Letter to the City Council


In 1987, at the height of pit bull hysteria, the Sacramento City Council began considering a proposal to ban or severely restrict pit bulls. Because I count a number of pit bulls as part of my immediate family and friends and have always known them to be gentle and timid animals, I was incensed at the proposed discrimination.

One night when a friend who was working to defeat the proposal showed the city staff report for the ordinance, I rather sardonically remarked than having working for years at the Sacramento Rape Crisis Center, I thought human males were certainly a greater threat; maybe we should have an ordinance for them. We all laughed, since such a proposal is not unusual among women who’ve worked with victims of male violence, but it’s not usually spoken aloud in the world. It was this common, and, to many, unspeakable suggestion that led to the following satire.

I sent a copy to each Council member and to the newspaper at the university where I teach. From the Council members I heard nothing; from the audience of The Hornet I received everything from praise to death threats. The article seemed to touch a nerve far deeper than I intended. Total strangers came up to me – some (mostly women) to thank me and tell me they had put up copies of the article on their office walls and refrigerators, others (mostly men) to let me know I should be “strung up,” “tied and quartered,” or “hog-tied.”

The City Council is currently considering the passage of an ordinance essentially banning pit bulls from the city of Sacramento based on a report of seven deaths or serious injuries to humans caused by pit bulls in the past four years on the Sacramento area (from a staff report to the City Council 8/27/87). While this figure obviously raises concerns, Sacramento humans face a considerably more formidable thread which should take precedence for action by the Council. During the same period of time, human males have been responsible for at least 2,056 serious injuries or deaths to other humans (based on conviction statistics from the State Department of Justice Bureau of Criminal Statistics). In light of the low rate of convictions for violent crimes, we can assume that this figure may represent as few as 10 percent of the actual crimes committed. (And we cannot begin to speculate on the number of serious injuries or deaths inflicted on pit bulls by human males, since these crimes usually go not only unreported but uninvestigated by appropriate authorities.) In addition, serious injuries and deaths caused by men have more than doubled in the past two years. It is apparent that human males pose a much greater threat to the Sacramento community than do pit bulls.

Even if we consider crime rates, men are responsible for a higher percentage of serious injuries to humans than pit bulls: pit bulls have been attributed with 78 percent of all serious dog bites, while men have committed 89 percent of all physical and sexual assault and murders.

Therefore, we can only conclude that we need an ordinance controlling human male behavior more than one governing pit bulls. Since all the preliminary work has been done on the pit bull ordinance, we can borrow its language in constructing a new ordinance for men. The following makes use of this language:

What accounts for man’s antisocial behavior? Humans are social animals highly attuned to reading facial and posture signals from both other humans and animals. The can communicate their own intentions and can read the moods and intentions of others. However, men have been bred historically for fighting. As such, they display genetically based physical and behavioral characteristics which reflects their heritage and which are often different from the characteristics of other humans. Most humans fight only when necessary to protect food, territory, or a mate or when provoked by the flight of a potential prey. However, men will attack with no provocation and once engaged, will fight until they physically cannot continue. Therefore, a gender specific ordinance requiring special precautions for humans that are innately dangerous would allot greater protection for public health and safety without relying on individual, case to case complaints.

The newly proposed ordinance shall incorporate the following provisions:

1. Any woman wishing to keep a man must pay a $500 licensing fee. Only those men who are properly licensed on the effective date of the ordinance may remain in the city. They will be subject to registration, to be completed within 60 days after the ordinance takes effect. No new men may be brought into the city after the effective date and newborn males myst be removed from the city within eight weeks of birth.

2. For the purpose of this ordinance, man is defined as any human who cannot establish his femaleness.

3. All registered men must be maintained in conformity with the following conditions:

a. Confined securely indoors (no open doors, windows, screens, etc.) or outside in an enclosure.
b. Must be under the control of a female adult. May not be chained to trees, posts, etc.
c. Warning signs, “Human male on premises,” required.
d. Must carry $500,000 liability insurance coverage.

4. Harboring an unregistered man or harboring a registered man in violation of the ordinance conditions is a misdemeanor with a minimum $500 fine and a possible jail sentence up to thirty (30) days.

5. A man’s registration may be suspended or revoked, subject to appeal, if he is not maintained as required, if the liability insurance lapses, or if the man engages in any behavior which falls within our definition of “vicious,” including an unprovoked attack which requires any defensive action by a person or animal to prevent bodily injury or property damage (including injury to another male). Upon revocation or suspension, the man must be removed from the city within ten (10) days.

Questions of constitutionality may be raised by such an ordinance based on issues of vagueness and equal protection, but such challenges can be effectively answered. Vagueness is clearly not a real problem. It is certainly easier to determine the gender of a human male than the breed of any number of dogs that generally fit the description of pit bull. As to the equal protection issue, the general rule is that legislation is presumed to be valid and will be sustained if the classification drawn by the statute is rationally related to a legitimate state interest. It is certainly in the city’s interest to regulate its most dangerous menace.

Although this proposed ordinance may sound harsh and perhaps even discriminatory, if we can save the life of one innocent women or child. It will have been worth the inconvenience it may cause to some.

I urge you to reconsider your priorities, to recognize that the human male is the truly vicious animal, and to support an ordinance that would get to the root of the problem.

Theresa Corrigan

Note: This article was taken from the book entitled With A Fly’s Eye, Whale’s Wit and Woman’s Heart


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