He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.
-- Immanuel Kant
Pain and suffering is inflicted on [the] animal in the course of sport. Nobody who has seen a beaten fox dragging his stiff limbs into the ditch in which he knows he will die can doubt this proposition.
-- Reginald Paget QC MP (later Lord Paget)
Now let me state from the get-go that I am not some "city boy" who thinks that hamburger comes from grocery stores, or that there are vast ranches where they raise chicken nuggets. I've spent considerable time living amoung "country folk", and I've known lots of people who fish and hunt. I don't have a problem with that. After all, there have been the hunted and the hunters ever since the first protozoa slithered out of the "primordial soup" some 3.5 billion years ago. (Indeed, the paramecium is as effective a predator in its domain as the wolf is in his.) However, in every case, whether you are talking about workers in the meat packing industry, or the vast majority of deer/rabbit/squirrel/etc. hunters and/or fishermen, the main point is that they want the meat. The killing is secondary.
Now, if you need reasons why fox hunting should not be allowed, you can Google up "animal rights" or go to this site: Hunt Saboteurs or Betrayed (Warning: Very Graphic & Disturbing) for that. There is nothing more that I can add to that end of the debate. I'm going to approach this from the other end, as I haven't seen anyone else consider this: what effect it has on the participants.
It's the damnedest thing: did you know that, despite the name of this "sport", that they never kill foxes? Instead, "charlie" (Is this where they got the nick-name for the Viet-Cong?) is "bowled over", "rolled over", "accounted for", "brought to book", "punished", "dealt with", or "broken up". The words "fox" and "kill" never appear together in the same sentence. Gee, the best the Pentagon can do is "collateral damage" or "pacification" -- the military has nothing on fox hunters when it comes to euphemisms for killing. There are all sorts of peculiar terms as well: "holloa", "covert", "draw", "cast", "straight-necked", "crooked-necked", "tally-ho", some of these having not seen every day useage for centuries. As George Orwell pointed out, whenever you encounter a blizzard of euphemisms, meaningless words, and garbled "tech speak" in contexts where plain words would suffice, you are looking at the deliberate obfuscation of meaning. Furthermore, Orwell pointed out that misusing language in this manner is a thought-stopper that has as great an effect upon the speaker/writer of such obfuscated language as it is intended to have on its audience.
In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of the political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism., question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenseless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them.
George Orwell: Politics and the English Language
"Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them." They know that their "sport" is indefensible (at least in terms of what decent people everywhere consider defensible) they know that what they are doing is wrong, they don't want you to know it's wrong, and most importantly, they don't want to admit to themselves that it's wrong! There is just one problem here: you can lie to others, but you can not lie to yourself. Every action carries its inexorable consequences, much as one would rather avoid said consequences.
What is so wrong about it is this: unlike the deer hunter who actually hunts for meat, in fox hunting, the killing is the whole point. They don't do it for the meat (wouldn't something that eats mainly small rodents and road-kill taste just great?) or even for the fur (not much a furrier could do with what's left after a huntsman's pack gets done with a fox). It's solely about the killing. And not just any killing, but cruel, brutal, sadistic killing at that. It isn't what's portrayed in the movies: elegant gentlemen in their "pinks", riding beautiful horses to perky hounds across a pristine country-side. It's a damn dirty business of some truly ugly people, despite how "elegant" and "dignified" they may look on the outside. The propaganda that the fox is killed quickly and humanely (or incredibly enough, that foxes are seldom actually killed) is pure BULLSHIT.
Disturbing & Graphic Description Ahead
If the fox goes to ground and they decide to dig him out, the terrier men are called in and the following methods are used. Making sure that all escape routes from the earth except one, are blocked, a terrier will be encouraged into the earth to locate the fox and keep him holed up. The terrier man listens for the confrontation. When the position of the two animals has been ascertained, the earth will be dug out and the terrier removed, they will then carry on digging until the fox is reached and its head and shoulders exposed. It will then be killed with either a blow to the head with a spade or crop, or more commonly, a humane killer is fired at point-blank range at the head. After removing trophies, i.e. mask (head), brush (tail), pads (feet), the remains will be thrown to the hounds.
Note: More euphemisms: "trophies", "mask", "brush", "pads" -- every single one of them name inanimate objects in every day useage.
End Disturbing & Graphic Description
If you needed no other proof that this is a bullshit "sport", then here it is. The chase could be considered "sporting" if the fox was considered to have "won" if he makes it safely to an underground refuge. Were that the case, even I might be able to have a modicum of respect for it (Just kidding: there is nothing "respectable" about this). However, there is not thing one that is "sporting" about digging out. This is a sadistic, pathological murder. It is beneath contempt, and should be an affront to every decent person. Period. End of story.
It would be one thing for the Terrier Man to press a button from 200 miles away and fire off a cruise missile, or drop a laser guided "smart bomb" from 20,000 feet at an earth with a fox trapped in it and turn it into a smoking crater. This killing is up close and personal. No idea exists in a vacuum, as every idea is the product of every other idea. Now, do you suppose that anyone could look into those intelligent, aware eyes, and take the life of a defenseless little animal who's done him no harm, and not expect a corrosive effect on the psyche? Indeed, even within the hunt fraternity itself, Terrier Men are considered the scum of the earth. Suspect self-justification here. Most fox hunters seldom stick around for the actual kill. Suspect the same phenomonon of hardened criminals in a maximum security penitentary feeling self-righteous over the fact that they aren't "short-eyes" (i.e. child molesters). Terrier men are decidedly creepy.
Having established that fox hunters have zero regard for one intelligent, aware, sensitive animal, it comes as no surprise that they have no regard for other animals as well: their foxhounds (Every year, thousands of perfectly fine hounds are "put down" for no other reason than they don't want to be hunting dogs and/or they just aren't "good enough" at it.) the terriers (many of whom are seriously injured and killed confronting a terrified fox fighting for his life or suffocate underground before being recovered) the horses (They have been known to beat horses, ride them carelessly through unknown terrain and otherwise put the horse at unnecessary risk, rather than give up the chase.) and finally that other intelligent, aware, and sensitive animal: their fellow man! Amoung a great many British farmers and other country folk, fox hunters are despised. More and more land has been posted "No Trespassing" and "No Hunting". Indeed, 150 local authorities and 50 counties have local ordinances making fox hunting illegal in their jurisdictions. Here is what the landowner can expect if he posts his land:
This decapitated fox cub was discovered on private land just weeks after the lady complained to her local hunt about hunt trespass. Maybe just a coincidence, but whoever did this had killed and decapitated the fox cub elsewhere and deliberately placed the body and the head within the grounds of the lady's home. It was found by a seven year old boy. An autopsy revealed the cub, prior to death, had received no fewer than thirty bites from a dog or dogs thought to have been terriers. The small cub was then bashed twice across its back breaking its spine in two places and after death decapitated.
www.derbyfoxes.org (Warning: Disturbing graphic included)
Fox hunters are notorious for disregarding such postings. Indeed, most farmers and landowners will refuse to allow a fox hunt to "dig out" when a fox "goes to ground" on their property, if for no other reason than to spite them. (Even away from the field, at "Hunt Balls", their behaviour is appalling, including drunkenness, brawling, and the trashing of pubs and other facilities where these "balls" are held. Racism, sexism, homophobia run rampant through their every day conversation.) They tear up pastures, leave gates open, spook livestock, trespass where they are not wanted, and have even sicced their dogs on other peoples' pet foxes, knowing damn well what they were doing and that they were hunting someone's pet. They have no regard for the sensibilities or the property, or even the persons of others. It is not uncommon for a hunt to chase a fox right into the center of towns and allow their dogs to kill the fox right there on "Main St.", not caring that city folks might not care to see this, or that children might be around to witness it, or that their parents might not want their kids to see something like that. The crimes they are responsible for are horrendous, including assaults on police officers, politicians who disagree with their activities, attempted murder, and even three outright murders. Is this "sport" so damn important that it's worth killing another person over it? They've already given us the answer to that question. If it's so much fun, and so easy, to kill foxes, can human beings be all that far behind? There is only one word that describes these people, especially the Terrier Men: sociopathic. It should come as no surprise that they willingly work with the sociopathic criminal element that's bred in the inner city. Birds of a feather...
Sometimes, even their own turn against them because of the thuggish behaviour:
An Open Letter to the Hunting World
This is an open letter to those who I feel have a right to be informed of my recent decision to abandon my position of neutrality on the hunting issue in favour of the animal rights movement. For those who are not already aware, I ceased to be a hunt supporter four years ago because I was very uncomfortable with the way in which I was expected to behave in that role and due to the reaction I received from some pro-hunt leaders when I disagreed with their tactics. Four years of sitting on the fence has given me time to reflect upon my past as a hunt follower, a BFSS voluntary worker, a farm worker, a meat-eater, etc. Endless hours have been spent studying animal rights literature, keeping up to date via the sporting press, attending hunt meets and listening whilst in the field to the views of a wide spectrum of people from both sides. This decision is probably the most difficult that I have ever had to make, it has not been taken lightly and I am simply being honest with the readers of this letter and with myself. My reasons are as follows:
1. Whilst maintaining my deep respect for the sanctity of human life and dignity, I have extended my concern to ALL sentient beings. I now believe that it is abhorrent to kill, unless in exceptional cases such as euthanasia, or to cause suffering to any living creature for our own benefit. This means that I am now a dietary vegan and I will be boycotting leather, silk, wool, etc. in the future. I can no longer ignore my remorse at the large amount of suffering that I have caused, nor can I ignore what is happening in the abattoirs, in the laboratories, in the oceans, down on the farm and out in the field.
2. Whilst I will admit that saboteurs are not all paragons of virtue, I can testify that during twelve years of observing sabs active in the field, including six years of information gathering for the BFSS, I was treated with courtesy on most occasions, witnessed others being treated in a similar fashion and non-violent, effective tactics. I am fully satisfied that most sabs are altruists and that there is more than adequate legislation to deal with anyone, from either side, who threatens or uses violence.
3. British history is full of cases when people have had no option but to use non-violent direct action unless they wanted their grievances to be totally ignored by a self-serving establishment. The suffragettes were not deterred by prison and their modern counterparts, the sabs, the road protesters, CND, or any other group or individual who refuse to be patronised by the state are not going to abandon deeply held beliefs when they face the same historical fate. The Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill seeks to criminalise all those seen by the government as weak enough, unconventional enough or easy enough to brand as a threat to society to use as scapegoats for their incompetence. This endangers the civil liberties of EVERYONE and it obliterates the right to protest effectively, the right of freedom of movement, the right of freedom of association and the right to live in a way that differs from what the government thinks is normal. I suggest that people read this draconian piece of literature and consider its implications very carefully. I cannot maintain a position of neutrality in the face of such a vicious attack on civil liberties.
4. The instigators of the use of stewards in the field could not have possibly thought up a more effective way of raising the levels of violence to unprecedented levels. It seems rather too convenient that when sabs used the inevitable, time honoured mass hit tactic when faced with large, less than diplomatic hordes of "the lads", who dragged them off public rights of way under the aegis of the BFSS, that Mr Howard then launched his attack on the less powerful, less influential group involved in the resulting battles. I hope that I am wrong in assuming that this was the desired outcome of those who put the lives of hunting folk, stewards, sabs and police officers at considerable risk by their confrontational tactics, because if I am right then the ramifications of this bill are even more sinister. Once again I cannot turn a blind eye to this sort of manipulation and bullying.
I apologise to those who will feel betrayed by this change of heart, especially those who have had the decency and integrity to listen. I will never support the use of violence against people and I guarantee that past confidences will remain confidential.
An Open Letter to the Hunting World
"The unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable"
-- Oscar Wilde
He did not know just how right he was. Now, the British have finally outlawed this "sport". Expect to see increasing lawlessness and outright terrorism in the English country-side. Law enforcement officers are going to be assaulted with greater frequency than they are already. Probably more hunt saboteurs are going to die. If the gov't does its job and suppresses fox hunting once and for all, then I predict an increase in serial murders. If denied one prey, they'll find another, and a human being is just as good as a fox for that. Yeah, it could get one helluva lot more "unspeakable".
Food for thought...
1979 -- 1999: Two decades of Hunt Violence
Evidence of Escalating Hunt Violence
Thugs, Wreckers, and Bullies
Public Order, Private Armies
The Real Countryside Alliance