Greed

Seth Victor

            Thank goodness we live in a world of endless and unlimited resources. If it weren’t for that, I might be worried about the way we are treating the earth.  Man, if I were to suddenly find out that the populations humans recklessly destroy were unable to immediately regenerate, I think that would be a very inconvenient truth.

            Assuming for a horrid second that this hypothetical world is grossly similar our own, hunting and fishing in this world represent the sin of greed. Let me begin by clarifying that I am aware of the arguments for sustainable hunting, both for the survival of the hunter, and the population stability of the prey. I am ignoring these arguments for now. My brief response is that starvation is not a reality faced by most hunters I know, as they still supplement their diets with CAFO-produced meat, and the overpopulation of deer and black bears, at least here in New Jersey, could be easily solved by the reintroduction of natural predators (wolves) and stronger regulations against sprawling subdivisions (like the one I guiltily live in), respectively.    Continue reading

The Politicization of Animal Use

 Conservative political radio talk show political host Rush Limbaugh has joined forces with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to support a U.S. crackdown on “organized dog fighting and other animal cruelty crimes” according to the Washington Times.

To this end, Limbaugh has lent his voice to some public service radio announcements. Limbaugh’s large and strong following of politically conservative Americans (his official website claims his talk show to be the most listened-to radio talk show in the country), though, are not happy. According to the Washington Times:

“Twenty-eight groups representing millions of hunters and sportsmen are demanding that the conservative radio commentator end his collaboration with the HSUS and stop “helping them to mainstream their image in the minds of reasonable people.”

“Despite a few programs designed to attract support from the general public, HSUS is in fact an organization that opposes hunting, fishing, and trapping,” the groups, including Ducks Unlimited and the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, wrote in a letter last week to Mr. Limbaugh.

“Its leadership has a long and established history of promoting legislation, litigation, and referenda to restrict the rights of American sportsmen and women.”

 

I think that the response of Wayne Pacelle, Executive Director of the HSUS, is right on point:

“I’m embarrassed for them that they would criticize Rush for amplifying our message that dogfighting and other malicious forms of animal cruelty are unacceptable in society… I think the folks that are criticizing it are unbelievably knee-jerk – I guess they want to provide comfort to dogfighters? It just doesn’t make any sense… there are certain things that civil society should agree on.”

Well put!

-Suzanne McMillan

Torture Hunting

Today on the ski lift, my seat mate told me about a hunting club that adjoins his property.  The club is comprised of people — all to the manner born — who get together to hunt animals and then not kill them.  For example, they “beagle,” which for them involves letting loose hunting beagles to flush and chase rabbits.  The humans, though, are just along for the chase.  They do not kill the rabbits that get flushed although sometimes “the beagles do get the rabbit.”  The club also stages other kinds of hunts none of which have as their aim the death of the animal pursued (despite the occasional casualty).

Both I and my seat mate found these practices very dismaying.  Yet, I’ve been thinking all day about why I find this practice at least as troubling as the type of hunting which involves killing.  Part of me bristles at the idea of toying with the animal (“if you’re going to hunt it, at least, kill it!”) but I recognize the irrationality of such feelings.  Certainly, from the animal’s perspective, it’s better to survive such encounters than the alternative.  So, why is this type of hunting so disturbing?

Perhaps it’s because it lacks any telos other than casual torment.  With the more typical kind of sport hunting (I here intentionally exclude hunting for food, which in my view requires an entirely different analysis), the purpose is to kill rather than torture.  The desire to torture is to my mind more disturbing and anti-social than the desire to kill.  So, I am just that much more unsettled by the fact that there are clubs devoted to its practice.

At least that’s my working hypothesis.

David Cassuto