Trophy hunting and trapping: Contested quotas, absolute cessation, and the need for a fearless left
With today’s rise in vicious hunting and cruel trapping practices, most arguments against it are about how many wolves or grizzly bears killed is arguably sustainable ecologically. Ought an evolved and supposedly wise civilization be allowing any trophy trapping and killing at all?
What are the motives driving such perverse bumper stickers as a wolf in the crosshairs of a rifle scope, with the words, “Smoke a pack a day?” What is it that brings pleasure to those who display such careless language and degradation of a noble creature?
Of course, there is the enjoyment its bearers derive from disturbing their “liberal” opponents, who they laugh at as mealy-mouthed tree huggers. But is there not also a sadism for some? A hatred of animals as representing an envied, greater physical prowess than their own? They revere their “takes,” proudly photographed with them as though they have appropriated the animals’ nobility as their own, while, on the other hand, often having used cruel and anti-“fair chase” hunting and barbaric trapping practices, revealing both a degradation and a paradoxical hatred of them. They thereby manifest repudiated senses of personal inadequacies and their only wished-for or imagined manhood, all the while being – as militant psychoanalyst and philosopher Willy Apollon has put it about men who can’t grow up – “like boys playing with their toy trains,” only now they’re playing with gruesome, medieval neck snare traps and horrific leghold traps. And employing numerous other craven and loathsome acts.
However, there is also the contempt that the left has for trophy hunters and predator killers. A kind of dismissiveness and superiority exists among too many of us. While it is understandable to experience contempt for, or horror at, the purveyors of cruelty who masquerade as grown-ups, it is not enough.
We must brave a demand that all infliction of suffering for one’s own gratification is part and parcel of what is failing within humanity. To do so with any credibility, however, we must look at how we have helped open the door to a conspiracy-finding Right by our very complicity with capitalism’s exploitations, with our failure to speak out against a moribund and acquiescent Democratic Party. We must stop voting for purported leftist politicians who compromise their values and collaborate with ongoing harms, so that they can keep getting re-elected.
True and thoroughgoing societal transformation is going to be necessary if we are to avoid a return to fascism, or a grandiose but milquetoast resistance from the Left. The Left must risk speaking out forcefully, not only against the Right, including its promotion of insatiable and sadistic trapping and trophy hunting practices, but also against leftist, vote-undeserving politicians who rationalize why they don’t loudly and insistently stand up for unpopular positions that defend the future of the Earth and its people, and all its biospheric members, be they water, soil, wildlife, ecosystems.
If the Left wants the Right to give up boyish pleasures of playing with their toy guns, now turned real and pointed at life, it will have to give up soft-spoken and piecemeal change.
If we want environmentalism, we must be bold enough to give up support for capitalism and its inherent divisiveness and destructivity. Collaborating and compromising over degrees of justice or destruction is antithetical to all life.
Courage, boldness, and prowess do not come by brutalizing and killing noble beasts. Nor by setting “sustainable harvest” levels. Courage and responsibility require giving up our fantasies of superiority in favor of facing, and speaking up for, the full truth. Quotas on killing do not make killing acceptable. Dignity and courage will only exist when they include a full cessation of all trapping and trophy hunting, and all killing for purported purposes of protecting others.