Dangerous animal ordinances about more than animals

For some, ordinances controlling what kind of pets people can keep and maintain on their own property in city limits is pure logic. Some combination of the opinions of some experts, some perspective on common sense and some deep-rooted discomfort guide the positions of some people who support strict control on household pets.

On the other side are people who cite personal experiences that contradict other people’s conventional wisdom, those who can cite the success of less strenuous rules in other cities, and people who don’t share popular aversions to certain kinds of animals.

For some, though, perhaps even many of those opposing draconian regulations, the question is less about animals than it is about control.

Proponents and opponents of changes have shared with Minot Daily News different studies that conclude with different conclusions. The argument that the data is settled is specious at best since anecdotal evidence has no value in a logical evaluation.

However, the most common assertion has been this: is Minot large enough now that we must forego simple individual “rights” to appease the collective? Is this a town where people of all sorts co-exist and settle disputes legally if they are unable to settle them privately? Or are we a big city, where every action we take, every decision we make, is guided by the infinite wisdom of the masses as personified by government?

That’s the debate that most have brought to MDN. Are we ready to empower government with making decisions that, many feel, should be entirely personal, barring experience wherein those decisions adversely impact a third party?

Drinking vast quantities of pop, without question, has a million times the negative impact on public health as do pit bulls or snakes or hens. If the role of government is to protect the public from any possible threat, is Minot ready for laws limiting the purchase of Pepsi as they do elsewhere? With the cost of obesity and diabetes to the nation and community, how can buffets be legal?

Many in Minot might be surprised to learn that many things we take for granted here in our part of the country, are routinely labeled as threats in other cities and threatened with restrictive legislation.

Even with the economic downturn, Minot has grown. Have we grown to the point where we look to government to control aspects of our lives previously considered private? Are there aspects of our lives that are just private decisions, for which we know we will be responsible, as has been our way for generations.

We make a mistake simplifying the various debates on animals. It isn’t just about this animal or that animal. Instead, it is about how we as a community feel about our neighbors and our government. Are we ready to empower elected officials to “protect” us, even from ourselves and even at the cost of the loss of our freedoms?

Maybe that’s the debate we should be having.