Irish Greyhound Racing Lobby Absolutely Freaking Out Over New Textbook Addition
Some greyhounds are raced when they are not well or fit enough to race.
Some successful greyhounds are raced too often.
Unsuccessful greyhounds are sometimes abandoned or even put down.
Greyhounds bred in Ireland have green tattoo marks in both ears to identify them. Some owners cut off the dogs' ears when they abandon them so that they cannot be identified.
When some greyhounds become too old to race, they are abandoned or put down.
Even if you have zero familiarity with greyhound racing, if you are awake and have a capacity for reality you probably read the above statements and thought to yourself, "yeah that's probably fair." For those of us concerned about greyhound racing with a little more familiarity, we thought, "well that's an understatement!" And for those who profit off of racing dogs, well, they read the above understatements and responded, "SOUND THE ALARM- CALL THE COPS- NO NOT THE REGULAR COPS- OUR WORLD IS BEING THREATENED OUR CHILDREN ARE BEING BRAINWASHED- WE MUST RIOT!"
When we were alerted that a new page on greyhounds in a Civic, Social and Political Education (CSPE) workbook being used in some Irish schools had attracted the ire of pro-racing entities, we at TAAP were so eager to find the expected extreme bias that somehow got printed in a textbook. Wow, we thought, this workbook must be really off the rails, can't wait to see what extreme anti-racing vitriol somehow got published. Suffice it to say, when we got our hands on the page in question and saw how surprisingly tame the material actually was, we were pretty disappointed. These non-arguments? These easily proved so-unprovocative-it's-like-the-text-equivalent-of-butter-on-white-bread truths are what got the panties of Irish racing organisations tied up in bunches? What absolute babies.
The overreaction in question came from "a number of people involved in the greyhound industry who were upset and concerned by this," according to Minister of State Niall Collins. Collins and a few other TDs (that's a MP) raised the 'issue' with Minister of Education Norma Foley, and they called on the publisher of the workbook to engage with the greyhound industry. I don't know about you, but I am loath to 'engage' with anyone who loses their shit when you try to talk about facts in a calm, measured manner, as this workbook does.
These TDs and the concerned industry personnel pulling their strings are acting completely in bad faith. It's one thing to dislike negative things being said about something you're totally into, but it's another to demand that no one say them -- especially when they are true. Their inability to handle criticism is not a matter of national significance that requires the intervention of TDs. If the statements were slanderous, if they were not based on truth, why didn't the industry taken legal action, rather than whining to politicians. And why is it that politicians are entertaining this nonsense?
Collins tried to explain his outrage by saying, "Clearly that school book is completely biased and misrepresents the people and the industry," because animal welfare practices within greyhound racing have improved a bit in recent years. I know that I complain a lot about how bad people are at arguing in a logical form nowadays, and I'm going to do it again. Collins, dude, something improving doesn't mean it's solved. I mean, you're not done if you make some progress on an issue. Let's look at the most important kind of progress to show you how progress works: You know how people are still fighting for advancement of EVERY civil rights issue? Well, some politicians see that we've seen some improvement since the dark ages and ask, well aren't we done then? Aren't you lot satisfied with how things have changed thus far? And when we respond that we still have work to do, that statement isn't "completely biased" just because things are better for most marginalized groups than they were 100 years ago. Do you...do you get that? Here, I'll make it simpler for you: When I made a smoothie this morning and forgot to put the lid on top and that shit painted my kitchen ceiling, I improved the situation when I wiped most of it off but I wasn't forking done until I finished cleaning. Is that better?
This TD said it's "unfair to taint the reputation of the vast majority of greyhound owners" by implying that there are still some welfare concerns. Girl, the workbook literally says most greyhounds are treated well but some aren't. Do you not understand the difference between "some" and "most"? No? Ok let's try this: If I had a handful of M&Ms and told you you could take the vast majority but I would keep some, would you also cry that I was keeping too many of the M&Ms? If so, you really need some remedial logic courses. May I recommend Coursera, where you can learn for free if you choose not to get a certificate? Although if I were your constituent I'd want you to pony up the extra dough for the certificate to prove you really took the course.
All this hubbub we saw about this page of text, all the outcry about how students are being brainwashed against racing, ended up being over one of the most even-handed looks at racing imaginable. Or really, edging the balance in favour of racing, putting it in a more positive light than we usually see. The racing industry is complaining that people are recognising that some dogs in an incredibly dangerous and cruel industry are not treated well (and the RTE doc tells you a lot of what you need to know in this regard)? They should be bending over backwards thanking the people behind this textbook for, well, seemingly bending over backwards themselves to try not to upset the fragile industry folk. Obviously, it didn't work, but that's because no one could have expected that this incredibly tame and more-than-fair language would have sent them spiralling into riotous fury. Come on, it literally says "Greyhound racing is legal in Ireland. The dogs seem to enjoy the chase, and they come to no harm if they are looked after properly. Most racing greyhounds are well cared for but some are not." Collins, IGB, someone, tell me what's false about that.
Now, of course people whose livelihoods and sick pleasures rely on greyhound racing will come out swinging against any seeming criticism of the 'sport'. But to make such a stink over this uncontroversial take would be laughable, if it weren't so dangerous. These people are free to support racing and all its aspects and flaws, yes, just as we are free to criticise it. But they cannot be allowed to base their support on falsehoods and then decry any truth-based criticism that they don't like as the actual falsehoods. We can't continue allowing people to denounce facts or complain that facts and truths are false just because they don't like them. Honey, if the truth hurts your business model, maybe rethink what you're making money from.