2007-01-24 / Editorials

Op- ed

It Might Be A Very Long Year
BY JOHN J. COX

I was waiting for a gyro to go at Gyro Uno on Steinway Street when my old friend, Vernon Jackson, happened by with his dog, Rawson. I noticed that Vernon had put a muzzle over Rawson's snout. Seeing me in the store he tied the pooch to a lamp post and came inside. "Happy New Year," I said.

"Not much to be happy about," sighed Vernon.

"Why not?"

"Are you kidding," he said. "We're only a couple of weeks into the New Year and already we're hip deep in hypocrisy, discrimination and utter insanity."

"What do you mean?" I inquired.

"Well," Vernon began, "let's start with hypocrisy. Take the funeral services for Gerry Ford. Here's a guy who happened to be in the right place at the right time and suddenly found himself president of the United States for a couple of years. Not that I had anything against him- he seemed like a pleasant guy- but his funeral services seemed to drag on longer than his term in office. I felt sorry for Betty. Imagine sitting there quietly day after day listening to one overblown eulogy after another. She had to be thinking that if her husband had received even a fraction of all this esteem while he was president he would have been elected by a landslide back in '76."

"I see your point," I said. "I guess it's just our nature to pay more respect to the dead than to the living."

He had made his point about hypocrisy, so I asked him about discrimination.

Vernon pointed outside to Rawson, who was sitting politely by the curb. "I read in the papers," he said, "that now the city wants to ban pit bulls."

"That won't affect you," I interrupted. "The law won't be retroactive. It would only prohibit people from obtaining such dogs in the future."

"But I like pit bulls," Vernon responded. "I like terriers the way some people like labradors or setters or poodles. And as sure as I'm standing here, there'll be some nitwit in the government who decides to define a pit bull as any old terrier with a muscular body and pugnacious mug. My point is, who's to say what a pit bull really is? For example, I don't know anything about Rawson's pedigree or lineage. I found him in an abandoned junkyard. For all I know, he's the product of a couple of wayward mutts. He may look like a pit bull, all right, but it's not fair to judge a dog by its looks."

"Then what's with the muzzle you put on Rawson's snout?" I asked.

"Well," Vernon explained, "I want to nip this pit bull nonsense in the bud. So I'm advocating something more sensible. Why not require muzzles on all dogs whenever they're outdoors? If the city is so darned worried about dogs biting people, then require muzzles on all dogs. It's not right to single out one breed of dogs. After all, I've seen some pretty nasty German shepherds and dobermans. Remember, today it's the pit bull. Tomorrow it may be the chihuahua."

Again I was forced to admit he had a point.

I paid for my gyro and we left the store. Vernon untied Rawson and we walked down 28th Avenue.

"All right," I said reluctantly, "you've made your points about hypocrisy and dog discrimination. What about the insanity?"

"Oh, there's no shortage of that," Vernon said. "I'll give you just one recent example. Remember that mysterious odor that spread over Manhattan last week?"

"Of course I do. People all over Manhattan complained of a gas odor. It was big news for days."

"That's right," said Vernon, "New Yorkers panicking over an odor. Can you imagine that? There they were, calling 911 by the thousands. Buildings evacuated, rail service suspended, daytime soaps interrupted to bring us the 'breaking news'. I even read somewhere that the National Guard was put on alert and that the stock market took a plunge. All because of an odor. Can you imagine what would happen if the odor had been really wretched? Let me tell you, if terrorists wanted to strike that way, they wouldn't use something that smells like natural gas. No sir, they'd find a way to tap the smell coming from Flushing Bay on hot days, or Newtown Creek or the Staten Island landfill and spread that all over the place. But, all this panic over a whiff of gas- it's just insane."

As we continued down the avenue I began to think that 2007 might be a very long year. John J. Cox is a resident of Woodside.

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