On Friday evening’s episode of Red Ice TV, Identity Evropa leader Patrick Casey (filling in for Henrik Palmgren) sat down for an interview with WildGoose, a Gamergater, harasser, and white supremacist who is currently spearheading an anti-pit bull campaign. Usually Red Ice TV is geared toward promoting white nationalism and scientific racism, and includes guests such as Kevin MacDonald and Kyle Bristow.
So while it’s unclear what, exactly, motivated Casey — whose raison d’être is creating a white ethnostate — to invite an obscure Internet troll and anti-pit bull activist on the program, Red Ice has been sympathetic to a wide variety of cranks and conspiracy theorists over the years, including David Icke, who believes humanity has been enslaved by a race of shape-shifting reptilians.
WildGoose’s campaign is predictably light on facts, which is why his chief method of pushing for so-called “breed specific legislation” or “BSL” involves paying for a bus to travel from city to city with messages like “PIT BULLS KILL MORE PEOPLE THAN ALL OTHER DOG BREEDS COMBINED.”
The back of the bus displays a URL which leads not to information to back up its claims, but rather a fundraiser to keep the bus moving. The campaign, according to its GoFundMe page, was started by a Dallas, TX resident named Travis Gosselin, which will be important later on.
The GoFundMe page assumes that “you’ve likely noticed the daily pattern of attacks by a notoriously capricious type of dog,” or “read the mountain of studies and statistics that unequivocally prove that this dog is disproportionately more deadly than all other dog breeds combined.” And no, it doesn’t link to any of these purported studies or statistics.
What it does include is a video about their campaign, which includes anti-pit bull flyers with statements like, “In 2017 pit bulls killed 38 humans, 13,000 dogs, 5,000 cats, 20,000+ farm animals,” and, “Pit bulls were responsible for 74% of dog bite fatalities in 2017 despite making up 6.5% of the US dog population.” The flyers actually do list a source: a website called dogsbite(dot)org — again, more on that later.
On Red Ice, WildGoose told Casey that pit bulls “represent a very small percentage of the dog population in the United States” but are “responsible for more maimings and fatalities than all other dog breeds combined.” He cited unnamed “pediatricians, plastic surgeons, [and] trauma centers” as claiming that pit bulls’ bites are the most severe.
He spoke of an “elusive patchwork of lobbyist organizations that promote pit bulls as a family pet,” which he said actually “protect dog fighters.” And he referred to the pit bull as a “monster,” the “most efficient fighting dog in the world,” with no “purpose in modern society at all.”
WildGoose’s sentiments, while wildly misguided, are unfortunately echoed by many Americans for whom the term “pit bull” is synonymous with “dog fighting.” Many people no doubt remember former NFL quarterback Michael Vick’s atrocious Bad Newz Kennels dog fighting ring, where pit bulls were not only forced to fight one another illegally, but beaten, electrocuted and drowned.
What people might not have known is that many of the dogs rescued from Vick’s compound were later successfully adopted. Indeed, because of the second chance that these dogs received they were given the nickname “Vicktory dogs.” Yet many myths about pit bulls — including the ridiculous notion that they possess special “locking” jaws — have persisted. WildGoose himself parroted some of these falsehoods on Red Ice or through his promotional flyers.
First, it’s inaccurate to claim the pit bull is a breed in and of itself. In actuality the pit bull is a type of dog, a category that’s made up of several breeds. This includes the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, the American Bully (which itself can be broken into four categories), the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and even the American Bulldog.
Secondly, there is little evidence that the pit bull type is more inclined toward aggressive or violent behavior than other dog breeds. In fact, the breed of a dog is a poor indicator of temperament and the likelihood of attacks. Brian Hare of the website Dognition noted that data gathered from over 4,000 dog owners revealed the American Pit Bull Terrier to be one of the least aggressive dogs, while “Chihuahuas were reported as the most aggressive.”
Although, he cautioned, “none of the breeds were particularly aggressive,” and even Chihuahuas “peaked out at being moderately aggressive on some measures but were usually on the ‘sometimes aggressive’ end of the spectrum.” Moreover, they “only stood out because most other breeds—including pugs, collies and King Charles Cavalier Spaniels—were ‘seldom aggressive’ or ‘never aggressive.'”
Even the American Veterinary Medical Association pointed out in a May 2014 peer-reviewed summary of scientific literature on dog bites that “controlled studies have not identified this breed group as disproportionately dangerous.”
Indeed, there appears to be a lack of reputable data that justifies the stereotype of the pit bull as a ruthless killing machine. Part of the reason is because of the difficulty Americans have in identifying pit bulls in the first place. After all, as we’ve established, it’s a type that encompasses several different breeds. As Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods wrote in The Atlantic:
In several recent studies, workers at shelters misidentified dogs’ breeds 50 to 87 percent of the time. When DNA tests identified a dog’s dominant breed as Dalmatian, shelter workers called it a terrier. When the dog was mostly Alaskan malamute, they called it an Australian shepherd dog.
In fact this tendency to misidentify dogs extends to hospitals too, since when they record that the victim of a dog bite was bitten by a pit bull, they “rely on the report of the victim, parents, or a witness,” and no DNA test is conducted. They added that this problem is exacerbated by the media:
Media coverage of attacks tends to encourage this misidentification: In 2008, a pit bull attack that hospitalized a woman generated 230 articles and televised reports in national and international news. A few days before, a mix-breed dog killed a 16-month-old child. The local paper reported it twice.
Unfortunately, researchers compiling data on dog attacks rely on these same hospital records and news reports, however flawed they may be.
In 2000 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that one third of human dog bite-related fatalities (DBRFs) from 1981 through 1992 were caused by pit bull types. But, it noted, ” because identification of a dog’s breed may be subjective (even experts may disagree on the breed of a particular dog), DBRF may be differentially ascribed to breeds with a reputation for aggression.”
As Steffen Baldwin jokingly wrote for HuffPost, pit bull types are usually identified by the “process of tilting your head 30 degrees to the right or left and guessing based on a few, basic traits and the inability to automatically identify the dog as something else.” He even provided a helpful infographic:
Even while looking for statistics I stumbled across websites that relied on less than reputable data. A 2013 LiveScience article called “Are Pit Bulls Really Dangerous?” asked whether the pit bulls “deserve their reputation as vicious ‘attack’ dogs,” and answered: “An overwhelming amount of evidence suggests, in some instances, they do.” It cited a “2011 study from the Annals of Surgery” which concluded that attacks by pit bulls are associated with “higher morbidity rates” and “higher hospital charges” than attacks by other dogs.
This study highlights the same aforementioned flaws about identification, along with the problem of non-experts weighing in on complex issues like these. According to the abstract, the authors “reviewed the medical records of patients admitted to our level I trauma center with dog bites during a 15-year period,” and “determined the demographic characteristics of the patients, their outcomes, and the breed and characteristics of the dogs that caused the injuries.”
It states that:
Our Trauma and Emergency Surgery Services treated 228 patients with dog bite injuries; for 82 of those patients, the breed of dog involved was recorded (29 were injured by pit bulls). Compared with attacks by other breeds of dogs, attacks by pit bulls were associated with a higher median Injury Severity Scale score (4 vs. 1; P = 0.002), a higher risk of an admission Glasgow Coma Scale score of 8 or lower (17.2% vs. 0%; P = 0.006), higher median hospital charges ($10,500 vs. $7200; P = 0.003), and a higher risk of death (10.3% vs. 0%; P = 0.041).
And the authors conclude that BSL is necessary to curb these attacks, concluding that, “Strict regulation of pit bulls may substantially reduce the US mortality rates related to dog bites.”
After receiving a comment calling their study an “Imprudent use of unreliable dog bite tabulations and unpublished sources,” the authors responded in the worst way imaginable: pulling the we’re-not-really-experts card:
We represent a group of trauma surgeons who are tasked with taking care of a range of traumatic conditions. We make no claims on being veterinary or forensic experts. We do however treat a wide variety of injuries caused by animals and thus feel qualified to discuss the clinical aspects of care.
This is, to put it kindly, hogwash. They’re admittedly not experts on this — they’re trauma surgeons who, in that same response, admit to the difficulties of identifying whether a particular dog is a pit bull in the first place. Yet they feel more than qualified to advocate for “legislation, which will control ownership of violent dogs.”
Most egregiously they relied on the aforementioned dogsbite(dot)org, a website that purports to be a “national dog bite victims’ group dedicated to reducing serious dog attacks.” And despite its professional-looking design, DogsBite is a quack science mill founded in 2007 by Colleen Lynn, a web developer who once ran a fortune telling website called DivineLady.com.
After being bitten by a dog she assumed was a pit bull, Lynn moved from the fortune telling racket to an amateur victims’ advocacy group where she and her fans coined ridiculous terms like “pitiology” (the “study” of pit bull owners), “pitiots” (a derogatory term for pit bull owners), “piticide” (death by pit bull), and my personal favorite, “science whores” (for experts who reject her junk data).
As Bronwen Dickey, author of the highly recommended Pit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon, correctly points out, “Lynn has no professional credentials in statistics, epidemiology, or animal behaviour; neither do the sources she relies upon most frequently.” Still, Lynn’s propaganda is parroted by anti-pit bull activists, like the National Post‘s Barbara Kay, who advocate for euthanizing pit bulls wholesale.
And it’s this same website that WildGoose’s flyers rely upon for their statistics on pit bull-related maulings and deaths. Simply put, neither WildGoose nor Colleen “Divine Lady” Lynn are dog experts and should never be relied upon when considering the passage of BSL which, it should be pointed out, is not proven to reduce dog bites in the first place.
As Snopes pointed out in an article on the efficacy of BSL, “bite reports tend to either stay the same or even trend upward” after the passage of such laws. In Ireland, for example, the incidence of dog bites rose 50% since 1998 when the country passed BSL targeted at 11 breeds, including the American Pit Bull Terrier, the English Bull Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the Bull Mastiff, the Doberman Pinscher, the German Shepherd, and the Rottweiler.
The city of Toronto fared little better after the Ontario province enacted a pit bull-type ban in 2005. Michael Bryant, the Provincial Attorney-General, crowed that, “This is the beginning of the end of the reign of terror that pit bulls have wrought upon Ontarians for many, many years.” Yet while the incidence of bites from pit bulls declined, the number of overall dog bites stayed the same. That is, the only change is that other dog breeds were doing the biting.
As Snopes further explained:
This pattern is repeated everywhere that breed bans have been enacted and enforced, or at least places records of bites are kept. Initially, the number of dog bites do often go down, mostly because owners move, give up their pets, or have their dogs impounded or euthanized. Then (as people get dogs to replace the pets they had to give up or put down) the number of attacks levels off and then begins to rise, possibly because the breed ban creates a false sense of security: Certain breeds are banned because they are dangerous; I don’t own a dangerous breed, therefore my dog won’t hurt anybody.
The sheer lack of efficacy in BSL has resulted in numerous organizations and governmental agencies denouncing it. This includes the American Bar Association, the American Kennel Club, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the CDC, the National Animal Control Association, HUD, the DOJ, and State Farm Insurance.
The widespread anti-pit bull phobia is not only irrational but carries racial undertones as well. Lately users of 4chan’s /pol/ have been attempting to use faulty statistics on pit bull attacks to justify their racism. That is, if normies can come to understand that a minority of dogs is responsible for the majority of dog bites, they can better understand the problem of black crime.
4chan has also copped to starting the abhorrent hashtag #PitBullDropOff, which is being used by anonymous Twitter accounts to advocate for adopting pit bulls for the sole purpose of murdering them. (The Red Ice video with WildGoose even promotes the hashtag.) And while numerous accounts have made claims that they had already put down adopted pit bulls, Snopes determined this to be false.
But even this is just scratching the surface of the connection between anti-pit bull attitudes and racism. As Yasmin Nair wrote in Current Affairs, drawing upon the writings of Bronwen Dickey:
In the 20th century, the 1970s witnessed the swift and precipitous decline of modern cities. As America’s urban areas struggled, poorer residents, often Latino and Black, came to depend on pit bulls, which were an affordable means of receiving protection and companionship.
The media vilification of pit bulls soon followed. Dickey suggests that the creation of the 24-hours news cycle, inaugurated by CNN in 1980, represented a turning point. The rise of cable television created a salacious interest in “ghetto” and “thug” stories, and the news networks loved to report on the viciousness of urban “animals” both canine and human. A July 1987 Sports Illustrated story about pit bulls featured a cover illustration of the dog snarling, open-mouthed, with fangs on full display. The title in large print and all caps: “BEWARE OF THIS DOG.” During this time, at the height of the Drug War, the media similarly stigmatized Latino and Black men. They were treated as toxic carriers of drug addiction and social dysfunction, much as rats and other animals have been cast as sources of disease.
Thus, what was once deemed a “nanny dog” became synonymous with black and Latino Americans, urban areas, and crime. This helps explain the alt-right’s obsession with pit bulls, and is reflected in the comments under the Red Ice interview with WildGoose. YouTube commenters referred to them as “canine dindus,” “niggerdogs,” and the “nibbers [sic] of the dog race.”
This overlap in stereotypes about black crime and pit bull attacks might explain WildGoose’s anti-pit bull zealotry. After all, as I mentioned earlier, WildGoose is a racist who originally called himself WildGoose1488 on Twitter. 1488 is a number of special significance among Neo-Nazis. And while not much is known about his personal life, it’s clear that WildGoose was an avid Gamergate supporter and Milo Yiannopoulos fan, who harassed and doxed enemies online.
After reportedly doxing Ethan Ralph of the pro-Gamergate Ralph Retort, WildGoose harassed Ashton Liu over the suicide of his girlfriend, Gamergate supporter Lily Feng. This included pictures he tweeted and retweeted of girls standing in front of oncoming trains and dead Asian girls lying on train tracks.
In a now-deleted guest article for The Ralph Retort, WildGoose accused Feng’s supporters of “emotional manipulation” and “grave-standing,” and claimed Liu was guilty of “plastering [his] dead girlfriend’s name all over the Twittersphere.”
And while WildGoose’s real name isn’t known for certain, there is some circumstantial evidence on what it is. The person who started the anti-pit bull GoFundMe campaign that WildGoose relentlessly hyped goes by the name Travis Gosselin of Dallas, TX. The level of promotion of Gosselin’s campaign suggests that WildGoose is closely connected to Gosselin, if not the same person.
When pro-pit bull activists searched for the name online, they found the mugshot of a 44-year-old North Carolina man with that name. WildGoose, through his personal Facebook page, denied being that Travis Gosselin, writing that he “never set foot in North Carolina.” Though he never denied that his name is Travis Gosselin in the first place. And someone who posted Ethan Ralph’s Slack chat conversations to Encyclopedia Dramatica repeatedly referred to WildGoose as Travis Gosselin.
Again, this is still speculative and WildGoose’s identity has not, to my knowledge, been confirmed. If and when that happens this article will be updated accordingly. For now, let’s leave off on WildGoose’s closing remarks in his interview with Patrick Casey.
In spite of everything we know about pit bull types, WildGoose asserted that there was no “negotiating with these people” — that is, pit bull owners — and that it’s “settled science that these dogs are obviously disproportionately more dangerous than any other dog breed.”
“The real argument to be made,” he continued, “is in front of lawmakers. And any time this sort of thing is put up for a public vote, the pro-BSL — the Breed Specific Legislation people, like myself — win every single time. Every single time.” Which also might be true, but, again, doesn’t necessarily reflect sound science. Plenty of legislation has been adopted due to fearmongering, including bans on gender neutral bathrooms, same-sex marriage, and marijuana use.
Still, WildGoose believes this just means people “have enough common sense” to be frightened by pit bulls — in spite of all evidence showing them to be no greater danger than any other dog type. And Patrick Casey linked things back to white nationalism, telling WildGoose:
[T]hat mentality that you described when you said that you’re not trying to argue with these people, that’s kind of where we are with the dissident right overall with a large segment of the population. You get to the point where you’re talking with people and you’re providing them with legitimate data, statistics, other facts and so forth. And you can’t argue with someone, you can’t have a discussion if they totally refuse to accept it. If they just pretend that data from these government bureaus and non-profits — you know, from reputable sources — is illegitimate because it doesn’t fit into their world view.
If anything Patrick Casey’s decision to have WildGoose as a guest and to uncritically accept his junk science as fact only highlight’s the alt-right’s tendency to embrace pseudoscience and conspiracies when doing so advances their warped agenda.
Of course, Patrick Casey has every right to believe in the superiority of the white race. WildGoose has the same freedom and is free to believe, against all evidence, that pit bulls are monstrous killers. Even David Icke has the freedom to believe in a race of reptilian overlords. We just don’t have to listen to their fearmongering, and we certainly don’t need to use their crackpot beliefs to inform our nation’s laws.