pet politics

I’m a little late on this one, but a couple of weeks ago Will Wilkinson posted about a TED talk by Jonathan Haidt in which Haidt discusses some differences between liberals and conservatives. Will’s post is smart and provocative, and I commend it to you, but at the moment I want to talk about something else.

At one point in his talk Haidt discusses the differences between conservative and liberal thinking about buying dogs. Yes, dogs. The key question goes like this: “I'd be more likely to get a dog that was. . . “

(a) “Independent-minded and relates to its owner as a friend and equal,” or

(b) "Extremely loyal to its home and family, and doesn't warm up quickly to strangers."

Haidt says that liberals tend to choose (a) and conservatives tend to choose (b). Okay . . . but what if I want a dog that’s friendly to strangers but comes when I call her? Would that make me a moderate? Or maybe a Distributist? Yeah, that’s probably it: I’m a natural Distributist.

Anyway, maybe I’m just congenitally illiberal, but it seems to me that anyone who thinks that he or she wants a dog who will “relate to its owner as an equal” is utterly nuts. Do you seriously want a dog who will come only when she thinks you’ve given her adequate reasons for doing so? Do you want an animal companion who expects you to come when she calls as often as vice versa? Granted, it would be nice to have a dog who puts out food for me twice a day and picks up after me when I crap in the neighbor’s yard. . . . but overall, I don't think the equality thing is likely to work out, pet-wise. Maybe I should think it over some more.