If Dick Cheney likes hunting, it must be wrong…

Hunting is barbaric. Pure and simple. It is an ugly relic of a departed empire, and has no place in modern society, like the practice of feeding Christians to the lions. (Although given the Christian right’s actions at the moment over abortion, the lion-feed option is sometimes tempting.) And as for the accident – well, Cheney’s fellow hunter deserves minimal sympathy. Occupational – or perhaps recreational – hazard.
But I do feel enormous sympathy for the poor quail.

What I didn’t realise until reading about the accident is that hunters don’t even use a single bullet. They basically pepper the whole area with lots of tiny bits of shrapnel, making it far easier to take out a moving target. Which makes sense for Cheney – after all, it’s the same carpet-bombing approach his government took to Baghdad.
Harry Whittington was just another in a long list of collateral damage in the War on Quail. No time for any bleeding hearts. Well, except when a piece of Cheney’s shot lodges right next to one.
I can understand something of the pleasure arising from the skill involved in shooting. Having always wanted to slay many of my friends, I’ve enjoyed playing paintball, and I played LaserZone as a kid while it was briefly trendy, and had a lot of fun at an arcade recently taking out graphical deer with a rifle. I reckon there’s also a chance I’d quite enjoy skeet shooting. But what I don’t understand is why the added cruelty of using real animals makes it that much more enjoyable.
Reading the Vice President’s account of the joys of a day’s hunting – given in an exclusive interview with Fox News, naturally – just makes the apparent pleasure involved seem even more perverse. I’ve never heard Cheney more passionate about anything, except perhaps the Government’s right to illegal wiretaps:
Q: Some organizations have said they hoped you would find a less violent pastime.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, it’s brought me great pleasure over the years. I love the people that I’ve hunted with and do hunt with; love the outdoors, it’s part of my heritage, growing up in Wyoming. It’s part of who I am.

Cheney? Love? Well, there are guns involved.
Of course, shooting at defenceless birds like an old-fashioned lord of the manor is the only time you’ll actually get a chickenhawk like Cheney to actually point a gun at anything. For all their shameless worshipping of military might, they have a distinct distaste for actually signing up, as per Wikipedia:
Cheney was of military age during the Vietnam War but he did not serve in the war. On May 19, 1965, Cheney was classified as 1-A “available for service” by the Selective Service. On October 26, 1965 the Selective Service lifted the constraints on drafting childless married men. However, after his daughter was born, Cheney applied for and received a reclassification of 3-A, gaining him a fifth draft deferment. Asked about his deferments, the future Defense Secretary said he had “other priorities than military service.”
Like, not getting killed, for instance.
That said, his lack of service is probably a good thing – enough soldiers died under friendly fire on his watch as Defense Secretary – 49% of Gulf War casualties! – as it is.
I would have hoped that in 2006, we were sufficiently advanced to have moved past shooting animals for fun, but no. Depressingly, not everyone agrees hunting is barbaric. Many argue, particularly in England, that it’s a precious tradition. But as with the Japanese argument on whaling, some traditions deserve to die a painful and immediate death, like one of the Vice-President’s quail.
But this incident should prove to everyone that hunting is too dangerous under any circumstances. If this sort of accident can happen to someone who is constantly surrounded by bodyguards, so was presumably operating under the safest circumstances possible, it just goes to show that these accidents happen far too easily. And the owner of the ranch said she’s been peppered by shot before as well – and that it’s pretty much part of the sport. Well, BASE jumping is illegal because it’s too dangerous. It’s time hunting was banned on the same grounds.
The last time a Vice-President shot anyone was during a duel. We don’t allow those any more, and neither should we allow these utterly one-sided, pointless and cruel duels between man and animal.
Either that, or teach the quail to shoot back at ten paces.

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