I love the outdoor information in Texas Game and Fish and eagerly await its arrival each month. I usually overlook the occasional political content, but the most recent column by Editor Kendall Hemphill entitled “Sticks and Stones and Snowflakes” was hard to ignore. Hemphill’s attitude is alienating readers, and he’s doing outdoor people a disservice by making us look like anti-intellectual good ol’ boys (a stereotype I’d like to think we don’t deserve).
I am what Hemphill calls an academic, so I was interested to read his explanation of what academia is like and how as a college professor I’m not “normal” and I’m not ready for the “real world.” I don’t know where people get the idea that educated people don’t live in the real world, except that those people must not get outside their circle much. Like most of your readers, I work hard (and as a field scientist, I mean I work hard physically with my hands), I pay my bills, mow my yard, fix things in my garage, worry about my family, fish in fresh and saltwater, and hunt deer and ducks. I’ve worked a variety of jobs, and I’ve been close to poverty more than once in my life. I don’t live in some other world that’s not real.
Not only do we both live in the same world, but Hemphill has no particular expertise or right to define what the real world is for the rest of us. When Hemphill experienced his opinion being challenged in a college classroom, he too was experiencing the real world outside his own bubble (apparently for the first time). Calling people names like “snowflakes” does nothing useful to further any conversation; however, I might ask who is the real snowflake here? The students who stood up to a remark they saw as inappropriate? Or the grown man whose feelings were hurt so badly that he had to write a full-page column complaining about how he was mistreated by “girls” (as Hemphill refers to his female classmates), and how it’s everyone’s fault but his own for not raising their children to let him say whatever he wants? Another responsibility of good parenting is to teach kids the humility to admit they might be wrong, and not to blame others when they get themselves into trouble.
As a professional writer, Hemphill should have the skills to phrase his opinions tactfully in public. Based on reading his column and the story he tells in it, he doesn’t. College might provide an opportunity to develop those skills if he can get past the idea that he is above everyone else in the room. Professionalism is expected in the real world those students will enter and, for his information, there will be real world consequences in many businesses for making remarks that insult and alienate coworkers.
Hemphill’s attitude that people with years of education and research experience don’t know things about the real world can’t be taken seriously. These same academics he talks trash about study the fish, wildlife, and ecosystems that we all love and depend on. They live in the real world and they also study it; many of them probably know more about it than Hemphill is even capable of recognizing. My comment isn’t about hurt feelings. There’s an ugly stereotype we face as outdoor people—that hunters and fishermen are just a bunch of uneducated, unsophisticated hicks. Columns like the one by Hemphill feed that stereotype and make us all look bad. I worry that his behavior in that classroom gave those students a negative view of outdoor people that they will carry with them throughout their lives. Writing a column about how everyone else is a snowflake just makes it worse. So for the sake of your readers and the whole outdoor community, please encourage your editors to lay off the smug and narrow-minded social and political commentary and focus on the fishing and hunting we are all interested in reading about, and the conservation efforts that we should be recognized for.
Dear Mr. Kilby,
It’s Texas Fish & Game, not “Texas Game and Fish.” And “Kendal” only has one “L”
And by the way, thank you, sir, for making my point.
Dear Chester, the article on marine mammals was very interesting. I had no idea that the Gulf had so many species like killer whales for example.
I appreciate you helping us learn more about the interesting wildlife of the Gulf and giving us a way to help if we see stranded dolphins or manatees.
Editor: Thank you Jessica. We at Texas Fish & Game believe in good stewardship of our resources and that even nonage animals deserve a helping hand when necessary. A healthy Gulf is good for all parties involved and is an inspiring place to spend time. Now, I want to go find me a Gulf orca!
Is it true that there is a pink dolphin that travels from Louisiana to Galveston?
Editor: I don’t believe the pink dolphin I photographed in Cameron, La. is the same one that has been seen in Galveston Bay. It is possible but there are likely several in the region.
Thank you for what you are doing with the Wild Gulf program and kids. It is inspiring! We need more people promoting wildlife conservation and actually working with kids.
Editor: It is my honor and privilege and it is fortunate that I work for Texas Fish & Game, which supports these kinds of things wholeheartedly and gives the space needed to address them. The owners are totally into helping kids and wildlife.
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