Jewish World Review July 9, 2003 / 9 Tamuz, 5763
Debra J. Saunders
It's not sporting
LONDON "It's total prejudice," said Lindsey
Hill, one of hundreds of women waving their
underwear in front of 10 Downing St. and Parliament
last week. A friend nodded, then added: the "good
old class-war thing."
Hill is the press officer for the Union of Country
Sports Workers, which supports fox hunting, despite
the unflagging efforts of the Labor Party to ban it. The
ladies unfurling their knickers called their campaign
"pants to prejudice" -- an effort to educate the British
public that not all hunters are upper-crust men
dressed in crimson jackets and jodhpurs.
Probably they saw the potent force soccer moms
have played in American politics, and figured maybe
venery moms would work.
Alas, the gambit failed. Last week, the House of
Commons voted 362 to 154 to ban hunting with dogs
-- that is fox hunting, deer hunting and hare hunting.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair had been pushing
for something called the "middle way" that wouldn't
alienate rural voters by banning hunting, but would
over-regulate the chase -- a semi-ban.
But his fellow Laborites would have nothing to do with
a compromise bill. Labor, instead, backed a total
ban, and Blair did not protest.
Ah, the irony: A large political faction so violently
opposes a small number of humans and dogs
chasing and murdering a rural pest that it turns into a
vengeful pack itself, running down an endangered
sport once considered an esteemed English tradition.
Starving and wounding the sport wasn't enough --
Labor wanted a kill.
The House of Lords is expected to fight the bill -- but
observers predict that fox hunting in England and
Wales will be history by 2005.
The hunters feebly argue that without traditional fox
hunts, people will shoot foxes rather than hunt them
with dogs; the wounded ones will die slowly. They
warn also that foxhounds aren't brought up to be pets
and that a hunting ban would force the dogs' owners
to put them down. They say that ending hunting is
not compassionate. (Even I am not convinced.)
But when hunting foes talk about the sport's cruelty,
they seem unaware that when foxes kill poultry or
livestock, there's wounding, pain and death -- just as
when dogs kill foxes. (At least the hunt gets rid of
pests that kill farm animals.)
I think Dennis J. Foster, executive director of the
Masters of the Foxhounds Association of America,
got it right when he said that most hunting opponents
"don't give a darn about the fox. They don't think
people should be riding around on horses (while)
wearing red coats."
Bingo -- Laborites oppose hunting because they see
it as the pursuit of stiff-lipped toffs.
Their fanaticism is so visceral that Gerald Kaufman, a
member of Parliament,
actually threatened to vote against a key Blair
hospital bill if the hunting- ban bill failed.
No justice, no peace. No hunting ban, no health?
When predator welfare is more important than health
care, you know the fox is irrelevant. The real issue is
urban versus rural; Labor versus leisure class.
When confronted with such prejudice, there's nothing
the ladies waving their underpants could say that
would make a difference.
The issue is power. The majority has the power to
write laws that tell the minority what it cannot do. The
majority is not content to hector fox hunters, or try to
persuade them to be kinder in their kills. The majority
wants to force the minority -- ostensibly a privileged
elite -- to obey. Or else.
Sometimes the highest purpose of government isn't
to protect or to serve, but to provide believers with the
delicious satisfaction of forcing other people to do as
they say. Tally ho.
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