August 8, 2009 9:23:00 PM
Goodness, they say, is its own reward. That''s not enough for those uber-wealthy folks who like to slap their names on the wings of hospitals or endow charities. But, certainly, most of us consider ourselves "good," and take some comfort in the idea that we are decent people.
There is a line somewhere between living a quiet, respectable life and the shift toward nobility. Recently, a group of Columbians made that step, the small spin from mind-your-own-business to activist.
A troop of animal lovers, about 50 strong, went to court to watch the trial of two brothers accused of fighting pit bulls. It was enlightening and sad. For those people who (like me) have learned everything they know about the justice system from TV dramas, this was no Hollywood happy ending.
The organizers'' idea was to make the court aware that citizens in our community are appalled at the existence of this blood sport. This was almost impossible since signage was not allowed in the courtroom. No talking was permitted, no testimony, no photos of the injured dogs.
The animal-rights faction had to sit quietly. And, thank heavens for that, since it was impossible to hear anything going on at the bench. (Why can you understand everything the judge says on Court TV?)
The four charges were misdemeanors; none were for "dog fighting." Of the two brothers called, only one was still there to face the judge. (The other brother bolted from the courtroom before being summoned to the bench.) He received fines and court costs, and a generous 60 days to pay these fees. That''s it. End of story. Or so it seemed.
The true scene unfolded outside of the courtroom. Just as the animal victims had supporters in attendance, so did the alleged animal abusers. The mother and sisters of the accused yelled angrily as the hearing ended. (So much for family values.)
"Yeah, we fight dogs," screamed one sister. "But you do drugs!"
Huh? This was a confusing and laughable statement since most of the anti-dog fighting group were mature ladies. My apologies to the very young women from Wag, and to the men. But, puleeze, this did not look like a group of big-time druggies.
"You should fight each other," a well-dressed lady threw this comment (to the pro dog-fighting contingent) over her shoulder as she walked to her car.
Once again, the most vocal sister reacted with a bizarre response. "We fight. Yeah. We get in a room and fight!" It seemed that the two groups were from different planets with a strange confusing form of non-communication. Ostensibly, both groups spoke the same language; still, an interpreter was needed. Nothing was resolved in or out of court.
I left frustrated, with tears in my eyes. "Don''t let them see you cry," said my husband so sternly that I felt even more weepy.
"This was good," commented Sam Chesnut, an animal lover. "We''ve never had this many people show up." I guess we should be thankful for small victories.
I went home and drowned my sorrow in ice cream. That may honestly be considered a drug; sugar truly has mind-altering capabilities.
This column is an homage to all the people who showed up to be a voice for the voiceless animals. Thank you to the women and men, blacks and whites, the pet owners, and especially the non-pet owners who just wanted justice for some of God''s small creatures. Your goodness, and courage, will be rewarded. The animals are grateful and maybe just a bit safer. That is a sort of reward.
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina. E-mail reaches her at [email protected]
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.