Initially when we read Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour’s appeal for calm over the Teddy the dog animal abuse case, we wondered if it was really necessary. Then we read the comments on our story about Seymour’s appeal and were appalled — and more than convinced.
Even many of the comments we didn’t outright delete or ban the commenters were disturbing. There were, of course, people who back Seymour wholeheartedly (as his fellow community leaders also did the next morning) who are rational and posted well-considered responses.
But there were also an awful lot of people who expressed outrage over the treatment of the dog Teddy, but apparently can’t find it within themselves to show any of the same compassion for human beings — and we’re not just talking about consideration for those who are currently before the courts in this case.
It is incredibly disturbing to read the responses from people who are blaming all of Cowichan Tribes for what two people alone have been accused of doing. They seem to feel any actions taken against anyone in the First Nations community in the name of the Teddy case are somehow justified. They seem to feel that going vigilante is OK, rather than horrifying.
It seems quite clear that while they might not believe themselves to be racist, there is an underlying racism at work. We have never seen such a response to animal abuse perpetrated by a white person, though there have certainly been disturbing cases of it. We have certainly never seen people passionately espouse the belief that an entire community in, say, Maple Bay is equally guilty if a neighbour abuses an animal, because folks didn’t report it.
The fact of the matter is that all too often people don’t want to get involved, even if they do see something that strikes them as wrong. It is a very common human failing. Perhaps the outcome of this case will be the impetus for some of the bystanders to do something next time.
But nothing justifies the hate and violence that’s bubbling up. This is a matter for the court. You don’t want to see the consequences of mob rule.