Saturday, April 08, 2006

Comment on 'Speed' illustration

When I started searching for 'speed' resource photos through Google Images, I hadn't intended the above Illustration Friday post to be any more than a nice action shot of a cheetah running. I found some beautiful pictures, any one of which I could sketch and be done with the topic for the week. But one photograph on the fourth page of the search grabbed me and wouldn't let go of me. It showed two dudes kneeling behind their trophy of the day. The image linked back to an African safari company; one that promises to give you a "complete African experience." The company shall remain nameless here; I'm not out to persecute anyone for how they make their living. I just want us to take some time to think this hunting thing through.

Now I realize that if you've come to this blog, you probably got here through Illustration Friday. This being the case, I'm probably preaching to the choir. We artsy-fartsy folks tend to be on the socially conscious side of things. But lest you think that I'm striving toward the politically correct angle, please know that I'm not totally against hunting. I was raised on a ranch, the fourth generation of a family that hunted the hills and fields of central California (though I shelved my shotgun some 30 years ago).

That said, however, we never hunted anything that didn't end up on the dinner table. We plucked, cleaned, and ate every duck, pheasant, or quail we hunted. Hunting purely for the sport of letting blood, though, is something with which I'm hard-pressed to identify. What is it about our species that makes us the only animal to kill purely for the sake of killing?

When the news hit recently about our Vice President's unfortunate hunting accident what shocked me wasn't the reckless hunting practice that put stray pellets in his friend's face and torso. No, it was a related story that disclosed on another day he had single-handedly killed 70 pheasants! How does one man pluck and clean and eat that many birds? How much lust for killing is healthy in one red-blooded American male?

Let's assume he has people who do the plucking and cleaning. Because, yeah, he's a busy guy. He's got a country to run... uh, I mean, help run. But how much room can he have in his freezer? Let's say he takes ten... no, let's give him the benefit of the doubt and say he takes 20 birds back to Lynn to cook (or to have the help cook). That still leaves 50 dead birds back at the "we-raise-'em, you-shoot-'em" compound. We can only hope that they went to a food bank or a soup kitchen and weren't tossed in a landfill.

Let's leave the VP alone and get back to the big-game hunter. Who eats cheetah? Or zebra? Or giraffe? These are all animals on the price list for that particular safari site. I suggest that if someone wants "the complete African experience," they work on getting potable water to the millions on that continent who don't have it.

The aforementioned hunting company has a code of ethics, mind you:

The company holds to the belief that the primary Ethic of the Professional Hunter is to ensure that each hunt is concluded with minimal suffering and distress to the hunted animal.

Hmm... since when is death considered "minimal distress?"


13 comments:

HARDWAX said...

There is a deep dark stain on human nature, it compels some to torture and kill anything beautiful and free/wild, human beings are especially jealous of the free and wild, these creatures remind us of how repressed, bought and payed for most of us are.
Others just allow the butchery to continue, nice people all, they beleive.
A few, give a damn, are sickened by it and speak out, thanks Twisselman.

Lou said...

I to am a former hunter. I hunted deer. I did and still love a nice venison steak or deer jerky. I also have hunted the occasional squirrel and pheasant. Each animal always made it to my dinner table.

This story, however, saddens me. I'm not saying that I have been living under a rock, but I guess I never thought of those who truly see it as a "game" and them winning is not dinner by a trophy.

Thanks for sharing this story with us!

Lexi said...

I can't imagine wanting to kill a cheetah or any animal just for the sake of killing it - it boggles my mind. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I wish more people were more thoughtful. I'm also struck by how life has changed in the "google" era. Like you said, you set out simply to portray a cheetah's speed and came up with this...

Jaimie said...

I had heard that story about Cheney slaughtering 70 pheasants, and I think during the hunt where he blasted his friend, he killed 40 quail that had been released for his enjoyment. I think this says a lot about a person. To kill simply for the sheer joy of ending life is, I believe monstrous.

Knitting Painter Woman said...

1.I'm in your corner about hunting. The big cats, polar bears, and seals seem to have as much right to live as humans.
2. My son saw a bumper sticker that said "Cheney/Valdemort '08." Just sayin'.
3. I'm not sure if it was my great grandmother or great grandfather who was from Schlesweig-Holstein. Husum to be precise... a harbor town in Germany "facing" today's Denmark. Her maiden name was Marxen/Markson and his name was Hazenbush. I think Ellis Island did lots of re-spelling on the Danish side. My ex-husband's Sicilian ancestors, made sure their name stayed exactly the same! Figures.

The Tart said...

Such a great commentary. I had no idea that our VP shot so many birds...sheesh! I am glad I stopped to read this.

Take care,
The Tart
; )

andrea said...

Really interesting and thoughtful post, Mr. T. I had thought the same thing, of doing a cheetah for IF, but I haven't even started the research and you're way ahead of me and into the murky and frightening world of hunting ethics. The illustration is a treat. Thanks for taking this and 'running' with it :).

Toni said...

I fully agree with your hunting ethics. I have no problem with the deer hunter putting meat on the table. But I didn't know about our VP shooting so many birds and you know it was just for shear joy. I am not impressed with him. And the trophy hunt is not any better.

cristosova said...

This is a great and thoughtful post, very rounded, very poignant. It is tempting to use the word "decadence" for what you describe.
Interesting how your post came about. What the speed of the cheetah truly reveals ...

Yours choirgirl C. :)

Catnapping said...

I don't think it's in "human nature" to dominate and torture other living beings. I think that's a learned behavior.

In western and indo-european culture, most folks are taught that man has "dominion" over the beasts. That we are superior...

In addition, the world, and all things natural are regarded as evil...dirty...(the "devil's" realm), while only our souls and heaven are deemed sacred.

For millenia, those teachings have justified slavery, genocide, mining, drilling, clear-cutting, and polluting, etc.

I think those teachings are a cancer on the planet. And I'm afraid to say, I think it's too late to save the patient. I think we've passed the point of 'no return.'

creative kismet said...

Yes, you are preaching to the choir here. This is so thoughtfully and beautifully written. Thanks you so much for sharing your thoughts!

modroom said...

I think some pep[le get lost in their specialization and lose perspective, some just don't care. Things have to touch people's hearts to make a change but some are'nt open.

ValGalArt said...

even if we are the more sensitive peeps I'm glad you wrote this and I hope lot's of people read this!!! Very insightful post!