“I hate to Kill”: Thoughts on Hunting
January 31, 2012 7 Comments
I hate hunting. I hate the idea of taking pleasure in deaths that humans inflict on animals in the name of “sport,” or “conservation,” or some warped notion of what it means to be “rugged,” or “a survivor,” or “manly.” A real man, as I see it, views animals as having intrinsic value. He sees them on their own terms at best and, at worst, as innocent beings deserving our protection. He sees hunting for what it is: a refuge of the weak, a rigged and twisted game marked by blood and power, a one-time necessary evil that humans have evolved beyond the need to engage. Hunting is especially popular in rural areas where traditional, and often evangelical, Christian values dominate. How disconcerting, then, that “creatures of God” are summarily blown away with weaponry more reflective of the profane than the sacred. How baffling that contemporary hunting violates not just Christian values, but every theory of normative ethics. Ours is not a culture of deep reflection, but one need not kneel on the philosopher’s stone to appreciate the basic point that the recreational killing of a sentient being is, by the dictates of common sense, just plain wrong.
This morning, perhaps in a sadistic mood, I re-read this widely circulated New York Times op-ed by Seamus McGraw: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/26/opinion/hunting-deer-with-my-flintlock.html?pagewanted=all. The author, inexplicably, insists that he hates to kill. He makes this claim, however, in the midst of describing his botched flintlock kill of a “beautiful doe.” My initial reaction, again, was anger. “I had to admire her guts,” McGraw thought, before pulling the trigger, leading one to wonder: then why did this gutless man kill her? In any case, rather than get caught in this spiral of anger, I’ve decided to do some reading and reflecting on hunting. There’s a lot going on when a grown man can say he hates to kill and then kill. This post starts a new catagory, one to which I will be adding frequently.
As always, all responses, ideas, suggestions, and insights are warmly welcomes.