Saturday, November 05, 2005

On Aggression

I have been a fan, for many years, of the thought provoking writings of Konrad Lorenz.

Here are a few good quotes, from his book, “On Aggression” with some interesting comments from yours truly…

“What is the value of all this fighting? In nature, fight is such an ever-present process, its behavior mechanisms and weapons are so highly developed and have been so obviously arisen under the selection pressure of a species preserving function, that it is our duty to ask this Darwinian question.”

Aggression preserves species. That includes fish, insects, humans and dogs.

“Almost every animal capable of self-defense, from the smallest rodent upward, fights furiously when it is cornered and has no means of escape.”

Isn’t this the point I’ve been stressing in this blog? You can’t legislate aggression out of nature, as some legislators are trying to do. You also can’t wish it away, as most animal rights nutcases want to do.

“The average normal civilized human being witnesses aggression only when two of his fellow citizens or two of his domestic animals fight, and therefore sees only its (speaking of aggression) evil effects.”

With a Disneyland view of nature, we only see aggression as being bad.

But, would you fault a mother for protecting her infant from an attack? Or a police officer defending you from attack? Or would you fault a parent arguing with their child over who runs the household?

Likewise, would you fault a momma dog from protecting her puppies from being attacked by your neighbor’s son? Or would you fault a police dog for biting a criminal who was threatening your life? Or would you fault a dog for setting up a pack order in its own home or at an off leash park, since rank order ensures safe breeding, prevents future fighting and helps preserve the welfare of the weaker ones in the group?

Aggression has “species preserving functions”. You can’t program, legislate or wish them away without violating the laws of nature.

“the readiness to fight is greatest in the most familiar place, that is, in the middle of its territory. In other words, the threshold value of fight-eliciting stimuli is at its lowest where the animal feels safest, that is, where its readiness to fight is least diminished by its readiness to escape. As the distance from this “headquarters” increases, the readiness to fight decreases proportionately as the surroundings become stranger and more intimidating to the animal.”

Is it any wonder that people protect their homes, even to the point of death? Is it any wonder dogs do the same?

Even so, there is a well known incident in Seattle where a dog was growling at a person from behind the fence, in its master’s home. A nutcase complained to animal control, claiming the dog was “menacing” them. Seattle has a law against dogs “menacing” people. Animal control came by, while the owner was away, seized the dog and impounded it, and the owner was cited for having a “potentially dangerous dog.” The owners fought this all the way up to the liberal leaning Washington State Supreme Court... and lost! The court ruled the city had the right to regulate dogs any way they wished. What a cowardly, foolish, ignorant... you name it... ruling. If I recall correctly, this dog was then put to death by the city. All because it barked or growled, behind a fence on its owner's property, at some dog hater who was walking by.

Was that right? Of course not. And that law is STILL on the books in Seattle, and STILL being enforced. Seattle has one of the worst dog bite laws in the USA. I wouldn’t live in the Seattle city limits and own a dog. I’d move out to the suburbs.

“aggression, far from being the diabolical, destructive principle that classical psychoanalysis makes it out to be, is really an essential part of the life preserving organization of instincts. Though by accident it may function in the wrong way and cause destruction, the same is true of practically any functional part of any system.”


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