By Former Assemblyman Steven Sanders
Like millions of people around the world I was appalled by the murder of Cecil. Cecil, you will recall, was the African lion that was designated in a protected class of animals because of his majestic bearings as well as to protect the species from extinction. Cecil by all accounts was a very intelligent animal with impulses and emotions. He was pursued and killed by an American hunter. He was first wounded by a high tech bow and arrow with a telescopic sight, and then put to death with a rifle. Cecil was murdered.
The ecstatic American hunter then posed next to his murdered prey smiling ear to ear. He could not have been happier at having callously snuffed out the life of another living being. What a sad spectacle. This kill was not done for any other reason than it gave the hunter pleasure to track and destroy this animal. He gave no thought to the suffering that he was inflicting. It was all about his own twisted lethal pleasure.
So ask yourself, how far removed are those animal hunters from persons who stalk human victims and derive sick pleasure from killing them, and often many at one time? As far as I am aware only the human species, the most “advanced” and evolved form of life on planet earth, kills not for food or protection but for sheer thrills. Makes you wonder about Darwin’s theory of evolution.
I realize that in parts of this country hunting is as American as apple pie. It is politically our sacred cow. But so was slavery once upon a time. Violence and killing seems to be ingrained in our culture. Just look at the media or the video games being pedaled to our children. Those “games” are simulated interactive violence intended to replicate as closely as possible the real thing. So why are we surprised when James Holmes goes into a Colorado theater and kills a dozen people, or when Dylann Roof calmly murders members of a Baptist church in Charleston, or Adam Lanza massacres twenty small children in a Newton, Connecticut school? Or David Conley who last week was accused of shooting to death six children and two adults in Houston Texas… and on and on and on again. These atrocities and so many more were easily accomplished with a firearm.
One of the arguments as to why we just cannot rid ourselves of these guns is the need to protect the rights of hunters. Apparently their right to go out and just kill animals because it pleases them is sacrosanct. It prevents us from limiting the volume and the availability of high powered rifles and other types of guns. Yes, that is our higher calling. Put the lives of our neighbors at risk so that we can uphold the rights of hunters.
I understand that at times there may be a need to control the animal herd population. And perhaps some people need to hunt for sustenance, although very few if anybody must hunt for their next meal, at least not in this blessed nation.
Why then can we not give up our addiction to hunting as a “sport?” It is, after all, just the killing of innocent and thinking beings. And tragically it also creates excuses not to legislate effective gun control. Killing animals with such indifference desensitizes people to violence and needless suffering. It makes it easier to kill human beings for revenge or just for the psychotic rush. But instead we glorify violence through the mass media and revel in our guns. So why are we surprised when unstable individuals easily acquire firearms and use them to murder and maim?
Hunting and killing innocent animals is a manifestation of our culture’s embrace and even promotion of the thrill of the kill. I think it is barbaric and puts the rest of us in danger.