So you don’t get the idea I go around unfairly picking on small grassroots groups, here’s an excerpt from my book, Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport, wherein I take on the Goliath of all national green groups for siding with hunting…
Sport hunters have enjoyed so much laudation of late they’re beginning to cast themselves as conservation heroes. What’s worse is that many modern, influential green groups are swallowing that blather, hook, line and sinker. Maybe they ought to reread the words of Sierra Club founder, John Muir:
“Surely a better time must be drawing nigh when godlike human beings will become truly humane, and learn to put their animal fellow mortals in their hearts instead of on their backs or in their dinners. In the meantime we may just as well as not learn to live clean, innocent lives instead of slimy, bloody ones. All hale, red-blooded boys are savage, fond of hunting and fishing. But when thoughtless childhood is past, the best rise the highest above all the bloody flesh and sport business…”
Henry David Thoreau, another nineteenth-century nature-lover whose forward-thinking writings were an inspiration to Muir, cautions, “No humane being, past the thoughtless age of boyhood, will wantonly murder any creature which holds its life by the same tenure he does. The hare in its extremity cries like a child. I warn you, mothers, that my sympathies do not make the usual philanthropic distinctions.”
If those dated messages and mockery are lost on twenty-first-century Sierra-clubbers, Edward Abbey’s sentiment should be obvious enough for anyone, “To speak of harvesting other living creatures, whether deer or elk or birds or cottontail rabbits, as if they were no more than a crop, exposes the meanest, cruelest, most narrow and homocentric of possible human attitudes towards the life that surrounds us.”
Early vanguards of ecological ideology recognized Homo sapiens as just one among thousands of animal species on the planet, no more important than any other in the intricate web of life. They also abhorred sport hunting.
But a shocking turn-around is taking place in the current bastardization of the environmental movement. The Sierra Club and other large, corporate green groups are embracing (read: sleeping with) powerful hunting groups like the Safari Club International and the National Rifle Association (NRA). In a transparent effort to appear down-home and therefore more in touch with nature, they’re making the fatal mistake of joining frces with sportsmen whose conservation “ethic” exists only so their preferred prey species can be slain again and again.
The infertile union between super-sized modern green groups and mega-bucks hunting clubs must have been sired by their shared conviction that humans are the most crucial cogs in the wheel of life (or at least the squeakiest wheels in the dough machine). As the only animal capable of coughing up cash when the collection plate comes around, human beings (every last gourmandizing, carnivorous one of them) are the primary concern; their wants must be given priority over those of all other species. Contemporary environmental organizations, seduced by a desire to engage as many paying members as they can get their hands on (regardless of their attitudes towards animal life), must believe blood-soaked money is as green underneath as any.
Forever stagnating in “thoughtless childhood,” members of hunting groups like the NRA live for the day they can register a record-breaking trophy with the Boone and Crocket Club—formed by Roosevelt “to promote manly sport with rifles.” Fund for Animals creator, Cleveland Amory, took issue with the sporty statesman in his anti-hunting epic, Man Kind? Our Incredible War on Wildlife. A benevolent humanitarian for humans and nonhumans alike, Mr Amory wrote, “Theodore Roosevelt…cannot be faulted for at least some efforts in the field of conservation. But here the praise must end. When it came to killing animals, he was close to psychopathic. Dangerously close indeed (think: Ted Bundy). In his two-volume African Game Trails, Roosevelt lovingly muses over shooting elephants, hippos, buffaloes, lions, cheetahs, leopards, giraffes, zebras, hartebeest, impalas, pigs, the not-so-formidable 30-pound steenbok and even (in what must have seemed the pinnacle of manly sport with rifles) a mother ostrich on her nest.
But don’t let on to a hunter your informed opinion of their esteemed idol, because, as Mr Amory points out, “…the least implication anywhere that hunters are not the worthiest souls since the apostles drives them into virtual paroxysms of self-pity.” Amory goes on to say:
The hunter, seeing there would soon be nothing left to kill, seized upon the new-fangled idea of “conservation” with a vengeance. Soon they had such a stranglehold [think: Ted Nugent] on so much of the movement that the word itself was turned from the idea of protecting and saving the animals to the idea of raising and using them—for killing. The idea of wildlife “management”—for man, of course—was born. Animals were to be “harvested.” They were to be a “crop”—like corn.
Fortunately, a faithful few are seeing through the murky sludge spread where green fields once thrived. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s Captain Paul Watson (founder and president of about the only group still using the word conservation to mean protecting and saving animals) recently took another in a lifetime of steadfast stands by resigning from his position on the Board of Directors of the Sierra Club. He refused to be a part of their whorish sleeping with the enemy—their pandering to sportsmen by holding a “Why I Hunt” essay contest, complete with a grand prize trophy hunt to Alaska. To think of how many trees were needlessly reduced to pulp for this profane effort when the answer to why hunters hunt was so succinctly summed up in just one sentence by Paul Watson, “Behind all the chit-chat of conservation and tradition is the plain simple fact that trophy hunters like to kill living things.”
Just as the naïve young girl who falls for the charms and promises of a sunny sociopath learns, the hard way, about his hidden penchant for abuse and violence, the Sierra Club and other middle-ground eco-friendly groups may soon learn the dangers of looking for Mr. Goodbar in all the wrong places. How will they divorce themselves from this unholy alliance when the affair goes sour and sportsmen reveal their malicious, hidden agenda by calling for another contest hunt on coyotes or cull on cougars, wolves or grizzly bears to do away with the competition for “their” deer, elk, moose or caribou?
Based on your response to yesterday’s post, “Are Hunters Psychopaths?” the answer is clear: Yes, hunters are psychopaths. Therefore, by extrapolation, we can conclude that sport hunting is serial killing. There’s no way of getting around it. Not unless you consider non-human animals to be mere objects, possessions or “things,” but then you would be viewing them the way a psychopath views his victims. The fact that society still considers nonhumans as objects or possessions can only mean human society shares some of the traits of a psychopath.
Objectification is one of the benchmark behaviors of psychopathy.
Consider the words of Aaron Thomas, the accused East Coast serial rapist who says he doesn’t know why he couldn’t stop attacking women for nearly two decades. “They were objects,” Thomas recently told The Washington Post during a phone interview from his Virginia jail cell. “Whoever came down the street, an object,” he said.
Struggling to understand himself, Thomas admitted, “I don’t think I’m crazy, but something is wrong with me.” Yes, something is definitely wrong—it’s called psychopathy. Though not considered a defensible form of insanity that blurs the line between right and wrong, psychopathy is a disorder characterized by an inability to empathize with others, often accompanied by a compulsion to exploit, harm or kill in order to gain a sense of self-worth. Sound a lot like trophy hunting? It’s the same deal. Thomas said he carried out his attacks without regard for his victims. The same can surely be said about sport hunters in regards to their victims.
Predictably, Thomas’s early behavior involved cruelty to animals. As a youth, he dropped the family’s Lhasa apso into a post hole that had filled with water, nearly drowning it. Showing more insight than most animal abusers, Thomas told the Post, “I used to think to myself I could have turned out a serial killer.”
It’s eerie, yet enlightening, how much the obsession described by Thomas mirrors the preoccupation of an avid sport hunter. The following confession by a “lifelong sportsman” was printed in Montana Outdoors magazine, under the title, “Why I Hunt”:
“Why do I hunt? Well, I hunt because…. Yeah, right. As if there’s an acceptable answer to that question, one I can regurgitate to nonhunters at Christmas parties and still offer with a straight face to my fellow sportsmen, people who already know in their hearts and guts and bones that we hunt for the same reasons we breathe. Because we don’t have a choice. Just as some human beings are born with the gift of artistic talent and others have an innate facility with numbers, we hunters seem blessed with a genetic predisposition toward the chase.”
It is a “predisposition,” and it’s shared by stalkers, sexual psychopaths and serial killers. Sorry to burst their bubbles, but it’s not a blessing to be proud of, and it’s certainly not something to brag about.
Like a lot of people these days, I’m currently reading parts of several books at the same time. One of the books I’ve been whittling away at is Anne Rule’s autobiographical, The Stranger Beside Me, about the years she spent struggling to accept that her friend, Ted Bundy, was actually an avid serial killer. Much of it is almost unreadable, as she spends an inordinate amount of time doubting her suspicions, long after the reader is convinced of Bundy’s guilt.
For anyone wondering what this has to do with hunting, I’ll get to the point. If you’ve been following this blog, you’ve no doubt picked up on the established similarities between the way sport hunters and serial killers think…and behave. Finally, by the end of the book, Rule is willing to accept the fact that someone she thought so highly of is really as low as they come. In the book’s last chapter, she does a good job of describing the self-centered perspective of a psychopathic serial killer:
“As an antisocial personality, he could feel no guilt. He had only taken what he wanted, what he needed to feel whole. He was incapable of understanding that one cannot fulfill his own desires at the expense of others.”
Like serial killing, sport hunting is all about fulfilling one’s desires at the expense of others. It’s interesting how much Rule’s quote above mirrors the last lines in the chapter, “Inside the Hunter’s Mind,” of my book, Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport.
“The reason the sportsman hunts is ridiculously simple: because he wants to. It makes him feel good about himself. No one really matters but him anyhow. And for some, there’s nothing quite as stimulating as the thrill of the kill itself. In the mind of the sport hunter, animals are nothing more than pawns in their big game.”