Die Like a Dog
I know a story this week will raise eyebrows, so I’m posting it here so there’s a place to explore it a bit in the comments. Let’s start with the story, from the 9 October 2016 issue:
Weekly Weird News
Risk-Taking, Florida Style
Steven Brown, 24, was home in Port Richey, Fla., when the place caught fire. Brown “and other accomplices,” says the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, were making butane hash oil — extracting the oleoresin of marijuana using butane gas — when it exploded and set the house on fire. Brown had limited time to get out, and had to choose what to save. One of his accomplices grabbed a 1-year-old child, but Brown chose his drugs, which meant he left his two dogs behind — who were in a cage. “I heard them burn up alive,” said neighbor Harold Cope. “They cried and then they stopped. It was sickening.” (RC/WTSP St. Petersburg) ...And so are Brown’s priorities.
Yes, it’s a bit horrifying, but I think it’s important to bring such stories to light from time to time, and clearly express outrage or disgust over them — which I think the story does well. Yet one of the volunteer editors objected to the “really, really graphic description of those poor dogs dying,” and another agreed it was over the top. Both suggested I pull it. Before that, I made it a point to listen to my wife’s reaction when I read the story to her. As I expected, she reacted strongly to it — but didn’t express any reservation about publishing it.
Indeed the mental picture you get is unsettling, and it has to be: that’s the entire point. Make no mistake: the story isn’t really about things Floridians do, it’s about what people do, especially when their moral compass is overwhelmed by their choice to alter their own minds. When I get an amazing example, I’m not going to hold back on showing the repercussions of their terrible decisions. Though I disagree that the description is “graphic” — it’s even left unclear (because the source story was unclear) whether the dogs died by being burned or asphyxiated.
You’re horrified by the dogs? Good: you aren’t as jaded as you might be.
The original source story was headlined, “Man Arrested after Drug-Manufacturing Explosion Kills 2 Dogs”. Yet the story itself says that “Deputies attempted to arrest Brown on multiple warrants related to this incident later during a traffic stop,” but “He was able to elude authorities and is currently at large.” So much for the headline.
The dozen warrants they referred to are: possession of a place for purposes of manufacturing a controlled substance, first degree arson, felony possession of a firearm, cocaine possession, suboxone possession, oxycodone possession, tampering with physical evidence, manufacturing marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to sell, possession of drug paraphernalia, and — yes — two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals.
Brown turned himself in 10 days later. Updates noted he left the baby behind, and were unclear about who rescued it. I do note, though, that the charges don’t include child neglect/endangerment.