Hunting: Whose hands are really bloody?

  Dear HCN,


After reading Stephen Gies' tirade against hunting (HCN, 10/26/98), I felt compelled to clarify the logic in his ethical position. From his letter, his position can be summed up in two statements: 1) Killing and eating domesticated animals is ethical, and 2) Killing and eating wild animals is unethical.


That is, it is ethical to kill and eat the following animals: animals whose conception has been planned and whose birth has been induced; animals that have been branded, castrated, dehorned, ear-tagged, inoculated and fed hormones; animals which may have denuded stream banks, damaged fisheries, reduced water quality and disrupted native plant and animal communities; animals which have been packed into cramped feed-lots, fed grain that required large amounts of agrochemicals and fossil fuels to produce, and made to stand in their own excrement, posing further risks to water quality; animals which are herded into packed railroad cars or semi-trailers and transported great distances, burning fossil fuels all the way; animals that are killed by one person, skinned by another, and further processed by numerous other people and machines until they are handed to you on a Styrofoam tray neatly wrapped in cellophane, its life taken ultimately for the sake of the food economy. It is ethical to eat these animals; it is for such a purpose that they exist.


Conversely, the actions that I took two weeks ago to supply the meat in my freezer were unethical. Driving only 60 miles from my home to walk alone through a blizzard, four hours into the wilderness, was the beginning of my unethical act. Following a wild creek down to a meadow and enjoying the sounds, smells and sights of animals that had never before seen a human preceded the realization of my unscrupulous goal. Finally, after the crack of the rifle, my evil deed was done. Pausing to personally thank this animal for allowing me to use the energy that she had stored grazing on the lush meadow behind me did not make up for my immorality. The culmination of my depravity was when, holding this animal's warm heart in my hands, I reflected that our species is not above, is not apart from, the ecosystem; we are inextricably connected to and wholly dependent upon the environment around us.


Mr. Geis' moral: It is OK to kill and eat animals, as long as you are not the one doing the killing.





Jeremy Gingerich


Fort Collins, Colorado


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