Tahlequah Daily Press

Editorials

March 15, 2013

Dog case: Law doesn’t cover it

TAHLEQUAH — For anyone familiar with Oklahoma law, last week’s decision by the District Attorney’s Office to forego charges against Caisen Green should have come as no surprise –even if it came with a mountain of disappointment.

By now, hundreds of thousands of people know Green killed a stray pit bulldog a few weeks ago with an arrow, took a photo of the dead animal, and posted it on his Facebook account. He included a provocative message: “For all you Pit lovers out there. Here’s what happens when one shows up around my house.” Someone else “shared” Green’s post, and within days, it had gone viral, eventually eliciting thousands of comments from outraged viewers.

Remarks are still being posted to the site from which the photo went viral. Hundreds of them express the same sadness or sense of righteous indignation many Cherokee County residents felt when they saw it. Others, however, are laced with the worst type of profanity, and include death threats.

Many people had hoped Green would be charged with “animal cruelty,” and local prosecutors studied the law for weeks to find a way to make that stick. But in the end, First Assistant District Attorney Jack Thorp reluctantly had to demur. The only direct evidence that Green killed the pit bull, Thorp said, was the Facebook photo and statements made to authorities and on social media.

But here’s the key: Green says he acted in defense of himself and his younger siblings. And though Green obviously killed the dog – and has never denied doing so – there’s no evidence of “cruelty” per se, like dragging the animal behind a truck or beating it relentlessly. Oklahoma law allows people to humanely dispatch animals they believe may pose a threat of harm, destruction or injury. And while many observers pointed out Green didn’t claim self-defense in his original post, he did refer to keeping his younger siblings safe in private messages shortly after the photo was shared on Facebook and before it went viral. Later, he met with authorities to tell his side, and investigators could not find proof to refute his claim of self-defense. Authorities were also able to validate the statement by Green’s father that he had burned the carcass; he said he did so because the animal appeared diseased.

One cannot help but feel sympathy for Thorp, who clearly understood he will now draw much of the public wrath aimed at Green. The prosecutor was between a rock and a hard place: He could follow the law and decline charges, or he could appease the angry masses by spending thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to pursue a case he couldn’t win. As the Tom Cruise character said in the movie “A Few Good Men”: “It doesn’t matter what I believe, it matters what I can prove.” Thorp couldn’t prove anything that could be shoehorned into current state statutes.

Those of us who love and care for animals know Cherokee County has a stray problem. We also know some of those strays can be dangerous. Whatever its members might feel in their hearts, no jury of Green’s peers here in Cherokee County would convict him – and even if that happened, the verdict would likely be tossed out on appeal.

Hundreds of people are upset; we’ve spent many hours ourselves dealing with their posts on the Press’ Facebook page. It’s fruitless to try explaining the letter of the law under such emotionally charged circumstances, because for many animal rights advocates, it doesn’t matter what the law says; they want Green punished.

The only comfort we can offer is to suggest that Green has, indeed, been punished. He and his family have been threatened in a way that has altered the course of their lives, and he is reviled by hundreds of thousands of people across the globe. That’s a type of notoriety most of us would not want for ourselves or our loved ones.

Green is certainly guilty of pulling a foolish and deplorable stunt, but that’s not covered under the law. Those who are alarmed with the turn of events should perhaps turn their energies to lobbying for other legal means that might be used to punish similar acts in the future.

1
Text Only
Editorials
  • Community cleanups a good way to ensure our collective success

    This is our community – and it’s no better than what we make it. Let’s make it look great.

    April 16, 2014

  • Attack at school in Pennsylvania: Mental illness root of problem

    Washington’s crusade against guns was dealt a severe blow on Wednesday. No, it wasn’t the Supreme Court curtailment of the Second Amendment right of all Americans to own firearms. It wasn’t an executive order handed down by the administration. It was the brutal assault by a high school student in Pennsylvania against his fellow students – with a knife.

    April 14, 2014

  • People with faulty zippers should be booted from office

    We may forgive, but we shouldn’t forget, because there’s serious work to do in Washington. That work will never be accomplished as long as flawed zippers - literally or figurately – are a pervasive problem.

    April 11, 2014

  • Do your part to fight animal and child abuse

    It’s hard to change the habits of an abuser, especially when mitigating factors – such as alcohol or drugs – are involved. And these patterns tend to repeat themselves in successive generations. But all of us can take one small step to help eradicate this epidemic, and that is to report it when we see it.

    April 9, 2014

  • NSA head lies to Congress, and seems to get away with it

    Is there an obvious pattern of criminality within these governmental agencies? If so, why isn’t the Judicial Department investigating?

    April 7, 2014

  • Pass for rich kiddie rapist proves that justice isn’t blind

    Someone in Wilmington, Del., needs to keep an eye on Superior Court Judge Jan Jurden for the next few months, because she might improve her standard of living due to a sudden influx of cash.
    There’s no other way to explain why Jurden would have sentenced an ultra-wealthy heir to the du Pont fortune to probation for raping his 3-year-old daughter. It’s an outrageous miscarriage of justice that once again proves when it comes to the U.S. justice system, the elite get a pass almost every time.

    April 4, 2014

  • Maybe it’s not $3.2B, but state should still account for tribal cash

    In an editorial published last week, the Daily Press said that through tribal compacts, the state of Oklahoma received about $3.2 billion in annual revenue, partly attributable to the 117 casinos (or 118, in some reports) run by 33 tribes in the state. The information we accessed for that piece was confusing, and had a typo or two, which may have led us to overstate – to a considerable degree – how much money the tribes actually give the state.

    April 2, 2014

  • Tribal compacts should mean state has money to perform its functions

    Oklahoma should be rolling in the dough. The statistics bear that out. Thirty-three American Indian tribes operate 117 casinos in this state. Thanks to “compacts,” these tribes have been sharing the wealth with the state of Oklahoma. And thanks to the casinos, that wealth is substantial.

    March 28, 2014

  • It’s time to turn in your candidate announcements

    If you are running for a political office for which Cherokee County voters can cast ballots, it’s time to turn in your announcement. We’ve already run a few, and expect several more. The primary elections are Tuesday, June 24, with the registration period to vote in this election closing Thursday, May 30.

    March 24, 2014

  • Mom responsible for watching kid; restaurant’s not

    If you allowed your child to drink a bottle of drain cleaner, would you feign surprise when he fell to the floor, twitching and foaming at the mouth? If you left your curling iron within reach of your baby and she pulled it off the vanity and burned her hand, would you plan revenge on the store that sold you the appliance?
    You just might, if you’re among the litigious Americans who have abdicated parental responsibility to either sloth or the hope of a better tomorrow through a cash settlement.

    March 19, 2014

Poll

What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Pistorius Trial: Adjourned Until May 5 Diaz Gets Physical for New Comedy Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Are School Dress Codes Too Strict? Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Suspicious Bags Found Near Marathon Finish Line Boston Marks the 1st Anniversary of Bombing NYPD Ends Muslim Surveillance Program 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Sex Offenders Arrested in Slayings of CA Women India's Transgenders Celebrate Historic Ruling Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge
Stocks