October 14, 2003

Stupid Conservative Myth #9

Here's another belief held by conservatives. You know, the ones that try to suppress the speech of others, but then as soon as you start arguing against them, they cry victimhood: "Oh poor wittwe me, just twying to exewcise my fiwst amendment wights, and the big mean bully liberals are attacking me!" The ones who spent years referring to liberals as traitors, communists, scumbags and unpatriotic cowards but are now saying that liberals are harming the nature of political discourse by being impolite. Well, anyway, here's another deeply stupid belief of theirs that I'm going to blast into deserved oblivion:

Hunters care more about nature than loony activists from Seattle do.

Omitting for the moment the very small cross section of people who are both hunters and loony (presumably environmental) activists from Seattle, then this is total bullshit. Why? Well, when is the last time that hunters, as a group, have taken a proactive interest in nature for some reason other than to promote and encourage the interest of hunters? I don't mean to pick on hunters here, but that's what was mentioned in the list, so I'm going with it (I will talk more explicitly about 2nd amendment rights, etc, down around myth #12).

When is the last time a group of hunters marched on or demonstrated against some polluting coal mine or some company that was fouling a creek which in turn killed a bunch of animals? When is the last time a group of hunters lobbied Congress for changes in clean air and clean water policy? Again, I'm sure some hunters support these things. Hell, maybe most of them do, but it isn't a very big part of their lives because they don't go to the "loony activist" extreme.

Now, I mean, you have to define "loony". Given that the author of this list is such a moron, "loony" probably means anyone holding an idea that disagrees from present Bush administration policy. Want to save an old growth forest? Loony. Want to explore alternatives to fossil fuels? Loony. Want to put limits on how much power plants can pollute the air and water? Loony. Sierra Club? Loonies. Greenpeace? Total freakin' loonies. Earth First? Shoot 'em.

Such "loony" activists put their money where their mouth is, proverbially. They go out of their way and probably with some personal sacrifice (including getting thrown in jail, or spending the weekend holding signs and chanting while being herded by police, or spending some time every week getting politically involved, or donating to groups that buy land for preservation). Hunters as a group are far more likely to make their sacrifices for whatever cause the National Rifle Association is pushing that week.

Not that there's anything wrong with that (hunters and loony activists both have every right to political expression), but come on, when is the last time an interest group, composed mainly of hunters, lobbied for anything that didn't have to do with gun rights? I don't see the NRA issuing press releases criticizing Bush's crappy environmental policies (I checked their web site and didn't find a single solitary *WORD* about the environment), and I guarantee you a lot of those policies are going to seriously cramp the style of the hunting community at some point. But they're too blinded by 2nd amendment fervor (as if the Democrats, if in power, would be bold or organized enough to do anything substantive to curtail gun rights).

You could say they can't see the forests for the trees.

Posted by Observer at October 14, 2003 07:03 AM

Comments on entries can only be made in pop-up windows while those entries are still on the main index page. Sorry for the inconvenience this causes, but this blocks about 99.99% of the spam the blog receives.

You need to do some more research on this one. Most of the hunters I know (granted this is a small sample size) don't send more than dues to the NRA (arguably a bad thing to begin with) and they *do* donate money to conservation causes including those that buy and privatize land and those that fight bad logging and pollution issues. Granted that they tend to ignore clean-air issues.

I'm not sure where you could get decent statistics but the statements like "Hunters as a group are far more likely to make their sacrifices for whatever cause the National Rifle Association is pushing that week." are the same kind of destructive generalizations that get me up in arms about conservative idiocy.

Posted by: Seattle Astronomer on October 14, 2003 10:57 AM

I know a lot of hunters, too. This *is* Texas, after all. Straight-ticket George W Bush Republicans and proud of it, the lot of them. Our different experiences may have more to do with the local political sympathies of the majority than with hunters in general.

Thus, my tipping-point test is to ask if there are any organizations primarily composed of hunters that publicly give a rat's ass (i.e. make personal sacrifices like "loony" activists) about environmental issues. If there are, I need to be educated.

Posted by: Observer on October 14, 2003 11:15 AM

Hunters are, as a group, pretty concerned about the environment. I am not a hunter, but I know enough of them to feel pretty confident of that statement.

The thing is, the term "environmental issues" means different things to them and to you. You are more concerned with toxic dumping, species preservation, industrial pollution, global warming and atmospheric carbon load, and so on. Those are pretty vague intellectual issues, very hard to identify with your eyes. My impression is that hunters are concerned with more tangible things. Maintaining decent wildlife habitat that's accessible; game species management; watercourse management. Those latter things don't have to clash with megabusiness profits in a business-as-it-is-now manner, and in general they don't require major regulation; in fact, what liberals tend to define as "environmental legislation" is at best perpendicular and sometimes in direct conflict with the concerns they see.

One can argue about education, causality, and so on. There's clearly a level of scale difference in terms what is important to whom. But I do not include hunters among my list of enemies of the environment; they just have a different scale of priorities than you or I do.

The people who are between a rock and a hard place are the people in commercial fishing industry. Seems pretty clear that we;ve been doing the equivalent of strip mining to commercially important species for decades, and the collapse is coming. Gonna be really nasty when it comes.

Posted by: Feff on October 14, 2003 12:01 PM

Feff, that's what I was trying to say. Hunters seem concerned with the environment only to the extent that it promotes better hunting. When I think of environmental issues, I think big picture like factory/power plant emissions, fossil fuel policy, pollution, groundwater preservation, etc. I don't see hunters out in front there (though I'm sure there is a broad spectrum of environmental opinions among hunters).

The loony activist set, for better or for worse, seems to take up environmental causes for the good of everyone. Sometimes they may be wrong or misguided, but I think their motivations are somewhat more noble.

When I see an organization of hunters getting thrown in jail for protesting a mining company executive that abandoned a superfund site, looted the company and then started up somewhere else or hit the slopes in Aspen or was invited to give a speech or whatever, then that will be a welcome first. I'm not exactly holding my breath.

Caring about the environment means a lot more than sitting in a deer blind and appreciating the beauty of nature while you wait for the fifteen-point buck to come along and nibble at the deer corn. It means activism. It means voting for politicians based on environmental issues as a top priority rather than NRA issues as a top priority. I'm sorry, but I don't see that happening.

That may just be Texas, though. Living here my whole life, the idea that the typical hunter is going to be a member of Greenpeace doesn't pass the smell test.

Posted by: Observer on October 14, 2003 12:13 PM

I know of one effective group into wetlands preservation ... its called something like "Wild Ducks... or "Ducks Unlimited..." I'd have to look at Workings Assets' list of donation recipients from back in the early 90s, to get the name right. Their motivations may be impure, but we all know the critical importance of wetlands. Their work is a good thing, particularly in the context of all the political expression that takes place around environmental issues. Just as civil disobedience is valuable in the context of social change/political work, so is simply lobbying your own congress critter. It takes the spectrum of political expression, often, to impact an issue. You need the Julia Butterflies sitting in trees AND the stay at home kinda folks picking up the pen and donating the money.

I also disagree about civil disobedience being a litmus test for caring about an issue. Not everyone can make that kind of personal sacrifice (and not everyone participating in those kinds of actions is doing so for purely "cause" reasons.) And some group's consituencies simply wouldn't accept breaking the law. Its too extreme for their membership. And that's ok. Their efforts are still important.

Posted by: JustMary on October 14, 2003 02:50 PM

That's a fair point. I'm not really making civil disobedience a litmus test, more of a "tipping point" that shows me which group is more committed to their cause. Voting patterns matter. Other forms of activism matter, too.

I don't deny that some hunters care about the environment, some broadly, most more narrowly along hunting interests. But if you are going to compare the typical Greenpeace activist with the typical hunter, I'm going to say the activist is more committed to environmental issues.

And I would go further to say that it isn't even a close call. That's the extent of what I am trying to accomplish here. If I hadn't been so grouchy when I wrote the post, that would've come across more clearly, I guess.

Posted by: Observer on October 14, 2003 03:05 PM

Though many hunters I know tend to be fairly conservative, I still think it's a disservice to call them on the wrong side of environmental issues. It works out that way because....

Many of them are so charged on hot-button words that the use of those words turns them off of the true cause. This is a heritage of the Liberal Media Syndrome as no doubt you know.

There is hope, though. In "The Beak of the Finch" (a book I heartily recommend) one of the authors tells the story of explaining their research on evolution of the finches on the Galapagos to a self-labeled conservative Christian on a long flight. The person seemed to be completely convinced by the description of what was being done and the results that were coming out. It wasn't until the very end that the word "evolution" was used. IIRC, the book doesn't say whether that single word was enough to act as an intellectual emetic and cause the earlier exposition to be lost.

Posted by: Feff on October 14, 2003 05:42 PM

And there are some schizoid people like that URL out there with clear mixed messages on the whole issue....

Posted by: Feff on October 14, 2003 05:52 PM

As an avid hunter I feel it is my duty to offer an opinion on your comments. First, I think your points are valid. Do we as a group focus our fights based our rational self interests? Maybe, but do those fights have reprocussions that ultimitly bennifit everyone? YES. We as a group choose to fight our battles as a whole. We don't stand on the street and yell with a sign in one hand and a starbucks coffee in the other. We pool our resources by supporting groups that fight for conservation as a whole. Groups such as Ducks Unlimited, that purcase or lease millions of acres of land that need to be cleaned up to allow for a healthy population of fowl. Yes we intern get to hunt the fowl, but we also revel int he fact that that patch of land will never be paved over to build a new starbucks. Many tree hugging hippies have done wonderful things for our planet, but since 1903, no group has donted, or paid for more conservation issues than hunters and fisherman. I am not willing to through myself under the wheels of a truck with toxic waste on it, but I am willing to donate my funds to the group that will loby the government to put the hammer down on the company dumping waste in a river that once held a great fishery and could once again with enough of funds and volunteer work. I know we could go back and forth for years trying to prove who is correct, but what I suggest is that you come spend a day in my duck blind and we will find a way for us to make progress together. Don't point fingers, when you can shake hands. I am sorry for how sloppy this is, but I am in my tree stand waiting for a 15 pointer to walk by.

Posted by: Eck on March 22, 2004 08:20 PM

I'll be happy to shake your hand, because hunters who care for the environment like you do (and actively do something about it) and who want to work toward common goals -- such people are the enemy of this administration.

What gets me boiling mad is hunters who claim to care about the environment as a huge priority but still race to the polls to vote for Bush, who is without question the worst environmental president we've had in my memory (and the fact that he would be awful in this regard was a readily available projection before 2000 based on his history and his backers).

Show me a hunter willing to vote for John Kerry because he'll do a better job of stewarding our environment, and I'll show you a person I will gladly call an ally. I'm not a hunter myself, but many in my family are. And they are ardent Republicans for reasons I simply cannot fathom sometimes.

Posted by: Observer on March 22, 2004 10:27 PM

You are not talking about Environmental issues when you talk to a republican hunter, He won't vote for Kerry because he is afraid of the Gun Control issues and the loss of their second amendment rights. I am a democrat, but I have voted republican in the past. I will NEVER vote for GW, that you can take to the protest line. I have a hard time in every election, and contrary to your thinking, most of my friends do too. Just last Friday; my best friend (an extreme conservative) was saying to me that he is lost right now. He can't find it in himself to vote democrat, for many reasons, but the main one is 2nd amendment rights. He wants to vote Republican, but he has no faith in GW and his domestic issues. I live in MA and I have to fight these issues every day. The sad part is that we have nobody to follow, even partially. Who is the lesser of the two evils? That is for you to decide.

I was excited by your response, but again you started point fingers. Don't judge an entire group, unless you have met them all.

Posted by: Eck on March 23, 2004 11:34 AM

I am also an avid hunter and I am, of course, not happy about what I'm hearing. I stumbled across this forum while searching for some legitimate financial stats showing contributions towards the environment from different organizations. I couldn't read what has been written here without responding. There is a difference between "caring" about the environment and helping to improve it. First of all, the "myth" in question only exists because of bitter antagonists like whoever started this post(...the baby talk and mockery, etc). There's a fundamental difference between those of you who are so gung-ho about claiming to care more about the environment and conservatives like myself who quietly donate to Ducks Unlimited and Fisheries Org's. Bottom line: I do "give a rats ass" about all environmental issues and you don't have to believe me. THE ENVIRONMENT DOESN'T IMPROVE ITSELF - DOLLARS DO. I'm sure there's nothing I can say to persuade you and I realize that, but consider this. What if Bush wins twice in a row, or any conservative holds office again in the future? Then the Sierra Club could've spent all that $ on ACTUALLY FUNDING organizations that physically improve the environment as opposed to the DFL candidate's campaign.
Furthermore, you also might want to be a little less idealistic and consider other issues that affect - more indirectly - future environmental policies and funding. Yes, the current war detracts from funds otherwise available to environmental programs, but guess what? If we don't continue, the problems in the middle east will get worse and will cost us more(exponentially) in the future. We're never going to live in a utopia so let's not pretend we will any time soon.
Another thing, according to the person who wrote the posting two above mine, I'm an "ENEMY". You're comments make me sick to my stomach. How can you speak of wanting to work together in the same sentence as calling me an enemy. If you noticed by my "name-tag," I'm in the military and I just got back from the desert-that's where your real enemy is(remember 9/11). Ask the citizens of Iraq if they care about the environment; THEY DON'T, because they've been too busy trying not to do something that would get them killed by their own Government. Don't you dare insult me by calling me an enemy just because I think we can address international issues now so we have more "resources" to devote to our natural resources later.

Posted by: SSgt, Minnesota Air National Guard on November 2, 2004 01:37 PM

Funny you should mention Iraq and 9/11 in the same sentence. THEY ARE NOT RELATED IN ANY WAY.

I agree that things need to be improved in the Middle East. We need a leader who will do that, and that person is most definitely not George W Bush.

Posted by: Observer on November 2, 2004 02:33 PM

Actually, the saddest part about this whole thing is that people don't actually understand what the President does about any of this.

The President will never repeal your second amendment rights. He doesn't have it in his power in any way, shape or form. He might be able to lobby in Congress for changes, but he can't do any more than you, I or anyone else.

More importantly, once upon a time we had this idea called compromise. Specifically with regard to gun control I'd love to see anyone apply a *brain* to the problem and solve this. There is *no* reason to have a gun loose and available in a populated area (read "city street") and I'm all for writing laws that allow cops to shoot on sight anyone who has a gun out of a gun case in a public street.

By the same token, I don't want to see anyone lose the right to own guns. With that one simple law above I wouldn't even worry about people with fully automatic weapons. I don't have a problem with hunting, home defense, etc.

Somehow, though, this issue boils down to, "The President might take away my gun so I have to vote for X to keep that from happening." -SIGH- Didn't your teachers teach you any better in school? Maybe you should make education a higher priority since it's pretty clear that it has gotten piss-poor in the US lately.

Posted by: Seattle Astronomer on November 2, 2004 05:00 PM