I’m used to feelings of rage and nausea whenever I open a “news” paper – which is something I usually do only once a week; and I only do it then because The Times’ Saturday edition has a good puzzles page, and it also provides the TV listings for the following week. I most certainly do not do it for what should be the main purpose of a newspaper – providing good information about the world around me. In fact I always put-off for as long as possible the moment when I actually open up the paper to see what it contains, which I always do from a sense of duty – having paid good money for the thing – rather than interest. I know that opening up those pages will always, always make me angry.
Yesterday, however, I think The Times managed to excel itself. Turning over the very first page the reader is confronted with on article on page two that explains how Britain is striding confidently towards one of the primary requirements of a fascist state: secret courts. The article, titled “Press and public to be barred from major terrorism trial”, relates how two men, both British citizens and identified only as AB and CD, face charges related to alleged terrorism. We’re told, “Prosecutors will apply for draconian orders at the Old Bailey next week excluding members of the press and the public from court… and banning reporting of some of the charges.”
The reason for the prosecution request is of course the tired old excuse — “strong operational reasons”. When AB and CD appeared last month at a City of Westminster court, District Judge Michael Snow allowed a request to keep the identities of the men secret claiming it was necessary to do so, “to prevent the administration of justice from being damaged.”
Given the recent history of British policing, from the killing of defenceless Brazilian electricians and harmless passers-by such as Ian Tomlinson, to massive volumes of falsified documents (such as their reports of the Hillsborough tragedy), I would say the administration of justice is already damaged beyond repair. It can only be scrapped and rebuilt from scratch. If further proof of that claim was needed, the creation of secret courts is surely it.
If that article was not enough to turn the blood cold, immediately facing it on page three is arguably an even more revolting story – it certainly had a more nauseating effect on me than another almost-routine tale of the slide of country into fascism. Titled “TV huntress’s boast of lion killing brings roar of anger”. The story is about as repulsive as a story can be, but the fact that some headline writer saw it as a great opportunity to show of his/her skills at pun-writing somehow manages to expose The Times for the truly shabby rag it has become.
The story and the repugnant photograph that accompanies it appeared in many other places. It tells how some American TV nonentity, apparently “a pin-up for American hunters”, murdered a lion. The picture shows her wearing a muscle-man vest, squatting behind the poor magnificent animal, flashing her plastic grin and clutching a rifle. This horrible, horrible person is clearly proud of what she’s done. An extract from her diary reads, “Incredible day in South Africa! Stalked inside of sixty yards of this beautiful male lion… what a hunt.”
What an outrage.
According to The Times, the lion was murdered on a private game reserve near the border with Zimbabwe. Not very far behind the unspeakable murderer herself in the repulsiveness stakes must be the people who run these “safari” operations. The Times says,
“The reserves argue that the sums involved – which can be up to £50,000 per lion – are crucial for conservation projects to protect other animals.”
I first came across this argument quite a long time ago in Zimbabwe where some farmers had latched onto the idea of “farming” wild animals for rich and stupid foreigners to “hunt” and slaughter. In a country desperate for foreign exchange it was seen as a great way to obtain it. The scheme was marketed as a “conservation” project, and these farmers argued that instead of just killing these wonderful animals as a type of vermin – where they would soon be exterminated altogether – why not “conserve” the species by breeding them and charging stupid rich people loads of money to come and murder them?
Since then the idea has become quite popular, and apparently some of these “conservation” reserves effectively train some animals such as lions to partially trust humans, because reserve employees regularly feed them. The practice even has a name – “canned lions”. So when this creature says she “stalked” the lion it’s just possible that she was doing nothing more difficult (or dangerous) than stalking a tame dog. Furthermore, “the beautiful male lion” seems to have a pretty small mane, which suggests he’s not much more than a teenager.
The no-doubt high-powered rifle the murderer is holding in the photograph is equipped with a telescopic sight. It looks like it’s state of the art. She says she “stalked” within sixty yards of the lion. With the scope she was using she should have been able to see fleas moving around on his coat. Furthermore I should think there were at least two other guns at her side. In other words the poor animal had absolutely no chance. What a great heroine.
Of course there’s nothing original in the “canned lions” — type of business enterprise. Game birds such as pheasant and grouse have been bred in Britain for many decades so that thick rich white people, the cream of our society, can be charged a fortune to murder them and delude themselves into thinking they’re doing something rough tough and manly when all they’re actually doing is showing themselves to be fine examples of human excreta, and a deep embarrassment to the human species.
I have detested hunting most of my life – except when people have to do it in order to survive. Those who do what this American did are beneath contempt as far as I’m concerned – on a par with those who do animal experiments for a living. If she wanted to do something really brave she should have seen how close she could have got to the lion without her rifle, carrying nothing more deadly than a camera. That might have been impressive. What she did was nothing braver than what slaughtermen do all day long in abattoirs – and arguably not as honourable.
If the best argument that human beings can provide for preservation of the wonderful animals that are rapidly disappearing from the wild because of human overpopulation is to “conserve” them in prisons for human beings to gawp at, or so that unspeakable creatures like this American can pay big money to come along and murder them, the sooner they become extinct the better as far as I’m concerned.