I know, everyone’s making a big deal of this, but I honestly don’t care that Cheney accidentally shot a fellow hunter. People do make mistakes, and hunting is a risky sport with dangerous devices—I simply don’t see it as saying much about his character or capability that he made a potentially tragic error on a hunting trip. At best, it says that maybe he’s getting too old and careless to be armed and in public.
On the other hand, this says volumes about Cheney’s character.
Monday’s hunting trip to Pennsylvania by Vice President Dick Cheney in which he reportedly shot more than 70 stocked pheasants and an unknown number of mallard ducks at an exclusive private club places a spotlight on an increasingly popular and deplorable form of hunting, in which birds are pen-reared and released to be shot in large numbers by patrons. The ethics of these hunts are called into question by rank-and-file sportsmen, who hunt animals in their native habitat and do not shoot confined or pen-raised animals that cannot escape.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported today that 500 farm-raised pheasants were released yesterday morning at the Rolling Rock Club in Ligonier Township for the benefit of Cheney’s 10-person hunting party. The group killed at least 417 of the birds, illustrating the unsporting nature of canned hunts. The party also shot an unknown number of captive mallards in the afternoon.
What the hell…?
I’m not some knee-jerk bleeding-heart animal lover; I think living things should be respected and treated honorably, but that killing is part of the pattern of life. I don’t hunt myself, and I don’t think it is an unquestionable privilege, but I can respect the skill and intentions of someone who does a little game hunting.
But this…it’s simply sickening. Blowing away a horde of pen-raised animals, released in front of you to scurry into your gunsights, is not a sport. It’s disgusting bloody-mindedness, a lazy, cowardly, vicious sort of abuse.
They say that torturing and killing helpless animals is one of the signs of a sadistic sociopath. Somehow, it’s fitting that our vice-president is the kind of guy who takes glee in unfeeling butchery.
Since people are commenting on it, I have to clarify that I don’t think shooting a fellow hunter is excusable—but it’s more a matter of incompetence than malicious intent. We already know this administration is incompetent.
Gary Farber has mentioned the strange lag in reporting the accident (and he has a darned thorough roundup of stories on the matter). That’s also troubling, and it really means they’ve hit a triple on this one: dumb bloody-minded malice, incompetence, and disregard for the law. That’s our Dick.