Even a Dog Knows Better

even a dog knows better

Roger Cohen of the New York Times makes the case for intelligent disobedience “when immense power is in erratic and belligerent hands.”

Jim Kutsch, the president of The Seeing Eye in Morristown, N.J., the nation’s oldest organization training guide dogs for the blind, told me recently: “In all other cases, the human gives a command and the dog is expected to obey that command.” He continued, “In the case of the Seeing Eye dog, the dog is obligated to decide whether the command makes sense. The dog needs to stand still, or turn left or right, and lead me away from danger.”


Over months of training, dogs are taught to problem solve rather than obey commands. They are shown the dire consequences of unswerving obedience. Of course, as Kutsch put it, “There has to be a serious reason for the dog to invoke intelligent disobedience.”


The world spent the first half of the 20th century learning the moral and legal centrality of disobedience for the preservation of civilization. At a time when President Trump talks about the United States being “locked and loaded,” betrays a fascination with nukes, shows contempt for the law, and equates American greatness with American military power above all (compare what’s happening to budgets at the State Department and the Pentagon), a reminder is in order.


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In Trump World, the Need for Disobedience




If the voice of the master relays
an instruction that clearly betrays
perspicacious opinions
then, unlike Trump’s minions,
a seeing eye dog disobeys.

Mary Boren, 12/13/17


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