Saturday, 6 September 2008

Killing animals as entertainment

A throwaway remark on the Sarah Palin post has drawn a lot of comment, most of it negative. First get full disclosure out of the way. I'm a carnivore, wish I wasn’t, but I'd take meat before muesli any day. And I have another one.

As a teenager I had a very large and cross German Shepherd called Rocky. One day I came across Rocky tearing the shit out of another dog. As I went to separate them I realized that the victim’s piteous wailing and blood-stained coat momentarily aroused a kind of blood lust within me, and something told me i'd enjoy letting nature take its course. It was as if some malevolent monster had incubated in the reptilian part of my brain, and briefly taken me over. It lasted only a few seconds and I duly saved the other dog.

But the incident had a major impact on me, leading me to agonise over what I really was and how bad I could be in the ‘right’ circumstances. I even fantasised that I had it within me to have been a concentration camp guard or part of an SS execution squad. I eventually reconciled myself to it and it never arose again.

But it did make me realise that causing pain and terror to other creatures, or even observing it, is capable of giving rise to a kind of high like a shot of cocaine. And yes, it’s been with us since the dawn of man. The citizens of Rome thrilled to the sight of fanatical Christians being devoured by lions (I think I'd enjoy that myself!) and our good friend Mohammed regales us in Mein Kampf the Koran with the high he got from slaughtering his neighbours.

The Mogul emperors, when they got too old and fat to hunt, had a Noah’s Ark of wildlife corralled into a small space where they could slaughter away to their hearts’ content almost while sitting down. Tired but happy, they’d then work off their high in the harem, before, covered in blood and semen, finishing off an enjoyable morning in the mosque.

And this raises the sexual dimension associated with enjoyment of cruelty. Reports from police informers at ‘professional’ dog fights refer the practice of male spectators rushing to the toilets, presumably to masturbate, after a particularly gruesome bout. Apparently the sex is always good too after the hunters are treated to the spectacle of the fox being torn to shreds.

Don't know if you’ve ever watched something called ‘Ultimate Fighting’, much favoured by my son when he was a teenager. This entertainment features giant brutes pulverising each other with virtually no rules. The interesting this here is to observe the spectators. In one bout one of the monsters managed to contrive a position whereby he was free to repeatedly smash his elbow into his opponent’s face, showering blood and teeth everywhere. One particular, er, lady, closed her eyes in seeming ecstasy as each blow slammed home, as if she were having mini orgasms each time. She probably was, and the other ghouls watching were similar.

Former Russian Prime Minister (Prime Monster?) Victor Chernomyrdin was a keen hunter. He got to hear that a bear and her cub had been seen a few hundred miles north of Moscow. So he got into a helicopter, flew to the spot, where he shot the mother and cub, then back into the plane for lunch. Bet he was proud. What do you hunters think of that?

Finally may I point out that a history in youth of torturing and abusing animals is recognised as a good predictor of a future serial killer!

Having got that out of the way, I want to address the ‘it’s part of nature’ riposte. Sure, it’s part of nature, but surely, isn't that what we’re trying to rise above? Isn't rising above our base instincts what civilization is all about?

It’s ironic that so many comments come from South Africans, taking me to task for not understanding nature, or Africa, being a cosseted European etc. Isn’t this an odd response? These are the people who endlessly refer to blacks as primitive savages, driven by their uncontrolled natural impulses, whose only exposure to advanced civilization has come via the Europeans.

So whose side are you on guys? The native savages or the cosseted Europeans?


Kilbarry1 said...

I am not a hunter and somewhat squamish myself. However when a society is in danger the kind of people who rush to defend it are often the type who enjoy violence. A few years ago I remember reading a snooty comment in the Irish Times letters page (naturally)about RAF fighters in the Battle of Britain. This guy said that a friend of his knew some of them and found them to be brutal types who enjoyed killing.

Both Kipling and George Orwell wrote about "civilised" people who looked down on the rough soldiers who actually ensured the existence of civilisation.

Anonymous said...

Savant, read this:

tesla said...

Hahaha Savant do you piss sitting down? Just joking!

I used to hunt, I stopped not because of cruelty but because I don't like to get up at the ass crack of dawn and it's easier to get my meat from the supermarket. Of the people I hunted with maybe one or two were "belligerent" types. Most guys liked to get outside, get away from the complications in their lives, and actually had a lot of respect for their prey (difficult to understand if you've never hunted).

What's more cruel: to hunt a deer that has a fighting chance and has led a natural life, or to pen a cow up, breed it to be too stupid to do anything but eat, fatten it with hormones, and then butcher it at the appropriate weight?

It's a cruel world we live in and Europe's failure to recognize this and act accordingly will be its downfall.

Joe O'Neill said...

The post is beginning to read a little odd.Surely you the great Savant accept that there is such a thing as atavism ?Blood lust is one of those lost traits, to deny people the right to live up to their genes is like denying them the right to worship a god or a devil.I personally think that ALL religions are evil, I also think that many sexual deviations are evil.However just because I do not agree or understand does not make my position less than valid !Hunters are no worse that fishermen or people who chop down giant trees for no reason other than money, they are certainly a better breed than so called sportsmen who attack opposing team supporters.From the South African perpective this country would lose some 75% of it's wildlife if it was not for meat hunters. said...

Dear Savant,
Lovely post.
Do you visit the "Smoking Mirrors" blog?

SAVANT said...

Most 'contras' are missing the point. I know about atavism and that shooting a deer in the wild is better than the factory produced alternative. And that hunting indirectly (and no thanks to hunters) can result in game preservation.

My point is, should we not try to move beyond our atavistic lusts? I say again that white south africans never caese, justifiably, to differentiate themsleves from lusty, promitive, atavistic native Africans. At least I'm consistent.

Anonymous said...

Savant, first of all an offcomment.
Set the comment box back the way it was..

Now, you know your avoidance of blood and well, to some extent my avoidance of blood and brutality.. is really just showing our weakness. Savages survive, too sophisticated people die. That's the core of the problem. Civilization makes you soft and weak.

SAVANT said...

Anonymous 18.53. 'Set the comment box back'. Did I change something?

Don't agree with your point that civilisation makes us weak. Haven't all the great civilisations from Rome all the way through to the Europeans been anything but soft? Advanced, yes, soft, no.

Anonymous said...

Just saw the foto of Palin with that dead moose, blood-covered snow, and her little daugter looking on.

As an American mother, let me say it turned my stomach.

Anonymous said...

In a similar atavistic vein I'd really like to see the reintroduction of the stocks as a method of punishment for mionr crimes. No joke! I think lobbing rotten fruit and veg at those in the stocks would be great, punishing wrong doers in a cost effective way, improving social order and giving good burghers a great free day out for all the family.

Anonymous said...

The stocks would be a good idea. Maybe not the throwing of fruit, but having certain types of criminals pub;icly humiliated would be highly effectie.

Anonymous said...

I can't pull the commentbox to fullscreen, and I believe you can set that in the options. Pretty annoying.

SAVANT said...

I dont see any option for extending the comment box. I'm sure it must be there. anybody help on this?

Rhein said...

Every site by Bloggers have the same comment boxes. I've yet to see a bigger one so i don't think you can make it bigger.

Maybe try to write to Bloggers and ask them?

And about the stocks suggestion i don't think it's a good idea. It would simply fuel the criminal's hatred and alienation toward society. I don't see how humiliation would help in making them change their ways. Hard labour like they do in the US seems like a much better idea to me.

Anonymous said...

I read a report about the use of stocks in 18th and 19th century Britain, while as your commentator say it would be a good idea to throw rotten fruit and vegetables at the miscreants, in reality they were often subjected to much much worse than rotten fruit.Apparently they were often buggered by queues of drunks and usually shat and pissed on as well as having chamber pots emptied upon their heads, female victims were usually raped many times.All in all a good deterrent I think

SAVANT said...

actually I'm inclined to agree with Rhein and belive the stocks would be a retrogade step, especialy in the light of the comments from the previous anonymous.

Re: the commnet box size - Rhein, I have seen Blogger comments that go acrross the full page. At least i think I have.

kerdasi amaq said...

"As an American mother, let me say it turned my stomach."

Sarah Palin's children won't go hungry, unlike yours. said...

Rights Denied in Illinois - and in Ireland?