Welcome to the Stifyn Emrys blog. Visit this site to stay updated on the latest news and releases from author Stifyn Emrys, along with serious, silly and occasionally sarcastic observations about the world around us.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Hunting for a Reason to Kill Bambi

Some humans seem to enjoy killing.

Take hunting, for example. I just don't get it.

Don't misunderstand me, I know ranchers need to protect their livestock. And I understand killing animals to avoid overpopulation and throwing the food chain out of whack.

What I don't get is the "sportsmen" (and women) who use population control as an excuse to get their jollies by killing Bambi or Donald Duck. These kind of people seem to think it's an accomplishment to kill a badly overmatched animal that isn't threatening them and isn't necessary to their survival. They laugh and boast about it, all the while going on ad nauseam about the "thrill of the hunt."

Sure, many hunters actually eat the meat of the animals they kill, and/or use their skins. But that doesn't explain the enjoyment they get out of killing. Back in the day - way back in the day - if your family were starving and you brought down a buck or a bison, it made sense to get excited. It meant you'd get to eat. Which meant you'd get to survive another day or two.

But without that kind of incentive, enjoying a "kill" makes no sense to me.

I'm not a hardcore vegan or vegetarian. Humans are omnivores. I'm not passing judgment on anyone's choice of diet. What I'm questioning is why people insist on hunting when it's not necessary. Do they hate animals? Or do they think supposedly "lesser" creatures were put on this earth solely to amuse a bunch of arrogant buffoons at the top of the food chain. (That would be us.) Maybe they think to themselves, "Animals don't feel pain, and if they do, what does it matter? Didn't God give us dominion over them to do with them as we see fit?"

Except God didn't. Various scriptures depict various gods demanding that humans kill animals on altars for their (the gods') enjoyment. These deities were obviously the ones in charge. So it's no surprise that some people use religion as an excuse to kill animals. To them, it isn't about controlling the population or keeping predators away, it's because some god supposedly demands it.

They lop off a cow's head or stab a camel in the chest or brutalize some other defenseless animal - all for the sake of some religious ritual. But here's the cold, hard truth: If you're using religion to justify animal cruelty, you're not practicing religion. You're practicing cruelty. Period. End of discussion. Many of these same gods once demanded that we sacrifice humans for their pleasure, but at least we've gotten past that - unless you count the millions who are slaughtered in religious wars around the world.

It boils down to this: A lot of people seem to think gods are better than people, and people are better than animals. But is that really the case?

What if we were to try an alternative way of thinking? Instead of placing degrees of value on life, why not simply value life itself? If we as a species chose to make life more important than religion, more important than recreation, maybe we'd learn something. About ourselves. About the universe. About those we share that universe with.

Self-defense? Survival? That's not what I'm talking about.

I'm talking about people who kill animals in the name of sport or spirituality and who, in doing so, reveal something starkly horrific about the human condition: When you peel away all the rhetoric and rationalization, some people don't kill because they have to. They kill because they want to.

And that, my friends, isn't just scary. It's horrifying.

1 comment:

  1. I agree. Here is my attempt at explanation of this phenomenon:

    Like it or not, humans are animals. Our behavior is mostly different from other animals given our intelligence, but we still have strong natural drives. Some of them are never tolerated--killing a mating rival, mating without consent, stealing; these are all animal drives that we are expected to and for the most part as a species are able to quell for the sake of a working society. Those drives that do not lead to antisocial (within our own species) behavior may still be frowned upon as we are supposed to be above them, but they're still there, stronger in some individuals than in others, just like it is with any other animal. I knew a cat who'd watch a mouse sit in his food dish and the thought of killing it would never occur to him. I know a plump cat who kills seemingly for pleasure as it is clear she is not starving. If something as carnivorous as a cat can have such a drastic variation in prey drive that may or may not even be related to need, imagine how it is for a species that is omnivorous and tends to channel the prey drive that wild omnivores have into other sorts of hunting/gathering activities such as financial pursuits! The so-called "thrill of the hunt" is no different from the arousal response of a hunting beast, a mechanism made to increase chances of success and survival. We don't like to remember that the human animal is an animal, which is why we lie and incorporate wild animal behavior into rituals of various sorts or make up other excuses for them. As a species we like to be above the very idea of having animal urges, so we do our best to bury or disguise them, but they are still there. What distinguishes us from many animals (I won't say all, because there are other species that do practice restraint as a survival mechanism) is the choice to deny our wild urges.