Twenty-first Century Swastikas

For over half a century the Nazi swastika—that all too familiar symbol of hate—has been relegated to the dark corners of extremism, never to be openly displayed on a flag or uniform again. The Nazi credo was perhaps as confusing as it was complex, but generally, it was the definitive case of one group vilifying and scapegoating another.

Today, a similar type of blind hatred rules in areas where exploitive or extractive animal industries are considered a way of life. One can hardly drive a mile in parts of rural America without seeing emblems of extremism in the form of hateful bumper stickers touting selfish anti-wolf slogans like, “Smoke a Pack a Day” or, in areas where wolves are still extinct, “Did the coyotes get your deer?” Another popular hate-symbol adorning the back of all too many rural pickup trucks is simply a silhouette of a wolfNT wolf bumpr stickr inside a red circle with a slash through it.

In certain towns along the Pacific Northwest coast, where commercial fishing is a dying “way of life” (because dams and overfishing had nearly wiped out the salmon), the trendy stickers of ignorance and intolerance feature a sea lion with a fish inside a red circle and slash. The message is clear, sea lions can starve and die off, the humans have claimed the fish for themselves.

And although sea lions are indeed starving and dying off, it isn’t happening fast enough for some small minded, self-serving fishermen who shoot them, in defiance of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, just as the wolves in the tri-state and Great Lakes regions become victims of those who claim all land animals as “resources” and can’t stand the competition from those natural predators. Blatant Nazism may be a thing of the past, but speciesist extremism is alive and well all across America.

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Nine Signs You’re at a Paul Ryan Rally

Nine Signs You’re at a Paul Ryan Rally:

9)  All the babies are in cammo diapers

8)  Senior citizens seen fleeing in mortal fear

7)  Secret service guys are the only ones carrying concealed weapons

6)  Has-beens, wanna-bes and never-weres (such as Ted Nugent and Kid Rock) are crowding the stage, hoping someone will recognize them

5)  Rapists are handing out cigars, in the tradition of proud fathers everywhere

4)  The candidate looks like a scary version of Eddie Munster

3)  Fang marks left on all the babies he’s kissed

2)  Instead of shaking hands with voters, Ryan is trading deer sausage recipes

1)  Some Bubba is going around bragging, “I bought my 10 year-old girl a rifle and I’m gonna teach her how to kill a deer this year!”—wait a minute, that’s the candidate!

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Honor Thy Father and Mother, Except When They Misbehave‏

Those of us who grew up watching “All in the Family” knew that the patriarch, Archie Bunker, wasn’t always right (to say the least). Yet, often the first reaction I hear from people when they learn that Exposing the Big Game is an anti-hunting book is an indignant, “But my father was a hunter!”

Well, so? Look at all the other outdated activities or attitudes we’ve turned our backs on—slavery, racism, sexism all went out of fashion without anyone arguing, “But my father was a racist, sexist, slave owner!”

What’s so sacred about hunting that makes it any harder to kiss goodbye than any of our parent’s other wrong-headed behaviors? Maybe it’s that nearly everyone you meet is as blind to their anthropocentric prejudice of speciesism as Archie Bunker was to his isms. Most people seem unwilling or unable to share their compassion with the non-human animals of this world.

Our parents deserve to be honored for teaching us the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Kids are generally told that this directive applies to everyone, from their parents and teachers to their siblings and friends—not just to members of their in-group. And a lot of parents wouldn’t hesitate to invoke the golden rule to stop a child hurting the family pet.

Yet for many people, the bias of speciesism is so entrenched that they can’t seem to recognize a wild animal as a deserving other. But biases and isms are not written in stone. If humanity keeps evolving along a compassion continuum, we will inevitably apply the same rules of consideration to all creatures who have the ability to think and feel. Perhaps it’s time to update and clarify the golden rule to read: “Do unto other sentient beings as they would have you do unto them.”

The golden rule is an age-old edict rooted in the qualities of empathy and compassion. The former asks that we put ourselves in someone else’s “shoes” while the latter compels us to modify any actions that would harm or aggravate them. Naturally if we live by a golden rule that includes all of the animal kingdom, we would never keep anyone captive, trap, poison or snare them or use them as living targets in a bloody, imbalanced game.

Text and Wildlife Photos Copyright Jim Robertson

Into the Tar Pit of Religion

Well, I touched the hot button of overpopulation without getting burned, so perhaps it’s safe to wade into the tar pit of religion without going too far under…

First, a fair warning to lurking hunter trolls:  your comments and feeble rationalizations (and we’ve heard them all before) will not be posted on this blog, but will get filed as such and may be used against you anytime they help prove a point. For example, here’s part of a comment I received from a hunter the other day: “I love animals, but fully understand that all living things have their place in God’s plan and on His Earth. He gave us domain over animals. Read Genisis [sic] and wake up!”

How convenient. But do people really still believe that kind of crap?

Sadly, the answer appears to be yes.

A staggering 46% of Americans believe that god created humans in their present form within the past 10,000 years, according to a USA Today/Gallup survey conducted this year from May 10th to the 13th. Not only has that number not changed much in the past 30 years since Gallup first asked the question on Creationism vs Evolution, it’s actually gone up 2%, from 44% in 1982 to 46% in 2012!

Gallup’s Frank Newport told CNN, “Despite the many changes that have taken place in American society and culture over the past 30 years, including new discoveries in biological and social science, there has been virtually no sustained change in Americans’ views of the origins of the human species since 1982. All in all, there’s no evidence in this trend of a substantial movement toward a secular viewpoint on human origins.”

So, why do I care what people believe? Why won’t I just let them have their fun?

Because such dogma can directly affect how non-humans are treated.

The literal belief that humans have some kind of god-given authority over every other species of animal bestows undeserved power into unreliable hands. Creationist claptrap that favors one species over another perpetuates speciesist doctrine devised to demean and control our fellow animals in the same way that notions of racial superiority were used against our fellow humans.

The second most common view of those polled—held by 32% of respondents–is that humans evolved with god’s guidance. Again, a very convenient conviction that can be used to put humans on top.

Newport goes on to say, “It would be hard to dispute that most scientists who study humans agree that the species evolved over millions of years, and that relatively few scientists believe that humans began in their current form only 10,000 years ago without the benefit of evolution. Thus, almost half of Americans hold a belief [in creationism] that is at odds with the preponderance of scientific literature.”

To their benefit, and to the detriment of every other living thing on the planet, I might add.

Wildlife Photography Copyright Jim Robertson