They Will Take Your Dog and Make You Apologize

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Bill collectors working for a German town recently went to the home of a family that owed the town some money. They demanded payment, and when none was forthcoming, they looked through the house for something to levy on. They considered taking the dad’s wheelchair but decided to take the family’s pug instead. They advertised the pug on eBay and sold it.

Now comes the interesting part. The media caught wind of what happened and asked the town’s spokesperson for a statement. He admitted that the bill collectors’ conduct was unusual but put a different spin on it, pointing out the “emotionally challenging” nature of financial enforcement work. In other words, the bill collectors were the victims, not the family whose dog was taken. The reporters then rushed to the family’s house and asked for a statement. The mom said her children were sad but that her dog probably was in good hands now. (

Casting the bill collectors as the real victims was intended to make us feel unhappy for them and forget our outrage at what they did. Victim creation is the technique of choice for distracting us from our principles, our common sense, and our understanding of what’s right and wrong.

We see this same technique being used everywhere nowadays. New categories of victims are defined every day for the purpose of motivating people to think, do or believe whatever the speaker wants.

It is pure manipulation.

Psychopaths have been using this technique for a long time. Consider what Charles Manson said at his murder trial. He and several of his followers were convicted of murdering 7 people in 1969. He said that the real victims were the murderers themselves, not the dead people. “These children that come at you with knives, they are your children. You taught them; I didn’t teach them. I just tried to help them stand up.” (

In other words, society was wrong, not Charlie and his “Manson family.” Not the bill collectors. Not the people who actually do terrible, hurtful things. They want you to believe that they are innocent and everyone else is guilty. Meaning you.

Don’t let them use your emotions to defeat the truth, the real, the logical. Recognize manipulation when wrongheaded people try it on you. Stand up against it.

Next time you find yourself accused, don’t let them take your dog and make you apologize.

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Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash