Animal Rights Zone

Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism

This is another recent post of mine over at Animal Blawg, about the encouragement of youths to take up hunting.

In our culture, the moral divide between humans and animals is sharp in numerous areas, but perhaps most consciously so in one: the sport of hunting. Since the activity involves consciously deciding to kill another sentient, sensitive being, the issue of inflicting suffering and death cannot be avoided, at least for the hunter. At some point every hunter will inevitably confront unsettling questions: Is my having a good time an adequate moral reason to deliberately end an animal’s life? Should I be concerned about my prey’s suffering, as well as the resulting loss for his or her family? These reflective questions, and many others, will now be asked by New York youths (ages 14-15) this Columbus Day weekend during a special deer hunt planned just for them. Armed with either a firearm or crossbow, junior hunters will be permitted to “take 1 deer…during the youth deer hunt”—no doubt in the hope that the experience will enrich their lives. A hunting enthusiastonce observed after a youth hunt, “I’ve never seen a [9-year old] kid happier…We were all the better for it.”

 The rest here:

In the comments section, I have an exchange with an avid, long time hunter.

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Comment by Paul Hansen on November 2, 2012 at 3:05

As an ethicist trying to make sense of “human-animal” relations, I find ludicrous the suggestion that youth killing 500-pound sentient mammals with rifles and crossbows is an experience that “will enrich their lives.” Southern whites in the Klu Klux Klan may have gotten “happiness” from hanging black men from a tree, but would any serious thinker really assert that “we were all the better for it”? It’s time for the hunting subculture (i.e., the weapons manufacturing lobby) to end its lame justification for cruelty under the banner of “sport” or “trophy” hunting (in which victory and dominance is sought), the “game” analogy (in which animals are unwilling participants), the ”harvest” euphemism (in which killing is morally equivalent to growing crops), or the after-the-fact consumption excuse that “I always eat what I shoot” (which ought instead to affirm, ”I only kill what I MUST eat”).


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