An Idle Sunday With The Papers

And for a blogger, a 21st Century gentleman-pamphleteer, what could be a more perfect afternoon than this? I scythe through The Observer, and the myriad possibilities for opinion leap out at me.

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Ah, Edinburgh! This Athens of the North, this home of the Enlightenment. What perfect Sundays you provide for its denizens. Snuggled beneath a warm blanket of idleness, a shroud of irresponsibility, I am free to sit in the re-vamped Cameo Cinema Bar and take advantage of their gratis wireless, and complimentary newspapers.

And for a blogger, a 21st Century gentleman-pamphleteer, what could be a more perfect afternoon than this? I scythe through The Observer, and the myriad possibilities for unsolicited opinion leap out at me. I am spoilt for choice. I could muse on Scottish Independence, perhaps? Or comment on the USA’s relentless march towards totalitarianism? It is, in a way, surprising that Blogistan becomes so quiet at weekends. Isn’t everyone else making electronic notations on the Sunday papers?

Jasper Gerard caught my eye, with a short piece on the Countryside Alliance:

And while I opposed banning hunting as I oppose banning anything without overwhelming reason, I also suspected those who enjoyed killing for its own sake were tossers. Like deposed dictators, perhaps foxes need to be killed, but huntsmen seem to snuff out life with all the tearful regret of the Iraqi prison service.

This precisely captures my feeling. I don’t care particularly for the fox, which is a pest. But killing things for fun seems an affront to nature, and if one is going to do it then you should have the decency to eat what you have killed. This is possible when you shoot game birds, deer, or when you go fishing. But since the hounds rip up the prey beyond what is edible, I do think “hunting with dogs” is a sensible distinction to make.

Should we have banned it though? Reconciling this “illiberal liberalism” (as Gerard has it) will no doubt occupy my thoughts for the rest of the afternoon (I suspect my answer would have something to do with our laws on animal cruelty and bear-baiting). With my back to the window and the outside world, I sink deeper into this leather armchair, and philosophize.

11 thoughts on “An Idle Sunday With The Papers”

  1. Robert,

    This precisely captures my feeling. I don’t care particularly for the fox, which is a pest. But killing things for fun seems an affront to nature, and if one is going to do it then you should have the decency to eat what you have killed.

    I have it on good authority that fox tastes really unpleasant; one really wouldn’t want to eat it.

    As for the rest, I never thought to see you subscribe to the “it’s evil because they are having fun doing it crowd”.

    Do you accept that foxes need to be culled? Let us assume that you do.

    Let us also assume that the culling came first, and that the fun came later. Does that make it any better?

    DK

  2. As for the rest, I never thought to see you subscribe to the “it’s evil because they are having fun doing it crowd”.

    Therin lies the source my my arm-chair angst.

    Although, I’m not sure my phrase “an affront to nature” equates to “its evil because its fun.” The ‘eating’ bit is crucial to my stance. People also have fun catching a fish, and I’m much less troubled by that.

    Either way, there definitely is a difference between thinking someone is a tosser for doing some particular thing (subsitute “evil” for “tosser” if you wish), and legislating against such tosserness/evilness. I’m with Gerard all the way.

    As it stands, we do recognise some rights for animals, both in their treatment when alive and how they are to be killed. Should these rights enter into any kind of utilitarian or libertarian equation (and therefore, subject to any kind of moral or political law)? In my case, I think certainly the former, because I am of course a fucking hippy who buys into some kind of connectedness between humans and other living things. But if politics only delves into nature and the environment when it directly affects human beings… then probably not the latter.

    There’s a facetious parallel with the Saddam hanging here. He needs to be ‘culled’ says the Justice – does it matter how it happens?

  3. The ‘eating’ bit is crucial to my stance. People also have fun catching a fish, and I’m much less troubled by that.

    Most people do not shoot game or catch fish because they need to eat what they kill; they do so because it is fun. This is evidenced by the fact that although it is possible to eat deer, pheasant, and bear relatively few people who shoot them eat what they kill. Therefore, the ‘eating’ bit ought to be irrelevant.

  4. “I have it on good authority that fox tastes really unpleasant; one really wouldn’t want to eat it.”

    No, I wouldn’t either. Specially not that bushy tail.

    I think the fox itself is a red-herring. It’s not about the fox, it’s about the disgusting sadistic blood-lust of the people who get off on it all. It shouldn’t be allowed. What’s wrong with clay-fox-hunting anyway?

  5. For me it’s about the symbolism of a lot of overpriveidged toffs (yes I know that somehere in the country a plumber probably goes hunting, but the majority of hunters are at least upper middle class) making a lot of noise and charging abouty the countryside as if they own it. Contrast this with the rapid drafting of laws to prevent raves in the early 1990s, to see that there still is one law for the rich and one for everyone else.

  6. Contrast this with the rapid drafting of laws to prevent raves in the early 1990s…

    As somebody who has taken part in both foxhunting and raves, I can assure you the major difference is in the fact that the former is done with the blessing of the landowner, the latter is most certainly not.

  7. I really object to the “anti-toffs” motivation behind arguing against fox-hunting. It’s utterly indefensible, dog-in-the-manger, sour-grapes, and pathetically ill-thought-through. If you don’t like “toffs”, why stop at spoiling their fun? Why not hang the lot of them?

    Also, what’s wrong with people who own countryside charging about it as if they own it? What’s far worse is chavs charging around public places as if they own them. That would be a far more logical complaint to have.

  8. I tell you what I would like to see. A fox-hunting rave. Can you imaging all those horses and hounds on ecstasy!? They would not be so horrible to the fox then. 🙂

  9. Having now been to Edinburgh, I can say that it is very windy.

    As a Londoner, I tend towards the “you do your thing, we’ll do ours” with countryside matters. Its not the best practice to advertise the human spirit, but there you go.

    Have you tried to out stare a fox?

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