Friday, August 14, 2009

Just three guys with guns, full of piss and vinegar

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You know the story: three guys stop at a pond in Saskatchewan and for a lark, take pot shots at the swimming ducks and ducklings. One of them records the action with his digital camera set on “movie” and, for some reason, posts the event on You Tube. With millions of witnesses, they are quickly and thoroughly busted and given heavy fines, are featured on the front page of the StarPhoenix and admit through eager media that it had been a bit of “stupid fun.”

This fall, men in camouflage suits will spend hundreds of dollars on equipment, travel, etc. for the thrill of sitting around the same pond and blasting migrating ducks out of the air with shotguns. That will win nods of approval because hunting seasons and licences will have made this massacre “legal,” and the shooters in this case will be responsible “sportsmen,” not young men having a bit of fun.

So here’s a quiz. The “general public” and the humane societies were so outraged by the actions of the three young men at Cudworth because:

a) their stupidity in putting an illegal act on You Tube puts the general sanity of the human race in doubt,
b) ducks on the water (and particularly ducklings) make this shooting an unfair contest as opposed to firing at them from a blind as they fly overhead,
c) deep down, we find the slaughter of animals abhorrent, especially when we’re confronted visually with the actual event, or
d) we’re jealous of the three men because we’re frustrated and have been taught to curb our natural instinct to get relief by exercising the “patience,hell! I’m gonna kill me something!” prerogative.

And while we’re at it, let’s ponder this scenario. A group of men are sitting in an ocean-side restaurant eating freshly caught lobster when they’re excitedly informed that their help is needed to rescue a beached dolphin just below the restaurant. They rush out and with great effort, return the hapless creature to deeper water. They’re back before their lobster is cold and they finish their meal, lean back and revel in their humanitarian achievement.

Upshot: if you want sympathy, you’d better be a good-looking mammal, not an ugly marine crustacean. And if a mammal, try not to be a steer, pig or sheep; better a kitten, puppy or pony (canned Dalmatian would fill us with the same revulsion we displayed for the three men at the pond).

Finally, I applaud the progress we’ve made in protecting humans and animals from needless suffering. I’m told that abusive men often practice their need-to-inflict-pain (sadism) on animals before graduating to fellow humans. Action against cruelty to animals, neglect of animal needs, etc. may be a small step toward a society in which the blatant hypocrisies inherent in “legal sport hunting” may become a cruelty of the past.

(I really enjoyed the cedar-plank salmon at a friend’s place last weekend. I admit it. I don’t want to think about it. Let’s change the subject.)


  1. Nicely said.

    And mazel tov to the parents of the bride!

  2. I don't think you need to feel guilty eating your salmon. Hunting and fishing for the sake of putting food on the table or making clothing is altogether different than killing animals/ducks for fun. We see this every day. Hunting and fishing are a means of survival - a means of subsidizing food costs. No different than butchering a cow, pig or chicken. Every part is used. I too wear wolverine on my parka hood for its frost free, wind reducing qualities in order to stay warm. Nothing wrong with that.

  3. Marg, thanks for your comments. I have no problem with Nunavutians hunting and fishing to meet their survival needs. In my experience, sports hunting and fishing, however, is generally seen as recreation by people who could provide more for their families with the money they spend on the "sport" than the they provide through the hunt. I wrestle with that.