Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

D'ye Ken John Peel? Well, Actually, No, I Don't.

The House of Commons debates fox-hunting. Protesters storm into the chamber- something that hasn't happened since the time of Charles I. Outside a huge crowd has gathered and a section of it charges the lines of police. The TV cameras capture scenes from a medieval battle. Men hurl themselves against the shield wall, weapons rise and fall, men reel back with blood on their faces.

Opponents of hunting say it's about cruelty to animals. I don't buy that. If hunting with hounds is banned foxes will still have to be killed (or so the chicken farmers say.) Instead of being torn apart by dogs they will be shot, poisoned or trapped. Whichever way things go, there's nothing much in it for the fox.

No I'm with George Monbiot, the Green campaigner when he says that what we're seeing is class war. The Normans came over in 1066 and turned most of England into a deer park. Anyone caught poaching had his eyes put out and his ears cut off- stuff like that. It was a system that remained in force (with modifications) right up into the modern era.

But now the peasants are in power and they're looking to humiliate their former feudal overlords. It's about who owns the land. It's about revenge.

Normally I side with the underdog, but who's the underdog here- the former overlords who are getting clobbered or the former peasants who are doing the clobbering? The huntsmen say they're fighting for Liberty. Their enemies say they're fighting for Democracy. Liberty v Democracy- what a difficult choice.

But it's one I don't have to make. I keep telling myself that. Why when I see public conflict do I feel compelled to pick a side?

There must be some deep conditioning that makes the male of the species want to get stuck in.

But I’m a townee. I’ve never even seen a hunt. I’m not touched by this debate in any way. This is not my fight.

So let me enjoy the luxury for once of floating above the battle, enjoying the historical resonances, but myself unstirred, unfluttered. Let me be Zen-like, Buddha-like and smile and think, "fools."
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