© 2011 Joshua Stark
It's funny, because my title, compared to those at Holly's, Tovar's, and Phillip's, is pretty high-falutin, but I won't go nearly as deep as they.
Currently, these three sites are having a great philosophical conversation over whether or not A: hunting is a sport; and B: whether that is good or bad.
Tovar and Holly (and me, to be honest) take the tack that hunting, to us, is not "sport" in the general sense of the word, and that the term dilutes, diminishes, and ultimately harms hunting in the general public's eyes. Phillip, bless his soul, embraces his hunting as sport, and gently chides us for falling for stereotypes (sport and "trophy" hunters as bad folks), rather than trying to destroy them. His inference (which he's made more clear at other times) is that the hunting community shouldn't be torn apart by these esoteric distinctions.
Personally, I don't think hunting is a sport, in the general definition of the term. That is, I believe that the impacts to hunting (physically, emotionally) separate it from the category of sports. Specifically, I think the fact that you try to kill an animal during hunting (and much fishing) means that it is, inherently, different from other categories of recreation, and "sport" has a dismissive tone to it nowadays that diminishes the gravity of killing. I, for one, don't use the term for this very reason.
Phillip's argument seems, to me, a bit off-focus. First, he seems to define "sport" as encompassing all recreational pursuits. If this is true, then I concede that hunting is a "sport", but I don't buy his definition. I think there are many pursuits, and that within the realm of recreational pursuits there exists both sports and other things (reading, for example). There are also some activities that are both recreational and something else, entirely. For example, many people do not grocery shop as a recreational pursuit, but many people fish for both recreation and food.
There are characteristics to the common definition of "sport" that do not ethically fit with hunting, especially when considered from the perspective of the non-hunting public. For example, sport tends to have a competitive element, but when that is applied to hunting, the non-hunting public imagines people who want to kill something in order to beat somebody else, and they tend to be repulsed by this urge.
It seems as though Phillip is really upset that some hunters condemn certain hunting practices or attitudes, and that this leads to fractures in hunting that may jeopardize it for all of us. He gives a lecture on the evils of stereotypes, and ends by suggesting that Tovar and Holly are not trying to destroy stereotypes, but are actually bolstering them by taking a side.
But, this isn't a case of stereotypes, this is a case of identifying unethical actions and condemning those actions. I (and probably Tovar and Holly) aren't taking a group of people, identifying them by one shared characteristic and then attributing to them additional characteristics that aren't true. We are saying that a particular action may be, or is, wrong. In the case of hunting, there are people who hunt for trophies, there are hunters who kill only to kill, and I (and probably Tovar and Holly) do not believe this is ethical behavior. We have a different standard from Phillip (we don't draw the ethical line at the law, which is a totally different conversation). But, that's okay. Hunting, like all good human endeavors, will thrive when people think more deeply about it and talk openly about it.
Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and if hunting couldn't survive public scrutiny, then it shouldn't survive it. I, for one, know that much of it is good and important to pass down, including the ethical considerations. I know hunting can survive this argument.
(Note: Phillip's link doesn't seem to be working, so go to his main website page for reference.)
2 days ago