Human beings are great at blaming others, but do a very bad job of taking responsibility for their own actions. I see it all the time as a teacher: “But he did it too…” Unfortunately, as people age they tend to become more hypocritical, not less. The issues they deal with are bigger and so are the ramifications of their hypocrisy.
The Victorian State government has announced its latest scapegoat program. This one involves murdering foxes. I read about this in the June 19 edition of ‘The Age’ newspaper. Just like all articles involving animals written by ‘Age’ journalists, the tone is flippant and shows complete disregard for the animals interests. So much for objective and fair journalism! The State government scheme involves encouraging hunters to kill foxes by way of a lotto reward system. Every kill a hunter makes increases their chances to win prizes in monthly draws. The major prize, drawn at the end of the year, is – you guessed it – a gas guzzling, environment destroying four-wheel-drive!
It goes without saying, that any time a hunter kills an animal the animal is robbed of their life and we can assume they suffer before they die. Hunters do not care about the suffering of animals. If they did they wouldn’t be hunters. But what is worse here is that a reward system encourages a free for all bloodbath. In the rush to improve their chances of winning prizes, any sense of mercy that may linger somewhere deep inside them – any remnants of pity and compassion that they have had to repress since childhood (maybe hiding in their little toe) is obliterated and the suffering and agony of these animals is guaranteed. And of course more foxes will die than if there was no reward system – that’s the whole point of the reward system.
Foxes have the same faculties as domestic dogs and more importantly, have the same capacity for experiencing pleasure and pain. A responsible and caring dog guardian would recoil at the thought of their dog being treated the same way these foxes are being treated. Rationally, it is wrong to abuse a dog whether it is my dog, someone else’s or if it is unfortunate enough to not have a guardian. And a Fox is the same as a dog in the only way that matters: sentience, so a fox deserves as much ethical consideration as my dog.
Perhaps the most vomit inducing features of the article are the two quotes from Victorian Agricultural minister Joe Helper and hunter Bill Emmett. If there were a prize to be given for hypocrisy these two men would win equal first place. Mr Helper says that the program has already saved wildlife and ‘livestock’. In reference to what foxes do to lambs and sheep, Mr Helper said, “No farmer likes to go out and see what foxes do to lambs and sheep. It’s a pretty ugly sight and a pretty soul destroying sight.” At the end of the article Mr Emmett says, “You get a calf with no nose or ears, because the fox has torn them off…It’s not a pretty sight.”
There is no doubt that what carnivores do to survive is ugly and involves exploitation and suffering. I’d love a world free from suffering and exploitation. A world where the lion can lay down with the lamb. I say this as a vegan. A person who intentionally tries to live an ethical life; making decisions that avoid exploiting humans and non-human animals and trying to promote happiness rather than suffering. I see myself as someone who is pro-happiness and anti-suffering. Mr Emmett and Mr Helper purport to care about the welfare of the animals attacked by foxes, but this is just an act. A guise to build public support for this scheme and the actions of hunters. Don’t for a second fall for their ploy.
Carnivores of all species inflict suffering on their victims and forcibly take away their lives. Mainstream media frequently depicts carnivores ripping apart their victims. These are popular TV programs and most people watch this destruction with awe, rather than revulsion. Why should we believe that Mr Emmett and Mr Helper are concerned about the welfare of a fox’s victim when the actions of other carnivores on wildlife programmes don’t concern them in the least? The reality is they don’t care about the welfare of the lamb. To them, the lamb is their property and they care that their property is being damaged.
People like Mr Helper and Mr Emmett are not in a position to judge foxes. These men, who pretend to care about the welfare of lambs and sheep, have the blood of countless animals on their hands. If we were to compare individuals, the suffering, loss of life, environmental destruction, carbon output and resource depletion caused by Mr Emmett or Mr Helper, vastly outweighs that caused by a single fox. As Victorian Agricultural minister, Mr Helper supports and promotes the animal agriculture industry, an industry that systematically exploits animals and inflicts extreme suffering on them. He is complicit in the suffering of every farm animal in Victoria. And the suffering is horrific. They are branded, debeaked, castrated, have their backside cut off if they are a sheep, stuck in crates without room to move about, exposed to extremes of heat and cold and are often deprived of sunlight, food, water and exercise. To top it all off they are sent to the slaughterhouse to have their lives forcibly taken from them by way of a knife to the throat or a bolt to the brain. Many are fully conscious when they are dropped into vats of boiling water. Mr Emmett may or may not be an animal farmer, but one thing is for certain: as a hunter he is experienced at abusing, exploiting and inflicting suffering on animals. He has been responsible for taking the lives of many animals. Mr Emmett and Mr Helper say that this scheme is saving the lives of ‘livestock’ and wildlife, yet they regularly sit down to a meal of a dead animal – an animal they killed or was killed for them. And on Sundays the animal is probably a lamb…
People in glass houses shouldn’t shoot bullets. While I reject violence (even violence perpetrated against animal abusers), moral consistency requires that Mr Emmett and Mr Helper turn the gun on themselves, but clearly abandoning their animal abusing ways would be a better decision.