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(DV) Hall: Animal Advocates Find Religion as Tots Take Up Arms in Bear Hunt







Shootout At Pooh Corner
Animal Advocates Find Religion, 
as Tots Take Up Arms in Bear Hunt

by Lee Hall
October 25, 2005

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Animal rights, indeed.

The most recent evidence of the animal advocacy community's collective pratfall was this month's gathering by “rights” theorists and activists in North Carolina at a conference called Power of One, where the keynote speaker was John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market. Tough luck, animals. The chief example of the power of an individual to advance your rights is now an international marketer of groceries -- including an ample, pricey line of animal products. 

This revelation will be no cause for surprise or alarm in the advocacy movement, where admiration for good old hierarchical values is everywhere. Matthew Scully, previously best known as one of George W. Bush's speechwriters, became an overnight sensation with animal people after penning Dominion, a book about proper Christian mercy.

The book's view of all animals other than Homo sapiens mixes religious obligation with a lot of stuff that's downright frightful.  Example:  “It is our fellow creatures’ lot in the universe, the place assigned to them in creation, to be completely at our mercy, the fiercest wolf or tiger defenseless against the most cowardly man.” [1]  

One might expect a flurry of progressive protests over such a view. Sorry, animals.

"I expect,” said Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society of the United States, “that Dominion will be the most influential book on animal protection of the last 25 years.” 

Other groups followed suit, scrambling over each other to publish glowing advertisements, praise the tome on Amazon's review section, and even bestow a book-of-the-year award on its compassionately conservative author.  Paternalism is re-establishing its two-centuries-old grip on animal advocacy -- with a vengeance.

So who has serious standing to object when an eight-year-old, Sierra Stiles, kills the first black bear of Maryland's 2005 hunting season?

The state sets no minimum age for hunters, so the fierce black bears of Maryland can be blown away by rifle-toting third-graders. [2] That's dominion, American-style.

Still, a statewide survey reported that 90% of 831 Marylanders think “bears have an inherent right to live in Maryland.” These results suggest that the ordinary people of Maryland hold more progressive views than many self-proclaimed animal advocates. 

Farmers’ complaints of monetary damage have, alas, outweighed popular opinion. Perhaps the image of a child being trained to enforce the most degrading social attitudes about “our fellow creatures’ lot in the universe” will spark Marylanders to confront their state's trigger-happy policies. One can only hope.

And perhaps the animal advocacy community, rather than simply rallying behind its leaders’ pious observations, will awaken to its own role in perpetuating these same social attitudes. 

Good luck, animals.

Lee Hall is legal director for Friends of Animals, an animal rights advocacy group founded in New York in 1957. Lee can be reached at:

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[1] Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, The Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy, p5.

"Eight-Year-Old Girl Bags First Bear of Maryland's Hunting Season," Associated Press, 24 Oct. 2005. Six bears had died by the day's end. Ibid. The State's Department of Natural Resources Web site shows the hunt as running 24-29 October and 5-10 December 2005. 

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* The American Way of Death Casts Its Shadow East
* We the People, You the Rest… and the Sierra Club Part II
* We the People, You the Rest… and the Sierra Club Part I
* Refocus Seal Intervention Where It Belongs: Government Subsidies
Globalizing Homeland Security Part II: Before and After Tuesday

* Globalizing Homeland Security (Part One): Doing Time for the Towers
* Blood on the Campaign Trail
* Bringing Social Justice to the Table
* People for the Exploitative Treatment of Arabs?
* Fit To Be Tamed