The Emancipation of Animals

Are the Tories really thinking of bringing back fox-hunting?

The immediate “hell, no” reaction to the related media stories from insiders certainly had echoes of Otto Von Bismarck’s observation, “never believe anything until it has been officially denied”. It would also make a lot of logical sense – those Tory backwoodsmen, seething over gay marriage, could probably be placated by the throwing of a political bone in their general direction. Fucktards who enjoy killing animals for their own amusement will be aware that UKIP are generally sympathetic towards the cause of bloodsports and are offering at least a partial reversal of the ban, as will Dave, who would benefit massively from being able to bank on their votes.

It would be a lie to pretend that the debate around the original legislation in 2004 was not plagued by crude appeals to class warfare, or that the ban itself had nothing to do with appeasing Labour voters who felt disenfranchised by the Iraq war and other policies. It is probably one of the few political issues on which the tribal divide actually manifests itself in two competing visions of reality, and enables it to be used for the purpose of gerrymandering by both sides. One of the consequences of this is that the real issue of animal cruelty gets buried in a background of two tribes looking to reward their own, and piss the other tribe right off.

I’ve argued in the past for the emancipation of children, not for new legislation preventing smacking by parents, but the removal of those exemptions that exist within the common law on assault. Similarly, we never actually required a new law to ban fox-hunting, since the infliction of unnecessary injury on animals had been prohibited since the Protection of Animals Act (1911). It’s quite revealing that while domestic violence has rightly become not just illegal, but socially unacceptable in the last three decades, attitudes towards cruelty inflicted on children or animals have moved at nowhere near the same pace. From a distance, it appears to have much to do with the obviousism that while adults can vote, children and of course animals, can not.

Perhaps my vegetarianism has something to do with it, but I cannot see how the infliction of injury on animals for personal amusement can ever be justified. For fuck’s sake, it’s incredibly easy to see through this Countryside Alliance bullshit that fox-hunting is nothing at all to do with rural old boys having a cheap laugh, and is actually about pest control. That’s rather like handing a mass-murderer a machete or machine gun and wishing him all the best as he’s let out of jail to cure the ills of over-population – it may be a by-product of such activity, even a logical one, but should not be conflated with an individual’s motive for doing it in the first place.

It’s often said that there are merits to a ‘soft’ interview – namely that the interviewee can be lulled into a false sense of security from which they might divulge information that would not be forthcoming from someone following the mantra of defend yourself at all times. Here, Borat’s general idiocy manages to coax the real motivations of a few bloodsports enthusiasts, that, amongst other things, “it makes you feel big”. So, pest control doesn’t appear high on the list of priorities then? However, it speaks volumes that the Tories, who recently welcomed bestiality specialist Olly Neville to their ranks from UKIP, seem to have cries of “tally ho” quite high on theirs.

There are many areas in which the dignity of animals is sacrificed solely for the purposes of human amusement and entertainment. The removal of creatures from their natural habitat, who are then cruelly conditioned for display or performance in zoos or circuses, is vile shit which is probably best fought, at least most of the time, by education, argument and a shift in social attitudes rather than legislation. However, ‘sports’ such as fox-hunting and staged fights between animals cross a line that separates mere tastelessness from outright barbarism, the pre-meditated and deliberate infliction of serious harm upon other living creatures, for no other reason that to provide a few nasty little shits with a cheap laugh.

Laws against animal cruelty have been in place for more than a century and were more than adequate to deal with this problem. Banning individual pastimes creates a race between a legislative web and the over-active imagination of those who get their kicks out of causing harm, one I would not back the law to win. Let’s hope that the dignity of animals does not become a football amongst political tribes like it did a decade ago, when the right conclusion was reached, even if in many cases it was for the wrong reasons. Take it easy.

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