I heard it again last night, on the television news. A report on federal legislation to ban canned hunting stirred up the old defensive rhetoric. “If you ban this sport, then where does it end? Do you want hunting to be outlawed?”
Um. Okay, I confess: yes.
The Humane Society of the United States’ footage of canned hunting was aired — and it was awful. A goat wandered aimlessly over a forested hill, an arrow piercing his hip, another shot right through his hock joint on a hind leg. And he wandered that way for a while before the so-called hunter could stick another arrow in his side — which also didn’t kill the animal.
Current law allows us to make pin cushions out of living beings.
And it made me as sick to my stomach as it did to my heart.
The news anchor seemed a bit flustered — and, I dare say, speechless — for a moment. He searched the air for another question but couldn’t find one so instead, he said (paraphrased), “I’m trying to play devil’s advocate here, but I’m not a hunter and I can’t find any reason why anyone should be allowed to do this to animals.”
I squinted at him from over that satellite. Humanness had temporarily surfaced in him and he was waging an internal war against it, lest he appear sentimental. Emotional. Empathetic. Lest he conveyed the deepest essence of humanity, that core in us that embraces all sentient life on a scale equal to our own.
Oh, but to believe so, particularly outwardly, is to invite the wrath of the devil. The world as we know it would change. So the news anchor mustered the defensive question, “What’s the difference between shooting an animal in a pen and killing one in the slaughterhouse?”
Did he hear what he was asking?
Again, I confess: nothing. No difference. There. I said it. The answer is obvious, isn’t it?
Oh, sure, one could argue that the mentality behind the killing is different. One is killed for the fun of it, the other for a perceived human survival need — and for which most people believe is an unfortunate but unavoidable aspect of life. And just look around. Lions are killing zebras. Fish? Hell, they’re eating each other.
It’s ironic, isn’t it? What the masses perceive as one of their scariest nightmares — animal rights activists — are, in fact, their saviors. They just can’t see it. What they see is the world they’ve grown accustomed to unraveling before their very eyes. First, these animal crazies work to end slaughtering baby seals and whales — which is a good thing because it affects only a small portion of the world’s humans. But then they went further, attacking the wearing of fur in general and that really annoyed some folks.
But they didn’t stop there. Oh, no. That’s not good enough for them. They went on to rattling cages housing animals in laboratories, claiming that the science performed on them — science, mind you, designed to save humans from themselves — was not only fraudulently founded but, well, downright cruel to animals.
But where activists truly tread on sacred ground is when they openly and publicly question the killing of animals for food (and I use that term loosely). The defense always comes back to the slaughterhouse. The news anchor didn’t quite express what was lurking in the back of his mind, but what he really wanted to ask was, “Do you want slaughterhouses to be outlawed?”
And he didn’t ask because he thought the concept was ludicrous — it was the question.
I’ll ask it for him. “Do you want slaughterhouses to be outlawed?”
Um … yeah. Sure. Why wouldn’t I?
And imagine if they were.
First of all, we’d end the violence perpetuated every year against more than ten billion sentient beings. We’d grow grain to feed humans, not cattle, on all that land we’re using to turn seven pounds of grain into one pound of beef. We’d have a clean underground water supply. Unpolluted oceans. Pesticide-free crops. Heart disease and cancer would be ghost stories — along with animal research and this stupid idea that we can genetically alter pigs for their organs rather than prevent — via our vegetarian diet — such transplants from occurring in the first place.
It would be the end of canned hunts. And bullfighting. Pigeon shoots and baby seal clubbing. And the list is as infinite as the atrocities we now commit against other lives. If you couldn’t ethically eat an animal, then the rest of our violence against them falls by the way side in the process of what I call enlightened thinking.
Life as something sacred would be the end result. All life. Yours. Mine. Ours. The lives of plants and animals.
Of the planet itself.
And the end of slaughterhouses along with the beginning of sacred life would put an end to that sick feeling in our stomachs — and in our hearts, the one that embraces the essence of our humanity — when we see the bloody, violent ways in which animals are turned into hotdogs. Or pin cushions.
I think even the news anchor would welcome the reprieve.
Keep fighting the good fight.