Dogs and Other People

by Kieran Healy on May 15, 2007

Megan McArdle’s dog, Finnegan, contracted an infection and had to be put to sleep. She posted about it. I thought: soon, some gobshite will show up in the comments, deriding the way she felt at four in the morning the night her dog died. And sure enough. Gotta love the intertubes.

Meanwhile, Jerry Falwell has died, too. In terms of net good brought into the world during their respective lives, Megan’s dog is probably ahead of Falwell. The conjunction of events reminded me of Oliver Goldsmith on morality, dogs and men.

Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog

Good people all, of every sort,
Give ear unto my song;
And if you find it wondrous short,
It cannot hold you long.

In Islington there was a man,
Of whom the world might say
That still a godly race he ran,
Whene’er he went to pray.

A kind and gentle heart he had,
To comfort friends and foes;
The naked every day he clad,
When he put on his clothes.

And in that town a dog was found,
As many dogs there be,
Both mongrel, puppy, whelp and hound,
And curs of low degree.

This dog and man at first were friends;
But when a pique began,
The dog, to gain some private ends,
Went mad and bit the man.

Around from all the neighbouring streets
The wondering neighbours ran,
And swore the dog had lost his wits,
To bite so good a man.

The wound it seemed both sore and sad
To every Christian eye;
And while they swore the dog was mad,
They swore the man would die.

But soon a wonder came to light,
That showed the rogues they lied:
The man recovered of the bite,
The dog it was that died.



John Emerson 05.15.07 at 6:24 pm

At this painful time of her life you shouldn’t criticize Megan for her choice of friends.


CJColucci 05.15.07 at 6:39 pm

OK, I’m convinced. There is a God.


fjm 05.15.07 at 6:40 pm

Some people don’t get it about pets and nothing you can do will teach them. Those two also missed completely the point that it was not a good death. There are pets who die gently and we mourn and move on, and there are other pets who do not. I will never forget the feeling that I had somehow betrayed my beloved cat by the manner of his death. We did all the right things but got it hopelessly wrong, made all the wrong choices.


neil 05.15.07 at 7:25 pm

A libertarian-politics blog seems an odd place for people to go about critiquing each others’ grief, but to each his own, I guess.


Seth Finkelstein 05.15.07 at 7:40 pm

Neil (#4) – if you think that, you don’t understand Libertarianism, and I mean that as a critic of it. With a philosophy that seriously has selling kids as a proper market, it should be no surprise if they go through the exercise of trying to find the objective amount of grief one can express and the value of an emotional transaction.


Jim Henley 05.15.07 at 8:05 pm

John, I’m coming up empty on a charitable interpretation of your comment. Help me out here.


John Emerson 05.15.07 at 8:24 pm

Every Asymmetrical Information thread I’ve ever visited was full of annoying, obnoxious people of one sort or another. Why should this one be different?


Shelby 05.15.07 at 8:31 pm


You’re right. This one is no different.


randomliberal 05.15.07 at 8:48 pm

OK, I’m convinced. There is a God.

Incorrect. If there was a god with any meaningful power, it would never have allowed that sack of shit to be born in the first place.

I don’t normally rejoice in this kind of thing, but then again, people aren’t normally that evil.


John Emerson 05.15.07 at 8:49 pm

I assumed to begin with that the comments came from hard-ass Objectivists and liberal-haters. People like that tend to end up over there and can be plenty obnoxious on any topic. I did go over and check, and I was right. (If it had been liberal trolls, I’d apologize I suppose.)

1. I suggest remember the good times you had together, and getting another dog that you can have fun with. Life goes on and wallowing in misery over a lost pet does not seem like the behavior of an adult.

2. Oh, and by the way, there’s a fairy tale that describes this “I’m so sensitive that I’ll die” syndrome. It’s “The Princess and the Pea.”
No wonder the childish ravings of Andrew (Cartman) Sullivan appeal to the author of this blog. What a collection of spoiled children!


Jim Henley 05.15.07 at 8:57 pm

My count on that thread is two assholes versus a lot of genuinely sympathetic people, a few of whom take the assholes to task. It’s mystifying why you’d assume the publisher of anyway halfway popular blog thinks of all her commenters as “friends.” You know I like you, John, but in this particular case it’s hard to say you’re outshining the “gobshites,” beyond having the discretion to snark over here rather than over there, which I’ll admit is something.


John Emerson 05.15.07 at 10:20 pm

I’ve rarely ever posted there, and have more or less entirely stopped going there at all because of the infuriating kinds of people I expect to meet there, including Galt herself. I have said nothing about the dog, just the site.


Tyrone Slothrop 05.15.07 at 11:42 pm

This is what I went to the library to find when my dog died.


roger 05.16.07 at 1:22 am

The callous comments were stupid. However, since the vast majority of the comments were sympathetic, I think it is sort of outrage trolling to concentrate on the stinkers. So is this to make up for the sorta pointless post about McArdle’s dream of finding a marriageable man?


Kieran Healy 05.16.07 at 2:13 am

Wrong Megan.


Xero 05.16.07 at 4:27 am

How is it that some people feel there offers are valid and other peoples are not. Just because you don’t agree is no reason to be hostile, and this goes for both sides, of what I see as a pretty petty argument.


craig johnson 05.16.07 at 11:08 am

The Peeping Toms
My Mom is 85, hard of hearing and would probably score close to zero on a political literacy test.
She does however have her opinions.On seeing Reverend Falwell on the TV screen she asked what was his’ news, so to speak.
I told her he was dead.
Her comment was, ” a peeping Tom, like that other guy, Newt Gingrich, the original Peeping Tom.” I guess you could say she calls’ em as she sees’ em.
cognitorex blog


William Sjostrom 05.16.07 at 12:23 pm

Since you are wholly correct about the comments on Megan McArdle’s blog, do you think you could have waited until say, Falwell was at least buried before dumping on him?


fred lapides 05.16.07 at 1:51 pm

saying nothing is saying enough…be of good cheer.


abb1 05.16.07 at 2:00 pm

Nah, the Falwell fella was so mighty obnoxious that not a single online publication I read could wait till he’s buried.


Richard 05.16.07 at 5:25 pm

besides, by the time he’s buried we will have all forgotten about him.

I wonder if he’s lying in state in his supersized church with the Citizen Kane style telescreens. Now two posts here have reminded me of Turkmenbashi in the last 48 hours.


John Emerson 05.16.07 at 11:40 pm

Do you think you could have waited until say, Falwell was at least buried before dumping on him?

Fuck no. He’d have danced on our graves if he could have. He was gloating about 9/11 before the bodies were cool — gloating about the deaths of total strangers he had no reason to hate. Falwell was not a total stranger.


MedallionOfFerret 05.17.07 at 1:56 am

Yes; he would have danced on our graves if he could have. But does that justify our dancing on his?

Using Falwell’s standards of thought and behavior is no more appropriate when we do it than when he did it.


John Emerson 05.17.07 at 1:40 pm

I knew someone would say exactly that, medallion.

An eye for an eye. There’s really nothing much at stake here at all, but Falwell deserves no respect. Sjostrom’s point-scoring huff was bogus — go to his site to see where he’s coming from.

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