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The expected decorum of cats and dogs

Seventeen percent of American men who answered a recent survey said they believed that they could defeat a kangaroo in a fight, even if unarmed.

The men … not the kangaroo. We all know kangaroos come with their own boxing gloves.

I love polls such as this — but not because they tell us anything.

I love them because such topics remind us that there is more to life than pandemics and politics. And that they disprove the axiom that “there’s no such thing as a stupid question.”

There are indeed stupid questions, and people willing and particularly adept at providing stupid answers.

And, to paraphrase an axiom yet to be disproven, you can’t fix people like that ... you truly can’t.

More on that later.

The kangaroo, meanwhile, was among 15 animals suggested by the YouGove marketing research company as potential opponents for such Man v. Beast battles — which found that U.S. males were the least confident (7%) about defeating a grizzly bear, but were relatively certain (76%) that they could beat up a rat.

Women were also surveyed and, as you might expect, displayed far more common sense regarding success in such encounters … even if by the slimmest of margins they had more faith than men in their ability to prevail against a lion.

For instance, only 8% of women thought they’d defeat a King Cobra (as opposed to 23% of us guys); and while 51% of women said they could dispatch a goose, that was 20 percentage points shy of the men who thought they could do so.

Those men, conceivably, have never had to battle a mother goose for access to a golf ball at Stewart Meadows.

Along with the geese and rats, medium-sized dogs and house cats were considered the easiest opponents; elephants and gorillas were ranked the toughest.

The animals were not asked whether they could take down humans.

As I clicked through the results of this survey — which YouGov kindly broke down into age and geographic categories — one word kept coming to mind … “Why?”

(Unless, that is, you consider “WTF?” to be a singular word.)

Why do 2% of men older than 55 who live in the Northwest think they could punch-out a gorilla? (For the record, I would not be among those 2%.)

Why isn’t there a “small dog” category, to go along with the “large dog” and “medium-sized dog” classifications?

Why would there even be a question about battling house cats, since anyone owned by such a creature could tell you that the cat would simply refuse to participate … citing ennui?

Mostly, though, just … why?

Now that the presidential election is over*, are poll-takers so bored that they’re looking to examine other playground fights?

What’s next? Bumper sticker that proclaim “My lion (or cobra or bear) can beat up your Honor Student”?

If the folks at YouGov really wanted to pitch a survival of the fittest, they could have asked not whether any of the beasts could survive a physical encounter … but could they last a full term as a member of the Ashland City Council.

Let’s see your average crocodile, wolf or eagle withstand the fury of a group that needs to agree on a Code of Conduct just so they can figure out why they not only can’t find a City Manager … but recruiting firms that would help them fill the position keep excusing themselves from the room.

Or, as they say in Latin, get while the getting is good.

The Code of Conduct says that council members will “exercise and abide by expected decorum of Ashland elected officials,” which — if you’ve ever followed Ashland politics — sounds strange, because it’s the expected decorum of Ashland elected officials which prompted the need for the code in the first place.

Council members agreed that further fighting like cats and dogs could constitute a “potential breach” of the code. Such a breach would be submitted through proper channels channels — to the City Manager; that is, should a permanent one be found — on its way to showing up as an agenda item for a future council meeting.

Since it’s not stipulated anywhere in the code, I’ve got dibs on providing rocking chairs and popcorn for members of the public who want to see how that would play out … perhaps a transcript could find its way to the Ashland New Plays Festival.

In the end, though, there is no punishment spelled out in the Code of Conduct — maybe because the form of such punishment would require too many subcommittees to discern; maybe because just being a member of a board subject to such internal strife should be considered punishment in and of itself.

That’ll fix’em.

Still, if they’re taking suggestions, I can think of 15 members of the animal kingdom that might be ticked off enough after being used as theoretical punching bags and would probably enjoy letting off some steam.

Well, probably not the cat.

Mail Tribune news editor Robert Galvin wouldn’t hurt a fly at rgalvin@rosebudmedia.com