A quote attributed to Mohandas Gandhi says, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” There is another adage that says that the character of a man can be seen by how he treats those who can do nothing for him. On New Year’s, Sarah Palin stumbled into these ideals when she posted a picture of her son Trig standing on the family dog. According to the Facebook post, Trig wanted to help with the dishes so he stood on the “lazy dog” laying down in front of the counter. The former Alaska governor saw this as an inspirational reminder to overcome obstacles. Many other people saw it as a problem. While the whole story could be summed up as yet another of Sara Palin’s Facebook gaffes, the photo of her son standing on the dog actually reveals more about her character than anything else.
Sensible mothers with young children and pets generally try to teach their children to be kind and to respect those treasured companions of a four-legged nature. Using Rover as a step-stool is something they discourage, not something they photograph for the family album. Sarah Palin seems to be the exception to the rule, which merely goes to enforce the rule even further. Instead, she saw what many people are calling animal abuse as an opportunity to score some popularity points on social media. And it has backfired.
Has it backfired because it is a picture of a child doing something dangerous? Yes. Has it backfired because it is a tasteless image of a dog being used inappropriately (to say the least)? Yes. But Sarah Palin’s “inspirational” Facebook message and its gaffe of a photo of her poor dog is more than just tasteless and dangerous. It is revealing of how she sees the world.
The “lazy dog” was an obstacle, not a companion or a treasured presence. The way that her son used the dog as an object is perfectly alright with Sarah Palin since it obviously was not contributing in any way. The dangerous practice of stepping on the dog, which endangered both child and pet, was perfectly acceptable due to the fact that Trig was so sincere in his desire to help. Finally, she ignored any sensible parenting in order to make a trite point on social media instead of doing some actual good by teaching her son to treat the dog with respect.
Because Sarah Palin is a public political figure who is clinging to a mere thread of relevance through her continued presence online, such posts are fair game for the world of critique. It is not hard to extrapolate political beliefs from this incident and many people will do so amongst themselves, no doubt. On the whole, their opinions will probably trend towards the negative side.
What are people to make of how she treats those who can give her nothing? Treating those beneath her as both obstacles and stepping stones? It sounds a lot like how the GOP has treated the poor, the immigrant and the person on welfare. Ignoring the inherent value of a living being in order to get what she wants? That could possibly be correlated to how conservatives of Sarah Palin’s stripe have historically treated African Americans. Posting the picture to social media in order to feel validated and relevant? Perhaps that is less political and more along the lines of tasteless, tactless, obnoxious social media users and less to do with politics. Whatever anyone makes of Sarah Palin’s latest Facebook gaffe and how she treats her dog at home, this photo is just another reason people will have to dislike her.
Opinion By Lydia Bradbury