Blaming Verizon Phone Co. for a Dog’s Death?


By: Warner Todd Huston

The media are ever inventive in their attacks on capitalism, to say the least, and this one is as inventive as they come. Apparently Stu Bykofsky, columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, thinks that cell service giant Verizon Wireless is somehow at fault for the death of a doggy. Or, if not guilty for the actual killing of the creature, Stu imagines that Verizon is somehow guilty of aiding and abetting those who killed the kidnapped pup of getting away with the horrid act.

How is it that, as far as Bykofsky is concerned, Verizon is the guilty party in this kidnapping/killing of Edna the Beagle? Because Verizon wants to charge a fee to ferret out cell phone records so that police can track the ransom call to the dog’s owner, that’s why. So, because a capitalist company wants a fee to access records, the Philly Daily News is set to accuse Verizon of aiding and abetting dog torture, kidnapping and the beast’s ultimate killing. Talk about emotionalism run amuck! This story and Bykofsky’s silly reaction to it is a perfect example of the logical disconnect the left has between common sense and their hatred of capitalism. And, sadly, to the left, not even the death of a puppy is to be free of being used as an ideological weapon.

Apparently, last Halloween, Edna’s owner, Bill Whiting, accidentally allowed his lovable little pup to run out the door as kids stood outside his door trick-or-treating that night. The next day, Whiting put up posters for the lost dog when it had not returned. 10 days later he got a call on his cell phone from two young boys who claimed to have the dog. They wanted $600, they said, and to prove they had Edna, the two boys hurt the dog to cause it to yelp so that Whiting could hear his pet.

They told Whiting to meet him at midnight somewhere (a location Whiting could not understand) but he demurred — obviously worried over his own safety. When Whiting shied from their demands the boy on the phone hurt the dog some more, then exclaimed that he just wanted to kill the dog instead. At that point the line went dead.

After Whiting hung up the phone he called the Philadelphia police who termed the crime one of extortion.

At 3AM, a second call came to Whiting’s landline (the contact number on the dog’s tags) and the boy said he had killed the dog. Whiting has since heard nothing from the boys or the dog.

That’s the story. Now here is the absurd take on the aftermath that Bykofsky had in the pages of the Philly Daily News. But, before we get into that, I have to highlight a bit of PCism that is ridiculous for its earnest desire not to connect “black kids” to a story concerned with kidnapping, torture, killing, and general lawlessness. So, instead of saying the kids sounded black, the story contains this gem of a description of the vernacular used by the kidnappers:

At first, Whiting says he could barely understand the younger boy, speaking in what he described as “American ghetto slang.”

So, I guess “American ghetto slang” means the kid was talkin’ street… in other words, the kids were black. Instead of just saying the kids sounded black, though we get both this University employee (no surprise there) and the columnist perpetrating the murder of the English language by employing cloying euphemisms to avoid the charge of racism.

Give me a break.

But, that aside, on with Bykofsky’s ridiculous claim that Verizon is the bad guy in this tale of woe.

Later that morning, Whiting tried to find the phone number the extortionists had used. He called his service provider, Verizon, to tell them to release his phone records to police, but it wasn’t that simple.

“I made about five calls and kept getting people who were good at passing the hot potato,” Whiting says. He was told police know the procedure.

The detective working the case, who asked me not to use his name, says he got a search warrant and faxed it to Verizon on Nov. 16, but it took 12 days before he got a list of calls made to Whiting. The city was charged $150 for the search.

Verizon charged police $150?

Yes, they charged a fee. Do you think that Verizon employs whole armies of people whose job it might be to assemble past phone records for anyone who happens to call up requesting them? Does Bykofsky and Whiting imagine that these records can be retrieved for free merely at the asking? Is there no cost to Verizon to go back to find and assemble such records?

Apparently Bykofsky and Whiting imagine that we are in a Star Trek TV episode where all we have to do is ask our computer to get the records and presto-chango there they are. Anyone that works with computers knows that it isn’t nearly as easy as just “pushing a button” and that despite the ease and speed of computers, it still doesn’t work that way!

But, reality isn’t good enough for Bykofsky.

In most cases, says Verizon spokesman Lee Gierczynski, “the company charges no fee or a nominal one,” but in a “very small percentage of cases, Verizon will charge reimbursement fees for gathering information it does not routinely maintain.”

The fee covers some of Verizon’s costs and it makes no profit, he says. In a wired world, I find both the slow service and the high cost hard to swallow.

A crime has been committed.

It’s a DOG, Mr. Bykofsky. These “American ghetto slang” talking kids hadn’t kidnapped a person, after all! Even more to the point, the act had already been done. The records coming faster could not have saved the pup. And, exactly why should Verizon wireless have to eat the cost of these sorts of services in all cases, anyway?

Now get ready for the emotional appeal…

Whiting will live for a long time, maybe forever, with the pain of hearing his little brown dog tortured. But he doesn’t want Edna to have died in vain. As her legacy, he wants the phone companies to act faster and cheaper. He thinks telecommunications companies should provide free assistance to police “as a public service. It’s not like they have a narrow profit margin.”

He’s right. Who’ll get the ball rolling?

It is absolutely absurd to focus on Verizon as if they are equally guilty in this situation.

What we have here is Bykofsky taking a heart rending situation and using it as a platform to attack what he most likely imagines is an eeeevil corporation. What we have here is another example of a leftist columnist casting the corporation in a role as bad as that of the actual evil doers, in this case a pair of “American ghetto slang” using dog killers. What we have here is typical leftist anti-capitalism on parade.

And all of Bukofsky’s carping will neither bring back Edna, nor console Edna’s survivor. But it can stir the pot and make matters worse

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