Seedy defense attorney Mark Geragos, who often appears as a cocky gabber on cable talk shows, now represents the Dhaliwals, two San Jose brothers injured by the tiger "Tatiana" on Christmas day at the San Francisco zoo.
Geragos's past innocent clients include Scott Peterson, Winona Ryder, and Susan McDougal. Presumably, Geragos will at once defend the brothers against a possible misdemeanor charge of taunting an animal at a zoo and rig up some shameless, sue-the-zoo-into-oblivion lawsuit.
This is a tricky controversy for cultural lefties in SF, as it places them between multiple subjects which usually enjoy their sympathy: endangered animals and juvenile delinquents (in this case, adult delinquents), politically correct zoo keepers, and lawsuit-happy attorneys.
Geragos refers to his clients as "victims," but animal rights activists say Tatiana is the victim here. They have been holding vigils for the wronged beast and launching web pages to excoriate humans for their stupidity and mischief.
The animal rights activists actually have a point on this one. Tatiana merely conformed to her nature; the humans apparently defied theirs, engaging in reckless, irrational behavior. As Aristotle said, rationality makes man the best of the animals, but his irrationality can make him the worst.
More information about the men taunting the animal is trickling out. Zoo visitor Jennifer Miller says she saw the Dhaliwals behaving like boisterous, disturbing fools.
"The boys, especially the older one, were roaring at them. He was taunting them," she said. "They were trying to get that lion's attention. ... The lion was bristling, so I just said, 'Come on, let's get out of here' because my kids were disturbed by it."
IN HIS CUSTOMARY deny-everything mode, Geragos dismisses the mounting evidence of misbehavior as "unfounded rumors." But the San Francisco police have confirmed several of them: among others, a shoe print on railing near Tatiana's pen and an empty vodka bottle in the Dhaliwals' car. The police department hasn't confirmed but is investigating whether they had slingshots.
The father of Carlos Sousa, the member of the party killed by Tatiana, says that one of the Dhaliwals lied to him about his son's whereabouts after he called to inquire why Carlos hadn't show up at Christmas dinner.
According to press reports, the brothers "have had run-ins with authorities before. They were arraigned Oct. 22 on suspicion of public drunkenness and resisting a police officer charges. They pleaded not guilty and are scheduled to be in court in January…Paul Dhaliwal also has three other cases in Santa Clara County: an arrest for reckless driving and evading a police officer and being a minor in possession of alcohol and public intoxication, according to court documents."
Not that Geragos won't find a few scraps of embarrassing information about incompetence at the zoo with which to confuse matters. Hapless SF zoo director Manuel Mollinedo has probably already blown the case by overstating the height of the enclosure's wall.
As usual, whenever anything goes awry in our out-of-control society, more and more "controls" are proposed as the solution to human jackassery. Hence, Mollinedo, retailing the standard post-crisis claptrap at a press conference, said the zoo will post new signs, build new loudspeaker and notification systems, etc., etc.
One new sign about not taunting the animals will read in part: "Please remember they are sensitive and have feelings."
Folks rallying around the men are already rehearsing arguments based upon the now-common expectation that the modern state is duty bound to protect citizens against their own vices and irrationality. The zoo should have provided better protection for taunters!
The tiger enclosure at the San Francisco zoo has protected visitors since 1940, but no matter: We will certainly need Barbara Boxer to hold Senate hearings on the need for uniform wall enclosure heights at zoos across the land.
But there is one question Mollinedo won't have to answer. No one would dare ask it in pagan San Francisco: Why was the zoo even open on Christmas?
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