Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A Year's Training Course in Hunting is Unfree

"There is more freedom in the United States than other countries."

That statement actually means something real --- really not understood. Usually, it's something you beat your chest and shout about, or a pretext for jingoism to be suspicious of.

I'll try and be modest about this next pronouncement, but it's going to be difficult: people who haven't spent time outside the USA in multiple countries have an imprecise understanding of the nuances of American liberty.

The differences in Europe's civil liberties and the US's have been well-publicized, but today in Hamburg, my German business partner told me that in Germany, if you want a hunter's license, you have to take a year's worth of adult education classes, can only hunt certain animals with certain guns, and abide by a huge list of other silly and expensive regulations.

I'm not even a hunter and this hits me at spine-level as fundamentally anti-freedom, adding to the restrictions on liberty I see time and again in countries from Thailand to Korea to Vietnam to Germany --- coups, cultural restrictions, Ho's Leninism, and post-Communist squeamish PC Leftism.

My grandfather was obsessed with hunting. I didn't know this 'til recently, but he hunted around the clock on weekends. He'd hitch-hike three hours home from the foundry in Dallas where he worked all week and would head into the countryside Friday night with a shotgun and his dogs --- not returning 'til 10AM the next morning.

My cousin Mike used to hunt with him and said the experience was the most taxing physical activity he's ever done: grand dad would walk non-stop for eight hour stints without stopping, chasing his dogs with a loaded weapon. When he'd stop to sleep on the forest floor, he wouldn't even start a campfire or set up a tent; if it rained, he'd wrap a tarp around himself, sleeping bag style.

The year-long-hunting-course-legal-obligation in Germany makes me sad. The more civilized a country becomes, the more it saps the last remnants or reminders that humans are still animals --- free, vicious, and on occasion, wild-eyed and unstoppable.
Comments:
"Can only hunt certain animals with certain guns"-- you mean like you can't hunt endangered species with rocket launchers? That sounds fair to me. I don't think an individual's right to wreak havoc on nature-- no matter how much fun it is for that individual-- outweighs the rights of future generations to experience a species, or of the species' right to exist. (I'm not talking about hunting deer.)

It's the government's responsibility to ensure the survival of animal species, because left to their own devices, hunters would decimate animal species like they did in the U.S. in the 18th and 19th centuries. Not that every hunter is irresponsible, but there are enough bad ones to cause irreparable harm.

The California Condor is an example of an animal that was hunted to within 40 living animals of extinction. They are still struggling because they are scavengers and they eat so much lead in carcasses hunters leave behind (of course, not the responsible hunters). You should read John Nielsen's book, "Condor: To the Brink and Back--The Life and Times of One Giant Bird" to learn more about how indiscriminate hunting has impacted American wildlife.

I also don't think our history of gun violence is something the United States should be proud of.
 
I'm talking about a year-long hunting class. For hunters. To be able to HUNT.
 
Also in Germany, you have to have a license to cut down trees on your own property.
 
America isn't free. It's a delusion that many Americans suffer. Lay off the kool-aid man.
 
Anonymous,

You're right: America is not free. I hear that not everyone in Silicon Valley yet has a MacBook Air and sometimes soy milk isn't at every grocery store.

Glad to know you're out there fighting fascism in the trenches.
 
Vice President Cheney would benefit from a little training - had he lived in Germany he probably wouldn't have shot his hunting partner.
 
Ha! When I first read Anonymous's comment, I thought he was defending the Kool-Aid Man. "Lay off the Kool-Aid Man!" And I thought, did somebody insult my favorite animated pitcher?

THEN I realized that Anonymous was implying LB is a Kool-Aid drinking Jim Jones-type follower; his sentence just lacked the all-important comma. "Lay off the Kool-Aid, man." I liked Anonymous better as a defender of snack food mascots than as a paranoid cliche.
 
I hear that in some countries people have to go to school to learn how to do anything, such as read, or do math, or learn science... WTF?! To be actually taught something by someone who knows what they're doing?--now that is just un-american.

Americans are born knowing everything. Because we are free.
 
In addition to agreeing wholeheartedly with Katie's comments regarding the protection of endangered animals, it should also be noted that guns are HEAVILY regulated in Europe. If I was to own a gun for ANY purpose then I would hope the government makes sure that I am a) a suitably stable person and b) I have had a large amount of well training ao I'm safe with a deadly weapon. I would say a year is a fair amount. Those that still want to hunt after such a long period are probably those that are safe and sensible enough.
 
Hunters running around hunting endangered species with rocket launchers is NOT a problem anywhere in the world today and for the foreseeable future either. Do I even need to say that?

And obviousy, I support regulations on hunting. My point is that having a one year course for hunters is plain silly. If you think it's not silly, you are pretty uptight, end of story. If we disagree, we'll have to leave it at that.

Winger,

Obviously you have zero experience with weapons.
 
America is a wonderful country but Americans sometimes becomes obsessed with the illusion that they have freedoms that are superior to anyone else's. Sorry to disillusion you but an American's freedoms, extensive as they are, are not as unlimited as they sometimes think. For example...

1. I am allowed by my government to travel anywhere in the world. Americans are not. If they travel to Cuba they are breaking the American law.

2. American citizens can be declared by their president to be "enemy combatants". They can then be detained indefinitely by their own government without access to a lawyer or the benefit of habeas corpus.

3. I can go to a doctor in my home country and get the medical treatment I need for free and without having to seek permission from some insurance company or the government. American's can't.

4. If I choose to live and work out of my home country, my government will recognize that I am not receiving any benefits from them and they will stop taxing me. Try that one on the IRS! Americans citizens are taxed by the IRS wherever they live in the world. There is no escape.
 
Do you think the Germans might have a good historical reason for making it difficult for folks to buy guns and form paramilitary organizations?
 
hunting in america is as traditional as apple pie and auld lang syne. I don't hunt, but i support it.

tools made for hunting should be regulated less. tools made for killing other humans should be regulated more. sounds simple yet morons lump everything under the word gun.

Another point, LB - getting people outdoors and in nature is the surest way to have them become involved in conservationism. The greatest contributors to conservation funds are hunters. Abusers of the hunting laws and ethics are called poachers. Learn the difference.

And learn the differenc between an assault rifle and a birdgun. lefties.
 
I am a hunter. I would have to say that you are all wrong and right. Lonnie is correct in stating that a year is too long. Katie is correct in stating that we should not have a right to just shoot and kill anything that moves (not so sure about the rocket launcer part unless you are talking about cows in cambodia). Whoever made the comment about Dick Cheney is ingorant about hunting because 1) if they have ever been Pheasant hunting they would know that it is very dangerous because you have multiple people in a line with Shotguns and specific shooting zones. 2) when someone joins the hunt line make sure you let the other hunters know you are joining them. The reason the lawyer apologized was that he did not follow "Hunter Saftey Protocal" and let the hunt line know he was approching. YOur eyes are always on the dogs that flush out the birds.

Lonnie is wrong in thinking that American Hunting is as free as the days his Grandad was hunting. Please see following link as evidence to the contrary. http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/hunting/regulations/. We are on our way to being just like the germans.
As you can see it is not as easy as buying a gun and shooting animals.

I have to say that I am VERY upset at the comment "Hunters would decimate animal species like they did in the 18th and 19th centuries". In Fact the government has done such a poor job at saving species that 1000's of orginizations like Ducks Unlimited, Buckmasters, Pheseants Forever....ETC. Not to mention the local groups like mine the Loveittsville Game Association. Just as an example please see the letter in the link to show what some of these orginization do. http://www.world-wire.com/news/0709130002.html. And just as a note if you would like to get some funding from the NRA to create habitat for animals (Hunted or not please go to the following link. http://www.nrahq.org/hunting/echo.asp.

Sorry for the rant and I know that I am taking this a little personal. But to katies point there are Ethical and non ethical people in any activity and years worth of classes vs 2-3 days of Hunter Saftey classes like I had to take will not make some one ethical or unethical. A year just makes it a little longer to act ethically or unethically. or to say fuck it and do it anyway just like they do here in the USA.
 
Hard-work-cures-all: It's historical fact that hunters decimated hundreds of animal species in the U.S. in the 18th and 19th centuries. That's not opinion, it's fact.

Government has done an uneven job of preserving wildlife, and I admire any group that preserves wildlife. I recognize that a lot of hunters-- maybe most-- have a true and genuine appreciation for nature. However, you can't leave it to hunters to protect wildlife. They can't stop poachers from killing endangered animals, and you can only buy so many acres of land with donations.
 
Everyone,

I do not have time to respond to all of your well-made and reasonable comments and points. Thank you, but I'm in a different country with slow internet.

However, I did read two quotes recently that I like quite a bit which I'll write here:

"There is value in any experience that reminds us of our dependency on the soil-plant-animal-man food chain, and of the fundamental organization of the biota. Civilization has so cluttered this elemental man-earth relationship with gadgets and middlemen that awareness of it is growing dim. We fancy that industry supports us, forgetting what supports industry."

- Aldo Leopold

"We cannot but pity the boy who has never fired a gun. He is no more humane, while his education has been sadly neglected."

- Henry David Thoreau
 
The only thing guns are really good for is blowing away nerds and jocks at your junior high school.

And here's what I think of hunting:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9_amg-Aos4
 
I didn't make myself clear: I did NOT mean to say that the US is "the best" or "better" than other countries. I hate when people say that shit.

I am willing to concede that the freedom in the USA is different than other countries. I also admit that "freedom" or "liberty" would be extremely difficult to measure so this is just bar-room chat and that's about it.
 
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