Full disclosure: I had something else in mind for this week’s column. But then I went scrolling through the posts on Outside Magazine’s Facebook page and my eye was captured by something enviable (a bull elk). No, it wasn’t in the op-ed hammered out by some guy who boasted of his collection of eight firearms – you know the one, he detailed his cute little collection in such a way it became clear it isn’t enviable, then went on at length about the evil NRA.
No, it was another one, that caught my eye. This one was titled “The Best Ways to Stay Hydrated” and featured a bottle of water next to the aforementioned elk. Sounds innocent enough, right? Not according to the comments section.
Now, I’m not an Outside Magazine fan, but then I own Yeti coolers and don’t intend to blow them up, so what does that say about me? Regardless, fan or not, I had my usual cringing reaction to foolish behavior in the comments section – ahem – because every writer out there is familiar with the way everyone on the interweb is both an expert and a critic. This time, though, it was a different flavor of fool. This time it was Return of the Antis.
The comments included gems as these (social media nom de plumes excluded although spelling and grammar remain untouched):
“Have enjoyed some articles but don’t need to see pics of dead animals on my feed. Bye!”
“Pic of dead deer unnecessary. Unfollow right now.” (Yeah…not a deer…)
“You’re getting a big UNFOLLOW from me for that unnecessary, intentionally inflammatory picture!”
“WTF is with that photo take it down.”
And, of course, the threats:
“Totally unnecessary to post this, are you promoting hunting? Hunting is not a sport, if hunters want to do something constructive join the armed forces and don’t dress up as a school children wearing overpriced camo clothing. Having served 10 years in the British Royal Marines, I would hunt the hunters and see how they like it. This is so low rent.”
There were two standouts among the comments in support of hunting, though. A guy by the first name of Rob reminded commenters,
“If the hunting community and outdoor community don’t band together, there soon won’t be any outdoors left for either.”
Another guy, Brian, remarked,
“Would it be ‘inflammatory’ if they put the water bottle next to a cooked elk burger? Nope. It’s the same damn thing except one is more humane and sustainable (hunting).”
This is the part where I mention how tired I am of the special snowflakes among us (we’ll get to the threatening asshats some other time). Snowflakes aren’t categorized by age, gender, or preference of decaf coffee, although if you like decaf there’s obviously something wrong with you. It’s a frame of mind.
Somehow society shifted from the swaggering John Waynes of the 1950s to the simpering, skinny-jeans-wearing snowflakes of the 2000s. We have become a society of the easily offended and quick-to-throw-temper tantrums, and it’s being treated as not only acceptable but normal.
Even worse, murdering other human beings is now more socially acceptable than ethical hunting. Don’t believe me? Take a minute to consider the substantial support for certain political movements that openly encourage the cold-blooded killing of law enforcement officers. Consider how many people publicly wish for the brutal deaths of legal gun owners and hunters.
Back to the picture of the bull elk. Last I checked, the Great Interweb Offended were still sounding off on that picture. There was no blood, no gore, and no evidence it wasn’t an elk harvested on a farm for consumption at an upscale restaurant. There were no visible weapons. It was just an elk, his head visible in profile on the tailgate of a truck. And yet, there they were.
Now it’s my turn.
I’m offended. I’m offended by the hypersensitive, overwrought behavior of those commenters. I don’t jump on posts depicting images of herb gardens and decry deforestation or the horrors inflicted upon Mother Earth.
I’m offended by the way we as hunters and gun owners must constantly be aware of the easily upset among us. If we, as hunters, behaved as the vegetarians, vegans, and I-buy-mine-in-a-grocery-store-and-so-should-you meat eaters do, things would get ugly fast.
For that, and other reasons, we turn the proverbial cheek. It isn’t only the antis we’re aware of, though, it’s the sensitive among our own kind. Gone are the days when we could simply post photos from hunts just for fun; today we scour images for offensive details — real or imagined — lest we cause discord among our own tribe. Because, God forbid.
It isn’t just hunters, either. Take a moment to consider the wearing of eye and ear pro even when not shooting, finger placement, and muzzle angle – which can be damn hard to discern in a photograph – all of which are just the tip of the photographic firearm iceberg.
But mostly I’m offended by the threats. Threats of assault, rape, and murder. Threats to hunt down my family. Threats to poison my dog. It never ends. Emails, social media messages, comments on photographs and articles; where’s there’s a hatred, there’s apparently a way.
All right, fine. I’m not offended. I’m pissed off. Our current climate is the epitome of “you give an inch, they take a mile.” There’s always a place for good manners and basic human decency, but there’s no reason to bend backwards so far you touch your head to your heels. (Well, maybe in yoga. I will kick your ass at namaste.)
Maybe it’s time we start pushing back. Maybe it’s time we fight the smothering wave of anti-hunting and anti-gun rhetoric being spewed by the left with more than internal grumbling and infighting. Hey, maybe soft-pedaling it isn’t working so well and we need to fight fire with fire. Oh, wait, that’s what the NRA is doing and they’re being crucified for it. There, I said it.
It’s time to stand up for our rights as hunters. It can be done without resorting to name-calling or superfluous cursing (yes, really). And not only should it be done, it must be done.
So. Any takers?