I was listening (not intentionally) to Any Questions this evening. One of the panellists made a relatively mild comment about hunting (suggesting that it wasn’t great for foxes). Suddenly all I could hear was a braying, booing, hissing noise mixed in with incomprehensible shouting. The pro-hunt brigade had clearly been waiting for their opportunity.

In between my digital radio’s pops and crackles, I gathered that the poor toffs are very upset and were claiming that they were being discriminated against. Apparently disliking them is just like being homophobic – they are a persecuted minority. Aww. The panellists were either intimidated or had been advised not to aggravate the hecklers: they made some feeble concilatory comments about how the government had better things to do, and were quickly moved on to the next question.

Now, I used to ride. I used to live near a hunt. Despite invitations, I refused to combine the two. I can understand the attraction of a gallop across the countryside but I can’t see the point of killing a fox at the end. I *do* understand “country ways” – rotting tractors, cesspools, a “beware of the bull” sign on the gate one opens to *leave* the field… As well as having lived there myself, my sister works in the “country” for the Environment Agency and so is well aware of the realities of farmers’ lives. I find it impossible to feel sympathy for these bleating fools.

“You don’t understand our country ways”, they claim. Well, I know it’s not tremendously representative but in my and my sister’s experience most country folk don’t really like hunts. They damage farmers’ land and have been known to charge across school playing fields. Ever seen a playing field after 25 horses have galloped across it? You won’t be playing croquet on it for a while. It’s worse than the damage caused by a public school rugby union team.

As for the claim that hunting is effective pest control: I can’t believe they think anyone will fall for that. Humans invented firearms to avoid having to chase things around. Spending the whole day going after one fox with a bunch of toffs, horses and dogs surely can’t be the most efficient way of dealing with foxes. Fox – gun – bang. All over in time for lunch. The Netherlands has had a hunting ban for over 50 years and I have to say, on my last visit I didn’t notice hordes of foxes rampaging across the Dutch countryside.

Pro-hunters will also declare that the government has better things to do than ban hunting. I must admit, I do agree slightly, but I’d also add that if it weren’t for the Lords, the hunt ban wouldn’t have taken much time at all. The Lords’ banning hunting is like chavs voting to ban fags and TV, so I do understand why they’ve been so obstructive. However, the majority of the UK population disagree with fox hunting. I have a colleague whom I use to get the opinion of the man on the Enfield omnibus – I was surprised to hear him attack fox hunting so vehemently. This is a chap who reads the Sun and doesn’t like “them immigrants” (from a second generation Greek Cypriot, this is quite amusing), not a woolly animal rights lefty.

Hunts might contribute a little to local economies, but I’m afraid since we invented cars, we haven’t needed horses and their accompanying paraphenalia so much. One man claimed that he was going to shoot all his dogs on TV if hunting were banned. That someone so clearly psychopathic was allowed to keep animals at all was quite disturbing. I hope he doesn’t have any children.

I’ve also heard the claim that foxes kill for fun. Clearly the implication here is that a fox is a moral agent and therefore should receive punishment for its actions. We have an urban fox who likes to rummage through our rubbish and intimidate our bunnies – sometimes I leave food out for it because it’s cute and fluffy, yet I know what foxes can do and have lost a pet chicken to one. That’s nature for you. Animals were put on trial in Medieval times, so I assume that the people who make this claim aren’t quite with the times and don’t know that this practice ended at least 500 years ago. I’m ignoring the really obvious point here…

When you get down to it, hunting is about abusing an animal for pleasure. Yes, it’s a fun day out galloping round the countryside, but at the end of a successful hunt a wild animal is ripped to shreds and eaten by dogs. It makes me think of the NAMBLA episode of South Park, where an apprehended NAMBLA member protests about the discrimination he suffers. Kyle repeatedly reminds the man of what it is he actually does.

Unlike any ethnic, religious or sexual minority, hunters choose to hunt. They choose to engage in a pastime that most people find repellent. If I spent my weekends torturing puppies to death, I’d end up in court. If I sit on a horse and watch my dogs torture a fox to death, that is currently OK.

Oh, and the claim that the anti-hunting bill is a tool of class warfare? If it is (and I doubt it), so much the better. Hurrah for class warfare. I’m not jealous of the aristocracy: what would be the point? I can never be a part of it, and not just because I didn’t go to public school. I feel entitled to be jealous of someone wealthy who’s earned their money, since I might be able to do that but clearly haven’t – but to be jealous of someone who earned a fabulous fortune simply by being born? It’s not worth the effort.

“The unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable”. Quite.

3 thoughts on “Hunting”

  1. Mind you, their statistics are a bit crappy. I don’t think you can draw the conclusion that 95% of farmers don’t think fox hunting helps control fox numbers using survey results that say 8% of farmers wouldn’t allow drag hunting on their land because drag hunts don’t kill foxes. A strong argument is spoiled – and if I can see it, They can see it too.

  2. Don’t foxes play an important part in keeping down rabbit numbers, and so on? Viewed in that light, I would’ve thought arable farmers would take a more relaxed view towards reynard.

    I assume you’ve already seen this.

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