Monday, July 21, 2014

In Defense of Trophy Hunting

I’m not a hunter, but I’m tempted to become one just to stand in solidarity with people – young women especially – who have recently become the targets themselves of vile anti-hunting hysteria.

First, a 19-year-old Texas Tech cheerleader named Kendall Jones roused a firestorm of social media anger after posting on Facebook pics of her posed with her legally acquired big game trophies. After taking heat from accusations of animal cruelty, Jones replied, “The rhino was a green hunt, meaning it was darted and immobilized in order to draw blood for testing, DNA profiling, microchipping the horn and treating a massive leg injury most likely caused by lions.” A lion she brought down with a bow (!) was within a game reserve: “Controlling the male lion population is important within large fenced areas like these in order to make sure the cubs have a high survival rate.”

As for the leopard pic, “this was a free ranging leopard in Zimbabwe on communal land,” Jones wrote. “The money for the permit goes to the communal council and to their village people... Leopard populations have to be controlled in certain areas. So yes, my efforts do go to conservation efforts and are all fair chase, not canned hunts.”

She also explained that meat from some hunts feeds local villagers:

And for all that want to say stuff about hunting is for food all the other animals go to the local villagers that are just trying to get meat! These people only get meat when an animal is shot, they aren’t privileged enough to go to the local grocery store and pay $20 for some steaks! And another thing is that this elephant’s trunk had been caught in a snare put out by poachers!

Nevertheless, predictable internet outrage continued. Facebook removed the pics after tens of thousands of complaints. She was verbally assaulted on social media. One lunatic who fancies himself a future Congressman (I won’t mention his name because he’s a pathetic attention hound) even claimed that “she deserves to be a target” and offered $100,000 for nude photos of Jones or other salacious information. “Does #KendallJones use vegetables as sex toys?” he tweeted. “Does she enjoy being spanked? We want to know.”

Next, a 17-year-old Belgian soccer fan named Axelle Despiegelaere, who actually scored a modeling gig with L’Oreal after becoming the focus of World Cup attention, immediately lost that gig when her hunting photos showed up on Facebook. Again the social media hatred flew, and she was labeled “evil” and a “serial killer.” After the teen appeared in a promo video which has since been removed from the company’s website, L’Oreal claimed that her “contract has now been completed” and she will no longer be representing the company. Then it felt compelled to pacify animal activists further by reminding them that L’Oreal “no longer tests on animals, anywhere in the world.”

I hope Despiegelaere gets picked up for another contract elsewhere. If a modeling company and its customers are so concerned about politically correct objections to the disgusting habits of their representatives, perhaps they should demand that their models stop smoking (insert record scratch). Watch how fast that shuts down the entire fashion industry.

The hysteria reached, well, hysterical proportions when an old photo surfaced on Facebook of a grinning Steven Spielberg posed in front of an apparently freshly killed triceratops – from the set of Jurassic Park. That attracted anti-hunting ire as well.  One Facebooker ranted (language warning):

He’s a disgusting inhumane prick Id love to see these hunters be stopped…I think zoos are the best way to keep these innocent animals safe…assholes like this piece of s**t are going into these beautiful animals HOME and killing them…its no different than someone coming into your home and murdering you … . Steven Spielberg I’m disappointed in you…I’m not watching any of your movies again ANIMAL KILLER

Recently I took my young daughter to Los Angeles’ Natural History Museum, which has an extensive and dramatic collection of dinosaur relics. She isn’t familiar with Spielberg, but she loves triceratops, and even at four years old she knows that they’re long extinct.

I appreciate that many are disgusted by trophy hunting; it’s certainly not my thing. But whatever your stand, the teens mentioned above hunted legally and even socially and environmentally responsibly. They and others don’t deserve to be the “targets” of irrational personal attacks or to lose jobs for which hunting isn’t even relevant.

(This article originally appeared here on Acculturated, 7/14/14)