don’t do foot patrols, they don’t talk to anyone in an effort to get to know them (what’s called Community Policing), they don’t go give talks to seniors about avoiding fraud, they don’t give homeowners tips on preventing burglary, they don’t do stake-outs, they don’t track crimes, they don’t coordinate with other jurisdictions to catch people, they don’t scan INTERPOL bulletins, they don’t search people on the street (or even prisoners in their own fucking headquarters), they don’t chase after anyone either on foot or in their car, they don’t do photo line-ups, they don’t maintain log books of their activities (other than identifying people) or testify in court.
All they do is maintain lists of people’s names and addresses. That’s it. They’re essentially just mobile clerks, the same as you’ll find in any government office, except they have guns and cars.
The police’s only responsibility is to identify people so that some other agency or person can do something. If you want to file a complaint, it’s your job to do all the work. And if the prosecutors want to build a case, it’s their job to do all the work using the paperwork identifying the individuals involved, the sole contribution by the police.
And all of this so-called “policing” is done by individuals wearing cheap blue nylon uniforms with zero identification on them. One of the cops I was riding home with the other day took off his hat and I saw the manufacturer’s label. I bet you 100 bucks I could contact them and whether with a cash bribe or using a ruse (fabricating some bullshit paperwork) I could get myself kitted out in a full policeman’s uniform quite easily.
Guess what? Then I’d be a cop! How would you know I’m not one? It’s not like I need a badge or have to wear my name stitched under the pocket or otherwise show any ID to absolutely anyone, even to prisoners I’m holding in my own fucking headquarters. For a couple extra bucks I could buy some black cargo pants and a ski mask and presto, magic now I’m a DIICOT agent too.
The only reason this stupid system continues to survive is that there is almost no crime here in this country and very, very little violence. That’s it.
9) The author is stupid!
Yes, someone really wrote that in a comment to one of my articles this past week. Bully for you.
As I’ve said a million times before, feel free to express your opinion either here on the blog, anonymously like a coward, or else to my face as I’m extremely easy to find (and recognize!) and wander through downtown Cluj-Napoca on a daily basis. I have no interest in censoring you either way :)