By Garry Mallard:
The anti-hunting movement continues to assail responsible NSW taxpayers with intemperate and often highly offensive statements born of nothing more complicated than cultural intolerance. While we may have come to expect this contemptible behaviour, albeit reluctantly, from ill-informed and bigoted extremists, I have to ask the question – is it acceptable from taxpayer subsidised political representatives?
The Greens have become the standard-bearers for cultural intolerance in Australia. Failure to agree with the Green point of view can result in victimisation, public ridicule, misrepresentation and grossly offensive abuse, not only under the seal of Parliamentary Privilege, but also in the media, on the internet and in Party propaganda.
NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge thinks nothing of referring to hunters as “weekend warriors” and “thill killers”, terms that are highly offensive to people who strive, responsibly and in accordance with the law of the land, to preserve a cultural and to many a highly spiritual practice of many thousands of years standing.
Mr Shoebridge, his party and followers promote cultural hate statements in the community with impunity, and I have often wondered how long they would be permitted to do so if those statements targeted a more mainstream group – for example, the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church has been in the press for some years now, as the result of the actions of a small minority of ‘followers’ who have broken the law, ruining lives and even putting some lives at risk from associated substance abuse and suicide. Yet the absence of offensive tags such as “Christian perverts” or “Catholic rock-spiders” in Greens’ political rhetoric is noteworthy.
It seems that those who would apply derogatory epithets to hunters as a job-lot are more discriminating when it comes to the community’s sacred cows. Yet I wonder why, when, on the balance of evidence, the transgressions of Catholic Church representatives have been at least as numerous as those attributable to the most irresponsible ‘hunter’, and surely more heinous in nature.
The reason for the apparent double-standard is simple. Generally speaking, Greens are not hunters but some Greens are Catholic and so they are circumspect with regard to unreasonable and offensive generalisations. Of course the fact that any Party that set out to antagonise a section of the community as large and as influential as the Catholic Church would very likely be committing electoral suicide must surely be counted a relevant inhibiting factor.
I must point out that I do not, for one instant, suggest that anyone should attack the Catholic Church as a whole for the sins of a very few individuals who may call themselves Catholic. The detestable activities of these individuals are contrary to Christian doctrine and their actions must be judged as the actions of individuals. But in the same way, surely the actions of those who use weapons irresponsibly should be judged as the actions of individuals and not cited opportunistically as justification for an all-encompassing cultural hate campaign aimed at demonising all firearms owners and hunters?
The practice of maligning or ‘vilifying’ hunters, based on their cultural beliefs and practices is widespread among anti-hunting lobby groups. Their aim in using descriptors such as “weekend warriors” and “thrill killers” is clearly to sway community opinion against hunters, as is the Greens’ habitual practice of associating hunters with drunkenness, recklessness, dangerous irresponsible behaviour and cruelty, and it is my belief that this strategy may have legal implications for the perpetrators under, of all things, Australian racial hatred laws.
Australia is obliged under international human rights law to prohibit incitement to racial hatred (Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights). The Commonwealth, every state, and the ACT (but not the Northern Territory) make racial vilification at least ‘unlawful’, and at times a criminal offence. In such laws the words ‘racial’ and ‘race’ are used not for a pseudo-scientific purpose, but as shorthand for the many ways that a person’s own and perceived identity turns on personal attributes such as their physical appearance, where they were born and raised, their culture, and their traditions. As a result, ‘racial’ vilification laws protect against hateful conduct that occurs because of, for example, a person’s nationality, ethnicity and culture. [Simon Rice OAM, Director of Law Reform and Social Justice at the ANU College of Law.]
The advice above may not only have implications for Australian indigenous hunters, but also for the many people from foreign shores who now call Australia home and whose countries of origin may have longstanding or even ancient cultural hunting traditions. Given Australia’s status as a “cultural melting-pot” I would be very surprised if a large percentage of Aussie hunters did not have some legitimate ‘cultural’ links to hunting as a practical cultural necessity as opposed to a simple sport. For those of us who are unable to claim such a link, the definition of “ethnicity” may also be of interest. Many believe, erroneously, that ‘ethnic’ means foreign. In fact the Oxford Dictionary defines ‘ethnicity’ as “traits, background, allegiance, or association.” Ergo, might it not be said that coming from a rural background and being allied with principles of feral animal management, in association with an Approved Hunting Organisation, hunting is in fact my ethnicity?
There is of course broad approval of Indigenous cultural hunting rights and practices amongst the Green and anti-hunting camps, despite the fact that even in the most skilled hands, traditional weapons cannot match the accuracy or efficiency and therefore the ‘humaneness’ of modern bows and riffles. The Greens’ and the anti-hunting lobby’s apparent double-standard on this count is not surprising. Intolerant dictatorial regimes throughout history have reserved the right to degrade and ridicule whomever they choose, without regard for principles of natural justice, let alone logic.
Greens and the anti-hunting lobby acknowledge the broader cultural significance of hunting, if only in the most disparaging of contexts. They habitually refer to a ‘guns culture’ invariably associating that culture with the most deplorable acts of cruelty and antisocial behaviour, regardless of whether the legal firearms owner uses her/his guns for legal or illegal purposes. Simply being “one of them” is sufficient cause for Greens to incite community hatred of hunters, their culture and practices.
Examples of the distain with which these people view firearms owners and hunters is evident nowhere more than in the online discussion forum, where the self-appointed guardians of community and cultural welfare can register their prejudiced, bigoted and highly offensive statements in an instant and under cover of an assumed name. A recent opinion piece appearing in the highly regarded e-journal “On Line Opinion” is just one example.
An article by David Leyonhjelm, entitled “Disarming the good-guys will not prevent massacres” put forth a reasoned argument against knee-jerk gun reform in the US and Australia. I say reasoned not because I necessarily agree with Mr Leyonhjelm’s arguments, but rather because they were considered arguments, conveyed with sincerity and respect, without resort to emotive rhetoric, recrimination or abuse. If only the same could be said of society’s social and moral guardians who made their intolerance known in On Line Opinion’s associated discussion forum all but a few of them under assumed names.
The first comment accuses Mr. Leyonhjelm of being a cowboy, eager to shoot it out on the streets of Dodge City. The second accuses him of being ‘delusional’ and concludes that he must therefore be American. Another respondent accuses gun owners of being uncivilised, and another accuses men of fearing impotence if their guns are taken away. And of course there are the all too predictable references to phallus worship and intellectual impairment, along with the pervasive bigotry that is manifest in the great weight of anti-American sentiment expressed in the forum.
These passive aggressive statements have become the proud pacifists’ weapon of choice in the bid to insight community hatred of responsible weapons owners and hunters. Unsatisfied with the opportunity to express a reasoned counter argument they invariably resort to accusing the holder of any pro-hunting/gun ownership view with all manner of crimes against nature and society. What’s more troubling is the fact that On Line Opinion is a journal contributed and subscribed to by credible social commentators, politicians, social reform advocates and people who consider themselves to be of some robust intellectual stature, some of whom clearly consider that their intemperate abuse and intolerance of other subscribers’ views is reasonable and wholly justified nonetheless.
It is for this reason that we must be circumspect when responding to these ill-tempered and clearly prejudiced people. The media knows a story when it sees one, and the media will always see the story in the headline “Liberal Democrats Officer in favour of gun ownership” before it sees the story in, “Aggressive bigoted outbursts by gun control supporters a growing phenomenon”.
If we hunters, as a group of conscientious Australian citizens, have one common objective over and above sustaining our right to practice our hunting culture responsibly and without persecution or ridicule, that objective must be never to descend to the level of the passive-aggressive bigots who assail us daily, wherever their collective soapbox may stand.
Anyway, I’ll get outa ya way now.
Submitted by Garry Mallard