COMMENTARY by Kendal Hemphill

Hypocrisy of the Ignorant

A mericans used to be better than this.

Matter of fact, everyone used to be better than this, and Americans used to set the standard. We haven’t always been the smartest or the richest or the most impressive at everything. What we lacked in other areas we made up for in tenacity, persistence, determination, and rugged individualism. Now we seem to be a bunch of whiney, wimpy, weak, scared, timid crybabies. It’s embarrassing.

A Facebook post
typical of the ignorant
reactions to
Aryanna Gourdin.

Last year it was Cecil the Lion, among others. People who had never heard of Cecil while he was alive came out of the woodwork to attack Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who shot the lion. People who, if you asked them, would tell you we should all be tolerant of others, demonstrated the epitome of intolerance. They spewed vitriol because they disagreed with Palmer’s choice of recreation.

These people hold life in such high regard that many of them advocated death for Palmer. Their ignorance is so refined, so abundant, that they never even saw the irony in their attacks. “Killing is wrong, so you should be killed.”

Palmer, and many other hunters like him, spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on hunting trips in Africa every year. That money is used for wildlife research, wildlife habitat acquisition and restoration, and enforcement of game laws. Without that money, the animals disappear.

This is not speculation; in the African countries where hunting is banned, wildlife is on a slippery, downhill slope toward extinction. In the countries where hunting is allowed and regulated, wildlife thrives. You have to work hard to misunderstand the connection. You have to spend years fostering the ignorance required to think that a ban on hunting would help wildlife.

The most amazing part of this intolerant mindset is that the people who get most angry about hunting, donate almost nothing to help wildlife. Some, no doubt, send a few bucks to animal rights groups. This  assuages their conscience and allows them the fantasy that they’re doing their part. What they universally fail to grasp is that a) the little they give is not a drop in the bucket compared to the amount hunters spend each year to help wildlife, and b) the animal rights groups don’t do anything to help wildlife as a whole.

What animal rights groups spend their money on is propaganda. Advertisements to attack hunting, law suits against Safari Club International and other hunting groups, and fundraising to bring in more money to pay high administration costs and salaries. When animal rights groups spend any of their donated funds on wildlife, which is rare, it’s generally focused on individual animals This does nothing for animal groups. Basically, it’s wasted.

Any scientist or wildlife biologist will tell you that the welfare of an individual animal is irrelevant to the welfare of the group. You can’t save a species by dealing with individuals. Wildlife experts try to look at the big picture, because that’s the only way to ensure the survival of the group. That’s why Cecil the Lion was expendable. He was far more valuable to the lion population through his death by hunting than he was as a living lion. The ignorant call that a cruel way to look at the existence of a beautiful creature. The informed understand it as the reality of wildlife conservation.

The target of the antis, for the moment, is a 12-year-old girl from Utah named Aryanna Gourdin. Eli, Aryanna’s father, enjoys hunting, and is teaching his daughter to be a responsible, respectful conservationist through hunting. They’ve made several trips to Africa during the past five years, and Aryanna began posting some of her photos to Facebook recently. Ignorant animal rights advocates hate it when that happens, especially when the hunter is female, especially when she’s young.

Aryanna was blasted unmercifully by these people who contribute nothing to animal welfare, but hate those who do. She was called ‘sick’ and ‘animal hater’ by people who believe banning hunting would help wildlife. One of the photos showed Aryanna with a giraffe she’d killed, a problem animal that would have been eliminated anyway, had she not shot it.

By her actions, the wildlife population as a whole benefitted, and a village was fed. Yet the photo received more than 73,000 comments, most of them negative. Some even threatened the lives of Eli and Aryanna.

How did we, as a nation, become so stupid? When did we become so disconnected from nature that we view the death of a game animal, taken in fair chase and used to feed hungry people, as an unacceptable action? At what point did it become wrong to hunt, and right to threaten the life of a 12-year-old girl?

Our nation seems to have lost touch with reality, holding animal life in higher regard than human life. We’ve gone beyond the issue of tolerance, far beyond any question of political correctness. We passed insanity about ten squares back. There is no excuse for this type of behavior.

Americans used to be better than this.




Email Kendal Hemphill at contactus@fishgame.com


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