Book ’em, Danno

Marilyn Marler just doesn’t get it. As City Council member seemingly in charge of Mt. Sentinel, Waterworks Hill, Mt. Jumbo and the North Hills, she wants to treat all dogs as scofflaws. As Greg Gordon, resident of the Rattlesnake, points out in a guest column in the Missoulian this is an extreme overreaction. But, Ms. Marler cries out, “She likes dogs!” … and deer, grouse, ground squirrels and baby bunnies. In classic fashion, she misses the issue all together.

As a scientist, Ms. Marler should know better. She claims, without any firm evidence, that dogs are a significant ecological impact on wildlife. Somehow I doubt that this is true. To suggest that deer and elk didn’t evolve with predators (and the attendant genetic advantage of being able to avoid or cope with predator pursuit) is naive. Further more I am confident that hunters cause much more harm to wildlife. Perhaps they are Ms. Marler’s next crusade.

No, this is a social problem. People need to learn to get along. As we all get to live in a more and more crowded country we should expect to run into people that we don’t particularly like. And those folks are going to do things that annoy us. That’s where poise and civility come in, as well as just plain simple tolerance of others’ foibles. ‘Live and let live’ might be one way of putting it. Or, of criticizing your own behavior before you take on the burden of worrying about everybody else’s.

Some of Ms. Marler’s compadres on City Council, like Dick Haines think taking the law into his own hands and personally dousing citizens with bear spray is a good idea. Sadly, it gets worse. Zoo Runner commented on Missoula Red Tape that people like him are going to start macing dog owners. Great. Maybe, soon we’ll have armed dog-owners pulling out their shotguns to protect themselves from City Councilors and trailrunners? Vigilante crews and poisoning of pets can’t be that far behind.

Of course, I’m sure Dick Haines keeps his family under voice control. In restaurants and in movie theaters, I mean. Those rugrats don’t yell and scream, run around the tables, throw food or kick other people under the table. No, of course not.

We don’t expect Haines to put his grandchildren on a leash in public places. And we don’t expect upset diners to bear-spray the little ones. Some people might call the cops on “other peoples children”, but most of us just roll our eyes and deal with it. Or stop frequenting family restaurants.

Most of us don’t mind the odd well-behaved toddler in any restaurant, no matter how fancy the establishment. That’s just part of living in a town, welcoming and tolerating all sorts of community members. There’s not likely to be any way to completely avoid the people you don’t like, nor their obnoxious behavior. Instead, we should be appreciating and celebrating all the people and creatures with whom we get to share this wonderful place.

So I hope Ms. Marler will stop trying to create a law or regulation for every annoyance or disturbance that might be brought to her attention. Instead, she might show a little more respect for the range of citizens that live in this town. We should stop treating one another like criminals and start enjoying all the beauty that surrounds us.