"There are a bunch of issues here, a bunch of threats. We can deal with them in a compassionate way, or a not compassionate way.”
Said NYU bioethics and public health professor S. Matthew Liao, quoted in "How a Dog’s Killing Turned Brooklyn Progressives Against One Another/After a sudden confrontation that left a golden retriever dead, neighbors came together online to support the owner of the dog. But then things changed" (NYT).
Notice that the long headline never refers to the attacker. We have the "killing," the "progressives," a "confrontation," a "golden retriever," "neighbors," "the owner," and "things." That's a lot of nouns generated to put a cloak of invisibility over the man who attacked a woman, then attacked the dog that defended her.
But the interesting part of the story really is how people on line switched from empathizing with the woman to viewing the man — who is black — as an embodiment of manifold social problems.
The woman, Jessica Chrustic, 40 — who, we are told, is "a professional beekeeper" — said: "I’m very empathetic toward people who are unhoused and are having hard times and who have mental illness. I think that there should be more resources for them. There should be more housing situations. But what I emphasize is that this is just one person who needs to be removed from the park. He’s violent. End of story. Are they waiting for somebody to die? Are they waiting for someone to get hurt more severely? I was lucky. My dog was not. What happens to the next person? What happens if it’s a child? How many more people need to be harmed?"
The top 2 comments at the Times each have over 3,000 up-votes:
1. "First of all, I find the 'a dog’s killing' headline INFURIATINGLY reductive. The dog died, yes. More importantly, the only reason she did not also die is because of the dog. The man also attacked HER with a stick and has done so before. It really is just a matter of time before he kills a human. If we want to play identity politics, which I would rather not, but if we are…. then I find this piece completely sexist in its disregard for the safety of women in the park. I am so tired at the foibles of men being elevated to the same level as the safety of women.... We can feel sympathy for this disturbed but whatever caused his illness DOES NOT EXCUSE NOR JUSTIFY violently attacking people. How is this even a debate? … [J]ust the stuff that gives the right fodder for saying we are nuts."
2. "The response to the attack on Ms. Chrustic and her dog is exactly why we Progressives are losing the hearts and minds of Americans every day. Dr. Liao might sit comfortably and safely back in his NYU tower and proclaim that 'It’s complicated,' but it's simply not. She was attacked by a violent man who needs to be located, detained, and provided services to protect him and the community. It's that simple. What is truly complicated are the myriad ways in which the government and the community might help the victim and the attacker, but all they're talking about in Park Slope is who's a better liberal. This is why we have Donald Trump."