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Tony Grist

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D'ye Ken John Peel? Well, Actually, No, I Don't. [Sep. 16th, 2004|10:10 am]
Tony Grist
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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Comments:
[User Picture]From: cybersofa
2004-09-16 04:00 am (UTC)
I'm envying your Zen-like floatiness. I'm torn by it all.

On the one hand, I'm completely against animal cruelty. We don't do cock-fighting any more, so why fox-hunting?

On the other, I basically feel people should be allowed to do what they like, if it doesn't hurt anybody. And I live in the country. Judging by their accents, the pro-foxhunters interviewed on the News last night, facing the loss of their livelihoods, could well be friends of mine.

I don't buy the pest control argument at all. On my travels I see more fox roadkill than any hunt could bag in a month of Boxing Days.

But I see the currently in-progress legislation as a cynical ploy by Kim Il Tone to get traditional Labour voters (that's me) back on side before the next election.

I've never voted Tory in my life, but I think Thatcher was a better PM than Blair. At the moment, the only possible response seems to be to scrawl THEIR ALL QWEERS on the ballot paper.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-09-16 04:19 am (UTC)
I agree. It's cynical. Had Blair banned fox-hunting in his first term of office he'd have had my whole-hearted support.

Now, like you, I'm disgusted by the man. I don't know how I'll vote next time. It seems like we have a choice between two versions of the Conservative party.
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From: archyena
2004-09-16 05:46 am (UTC)
I'd doubt there'd need to be a lot of fox control if hunting were banned. My impression is that the hunts happen on too few occassions to have a real impact on populations. That said, I doubt there's a justifiable argument in favor of hunting, my impression is that foxes aren't much of a threat to mechanized agriculture as it is. Needless to say, growing up in a rural area where it is not uncommon to shoot cattle and then bribe officials to conclude that the cattle were killed by coyotes, I don't have a high opinion of farmers to begin with.

But I do agree wholeheartedly with your assertion that it's class war. And I think this sort of class war is generally necessary in places like Britain that still have their old royal elites. The rest of the world needs a different sort (in the US we tend to have "celebrity trials" with highly biased verdicts to prove these people aren't above the law) of class war to keep them in line.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-09-16 05:58 am (UTC)
Some woman on the radio this morning (a hunt supporter) was threatening "civil war". Yes, these people need to be put in their place.
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From: archyena
2004-09-16 08:46 am (UTC)
Civil war? I would suggest what we in America always think of, shipping people to an island when they become too troublesome, but you already tried that with Australia.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-09-16 08:57 am (UTC)
Thwarted right wingers always used to ship themselves off to Southern Africa, but these days that option has become a little problematical.
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[User Picture]From: kaysho
2004-09-16 08:26 am (UTC)
Of course, fox population control wouldn't be necessary at all if humans hadn't wiped out the fox's natural predators.

Import wolves. :)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-09-16 08:40 am (UTC)
Now there's a thought.

Actually it's being considered. Check out these guys http://www.wolfsociety.org.uk/education/general/reintroduction.htm
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