Dog bites cop: Ironic use of force story of the day

Police dogs restrain Chicago police officer striking Occupy protester

Blowback: Unintended consequences of a covert or military act of aggression.

It's not true that pictures don't lie. By highlighting one action but leaving out the context, a picture can lie by omission more concisely than words could.

Some pictures are worth a thousand words, but only those that are worth a different thousand words from everyone who sees them.

So this pic may tell the truest story from the Occupy protests in Chicago Sunday. Or it may be something completely different. (This one, a POV image of a Chicago cop punching a protester, got a lot of attention, but is too potentially misleading to be more than a partisan choice.)

Ostensibly the really telling pic shows a police dog trained for crowd- and riot-control restraining a police officer who struck unarmed protesters with a baton. A dog to the right is restraining a riot-armored K9 officer by clamping onto his pant leg; the cop's own dog is pulling on the leash (a huge no-no for trained service or police dogs), also apparently trying to restrain him.

The caption reads "even dogs know fascism when they see it."

Dogs don't know fascism. Dogs are smarter than we give them credit for; smart to realize it's not worth fighting over something you can't smell, taste, pee on or that is a fuzzy toy that squeaks maddeningly when you bite it.

The pic does show behavior consistent with the way a trained service or police dog would respond to the sight of one human attacking another. Usually they don't object if the attacker is their partner, of course.

The dogs could also be protesting the officer's refusal to share treats he may have in his pocket, or misuse of a perfectly good stick. ["If you don't throw it, I can't fetch it!"]

The Occupy movement has been criticized for the breadth of its interests, varied philosophies and membership far more broad than the aging hippies and 20-something anarchists who make up the bulk of the protest population in the U.S.

Certainly the perception of both Occupy and the protest was different depending on whether the camera was inside the crowd looking (OccupyChi.org slideshow) out or outside the crowd looking in (Denver Post slideshow).

It has not been praised for its ability to select, inspire or create images that are worth a thousand words, though most of those words are different depending on whose point of view they reflect.

In Chicago, Occupy got credit for bringing itself back to life. It should also get credit, not for the images it created or inspired, but for its tremendous effort to keep the peace on its side of protests that are sometimes massive in scope, anarchic in composition and potentially explosive in context.

They should also get credit for being more considerate of the environment through which it marched than other groups whose protests disrupt the life of a city, but remain peaceful at the core, even if they get a little rioty around the edges:

"We apologize to the people of Chicago for any inconvenience," a man who identified himself only as "Jose" told the Chicago Tribune. "But sometimes, to change people, you need to sacrifice."

"Thank you very much," he added.

Neither of the dogs offered any comment.

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