Monday, September 24, 2007

Post-Dog Days at the Market

Last Sunday at the farmers' market I saw this really cute puppy. Well, a big puppy, but not yet full grown. On the other end of the puppy's leash was a young (but full grown adult) woman (cute, but not as cute as the pup). Funny thing, though, is that there are signs all over the entrances to the market to please leave dogs outside the market perimeter. The dog owner seemed oblivious. Another patron, a somewhat older woman, passed by and must have pointed those signs out to the dog owner because the owner became belligerent. I could see her physically puff up as she demanded of the other woman's back a justification. Did the dog bother her personally? What business was it of hers anyway? Her dog wasn't causing any trouble! As she loudly complained to the ignoring crowd, she just happened to walk to the edge of the market and out onto the street (where she continued her complaint to a friend).

And the point of this is that nothing happened. Sounds a bit silly at first, but nothing happened. But that's the idea. You might not realize that over half the people in jail for violent crimes are not hardened career criminals. They were regular folks just like you and me. They found themselves in stressful circumstances, the right buttons got pushed, someone else responded, and BOOM! Violence happened. Say the second woman had stayed around to argue with the dog walker, say a few friends of both women came by to support their buddy, say one person bumped into another who pushed back who pushed back harder . . . no, not a likely occurrence at the farmers' market. But I'm sure you can recall a situation where this kind of pattern could very well have ignited.


  1. So true! That's what happened to that poor woman on the plain - Carol Gotbaum. Judith Warner had a good column in the NYT and the comments were astounding.

  2. Carol Gotbaum was the woman found strangled while in Phoenix airport police custody. Click here to read Warner's column.