Freedom of Speech Endangered
E ndangered species is a topic I have written on, lectured about and broadcast programs relating to many times.
My favorite thing about the industry I work in is that wildlife conservation is continually being pushed to the forefront. Actions we take to aid wild turkey, elk and waterfowl benefit even some of the world’s most endangered creatures.
Wisely using resources to benefit all wildlife is a beautiful thing. It is something we as an outdoors community should celebrate.
There is something endangered however in the outdoors community itself and no legislation, native vegetation planting or restocking efforts will help. This comes down to the heart.
Freedom of speech is endangered in the outdoor community. I would in fact, say it is critically endangered.
Let’s go back to endangered wildlife for a minute.
I was lecturing on the topic and posted about it on Facebook. Someone who has worked a bit in the industry messaged me and asked whether I were now a member of PETA.
Yes, PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, one of the most extreme animal rights groups in the country. To say I was offended is an understatement. It was an idiotic question—extremely idiotic.
Because someone who hunts and fishes talks about efforts in this case to conserve jaguar habitat in South America, someone equates it to PETA.
Yes, let me say it was idiotic again, but it was also symptomatic of something I have addressed previously on these pages. Just because someone supports habitat restoration or environmental work that involves clean water, air or helping wildlife that we are not allowed to kill, mount and hang in our living rooms doesn’t mean they are environmentalist crazies or animal rights activists.
The idea in the outdoor community in Texas and most likely beyond our borders is that unless your politics is right of Ann Coulter and you have a “Molon Labe” tattoo, you must be an enemy. Or maybe you just simply state your opinion on guns.
Remember the hell veteran outdoor writer Jim Zumbo went through because he (incorrectly) stated ARs were not proper for hunting? You would have thought the guy admitted to murder because of actions of the keyboard warriors as well as opportunists in the industry who saw a chance to take him down and maybe take his place.
TF&G was a big part of helping restore him as we published a feature by our late editor Don Zaidle, along with our good friend and editor-at-large Ted Nugent. Zumbo is still around, but I guarantee he’s still shocked at what the community he contributed greatly to over the years did to him because he voiced an opinion, albeit a goofy one.
Who can forget the insanity of the fight to ban croaker as a live bait in Texas? It wasn’t that there is anything wrong with people pushing their opinion that the use of croaker is bad for the resource, but that friendships were lost over it. Business dealings were shut down.
A couple of other writers and I, on both sides of the issue, were called every name in the book. All the while, dioxins were being put into Galveston Bay and other estuaries—cancer causing agents, mind you. I, and many others, were distracted about their opinions on croaker.
The difference is I woke up.
Call a public hearing today on banning live croaker and another on dioxins and see which one gets the highest attendance. I would be shocked if you had one third the attendance at the dioxin meeting.
You see, people have come to look at their own little narrow favorite part of the outdoor community as their identity. If they are primitive archers, then quite often anyone who talks about modern equipment is labeled as “unethical.” If you are “artificials only” for speckled trout, and someone talks on their radio program about using croaker, they feel obligated to launch character assassination.
It’s no different from the tactics the “mainstream” and “liberal” media use to destroy conservative politicians. At the end of the day, it’s the same political correctness we supposedly despise, but apparently many of us like because they can wrap it in a nice camouflage hook and bullet package.
That’s “Hypocrisy” with a capital H.
This publication will remain one that covers all aspects of fishing, hunting and conservation. We cover broad perspectives. In fact, I find myself disagreeing with some of our columnists occasionally. That’s all right.
Their column is their opinion, and as long as they are not wanting to ban guns, hunting or fishing I have no problem publishing them. It is all right to have many viewpoints on a certain issue. If that offends someone, then so be it.
The good ‘ole boy syndicate has done more to hurt the outdoor community than animal rights activists ever have. In fact, the animal rights groups have had little success, but the cliques and rotten attitudes toward anyone who doesn’t fit their mold of an outdoorsman have kept untold numbers out of the deer blind and away from the water.
We should fight both with due diligence and refuse to let someone who couldn’t care less about the average outdoor lover dictate what we say or do.
Freedom of speech is still alive and well at Texas Fish & Game, even if it’s endangered elsewhere in the outdoor community.
Email Chester Moore at
Email Chester Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org