But alertness and effort are not enough. Unless we study and understand the nature of this threat, it can still steamroll hunting rights. It behooves us, therefore, to examine the anti-hunting movement with a view to defining its composition, character, and tactics.
The anti-hunting movement may be broadly subdivided into three groups: the Bambiists, genuine naturalists, and pseudo-ecologists. These correspond to the three division of political liberals: the emotional, the rational, and the spurious.
The Bambiists are those pitiable people who hink that hunting should be prohibited because it is not nice to kill the little animals, and who cannot see the conflict which exists between eating meat and not killing the animals. In this group are the sheltered little old ladies who punish the cat for catching birds, and the not-so-old anti-hunting person who, upon being asked if they ate meat, replied that they were vegetarians as far as beef was concerned and ate very little other meat. Ah! They only kill the animals a little. Bambiists are a subspecies of believer in the slave morality: they want to get what they want (to eat meat) without the necessity of facing unpleasant realities (by being made conscious of its slaughter.)
The naturalists are a doubly-mixed bag, being made up of both professionals and amateurs, either of whom may or may not be hostile, neutral, or well-disposed to sport-hunters. Because they are rational, even those who are hostile toward hunting are sufficiently realistic to be amenable to a reasonable approach. As a group, they don't like slob-hunters (one can't blame them for that), aren't too happy about hunters' motives even when interests overlap, and wish that hunters would become more actiely involved in environmental issues. A surprising number of honest naturalists define man as a hunting animal, and therefore, of neccessity, accept game management in preference to preservationism or hunting prohibition.
In fact, greater hunter involvement would do much to reduce the effectiveness of the third group, the pseudo-ecologists. The honest ecologists, whom I group with the naturalists, are not a problem. The threat comes from those who are motivated not so much by concern for the environment as by reasons of power, if not by out-and-out lust for it. They are the guiding force behind some of the more vindictive anti-hunting campaigns and the willful sabotage of legitimate and managed hunts. Although I do not have particular individuals or organizations in mind as I write this, realizing that indeed their names may not even be publicly known, I am inclined to feel polite reservations about those who, holding great power, overstate their tender concern for the little animals or the environment; power just doesn't work that way. I also feel reservations about those movie and TV moguls who show that little old lady in Poughkeepsie barbaric (and staged) scenes of hunting slaughter, but whon never, ever, show her the inside of a slaughterhouse. What a pity their dirty work is done for them by Bambiists and the few honest naturalists whom they have victimized and duped.
Protection of hunting rights can be enhanced by making it impossible for the pseudo-ecologists to function, and this can be done through effective communication with honest naturalists and those Bambiists who are sufficiently rational as to be amenable to reason. Once these people see the place of hunting by humans in the scheme of things, they will back away from the radical preservationists.
Honest naturalists are the easiest to reach. Insofar as the professionals are concerned, perhaps the best way to communicate is to sit at their feet and receive instruction, work with them when they call for it, and do your part to conserve nature and enforce hunter ethics. In many cases the naturalists are way ahead of us; there's no point in preaching to the convinced.
Amateurs may or may not be aware of hunters' positions. Because some of them will be hunters themselves, while others accept hunting as an established and, practically speaking, unassailable fact, one should once again discover the hearer's position before boring him by defending something which he is not interested in assailing. For those who may hold anti-hunting views, there are three counter-arguments: the nature of man as a hunting animal; the positive contributions of hunters to protection of wildlife and the environment; and the conflict which exists between eating meat and opposing hunting. When the amateur naturalist opposes a particular hunting situation or policy, a review of the particulars will be in order. It is altogether possible under such circumstances that either of you may hold the erroneous position, so keep an open mind and don't hesitate to concede in your own self-interest.
Beyond gently pointing out to that little old lady that she is punishing the cat for doing what Old Mother Nature made it to do, I have largely written off the hard-core Bambiists. I find it impossible to reach them with rational arguments, which are the only kind available to me, simply because their position is not rational.
In the case of those Bambiists who are capable of some rational thought, I have achieved moderate success in communicating. In one incident, which occurred in, of all places, Texas, I came to the defense of a sportsman who was being faulted by a meat-eating non-hunter.
"Do you eat meat?" I asked the critic.
"yes," he confessed, "But I don't kill it. It comes in the store." So help me, he really said that!
"Every time you buy meat in a store, you order the execution of an animal on a production line whose efficieny would be envied by the commandant of an SS death camp. You may not kill the animals yourself, kbut you have absolutely no scruples about hiring a torpedo to do it for you."
In another case, a member of a minority group used, in complete innocence, exactly the same argument used by that non-hunting vegetarian, Adolf Hitler, in poking fun at the reichmaster of the Hint, Hermann Goering. I pointed this out, then turned on the heat: "A hunter, at best, is a predatory animal making his living as nature intended him to; at worst, he is a kill-crazy butcher who kills to satisfy his blood-lust. But you! You're no better than an (expletive deleted) Nazi. You don't care to get your hands bloody, but you don't mind one bot ordering the mass-murder of animals on a production line."
"He's right," bystanding members of minority groups observed.
Those arguments were pretty strong. I used them only because I knew the people and knew that the arguments would be effective without driving them away. Caution is in order, however, and adopting too hard a line may terrify or offend the more timorous anti-hunter, driving him straight into the arms of the pseudo-ecologists. When uncertain, always err on the side of restraint.
For the more analytically minded amateur naturalists and Bambiists a more scholarly treatment will bear fruit. Serious works, written either at the scholarly level or at the layman's level, describing the nature of man as a hunting animal or the positive contributions of hunters toward conservation will almost always soften their anti-hunting stance.
On one occasion a hunting friend complained to me about his wife's extremely hostile attitude toward hunting. Since they both were intellectuals, at my suggestion he arranged to discover, accidentally on purpose, Robert Ardrey's African Genesis in a college bookstore. He suggested that they read it, and his wife, having done so, revised her position to provide that it was all right to go hunting, provided that the hunter ate what he hunted. Not a bad achievement at all, considering her original position.
Going beyond that, it now appears that most of the Primates (zoological group which includes monkeys, apes, and man) are descended from small three-shrew-like creatures described as insectivores (insect-hunters, because they were too small to hunt anything bigger) and that human ancestors were going hunting before they became human. Furthermore, modern non-human primates are generally omnivorous (eat everything) and the baboon and chimpanzee will kill and eat small animals. This is quite a useful rebuttal to those who oppose hunting or even meat-eating on the grounds that Mother Nature didn't intend for us to eat meat.
At this point, some of my friends out in bedrock America are no doubt becoming uneasy, feeling that I have introduced evolution into the argument. I'm afraid it was unavoidable; otherwise I wouldn't have done it.
Actually, I would not care to suggest that any gun owner, even the owner of one of those pipsqueak .25s, came from a monkey. I am absolutely convinced, however, that some of the more notable personages in the anti-gun and anti-hunting movements came from monkeys, and that some of them didn't come very far. Moreover, some of my own detractors have suggested that my brow-ridges are a little too prominent for me not to have some less-than-human ancestors in my own family tree.
Evolution is a useful argument when the listener accepts evolution as fact; otherwise it may be dropped.
With the general anti-hunting public, much can be gained by dispelling the unsavory images that the anti-hunting, anti-gun press and TV have generated. This can be done by pointing out that the errors of fact in those images, not to mention the positive contributions of hunters toward the protection of the environment and wildlife. Acknowledge the need for internal reform, pointing out that sportsmen are working to stop the slob-hunters, sign-shooters, poachers, and other riffraff. Also note that most of the animals which have been brought to extinction in Ameriva in historical times have been the victims of state policy (American bison) or market hunting (American bison, snowy egret, passenger pigeon), and that sportsmen do not advocate either market hunting or extermination by state policy or otherwise. Be prepared to document whatever you say with sources which the listener will accept.
Finally, the best way to communicate with the pseudo-ecologists is to communicate effectively with the other two groups, thereby depriving those motivated by power of their power-base. Avoid the assertion, in the absence of an explicit confession, that any particular individual or organization is motivated by lust for power. When feasible, well-coordinated boycotts and litigation are effective. But always keep it as courteous as possible--they want you to lose your temper.
The most effective communication with those motivated by power has been done by those voters who have returned resoundingly pro-hunting results at the polls. Power-addicts understand nothing else.
Now it may surprise you to learn that I am not a hunter. I have gone hunting only once in the last 20 years, and have no intention of ever going again unless faced with such disagreeable alternatives as starvation, vegetarianism, or cannibalism. I am a lot closer to the honest naturalists than to the hunters.
So why am I seeking to defend hunting?
The answer may be found in the great thought of Robert Ardrey: "freedom, as the human being knows freedom, was the first gift of the predatory way."
The pseudo-ecologists may be motivated by reasons of state far removed from field sports. The power elite, however, cannot fail to have noted that a society of hunting animals is never a herd. It cannot be ruled over, dominated, or expolited nearly as thoroughly as can a herd. Its members are more assertive and self-reliant, hence less dependent upon the power-hungry, ambitious pseudo-altruists who would like to own them and who see the inducement of dependence as a means of acquiring ownership. Moreover, if hunting can be suppressed, the anti-gun authoritarians will have yet another pretext (non-use in sport) for taking away our (including my) firearms. And that is why I wrote this article, dear reader.
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|Author:||Whisler, Norman J.|
|Publication:||Guns & Ammo|
|Date:||Sep 1, 1984|
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