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  • Crafting Crucial Conversations Conference Atlanta Georgia August 3, 2016

     

    CRAFTING CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS

     

    Atlanta, Georgia

    August 3, 2016

    Michael G. Sabbeth, Esq.

     

    As Presented at the Conference

     

    Email:

    michael@thehonorablehunter.com

    michael@michaelsabbethesq.com

     

    website

    www.thehonorablehunter.com

     

     

     

     

     

    Table of Contents 

    26

     

     

    Introduction.4

    I will talk about:4

    To begin I share three  anecdotes.5

    The environment5

    Clarity:5

    Motivation:6

    Black rhino:  a case study.6

    Priscilla Feral and the gazelles.7

    Quote: Thomas Pain.9

    Caring, compassion and Empathy.10

    Gunnison.11

    It’s Not Natural!11

    Black Rhino and Feral: Who Has Compassion?.12

    Rhetoric.13

    Examples;13

    Gun Control13

    Gun Culture.14

    Safari:14

    Trophy hunting.15

    Moral Clarity: A Socratic Dialogue.15

    Sensible gun laws.17

    Debating.17

    Crucial Conversations17

    Fighting back.18

    Sandy Hook.18

    Cecil19

    Poaching in Botswana:21

    Craig Boddington.22

    Unity and Katie Couric.22

    Churchill quote.23

    Lessons: Fighting Back.25

    Author quotes and analysis.25

    James Swan.25

    Concluding Thoughts26

     

     


     

     

    Introduction

    I am honored to be among you

    So many insightful comments and perspectives… I have tried to integrate many of your comments into this talk

     

    You have devoted much of your lives to conservation, writing, hunting  advocating for hunting rights. I am a relative newcomer

    Words are needed for conversations. I am here to share my thoughts on how to have effective conversations; persuasive conversations; conversations that advance our goals.

    Words can persuade toward virtue and words can subvert virtue.

    words spread truth and words spread lies. I

     I hope, to advance and defend hunting.

    It is my hope Russian hackers who are hunters will take interest in these files on my computer.

     

    I will talk about:

    The environment in which we must operate

    Factual and Moral Clarity

    Rhetoric with an emphasis of not surrendering the language to our opponents

    Rhetoric

    How to Use Compassion, Kindness and Altruism to Refute Anti Hunters

    Arguments for Fighting Back

    Katie Couric, Cecil the Lion and the Black Rhino Auction in Dallas

    And some concluding thoughts

    To begin I share three anecdotes

     

    Mgs hunting kudu in Natal,  S Africa… with Marcus Luttrell   my only big game hunting experience

    Lady Colorado Division of Wildlife

    The Worm Story

     

    The environment

    John Storm: change is constant. Yes, but some things do not change. Human nature does not change. And that is important to us in crafting our messages.

    Vanity, narcissism, wanting to do good but wanting to take the easy route… all that has not changed.

    An era .. a culture where oten truth does not matter;

    -where consequences do not matter

    Political Correctness: the emphasis is on the political, as in George Orwell’s prescient 1946 essay Politics and the English Language : it’s about politics and politics is about only one thing… one thing: power: who has it and who does not; who controls others; who can hurt others and who cannot. Who defines the permissible language.

     

     

    Clarity:

    Clarity is vitally important. Clarity should precede agreement or disagreement because clarity illuminates values, contradictions, moral strengths or moral flaws of an argument or policy.

    Only when you can master the moral and Intellectual foundations of an argument can you fully defend it or craft strategies to refute the argument.

    Non hunting Examples:

    minimum wage

    If you favor a minimum wage, you favor increased unemployment for minorities and youth generally

    Motivation:

     that was discussed.

    Here are some thoughts

    We are judged, according to many of our speakers, in part by our motivation for hunting.

    Should we permit such a standard of judgment without fighting back?

    If food from hunters is distributed to the needy, is the motivation of the hunter morally relevant?

    If a village gets cleaner water from the fees of the hunter, is the state of mind of the hunter morally relevant?

    Why is motivation important?

    Why do they get to judge the merit of our motivation?

    We have to fight that.

    My point: why give the anti hunter authority to define the rectitude of our behavior?

     

    Black rhino:  a case study

    Such a powerful illuminating example on many levels…

    I wrote an article for Fair Chase Magazine Boone and Crockett, Black Rhinos and Strong Horses: A Template for Applying Persuasive Arguments

    I interviewed Simeone Niilenge Negumbo, the Republic of Namibia’s Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and his colleague, Elly Hamunyela, Namibia’s Deputy Director of Wildlife Utilization.

    Facts:

    Aged rhino; non reproductive; was destroying other rhino and other animals; was destroying property; the money from the auction would be used for anti poaching programs, clean water programs, land reclamation, schools, and so forth.

    Those are the facts.

     

    Angela Antonisse Oxley of Dallas, who was recruiting opponents to protest on Saturday, the evening of the auction, asserted it was barbaric to hunt and kill an animal just because it was old and unable to reproduce. Ms. Oxley’s assertion merits scrutiny.

    Here is how I deconstruct her words.

    Her character, her integrity—and those who think like her—are discerned not only by what she thinks is barbaric but by what she thinks is not barbaric. Herein lies the strategy for gaining moral clarity of her beliefs and which offers the most persuasive method to refute her positions.

     

    Clarity: they prefer impoverishing children and consuming dirty water, increased poaching  and, by the way, killing the animals rather than get money from a hunt of one animal in a very unique class. Those are the consequences; There is no argument.

     

    We now know with clarity their values.  That must be our message…

     

    Priscilla Feral and the gazelles

    The three species of African antelope — the scimitar-horned oryx, the addax and the dama gazelle — are already nearly extinct in their native Africa. But they are thriving on the plains of Texas, mostly on ranches where hunters pay thousands of dollars for the privilege of hunting them.

    Priscilla Feral on TV program: Sixty Minutes:  I would prefer they all die rather than inhabit their non-natural habitat in Texas

    Since 2005 an exemption to the Endangered Species Act has allowed ranchers to raise the three species, and hunters to stalk them, without a special permit. In all, Texas ranchers had about 1,800 of the animals in 2004. With the exemption in place, those numbers swelled to more than 17,000 by 2011.

    CBS News aired a “60 Minutes”feature story about the controversy on Jan. 29. Priscilla Feral, president of the animal rights group Friends of Animals, told correspondent Lara Logan that she has waged a seven-year legal battle to get the exemption overturned.

    Thank you, by the way, for the epic legal work done by our own Anna Seidman and the SCI legal team for defeating Ms. Feral’s legal attack.

    : Feral was  using Danae’s word, blunt. And

    about as subtle as having Lucca Brazzi wearing a tutu and dancing in Swan Lake ballet

    -now, she may be vicious; she may be spiteful; she may hate animals… but whatever else she is, she is clear…

    This, I suggest, comprises our strongest arguments in defense of hunting…

    This should have been our finest hour

    We should have spoken confidently…. Aggressively… and as any trial lawyer and any communications expert knows, confidence trumps content…. … that is not a political endorsement…

    Confidence scares off people who are uncertain, which is most of humanity most of the time.

    As Osama Bin Ladn pontificated, people prefer a strong horse to a weak horse. We became weak, I suggest.

    Instead, we became defensive, reacting, letting the anti hunters define the context; frame the issues…

    We missed an opportunity

     

    Here’s a key point: we aggressively counter attack and refute the Oxleys and Ferals, not because we expect to change their opinions, but to influence the vast middle… the people who are open to reason, to facts, to logic, and who care about animals.

    That is our target audience … not the strident anti hunters

    A few thoughts here:

    Quote: Thomas Pain

    To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead. Thomas Pain

     

    And, as we lawyers say, It is pointless to argue with a person whose living depends on disagreeing with you.

    And, in terms of persuasion, As a general proposition, people do not thank you for pointing out how stupid they are.

    Here is the skill: focus on the consequences – not the platitudes.. that’s how we can make the best arguments to defend and advance hunting and be most credible for that vast middle ground

     

     focus on reality; not abstractions;

     

    Nature is not a Rousseau painting, where the lion lays down with the lamb waiting for a meal of tofu and steamed broccoli

    We need to be practical; to think practically: What the Greek philosophers called practical reasoning: phronesis:

    Here’s a joke that illustrates phronesis:

    Here’s a joke thatembodies practical reasoning.

    Our’s is prettier

    Don’t wear anything expensive

     

    Caring, compassion and Empathy

     

    Every form of addiction is bad, whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism. Carl Gustav Jung

    Barbara Oakley: Cold-Blooded Kindness,   a study of a murder of her husband by a woman who took advantage of people’s decency: P. 206

     

    But, as polymath science fiction writer David Brin observes, this feeling of certainty can feel so good that it can sometimes become an addiction. We can see this addiction first hand in self-righteous people, who are keen to wallow in the wonderful feeling that they are rightand their “opponents are deeply, despicably wrong.Or that their methods of helping others is so purely motivated and correct that all criticism can be dismissed with a shrug, along with any contradictory evidence.” Good intentions don’t somehow elevate us above this personal conundrum.

     

    We can be accused of this defect also.. but the accusation is fallacious. We seek truth; we act based on consequences; we make corrections when evidence dictates. That’s the difference between us and them.

    And also: p. 212

    McGilchrist goes on to point out that left-hemisphere dominance seems characterized by “denial, a tendency to conformism, a willingness to disregard the evidence, a habit of ducking responsibility (and) a blindness to mere experience in the face of overwhelming evidence of a theory.”

     

     

    Here are some quotations that provide a useful framework to think about the rhetoric of caring and compassion:

     

    "Evil is never done so thoroughly or so well as when it is done with a good conscience." Blaise Pascal,

    Recently wrote an article on this topic for Scott’s Mountain Hunter Magazine

     

    The rhetoric of Compassion Caring, Empathy: these are the current God like terms in our culture’s nomenclature… caring… I feel your pain… not caring is the equivalent of child molestation or not recycling aluminum cans…

    Gunnison

    --deer and elk freezing; starving; hunters and Colo Div Wildlife made heroic efforts to feed the animals asked for help from so called animal rights groups, so called conservation groups --- they all refused to help: they gave primarily 2 reasons for refusing to help:

            Why should we help you save animals that you are going to kill?

            It Nature’s way

     

    Let’s examine the arguments:

    Kill animals.. how many? Which will yield more animals?

    Nature’s way: an orthodoxy they don’t believe

    It’s Not Natural!

    Romanticized notion of Nature: the lion sitting with the lamb, as in a Rousseau painting, waiting for a dinner of tofu and steamed broccoli

    Nature is death; Nature is disease; Nature is starvation; Nature is cruelty

     

    If they get cancer, get into a car crash, get attacked during a crime.. they don’t care about Nature anymore. They want the best medical care; unrelenting prosecution of their attacker;

    They made a calculation.. a moral and financial calculation.. that they would prosper better if the animals died

    Why do they make such false arguments?

    Because they work

    They are Darwinian: they survive because they are useful

    Why do such false arguments survive?

    Because, in part, we have not been effective in refuting them and shaming them and humiliating them.

    The argument: who has compassion? Hunters or so called animal rights group?

    The hunters have compassion and the anti hunters choose to kill the animals.

    That’s the argument

     

    Black Rhino and Feral: Who Has Compassion?

     

    That’s the argument we must make: the facts are on our side; morality is on our side; consequences are on our side. We just need to step up our game in the rhetoric field.

     

    True, most people want to do something; they want to do good. But wanting is not enough. And here is a point we must make: motivation does not matter. Either you do good or you do not do good.

    A person is morally responsible for the logical consequences of his or her policies and beliefs.

    They want to do good, so they say, but they are actually doing harm.

    We can state this message gently or harshly, but the message must be communicated. Intent is not enough.

     

    Rhetoric

    Mark Duda said “It’s not what you say that counts; it’s what people hear.”

    Well, he’s technically correct. But certainly what you say and how you say it dictates in large measure what people hear.

    Aristotle’s teachings on rhetoric: ethos, pathos, logos: focus on the audience

    Rhetoric is persuasion. But it’s a lot more:

    It’s how to refute; how to stop an argument; how to counterattack

     

    One of the hunter education instructors I interviewed said this regarding the anti hunter: first, shut them up, then push them back and then have a reasonable conversation.

    That requires skills in rhetoric

     

     

    Examples;

    Gun Control

    What does the phrase mean?

    Wayne LaPierre: I told him.. the NRA should present itself as the most effective gun control organization in the nation…

    So should the NSSF etc..

    What does the phrase mean?

    What is the effect when we commit to using words that have no meaning?

    Who opposes gun control?

    The rhetoric exhibits the logical fallacy of the Straw Man argument: it creates a false target and then seeks to gain moral authority and intellectual credibility by destroying the false target.

     

    Similarly:

    Armed teachers is not the answer: logical fallacy: strawman argument: it is not the answer.. true… but the question is: is it a partial answer?

     

    Gun Culture

    Put with Gun Culture and Michael Corleone…. The Molinari family guaranteed Fredo’s safety…

    It is dangerous to use phrases that have no meaning; it is more dangerous to allow people to demagogue by using phrases that have no meaning.

    I think of the scene in The Godfather when Michael Corleone responds to Moe Green’s challenge to ‘talk business.’ Michael Corleone: “The Corleone family bankrolled your hotel; the Molinari family guaranteed Fredo’s safety. You want to talk business, let’s talk business.”

    You want to talk about gun culture then let’s talk about lots of cultures. Let’s talk about the culture of dependency; the culture of fatherless families, the culture of violence Each one of the cultures leads to social decay and crime, including crimes with firearms.

    So, you want to talk culture, let’s talk culture. If you can make such a rhetorical connection, I assure you the only culture your opponent will want to talk about is the culture in yogurt!

    Safari:

    Evidently safari now has a negative connotation

    Our responses:

    Safaris save animals

    Safaris provide for schools

    Safaris feed needy people

     

    We have to be very cautious when we allow opponents dictate what words we can use. Recall Orwell and political correctness

     

    Trophy hunting

    The word ‘trophy’ seems to be causing a lot of misery for us, especially when the word precedes ‘hunting.’

    Well, there are sports trophies; even trophy wives, and now we have trouble with trophy hunting.

     

    What does the phrase mean?

    Ponder this:

    If you kill an animal and give the meat to the needy, is that trophy hunting?

    Think of my words regarding motivation

    If you kill an animal and thereby allow for greater reproduction by younger male animals, is that trophy hunting?

    If you hunt and consume the meat but mount the head etc on the wall, is that trophy hunting?

    If killing an animal thereby helps sustain a village, is that a defilement of the animal?

    If not, what is the stigma to trophy hunting?

     

    Moral Clarity: A Socratic Dialogue

            You want to preserve the animals?

            You are in favor of policies that preserve the animals?

            Preserving the animals is your main value?

            You are against trophy hunting because it slaughters the animals for no purpose than to display it and you think it reflects the hunter’s vanity?

            If I demonstrated that hunting saves the animals, would you change your mind about hunting?

            Give data

            If the animal is eaten, does it matter if the animal is eaten by the hunter?

            Do you now accept the reality that a trophy animal for one participant may be needed food for another participant?

            Do you accept that trophy hunting preserves animals?

            Do you now accept trophy hunting as legitimate?

    So: ponder this: you are accused of being a trophy hunter.

    Your response: damn right, and proud of it.

    There effect: defang the attack; take away their power.

    The anti goes apoplectic: I’m trying to insult you and you agree with me?

    Perhaps my next article will be: Proud to be a Trophy Hunter!!

     

    Again: the danger here is allowing the anti hunter to control our language.

     

    And for whatever it’s worth, not using the word ‘trophy’ won’t change the minds of the anti hunter. Most likely, they will see us as weak. Strong horse and all.

     

    Dealing with Wayne Parcell strategy: in the debate, changing topic to lying tobacco experts. How dare you!!

    How dare you make a moral equivalence between shooting an animal and methodical lying about human health.

     

    Andy Dufresne

    We have to find the wit and will to break through the rhetoric of the mass culture, kind of like Andy Dufresne slogging through all that sewage in the Shawshank Redemption…. We might have to get a little dirty…

     

    Sensible gun laws

    reasonable gun controls;

    We are using words and phrases that have no meaning; thus, they mean whatever the audience wants it to mean; it’s like tofu… you make out of it anything you want

    Again, words that have no meaning… this is important to understand, because it affects our ability to persuade and to get people over to our side or at least make people neutral who previously were opponents:

    Debating

    Example: in a debate: I have seen.. pro gun pro hunting people with more brains in their urine sample debating anti hunting / gun folks and they get creamed… I saw it.. how people from the audience gathered around the anti speaker and ignored the better informed and better qualified pro speaker… because the anti spoke in terms of being reasonable and sensible.. and who stated, I think gratuitously, that he really didn’t want to restrict gun rights.

    There is a point to be learned here: debates: don’t do it.. unless you have extraordinary skill. Don’t enter a debate with the mindset: we’ll each tell our side and we’ll let the audience decide. That’s a recipe for total disaster. It’s a model for losing. Don’t enter a debate unless you totally confident you can destroy the opponent as if you ran him or her trough a Cuisinart. Anything less is a defeat.

    You are a murderer!

    How can you kill those beautiful animals?

    Do you know how many animals there would be if you hunters didn’t kill them?

    You knuckle dragger clinging to your guns and your religion and your anti immigrant sentiments!!!

    That question was thrust in the face of a hunter education instructor friend of mine. He had the good sense to grittily reply: Zero. He shut her up.

    Crucial Conversations

    Here’s the point: if we are going to have conversations, crucial or otherwise, then we better have a method, a goal, a measure whether our conversations are effective and we better be persuasive. That is, we better win. Otherwise, the conversation has not advanced our cause: defending and advancing hunting.

    We must use the language of compassion, caring, empathy; being offended; saving lives; helping little children; developing clean water systems; Describe ourselves as animal rights activists.

    We propose fair rules and policies; reasonable rules and policies.

    Fair and reasonable are words that have substantial rhetorical power.

    Use them

     

    Fighting back

    Sandy Hook

    Just because there’s a subtext doesn’t mean the actual text isn’t important.. and the killings were horrific and needed to be addressed on their own terms.. and then the subtext had to be addressed

    I suggest our response should have been : what can we do to join forces .. with anyone… any group… to increase the odds of preventing this from ever happening again… we’re all in this together. We are all parents and someone’s children.

    We are always reacting.. on the defensive… the shootings—Orlando, San Bernadino, Sandy Hook, Charleston Church… our response should be;

            We are open to any argument that will advance policies that will reduce or eliminate these horrific killings

            We will work with any organization .. whether we have agreed or disagreed with them in the past… that will help create policies that will eliminate or reduce the likelihood of such horrific actions

            We are willing to reassess any positon, any policy, any argument, that we have advanced in the past in order to reduce these horrific crimes

            We want reasonable controls; things that work; common sense solutions… use the language of the attacker…. Sensible controls

            We want what works

     

    Wasn’t done

    Talk about the economic impact of hunters, gun purchases, rights, Second Amendment are not effective responses.

    And that’s what it should be when the next psychopath does something horrible

     

    Cecil

    The analogy Cecil is the Twin Towers of Big Game Hunting

    Very powerful

     

    Cecil: should have been our greatest triumph; could have been our finest hour…

    I call it the lost opportunity

     

    Walter Palmer: a dentist; an employer; a tax payer; a conservationist; a man who spent tens of thousands of dollars hunting and thereby preserving animals…

    Class warfare

     

    He tracks a wounded lion 14 hours or so… .and it was legal…

    True: one of the audience made the very astute point: we didn’t know the facts, so we didn’t respond as quickly.

    But not knowing the facts didn’t stop the anti hunters and immediately the attack reached tsunami force

    Our response: we should have been more agile with our rhetoric.

    So, we should have immediately shifted from the specific—Cecil—to the general:

    We don’t know the facts… but:

    Have you ever seen a lion starve to death?

    What do you value more? An aging lion or food for a village?

    An aging lion or medicine for a village?

    An aging lion or anti poaching efforts?

    We should have challenged them immediately: What are your values?

    Why didn’t we ask the questions:

            Have you ever seen a starving lion?

            Ever see a lion die from hunger or disease:

            Ever see a lion ripped apart to death by younger lions?

            Ever seen the huts and shacks these natives line in?

            Ever drank dirty water rather than your Perrier or what have you?

            You will be able to think of better questions. Let’s use them… stop the anti hunters in their tracks; get them out of their comfort zone;

            Speak in terms of their moral weaknesses and inconsistencies

            These are people who would rather feel good than do good.

            Clarity: do you want animals to survive?

            Would you agree that policies that increase the survival of animals are good policies?

            Do you accept that people who enable animals to survive are doing good deeds?

            If a ban on hunting or a ban on importing ivory or a ban on importing animal skins led to more deaths of animals, would you still support the ban?

    This would have been the textbook case of shutting them up, pushing them back and then offering to have a reasonable conversation.

     

                        I Am Cecil:   Jes Sui Charlie…

                        Smug middle-aged woman carrying a poster: “I Am Cecil,” a vile loathsome leeching a moral stance off the dead and wounded in the Charlie Hebdo Magazine attacks by muslim killers on the publishing office in Paris, France, January 7, 2015, and the #JeSuisCharlie" placards. Contemptible loathsome moral leeching.. a country she never heard of; the life cycle of an animal she knows nothing about;

                        And the point here: people believe so intensely in matters in which they are totally ignorant.

                        How much has she contributed to conservation? How many impoverished natives of Zimbabwe did she elevate?

                         

                        The perverse morality of affluent leisured westerners arrogantly unconcerned about the consequences of their policies.

                        They attack us on our photos.. we should have done the same with this moral outrage .. in this unique instance.

     

    The problem with Cecil.. we stopped.. we were first and goal on the three-yard line and we stopped; we didn’t get the argument over the goal line.  A few great essays, editorials, newsletter commentary… and we stopped… we didn’t make the best arguments and we stopped; we lost an opportunity. Will we be ready for the next opportunity?

    And here is the key message point:

    And now the self righteous airline bans… why don’t we have a unified message: Lufthansa or whatever kills more lions than a hundred Walter Plamers!!

     

    Poaching in Botswana:

    The poachers’ camps; the landowners will poison; the farmers will kill them. Allowing hunters to take their trophies ensures much needed monetary input into these very very poor countries who derive an incredible amount of revenue from Elephant and Safari hunters alike. Not to mention the 10s of thousands of lost jobs. The hunting and import of ivory by sport hunters is a win / win scenario. The ban on ivory imports by viable Sport Hunters is a lose / lose. It’s that simple. Hunters stop poaching- Not governments

    -everyone in this audience knows of the poaching that flourishes as soon as a hunting ban is enacted.

    Why didn’t we have a unified aggressive policy position on that?

    Our messaging should have  been:

    Poachers love hunting bans!!

    Poachers Thrive; Animals Die!!!

     

    Craig Boddington

    Craig Boddington explained that the leopard populations have rebounded with estimates of between 700,000 and 2 million animals, which increase is specifically the consequence of the value that hunters have placed on the leopard.

     

    Unity and Katie Couric

    Katie Couric’s execrable loathsome deliberate altering interview footage of gun owners…

    Katie Couric accused of deceptively editing gun documentary

    May. 26, 2016 - 2:22 - Gun rights activists seem to have difficulty answering questions in the film

    “Under the Gun,” Monday.

    “I take responsibility for a decision that misrepresented an exchange I had with members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League,” Couric said in a statement.

    At one point in the film, Couric asks the Virginia Citizens Defense League, “If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?”

    Read more: 
    http://dailycaller.com/2016/05/31/katie-couric-finally-apologizes-for-deceptive-editing-of-anti-gun-documentary-video/#ixzz4EfZO8ZXC

    Strategy Note: VCDL President Philip Van Cleave …Other scenes in the documentary, says Van Cleave, “accurately” represent the input of his fellow gun owners. But not the exchange on background checks. Van Cleave says he has audio of the entire interview with Couric — a backstop against bogus editing that he learned from his dealings with the media. “I do that as a matter of course when I’m doing things like that,” says Van Cleave. “It has saved me a few times.”


    And then the obligatory apology when caught.. but the damage is done…

     

    TV does not illustrate reality

    The manipulate the media; they lie; the omit and edit. They are bereft of ethics and integrity. They abuse the public trust. They are not there for illumination and education. They are there to destroy us; to humiliate us. If any of us cannot grasp that reality, it is best that person has no conversations at all.

    And any of our spokespersons who cannot grasp this reality will hurt us.

    Katie Couric lied.. people died…

     

    Churchill quote

    Churchill; the lie travels halfway around the world before the truth gets out of bed in the morning.

     

    Gives us all a black eye

    And Tom Opre’s statement: we are no better than our lowest common denominator:

    Tom, with respect, I gently disagree

    What is the message: that we hunters give moral legitimacy to be judged and attacked by the worst hunter offenders.

    We would be saying.. I am no better than the worst out there.

    I agree to have every hunter judged by the measurements of the worst among us.

    I don’t accept that

     

    Imagine what would happen if a thousand lawyers attending an American Bar Association conference were told: if even one of you overcharges a client, we all have back eyes!!

    Are you kidding me or what?

    The lawyers would rush the stage and beat the speaker to death with his $1,000 Italian shoes!!

     

    What should hunters nurture this suicidal impulse?

    As any trial lawyer would do, We should acknowledge our shortcoming, condemn bad behavior and then move on.

    Don’t condemn the mass collectively.

     

    I was part of a discussion several years ago at a conservation organization near Chicago. Beautiful place. Some unethical hunter did something terrible.. I forgot what… and the torrential self-flagellating began: this hunter gives all of us a black eye.

    No.

    Not at all.

    What other profession, activity, field of endeavor would accept that categorization? None

     

    Only we can give ourselves a collective black eye.

    Like the common trope from anti hunting anti firearms folks: The NRA gets blamed for crimes none of its members commit.

     

    Lessons: Fighting Back

    Lesson: this should have unified every gun and hunting related organization, newspaper, magazines, speaker, lecturer, writer…

    If Wayne LaPierre says it, fine… if NSSF writes an  email to its members, fine… but if twenty million twitter, facebook, websites, have a unified message; a powerful confident hard-hitting message, then you have something..

     

    Make them pay a price for their dishonesty.. that makes the cost increase and we will get less of their dishonesty.

     

    Issue: do we have the brain power to identify these opportunities and then use them to advance our cause?

    If not, how do we get that brain power?

     

    Author quotes and analysis

    James Swan

     

    “We need to nourish ourselves with meaning as much as with food, especially in a modern world where meaning continually seems to be set aside in the name of convenience, progress and conformity…… In the act of hunting, we rekindle what Carl Jung called our “ancestral soul,” which is that primal part of us shared with all human history.”

     

    “As the Hunter’s Moon rides across the autumn sky, the pulses of nature quicken, and so too do the souls of humans, even among those who do not hunt. What is right for one time, place, and person may not be appropriate for another. The primal energies of the hunt live it within us, as well as in the natural world around us, and they can be expressed in many ways. Our personal challenges to learn to do the right thing for us to be whole, individually and as a society. In learning how to respond to the magic and mystery of hunting in modern times we may find important keys to happiness, health, and peace, as well as ecological balance and proper relationship among species. The hunt can be a great teacher of much more than just the technique of killing.”

    Concluding Thoughts

    -you are part of a larger process.. the big picture.. you are helping manage wild game.. helping preserve wild game.. you are keeping the culture alive; you are keeping the animals alive…have your clients see the big picture… elevate them… in your advertising, your brochures….

    Part of the big picture is learning how to use words; and using those words to craft winning arguments and to refute immoral or illogical arguments. If we don’

    My opinion: if you want to change hunter’s behaviors, appeal to their honor; to their integrity;

    -make them aware of the big picture: that their actions will influence whether or not hunting survives.

    Thus, we must be unrelenting, inexorable, unified, unapologetic, confidence is more persuasive than content…

    Our conversations must have a purpose. Winning the conversations; converting people to our cause with our conversations; defending and advancing hunting and our heritage are the goals of the conversations. Thought, skill and preparation are the foundation for effective persuasive crucial conversations.

    I hope my words have helped toward those important goals.

    Thank you.

     

  • Eight Strategies to Effectively Handle the Next Cecil

    Eight Strategies to Effectively Handle the Next Cecil

    By Michael Sabbeth

    Walter Palmer killed a lion bestowed with a name—Cecil. For a while, much of the hunting world, particularly hunting iconic African big game, imploded as if into a death star. For months people uninformed about lion hunting, who never heard of the Hwange Game Park and who couldn’t find Zimbabwe on a map if their fat-free soy lattes depended on it, issued death threats on social media, threatened the person and business of the hunter, condemned much of hunting with broad-brush swipes and raised fortunes for predatory opportunistic animal activist groups.

    Drenched in ignorance, energized by a luscious sense of moral superiority and the need to feel good, they were unmoved by the damaging consequences their demands would have inflicted.  Unleashing a flash mob of hate, death threats and physical intimidation, they illustrated their deceit in purporting to value life.

    Another Cecil-esque event will occur again, either by the act of a hunter or by an event orchestrated by an anti-hunter in a propaganda hit. We must be prepared to mobilize factual and rhetorical defenses for that next event. I offer eight strategies for crafting our defenses.

    Strategy 1: Understand the Moral and Intellectual Terrain

    We are in a defensive asymmetrical war against people and organizations that do not value reason, logic or consequences. Indeed, reason, logic and consequences are an anathema to anti-hunting people and organizations. Ignorance is a virtue for it facilitates self-righteousness. Hunters tend to see defending hunting and conservation as a high-minded chess game, winnable by reasoned strategy. Consequently, hunters over-value truth and facts. We tend to see the battle through a narrow lens. This small aperture stifles a comprehensive understanding of hunting’s opponents. We tend to ignore the complexity of human nature; its narcissism and need to feel morally superior, its cowardice, its lust for easy solutions, the avoidance of pain and the pervasiveness of predatory opportunistic greed.

    Our opponents operate on a more primal and effective level. They see anti-hunting in terms of power and the opportunity to advance anti-human and anti-conservation ideologies. Hunters value the research of South Africa’s Ron Thomson and are motivated by the stirring speeches of Shane Mahoney and the narratives of Craig Boddington. The anti-hunters disregard them totally.

    In his Four Quartets, T. S. Eliot wrote that “Human kind cannot bear very much reality.”  Eliot is partially correct. Often human kind does not care much about reality. Reality impedes their ideological advancement. The anti-hunters grasp this fundamental truth; the hunting community does not. Our failure to grasp this point jeopardizes our ability to effectively refute the anti-hunters.

    Strategy 2: Use Social Media More Effectively

    We know a picture is worth a thousand words and that a lie travels around the world before the truth gets out of bed. Social media has exposed several undesirable qualities of the hunting community: its aloofness from reality, its complacency, its inability to present a unified front and, worse, its lack of confidence. For example, powerful forces in the hunting community turned on Palmer before the facts were known.

    The new media era battle space is complex. We must be willing to fight fire with fire, as the expression goes. We must show the vile wires, snares and traps poachers use and the resultant loathsome injuries they inflict on animals. We must highlight the consequences of children with unclean water and food deprivation. Show the decapitated rhinos with a subtitle screaming: “This is what hunting bans cause!” We should have illustrated the vulgar immorality of the self-satisfied somber-faced American woman arrogantly carrying a sign “I am Cecil,” attempting to parasitically leach morality from the Charlie Hebdo slaughter in Paris.  We must show the images; employ powerful iconography and trenchant rhetoric. We must change the social media paradigm!

    Strategy 3: Shed our Delusions:

    I attended the annual meeting of African Professional Hunters Association at the 2017 SCI convention. Wonderful dedicated all! However, one statement troubled me. Citing Cecil, an attendee said that “that the world will not tolerate unethical behavior.” I disagreed. There is no world in any unified sense, I said. Moreover, the world is incapable of distinguishing ethical from unethical behavior. Indeed, the Cecil event proved my point rather than the speaker’s. Additionally, this so-called world has no interest in ascertaining ethical behavior or supporting it. A hunting community, I argued, that seeks to appease ‘the world’ and which acts upon the belief that the world will embrace hunting if hunters are universally ethical is doomed to commit suicide.

    It is delusional to believe that the organized anti-hunting advocates—well-funded animal organizations and European and American NGOs—will come to accept elephant, rhino, leopard hunting and remove bans on trading ivory and rhino horn if only they knew the facts. This thinking is self-destructive. It is idiocy. They know what we know. They read the reports, the data, the arguments. Secrets do not exist. Rather, they don’t care. They have different agendas; they submit to different ideologies, they make their money based on different arguments. We must understand that reality if we are to craft winning strategies and rhetoric.

    The anti-hunters are willing to impose on the world’s hunting regions, generally, and African hunting nations and their populations, specifically, costs that these far-removed wealthy elites will never pay. African hunting nations, specifically, find themselves in the untenable and frankly, absurd, situation of being dictated to by people who will pay no consequences for being wrong.

    Strategy 4: Shift the Paradigm

    We should focus less on the virtues of hunting and focus more on the arrogant and deceitful character of those that oppose hunting. Extolling hunting’s conservation virtues is a necessary but insufficient process to persuade the vast middle ground.

    We know from studying the facts regarding Cecil the lion and the black rhino hunting auction orchestrated by the Dallas Safari Club that hunting saves animals and people. No rational decent human being can intellectually and morally refute these claims. Yet such hunting is opposed. What is the explanation? Let us not flatter ourselves. We do not have an exclusive divine link to wisdom and knowledge. I accept that many anti-Cecil protesters are decent but uninformed yet that is only a small aspect of their personality structure. What kind of person rejects a rhino hunt knowing that many young rhinos would be saved? What kind of person demands a ban on rhino horn trade knowing that the result is more poaching, more rhino deaths and more hunger for the local populations? These are the messages hunters must make. Data puts people to sleep. Mutilated animals inspire people to fight those that enable the mutilation.

    Paraphrasing Winston Churchill, we know that those who choose animal protection over animal conservation will get neither. And we know that airline trophy bans will kill more lions than a thousand Palmers. We know that the feelings business is profitable and the thinking business not so much.

     

    Strategy 5: Focus on the Proper Audience

    Mark Duda of Resource Management estimates that as many as 60-80 percent of the population is non-committal regarding hunting in a general sense. My reading of Duda’s material leads to the favorable conclusion that most of these people can be reached by reason, ethical arguments, caring for native populations and passion. Thus, our strategy should be to forcefully refute the radical anti-hunters, not expecting to change their minds, but to persuade the large ‘middle’ of uncommitted people. This vast group will align with those that seem to have winning arguments. 

    Strategy 6: Get Legislation and Enforcement

    We must develop strategies, including legal action, to combat the extreme anti-hunters’ sadistic fetish for violence and intimidation. Civil and criminal legal action should be taken in extreme cases by skilled lawyers. We should lobby state legislators to pass legislation assessing criminal and civil liability against those who make credible threats, whether in person or through cyberspace, against hunters, their families and their businesses. Paraphrasing Michael Corleone, we must become wartime consigliaris

    Strategy 7: Don’t Avoid the Fight

    I spoke with many people who advise hunters to maintain a low profile when confronted with a Cecil-like situation. “Let it blow over; don’t draw attention!” they say. This passive avoidance is self-destructive. Our strategy should be to make the anti-hunting attacker pay a price for its misinformation, greed, narcissism and the unethical consequences of its beliefs. Let us be guided by two of the most fundamental laws of human nature: avoidance is interpreted as weakness and weakness invites aggression. Unlike donors to the anti-hunting causes, the animals we fight to conserve do not live in a therapeutic utopian world. Nature’s one constant is life-and-death brutality. The lion does not co-habit with the gemsbok waiting for a dinner of locally sourced, non-GMO, gluten free, organic steamed broccoli. We must fight for reality if we are to conserve the animals.

    Strategy 8: Unify with a Central Resource

    Our focus must be on persuasion, which is not the same as spewing out data and making abstract arguments. We must identify and then use people who are smart enough and intellectually agile enough to deconstruct future anti-hunting attacks in concise, simple language. We must identify and emphasize the morality or lack of morality of the consequences of policies advanced by the anti-hunters.  We must give our hunters the words to fight back. We must craft arguments that align the virtues of animal conservation and human enrichment with the values of the larger audience. Strategic thinking and action offer the best hope for conserving animals and those in the hunting world who lives are affected.

    Michael Sabbeth is a lawyer, writer, lecturer and consultant in Denver, Colorado. Please see his book, The Good, The Bad & The Difference: How to Talk with Children About Values, available atAmazon.com http://tinyurl.com/c5flmmu

     

     

  • If Anti Hunters Had Compassion, They’d Support Hunting!

    by Michael G. Sabbeth 

    Hunters are accused of lacking compassion, of being heartless uncaring murderers of beautiful animals. These accusations are among the most vicious in our hypersensitive culture, comparable to saying someone is a racist or doesn’t recycle. Hunters’ neck hair sticks up like striking cobras as they try to fend off the assaults. “My money preserves habitat; my money manages game animals! I care!” they soulfully cry out. Hunters are correct yet they lose.  

    I have seen pro-hunter / pro-firearms debaters, who have more brains in their urine samples than their opponents have brains, lose the debates. We have the facts, logic and morality on our side, yet we lose! Why? Because most hunter advocates have not learned this important skill: how to fight back by evaluating the consequences of anti-hunting policies using the language of the attackers.When we use this technique, weundermine the attacks and turn the tables on the attackers.  

    Do hunters lack compassion? An examination of three situations shows conclusively that hunters have compassion and anti-hunters do not.

    1.    The brutal winter of 2008 in Gunnison, Colorado  risked the deaths of a majority of deer and elk. Government agencies, hunters and businesses contributed money to buy and distribute food. Appeals for assistance to so-called ‘animal rights’ groups, PETA, HSUS, among others, were rebuffed. The rationale of the refusing organizations: they would be saving the animals only so hunters could kill them later.

    2.    In 2014, under the auspices of The Dallas Safari Club, an auction was held to hunt one mature non-reproducing black rhinoceros in Namibia. The proceeds of the hunt would fund anti-poaching programs, clean water facilities, protect younger vulnerable rhinos and provide food for the villagers. This auction was viciously attacked by anti-hunters with tactics that included death threats to DSC staff and to hunters.

    3.    The demagoguery following the death of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe created a “Cecil Effect” of losing hunters, revenue, food for orphanages and the need to cull two hundred lions which generated no revenue but which increased poaching.

    What can we learn? Increased animal deaths, poverty, poaching and revenue loss result from the anti-hunting policies. But more profound lessons can be learned. Compassion, born of Latin roots, has two components: a feeling of sympathy for another coupled with a desire to alleviate the suffering. Compassion, then, requires both empathy and a desire to act on that empathy.

    You see the problem with compassion? Compassion, a noble concept in theory,is easily abused and manipulated because it doesn’t require anyone to do anything!You can be judged as compassionate based on feelingsalone. Compassion can be morality on the cheap. As Aristotle wrote, “It is easy to be moral in your sleep.”

    My key point: hunters are accused of lacking compassion because they kill animals, yet the anti-hunter smugly views himself as compassionate without any regard tothe destructive real-life consequences of his actions and beliefs. In the examples above, more animals died and more animals will die (and human suffering increases) as a direct consequence of the so-called compassion of these anti-hunting pressure groups. But the anti-hunter does not care! Reality and truth are irrelevant. Feeling good is more important than doing good. Keeping animals alive is the measure of compassion for animals. Hunters possess true compassion. But we need to make the best arguments to show why we deserve to win the debate.  
  • Lessons For Advancing The 3 Rs

    Lessons For Advancing The 3 Rs

    Explain The Big Picture!

     

    Several years ago, I took my son, Erik, then twenty, to shoot doves in Argentina. He shot many doves, but the lessons he learned were more meaningful than the experience was challenging. Our host explained how the doves annually destroyed tens of thousands of tons of grain, negatively impacting food prices. The dove shooting industry brought much-needed millions of dollars of revenue to Argentina, providing employment and increasing people’s standards of living. The big picture was patiently explained.

    During our trip, my host asked Erik if he wanted to hunt a barren aged female buffalo that was wounding younger buffalo and destroying property. Erik did.  More than having a successful hunt, Erik entered the fire center of conservation, learning that romanticizing animals from afar often led to policies that destroy them. He came to understand the brutal reality of wild animals’ lives and that the cost of fantastical wishing that animals’ lives were idyllic was the destruction of animals. Erik lived the counter-intuitive truth that hunting sustains the animals.

    The Big Picture

    With guidance from me and our host, the big picture was persuasively presented to Erik. The ethos of hunting transcends the hunt. Inherent in hunting are layers of insight that merit acknowledgment and evaluation. The hunter, of course, should aspire to be ethical, and the well-educated hunter knows the big picture demands multi-level ethical duties to the land, to society, to one’s self and, of course, to the animals.

    But ethical behavior does not simply manifest like the crabgrass on my lawn. Ethical behavior is the consequence of personal honor and integrity, characteristics that must be taught and continuously nurtured. Presenting the big picture and developing a hunter’s honor are the most effective methods for achieving the trilogy of the 3 Rs.

    The primary skill required of the hunting advocate desiring to achieve the 3 Rs is discerning the potential hunter’s deepest values and then persuasively showing how hunting harmonizes with those values and breathes life into them. Love of wildlife, wanting healthy sustainable animal populations, treating wild animals ethically, preserving and enriching habitat, consuming organic protein from the hunt; all these and others are virtues that hunting offers that are consistent with the values of the large majority of people. On the warp and woof of conversation and experience, Erik uncovered values previously unexplored but were discovered as if mining for them in a rich seam of ore. Illuminating this big picture component will advance the 3 Rs most successfully.

    The North American Model offers an illustrative example for seeing the big picture. The Model is the foundation for hunting and game management in the United States. But the Model means nothing unless it is encased in our unique political economic system which values individual liberty, free markets, a somewhat transparent tax system that is reasonably honest, the right to possess and use firearms and the ability to have leisure time to hunt. The willingness of each hunter and potential hunter to see his or her role in this big picture will be a powerful driving force for advancing the 3 Rs.

    Most people place great trust in the positive impact in an argument of facts, logic and science. Such trust is unjustified. Truth is not self-actualizing; reality does not advance itself like a steamroller; scientific evidence is worthless unless the audience is credibly persuaded that the evidence has value.

    A vital component of the big picture is, thus, the articulate presentation that these truths matter. That is, that science and facts are consistent with the values of the potential or existing hunter. The success of implementing the 3 Rs is dependent largely on persuading people that truth is relevant to the audience’s world view and self-image.  

    Similarly, the effective advancement of the 3 Rs will be achieved when ethics is transformed from an abstraction to tangible specific actions that support the values of the hunter and enhance its honor.

    As a rule, people are drawn to activities that enrich their lives, enhance their dignity and make them better people. When Erik accompanies me on hunting events supporting Wounded Warriors and Paralyzed Veterans of America, as examples, he sees hunting in a broader context: achieving virtuous goals by helping others. Hunting makes Erik proud. His grasp of hunting’s picture enlarges. He is inspired to be an advocate for hunting and a dedicated participant.Introduced to hunting by me and sharing values that we find virtuous, the experiences that provided direction and purpose in nurturing Erik’s participation in hunting serve as an effective model for implementing the 3 Rs.

     Michael Sabbeth is the author of The Good, The Bad & The Difference: How to Talk with Children About Values.See Amazon.com http://tinyurl.com/c5flmmu.He is currently writing the book Proud to Hunt: Tips for Being an Effective Instructor and Student

     

  • More Than A Hunt At The Hixon Ranch

    by Michael G. Sabbeth

    Sometimes an event is infused with a meaning, a character, that goes beyond the details of the event itself. The experience has a message and an ethos that inspire the participants to pursue a higher virtuous purpose. The Heritage Hunt at the Hixon Ranch was such an event.

    This past November 7th through the 9th, the Hixon Land and Cattle Ranch near Cotulla, Texas hosted the winners of the 2015 IHEA-USA Heritage Hunt. The hunt is sponsored by Focus Group, Inc. in partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the International Hunter Education Association (IHEA-USA). Hunter education students Bailey Maier from New York, Tim Coe from Kentucky and Madi DeGarmo from Idaho won an all-expense paid ‘hunt of a lifetime’ when their entries were drawn from those submitted to the IHEA Heritage Hunt contest in the Hunter’s Handbook, (www.huntershandbook.com) the official student publication of the IHEA-USA.

    To qualify to win, all students must have successfully passed a sanctioned IHEA course in North America. Rick Webber from Washington and Theodore Loftis, Sr. from Tennessee were the winning volunteer hunter education instructors invited to join this special event.

    Focus Group pays for and sponsors The Heritage Hunt along with a generous grant from the SCI Sables. Additionally, Focus Group partners including Buck Knives, Cabela’s, Federal Ammunition, Under Armour, Mossberg, HIVIZ Sights and GrovTec, made in-kind contributions. All filming was done by videographer Cody Prather with CarecoTV based in San Antonio, Texas.

    The transcendent themes of the Heritage Hunt are captured in Focus Group President Brian Thurston’s eloquent statement: “This hunt allows Hunter’s Handbook and its partners to not only award instructors for their hard work and dedication in the field, but also offers young hunters a unique experience that will keep them engaged in hunting while learning hands-on field safety and hunting success.”

    The Hixon Land and Cattle Ranch

    The ranch is owned by Karen and Tim Hixon, two gracious and charitably-disposed people steeped for decades in Texas conservation programs and organizations. The Hixons began buying ranch properties in 1964 in the Texas Valley of South Texas and now have acquired approximately 13,000 acres. The main ranch house has a high vaulted ceiling of massive timber and a 180-degree expanse of towering windows that seamlessly bring the magnificent acreage to the viewers’ eyes. Rough-hewn wood tables and comfortable plush leather chairs and sofas create a welcoming atmosphere. Dozens of shelves are populated with Indian and cowboy art and artifacts; animal trophies decorate the walls. Signed photographs of notables such as John Wayne and Roy Rogers and Dale Evans are tucked away in smaller rooms radiating from the main salon and dining room.

     

    Timo, Karen and Tim’s son, participated in every facet of the program. Two years ago Steve Hall, then Executive Director of the IHEA-USA and now TPWD’s Texas Hunter Education Coordinator, asked Tim and his parents to host the program. Timo agreed because he and his family recognized the role of youth hunting in game management, conservation and protecting hunting’s future. The Heritage Hunt was another extension of their past involvement in programs such as TPWD and Texas Wildlife Association’s Youth Hunting Program (www.tyhp.org). Steve pointed out “We wouldn’t have youth hunting on private lands in Texas without folks like the Hixons. This is awesome!” Events such as the Heritage Hunt punch into the solar plexus of what Steve Hall laments as the current status of modern youth: a Nature Deficit Disorder.

    Timo explained that the Heritage Hunt is important to him and his family because young people are the future of hunting and without these experiences, hunting, and its heritage will be lost. “These hunts are a way for my family to advance a culture, instill respect for the land and the animals and pass those values to the next generation.” Particularly meaningful to Timo was seeing the bonding between a young hunter and his or her parent or mentor. “They smile together. They work together. They succeed and fail together. These experiences have worth beyond hunting.”

    Hunting at the Hixon Ranch

    The first full day we were up at five in the morning, not my favored time for opening the aging eyes and greeting the birds and rising sun.  Hot breakfast, hot coffee and a selection of snacks were available to the gathering hunters and guides. Our experienced guides, Landon Guilick; Brad Detmore; Gabe Chapa, Doss Summers, Mike Hehman and Eddie Price, exhibiting more energy than I could muster, were assigned to the young hunters and the instructors. The weather was cool and wind minimal. The intermittent rain from the previous day seemed to have left town. The day was perfect for hunting.

    I went into the field mid-afternoon. Doss deposited me and Rick Webber at a well-crafted metal blind with plenty of room to move around and slots in all walls for observing and placing a rifle. Many qualities are required to increase the odds for a successful hunt. Patience is one of them; and it is not my strong suit. I opened a slot and looked at the magnificent scenery; magnificent in the sense that it was bathed in tranquility and silence, at least for me. For some of the animals, life is drenched in the unrelenting tensions of self-preservation.

    What appeared to be a large doe ambled into our shooting lane perhaps 300 yards away. I maneuvered my CZ 6.5 x 55 Swedish rifle into position. Rick glassed it and concluded it was very young. I brought the rifle back to an upright position and opened the bolt. A chorus line of javelina (collared peccary) traipsed into our line of sight. A few looked large but when they marched right in front of the blind, their mass seemed to diminish like a melting snowman. A coyote appeared on a road several hundred yards away. We glassed it through the binoculars like dogs eyeing a distant bone. It never came into range. I thought of Oscar Wilde’s statement: “Morality, like art, means drawing a line somewhere.”  Not having a legitimate shot, we didn’t take one.

    The reality of hunting is strikingly different from watching hunting highlights on hunting TV shows—magnificent animals wandering by or being tracked, then the perfect shot from bow or rifle, the clean kill and the congratulatory satisfaction of a job well done. Then a break for a commercial. More realistically, hunting is tedium; waiting for hours, days or weeks to pull the trigger or release an arrow. Steve Hall opined that as a consequence of that distortion of reality, we tend to become spectators rather than participants in the hunt.

    The hours ticked away, as time tends to do, until a rich pastel red and pink sunset bathed the west. As the starlit sky began to darken, Doss returned to take us to the ranch. Although neither Rick nor I took an animal, by the end of the program, Tim and Madi got lovely bucks and Bailey got a doe and a spike.

    Panning for Gold

    Talking with Tim and Kem Coe

    I spent a lot of time talking with the participants and organizers. I talk with people as a prospector pans for gold: I look for gleaming nuggets of information, stories, experiences and arguments that enable me to be a better thinker, a more impacting writer and a more skilled instructor. I struck gold at the Hixon Ranch.

    Tim Coe and his father, Kem, happened to be sitting at the table where I was chatting with Leaha Wirth, National Sales Manager for The Hunter’s Handbook and the driving force orchestrating this event. I struck up a conversation with Tim. I sought insights into the thinking and concerns of young hunters, which is important because about 50% of hunter education students are eighteen years old or younger. Tim thinks a lot before answering questions, and sometimes his words come out as slowly as drizzling chilled honey. They were worth the wait.

    Tim’s grandfather encouraged him to take a hunter education course. Tim began hunting small game in Kentucky with an aged single shot rifle and advanced to a .308 for big game. Everyone in his family hunts, including his mother and his sister. Hunting, Tim told me, teaches many virtuous traits, such as valuing the outdoors as well as life skills such as self-reliance, self-discipline, and, above all, respect for the lives of the animals.

     

    Pride motivates Tim to be a responsible hunter “A key issue is safety,” Tim said. “You see what a firearm can do.” Tim’s next words dazzled me. “Hunting is the best way to teach ethics. You see animals wounded or killed. You owe the animal to be a good hunter.” From such a young man, is this not a golden nugget?

    Tim pointed out that the best instructors teach him to think of honor and character as he considers doing something. He added, “They make me feel I can make a difference in protecting wildlife. They make me think I can do something good for future hunters.”

    We changed topics and talked about hunters being condemned by their peers.  Since most of his friends hunt, Tim has not found this to be an issue. He brushes off negative comments.  “They don’t know what they’re talking about. I don’t pay attention to them.”

    I asked if Tim if he had ever been called a murderer because he hunted. As he began to answer, his dad interrupted. “Let me tell you about one of my experiences,” Kem said. He was about twenty years old, a student at Lindsey Wilson College, a small college in south central Kentucky, taking pre-pharmacy courses. A new professor from New York City asked if he hunted. “Yes,” Kem replied. The professor then vilified him. “You are no different from a person that kills a family!” Many people, perhaps most, in Kem’s position would have lashed out at the professor with the savagery of a momma bear protecting her cubs. Kem maintained a stunning poise although he confided he fought an impulse to slap her.

    With dignity and restraint, he made the professor an offer she, evidently, couldn’t refuse. “Why don’t you and your son stay for a weekend with me and my family at our farm?” She accepted his offer. Kem’s farm was in Turkey Neck Bend, Monroe County, Kentucky. When the professor saw her first deer, she exclaimed, “I didn’t realize you had deer here!” Kem chuckled.  

    The professor admitted she had no insight into the conservation component of hunting or game management. She learned how hunters work to preserve animals. In a remark that most of us would find to be less than an extraordinary epiphany, she said: “I now see that every hunter is not a mindless blood thirsty killer!” Apparently that’s a major insight for many folks from big cities who only know of guns in the context of crime and know of animals only from zoos, a few TV programs and Walt Disney. She returned to Kem’s farm. They became friends. That’s a powerful story, a real chunk of gold with practical application for educators and hunters.

    Speaking with Leaha Wirth

     

    Leaha was taking notes as I chatted with Tim and Kem. After Kem shared his professor story, she stopped writing and added some of her perspectives to the conversation. “When the topic is firearms, people will engage in a conversation more quickly and intensely,” she said. “It’s a good topic to learn about responsibility. An informed hunter then has an opportunity to reach and persuade people in a non-threatening way.”

    Leaha continued. “Hunting experiences are a vital part of who I am.” It is a forum for communicating values, wisdom and knowledge. “Whether in the field with friends, family or students,” Leaha said, “I can share a one-of-a-kind opportunity. It’s not the kill; it’s the people and the experience; and an intimacy with the amazing Earth, the wildlife.”

    Her experience affirmed that the young hunter will come away with a thirst for more experience and knowledge. “That is the emotional foundation for what I do. I can produce positive results.” Her next comment penetrated to the core of the honorable hunter’s character. “There’s an experience you have to own that comes with taking a life.” No excuses. No blaming others. You are accountable. Echoing some of Tim Coe’s comments, Leaha added, “taking a life demands that a respect for life be acknowledged.”

    Inherent in hunting are matters of honor, of ethics, of integrity. These traits determine the moral timber of one’s soul. Speaking with increased intensity, Leaha added, “I can make a difference. It sounds like a cliché, but it’s absolutely true. Look at these young hunters! They are the future,and they are marvelous!”

    Venison and Chili and Dove, Oh My!

    Nutritious delicious cuisine is one of the great rewards from hunting. The chefs at Hixon Ranch were masters, serving up fabulous meals every lunch and dinner. We had baked ziti pasta with spinach, cheese, sausage, tomatoes and enough garlic to be noticeable all the way to downtown Denver. We had dove stuffed with jalapeño peppers and cream cheese wrapped in bacon. But the culinary triumph of the visit was Chef Siboney Chapa’s fried backstrap of venison. Soft as butter, the venison possessed a layered game flavor and was not masked by strong sauces. It reminded me of a rich Cabernet wine. My cut, done rare to medium, was a banquet for the senses. Who needs to go to Michelin-rated restaurants in Paris when you can have Siboney’s cooking in South Texas?

     

    Siboney’s recipe was so marvelous I asked her permission to share it. Here it is:

     

    Fried Back Strap of Venison

    Slice venison into 1/4 in. Slices and tenderize. 

    (To take out any gaminess)

    Soak back strap in milk or butter milk for about 10-15min. Some people also use vinegar. I've never used it-

    While the venison is soaking grab two mixing bowls and a skillet with some oil to fry. In one bowl fill about half way of flour or Panko crumbs, whichever you prefer. Salt & pepper or any seasoning to your liking. - I use Lawerys or Johnnys

    Next grab about 5- 7 eggs or more if needed and mix.

    By now the back strap is ready to coat with egg and flour. 

    Time to fry!

    Fry about two minutes on each side or until done. 

    Enjoy!!

    Final Thoughts

    Hunting is a complex process that calls upon many skills and traits to do it honorably. In her illuminating essay, What Kids Can Learn From Hunting,http://blog.winchester.com/2015/what-kids-can-learn-from-hunting/Melissa Bachman writes: “Spending quality time in the field with kids is priceless, but there are a lot of things that hunting teaches them above and beyond the hunt….. such asphysical labor, disappointment, patience, preparation, mental toughness and personal responsibility.” Hunting can provide meaningful lessons for those who have the character and wisdom to learn them.

    “Let’s be frank,” as Vito ‘Don’ Corleone said in a different context to Bonasera in The Godfather. One aspect of hunting is taking the life of an animal. There is no joy in watching an animal die. Yet hunting has value and can accomplish noble goals. Without hunting, animals have no value, and without value, the animals will die. That’s reality. Preservinganimals means preserving hunting. A lot of people do not like reality. And a lot of people prefer the soothing fantasy world of feeling good rather than doing good. Unfortunately, only the animals suffer in the fantasy world, not the smug anti-hunters.  

    The informed hunter knows that hunting’s past does not pass on genetically. The past does not guarantee present or future acceptance and support. Hunting must be defended and advanced every day. Steve Hall, Leaha Wirth and the marvelous Hixon family understand the big picture, and part of that picture is encouraging young hunters to accept the duty to keep hunting and the animals sacred and protected. That’s the reality. Honorable people deal with reality, not with wishing and hoping the world would be some other way.

    The Heritage Hunt at the Hixon Ranch gave substance to hunting by transforming the idea, the abstraction of hunting, into reality. The young hunters learned that the ideal of hunting cannot materialize without the real world effort. I was enriched by the Heritage Hunt. Meeting dedicated people pursuing a noble cause; spending days under clear skies, breathing air scented more deliciously than the finest perfumes and sharing great food with vibrant young hunters and instructors; well, as Ira Gershwin wrote in the musical I’ve Got Rhythm, Who could ask for anything more? 

  • ON MY HONOR: The Burden of Having Principles

    On My Honor

    The Burden of Having Principles

    Presentation to the Hunter Education Camp, Boy Scout Camp Gorham, New Mexico 

    September 16, 2016

    Presentation As Given

    This event is sponsored by four virtuous organizations; The New Mexico Division of Wildlife; the International Hunter Education Association, USA, the Boy Scouts of America and the , Safari Club Foundation.

    I am grateful to each of these organizations for contributing to this worthy event.

    A brief background about me:

    ·       Lawyer

    ·       Lecture on ethics and rhetoric and persuasion

    ·       Writer for hunting and shooting magazines

    ·       Lecturer: SCI, DSC, IHEA-USA conferences, IHEA-USA Master Education programs

    ·       A hunter and shooter

    I brought for each person here, as a gift, copies of my book, The Good, The Bad and the Difference: How to Talk with Children About Values

    Please visit my websites: www.kidsethicsbook.com  and Facebook.com/michaelsabbeth  and

    www.thehonorablehunter.com  and Facebook.com/thehonorablehunter

     

    And something a little off topic: tell me what you think but I found it a little deflating to drive on the road into this camp and to see a huge sign that said “Dead End”. I don’t consider this camp a dead end. Kind of funny.

    I will talk about scouting and hunting.

    Since this is a boy scout camp, I will use the scout oath and scout law as models for addressing the roll of honor in hunter education and in being ethical honorable hunters.

    But before I address honor, I share a few stories with you.

    1.    Philmont Scout Ranch, Cimarron, New Mexico:  I attended Philmont Scout Ranch more than half a century ago. I didn’t have the money to buy a neckerchief and a patch. Thirty-five years later I took my daughter, Elise, to Taos, New Mexico on a school trip. I saw I was close to Philmont and visited it. I bought the neckerchief and the patch. I finally got them.

     

    2.    Kudu Hunt in S Africa with Marcus Lettrell: I shot a dominant bull past its prime. I told the professional hunter: That’s me! I could go on his wall! And one of his Navy Seal pals: tattoo: Honor Above All

     

    3.    Lady who worked for the Colorado Division of Wildlife; wearing her uniform; went shopping; a man approached her and verbally attacked her: You are a murderer. She told me: Michael, I didn’t know how to respond!  And consider, she had been working in the industry for twenty years; she and her husband had been hunters for twenty years. And she didn’t know what to say! She didn’t know how to defend hunting.

    I will try to give you some words and arguments to help you defend and advance hunting.

    First: A question to class: have any of you been confronted or insulted because you like hunting or because you have hunted?

    Answer: no one raised a hand

     

    The title of my talk is On My Honor:

    Some of you are in scouting, so some of you, likely, are familiar with the phrase On My Honor.

    Here is the Scout Oath:

    Boy Scout Oath or Promise

    On my honor, I will do my best 
    To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; 
    To help other people at all times; 
    To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

     --this is all meaningless if you don’t have honor…. Without honor, all these goals and promises will disappear like water from your canteen spilled in the desert.

     The Boy Scout Law

    A Scout is:

    • Trustworthy,
    • Loyal,
    • Helpful,
    • Friendly,
    • Courteous,
    • Kind,
    • Obedient,

    I confide I have a little trouble with obedience… the greatest cruelty has been done through obedience… obedience to evil is evil…

    • Cheerful,
    • Thrifty,
    • Brave,
    • Clean,
    • and Reverent.

    Trustworthy is a matter of honor. Brave is a matter of honor.

    Boy Scout Motto

    Be Prepared!  Preparation is a matter of honor.

    Here is the historical foundation of honor in the creation of this country:

    Declaration of Independence

    Drafted by Thomas Jefferson between June 11 and June 28, 1776, the Declaration of Independence… We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, .And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

    Sacred honor… who speaks of honor these days? What politicians live their lives consistent with honor, sacred or otherwise, and noble character?

     

    Honor

    The full title of my talk is: On My Honor: The Burden of Having Principles

    I ask the audience: why might having principles be a burden?

    Audience Answer: “Because if you have honor that means you try to act honorably and that means you might fail.”

    Excellent answer

    The Scout Oath says: On my honor I will do my best. Question: how do you know if you are doing your best?

    You have standards; you have measurements; you compare good, better, best; right from wrong; good from evil.

    You become a person of judgment.

    I share a few words from some first graders spoken in my first ethics classes in 1990:

    I ask: Why be honorable?

    First grade student: It makes life go easier.

    Another student: Yeah, and then your parents don’t have to hire lawyers!

    I say: Has there ever been a profession more misunderstood?

    So, why do I talk about honor?

    Because you are young hunter education students and young hunters. You are drenched in a commitment to honor. Because you are hunters, and thus live in an environment that demands the highest honor.

    Why should you be honorable?

    Because animals die. It is a matter of life and death.

    The honorable hunter must show:

    ·       honor to the game you seek,

    ·       honor to the land,

    ·       honor to the hunting culture, and

    ·       honor to yourselves.

     

    Honor is the pervasive unifying theme, the unifying force in your universe for everything you do.

    My friend, Mark Duda, research firm, Responsive Management, is perhaps the finest researcher of data and opinions in the world of hunting and shooting. He talks about the  attitudes toward hunting… vs attitudes toward hunters. Generally, people have a higher regard for hunting than they do for hunters.

    Much of the public  does not have a high regard for hunters…they  break the laws, drink alcohol, take drugs, take irresponsible shots that have high probability of wounding.

    I state emphatically, these opinions may be based on thin air.. pure bias and ignorance.. but we have to deal with them… and that means, as a practical matter, hunters have to be highly honorable.

    Let’s talk about words for a moment. Mark Duda’s research shows that words are important. Words influence the public support for hunting.

    Trophy Hunting:

    Trophy hunting is a phrase people do not like.

    No one knows what trophy hunting means but nevertheless many people tend not to like that phrase and therefore tend not to like hunting. They think trophy hunting means an abuse of hunting, but they can’t describe why.

    Here is the important point: vague phrases can be used effectively to manipulate a person and an argument. A vague phrase can mean whatever the listener wants it to mean. It’s like speaking in code language. Vague language can be used to intimidate, abuse and, more importantly, to silence someone. This is a key concept.

    Example:        Attacker: I’m against trophy hunting.

                           Reply: What do you mean?

                           Attacker: killing beautiful animals

                           Reply: What if the animal is not beautiful.

                           Attacker: all animals are beautiful.

                           Reply: so trophy hunting means all hunting?

                           Attacker: No

                           Reply: so what are you talking about?

                           Attacker: just if you intend it to be a trophy

                           Reply: Huh??????

     

    Killing versus Harvesting: Lessons to be learned

    Here is another duo of words that lead to arguments and disagreements within the hunting community: Killing versus Harvesting.

    I have had heated arguments with many hunter education instructors about the selection and rejection of one of these words over another.

    I prefer the word ‘killing.’ That is what we do. We kill animals. Gorgeous, beautiful animals. That’s what hunting is, in large part.

    I ask the class if anyone sees a difference between the two words. One lady answered, “Using the word ‘harvesting’ is like you are trying to avoid what is true.”

    That was a very good answer. The word ‘harvesting’ does, in my opinion, deny reality. It makes us say something that is not true.

    Another student said: “It’s like the anti-hunter is telling us what words we cannot use.”

    That student made a brilliant point: the opponent is controlling the language. We can go back to the writing and thinking of George Orwell:

    He who controls the language controls the argument, and he who controls the argument will win the argument.

    Harvesting historically refers to food production: harvesting wheat, milo, corn soybeans and so forth.

    Referring to killing as harvesting does, in my opinion, do something that dishonors the animal: using harvesting creates a moral equivalence between killing an animal and cutting down some corn.

    Also, using the word ‘harvesting’ makes hunters that use that word and deny or try the reality of killing by using a euphemism, a word that does not seem as harsh and brutal, makes the person who uses the word ‘harvesting’ vulnerable to attacks by anti-hunters that the hunter refuses to admit what the hunter actually in reality does. It makes the hunter look like a fraud; and worse, it makes the hunter look like he or she has no confidence in the morality of what the hunter is doing. It’s as if the hunter is refusing to admit what it does. And it’s a good argument by the anti-hunters. The word harvesting makes hunters seem weak; makes hunters seem as if they have no confidence in the value of what they are doing and thus that they are trying to hide what they are doing.

    Words can indicate confidence and they can indicate the lack of confidence.

    Words matter. Confidence matters. Like the expression from Osama Bin Ladn, the 9-11 Mastermind, “people prefer a strong horse to a weak horse.”

    Words can make you look strong or they can make you look weak.  

    Back to honor: Honor is you. What you have; what you do not have

    Honor sets standards

    If you have standards, you have to live up to them. And living up to high moral standards is not easy.

    So you see, Honor is not easy

    Must work on it every day. Like your heart beating blood into your body, if it stops, you no longer exist.

    Lots of people don’t like standards; they resent them. Human nature being what it is, the dishonorable resent the honorable; the stupid resent the smart; the coward resents the morally strong person; the ignorant resents the informed person. It always was and it will always be.

    --doing good is not easy. Anyone who tells a child, any person, really, that doing good is easy; that being honorable is easy, weakens that person. Nothing is easy. Nothing worth accomplishing is easy.

    Honor is complex; made of many ingredients, blended like a perfectly made veal stock. Sometimes you don’t know all of the qualities—courage, intellect, emotional maturity, patience, dedication, willing to act alone, and so forth.

    Difficult to earn; easy to lose. Once lost, honor, your character, your reputation, your credibility, like the beautiful but fragile mountain flowers, may take years to recover, if ever.

     The Burden of Honor

     Being honorable is not easy. Not in our culture. Not now.

    If you have no standards, you can never fail; if you have no honor, you can never be disappointed with yourself.

    You have self-selected to live according to a code of honor. You will have challenges, therefore, that people indifferent to honor will never have.

    Ask the audience: what is the most important part of honor?

    Audience Answer: knowing right from wrong.

    Exactly: the honorable person must know right from wrong. Knowing right from wrong requires making judgments. Making judgments requires skills:

    ·       having information

    ·       knowing the value of the information

    ·       knowing if you need more information

    ·       drawing conclusions from the information you have

    ·       figuring out consequences that will result from the information

    ·       having the moral courage to do what is right

     

    Making moral judgments is not easy. But making moral judgments is the foundation of honor.

     

    The person who cannot distinguish good from evil is morally worthless.

     

    But there is another level to honor: a more difficult level.. much more difficult level: once you know what is right, you have a moral obligation to do what is right.

    That’s the scout oath: do your best; that is how an honorable hunter behaves.

    Knowing isn’t enough. Caring isn’t enough. Compassion isn’t enough. You must do. The honorable person is honorable because he or she ACTS honorably.

    Noble thoughts without noble action are cheap self-indulgent sentiments.

    To be honorable means you seek what is better,

    Remember your oath: On my honor I will do my best……

    That means you must have a method to measure what is best… good, better, best.

    You have criteria; you have standards; you have measurements

    You want better everywhere in every part of your life: better schools, better government, better politicians, and most important, a better self. The honorable person strives to be better.

    Now, in our culture, where honor often has as much substance as smoke at a campfire, good, better, best hardly exist. In many cases, the culture argues that the better does not exist. And, and here’s a key point, if you suggest that something IS better than something else, you are called the vilest names; you are condemned, you are alienated, you are shut up.

    You are told not to make judgments. But here’s the strangest point: telling someone that making a judgment is wrong IS A JUDGMENT!!!!!!

    Everything is equal; everything must be respected; no one’s values are better than any other person’s values; no culture, no matter have vicious, is better or worse than any other culture.

    And here’s a point lots of people don’t want to admit: If you believe that all opinions are equal, then you believe that your opinion is not better than anyone else’s, including your opinion that all opinions are equal!!!!

    If you hold that opinion, you have just admitted to the world that your opinion has no special value.

    You are admitting to the world that people who disagree with you have opinions that are equal to and as good as yours!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    What do you think of that?

    Is this making any sense?

    Audience nods ‘yes.’

    Indeed, achievement is condemned. Accomplishment and excellence are condemned. Sacrifice and forbearance are condemned. Not only condemned: they are denied:

    Being Judgmental

    It’s popular these days to say you should not be judgmental.  Being non-judgmental, the culture demanded, was a moral duty. Judging became immoral. Judging became evil.

    Of course, this is all idiocy. Everyone knows it. No one lives their lives that way. If you are in a car crash, bleeding all over, do you ask to go to a delicatessen? No. You ask to go to a hospital.

     

    But Judging and discriminating are the highest moral duties; they separate us from the primal ooze.

    If you judge, if you discriminate, then, well horrible things could be unearthed. Judging and discriminating might show you are a bigot. A racist. I homophobe. An islamophobe. A sexist. I can’t even keep track of all the phobes.

     

    And here is a key point: the non-judgmental person must… must… become an enemy of liberty, because liberty—individual freedom—all that which is good, right, successful—because liberty enables some people to be better than others and some people to be worse than others.

    A person who does not judge becomes an enemy of everything a scout and an honorable hunter believes. Everything they stand for: doing their best; being moral; being ethical.

    Here is a powerful example of what I mean;

    Tolerance:

    In every school I have been in, posters preaching Tolerance line the walls. Tolerance is considered one of the highest virtues.

    What does tolerant mean? Think about it. It doesn’t mean much. Tolerance doesn’t determine honor or what is good or better or worse? It just means you put up with something. You endure.

    Tolerance is a treacherous idea. It can mean whatever a person wants it to mean.

    Eli Wiesel: a survivor of Auschwitz, among the most evil places in the history of the world, said:

    Tolerance always favors the aggressor, never the victim.

    Tolerance becomes indifference and then tolerance becomes aiding and abetting.

    Tolerance is  not a virtue… not offending someone is  not a virtue… some things should not be tolerated; and some people should be offended. Multiculturalism and respecting other cultures: what is the moral basis for that? Aspects of some cultures should not be respected… And consider this: respecting others, tolerating others who do not respect or tolerate you is not a virtue; it is suicide.

    Should you tolerate a hunter that abandons a wounded animal?

    Should you tolerate a hunter that is intoxicated and can’t shoot accurately?

    Should you tolerate a hunter that kills animals illegally?

    Of course not.

    Here’s my point: to be honorable, you must be a thinker, and not just any kind of thinker: you must be a moral thinker.

    Back to non-judgmental:

    Of course, no mention is made that judging might indicate you have wisdom, prudence, compassion, decency and moral courage.

    None of those virtues are even considered.

     

    So all this non-judgmental tolerance talk is just so much empty blabbing.

    It is a tale

    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

    Signifying nothing.

    Macbeth, Act 5, scene 5:

    Loss of Confidence: The Ultimate Defeat

    But there is yet another level; another layer of the issue of non judging. And it is a vile layer; a pernicious layer: it is that the attacks erode confidence of what is right and good.

    That is the worst aspect: a loss of confidence in the values and actions that made this country great; that made this country the destination that people swarm to get into.

    It is easy to get beaten down; intimidated.

    . In the name of non-judgmentalism, we have the most vicious judging.

    All of this leads to a subversion of what used to be known and admired as the American character.

     

    Next, non judgmentalism is a judgment. That’s the irony. I judge that it is not good to judge.

    Next,  non-judgmental advances moral cowardice. Everything becomes an excuse to do nothing. Non-judgmentalism creates passive people.

    There is no honor in not judging. It is the mindset of cowards.

    What is one result when you lose confidence in your beliefs? In your values?

    I ask the audience: Answer: You can get pushed around. You can get manipulated.

     

    Telling you to be non-judgmental is applied selectively

    But the most important insight to be learned by being non judgmental is that it is applied selectively. All tyranny, all bullying, all control, is done selectively. One group is favored; another group is not favored. One group benefits, one group gets hurt.

    If you can learn that, particularly at your young ages, you will have learned a profound lesson that can usefully guide you your entire lives.

     You want to advocate for minority right? Consider this: the smallest minority is the individual. You cannot advance minority rights without advancing individual liberty. That is, personal freedom.

    Individual liberty is the fertile soil for honor.

    No doubt you have heard the phrase politically correct, in one form or another. Know this: political correctness is not about correctness. It is about politics, and politics is about power. Who wins and who loses; who gains and who gets deprives.

    And know this also: whether one person disagrees with you or whether one hundred million people disagree with you has absolutely nothing to do with whether you are right or whether you are wrong; whether you have the more moral case or whether you do not. Morality is not a numbers game. It certainly is not a popularity contest.

    Measuring Honor

    Let’s talk about words for a moment.

    We know it’s good to do good and bad to do bad that tells us nothing about choosing between goods when there are trade-offs or conflicts, weighing costs against benefits, comparing short-term attainments with long-term risks, or reckoning second-order effects. 
    You strive for wisdom… and wisdom is knowledge applied for a noble purpose

    And so our principles of fairness, of honor, of valuing the truth… can be used against us and weaken us… what an irony!! 

     Every Aspect of Hunting Demands Honor

     Hunting and scouting are drenched in ethical considerations.

     you have committed to principles that affect life and death… yes, hunting can be a rich spiritual experience.. the sunrise, the sounds of winds caressing trees, seeing magnificent animals .. but much of hunting is about killing… and everything about that process is drenched in ethics.. and being ethical is a matter of honor.

    Being prepared for the hunt;

    Long range shooting..

    can you track your wounded animal

    sighting in rifle..

    selecting proper ammunition

    standing up to peer pressure…

    being able to correctly identify the animal for which you have a tag… male or female bear? Rooster or hen pheasant?

    it’s all a matter of honor…

    You have to be strong.

    As Scouts and as hunters, self-discipline ranks among the highest virtues. Indeed, self discipline is the basis of all morality.

    Here’s a great story.

    Nilgai hunting in s texas… with friend Kevin.. he had a new rifle, a Verney-Carron .500 Nitro Express double side-by-side rifle. Gorgeous rifle. Kevin badly wanted to have a successful hunt. He stalked the nilgai,  got to within 60 yards or so in thick brush. Kevin was bleeding from being slashed by catclaw thorns. He saw a large bull.. he raised the rifle.. but he didn’t take the shot because he did not know precisely the point of impact with the new rifle. He was unsure of his skill at that distance. Kevin was ethical, of course, but his ethics were the consequence of his honor.

    You are honor bound to do your best all the time. Not just when you feel like it; not when it’s easy; not when it’s convenient. No. You do your best every moment of your life. Not just when no one is looking, such as turning in the lost wallet when no one sees you picking it up. No, it’s being brave, courageous, when the entire world is watching you. That’s when your character is tested.

    You do your best: honor the animal, the land, the public trust and honor yourself.

    Drunk friend story

    Here’s an event that really tested me.

    Will I stand up and do what’s right?

    I had a party at my home. A friend got drunk and walked to his car to drive home. I made up my mind that he would not drive his car. Things got nasty. My feelings were hurt. Issues: what is a good friend? What kind of friend allows a drunk to drive a car? What kind of friend was my friend to me? Moral courage requires acting when many people are watching you. It’s more than returning a lost wallet which no one know you found.

     

    Compassion:

    We hunters are accused of being murderers.

    We are accused of having no compassion for animals.

    One arrogant person verbally attacked a friend of mine, a skilled hunter education instructor: “Do you realize how many beautiful animals there would be if you hunters didn’t kill them?”

    “Yes,” he answered sharply. “There would be none!”

    He’s right. And he knew how to argue back.

    Do honorable hunters have compassion?

    How do we know it? How do we judge it?

    Here are two events that make profound points in favor of hunters.

    Black rhino

    Audience Discussion: How to analyze and evaluate arguments:

    Angela Antonisse Oxley of Dallas, who was recruiting opponents to protest the auction by the Dallas Safari Club of the black rhino hunt, asserted it was barbaric to hunt and kill an animal just because it was old and unable to reproduce.

    We are thinkers in this room. So let us think. If Oxley thinks it is barbaric to kill an aged black rhino, what does she NOT think is barbaric?

    Increased poaching: not barbaric;

    Less food, dirty water, less habitat, more killing of younger animals: none of that is barbaric to Oxley

    Gunnison, Colorado 2008:

    About 2008, a brutal winter in the Gunnison area of Colorado. Elk and deer was dying from lack of food. Hunters and the Division of Wildlife were heroically trying to feed the animals. The hunters reached out to so-called pro animal groups for money and assistance. They were turned down.

    Why?

    Because saving the animals would only provide more animals for hunters to kill.

    And the deaths were a consequence of natural forces.

    Think about these rationalizations.

    Are they logical?

    Moral?

     

    Who has compassion? The hunters and the division of wildlife folks? Or the so-called pro animal groups who chose to have the animals die?

    Their reason: why help hunters kill more animals. Analyze the argument: conclude: factually and morally bankrupt

    For them, feeling good was more important than doing good.

    Perhaps you are familiar with the Cecil the Lion episode. All the wrong lessons were learned

    As a consequence, all the lion hunting bans and airline trophy bans will kill more lions than a thousand Walter Palmers.

     

     ‘THE BATTLE OF LIFE’

    In the battle of life, it is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or when the doer of a deed could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and come short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have tasted neither victory nor defeat.  Teddy Roosevelt

    What can bring us together?

    Honor. On my honor. Honor can bring together people who should be brought together.

    Judging people, as MLK nobly stated, by the content of their character rather than by the color of their skin.

    My Mossberg 144 LS

    One last story

     I was dove shooting two weeks ago a little north of Denver. I had two hours or so between the morning and the afternoon hunts, so I drove to Cabela’s north of Denver. Looked around in the used firearms section. Found the Mossberg 144 LS   rifle my dad bought for me when I was 12.

    I  used that rifle to get my first merit badge.. marksmanship… on my way to Eagle Scout..  I loved shooting.. I remember as a little fellow my parents took me to the boardwalk in Far Rockaway and Coney Island on Long Island. I  loved the shooting galleries. I remember going to Nathan’s at Coney Island and getting a huge hot dog, a large root beer and the best French fries on the planet… for 25 cents. Those are great memories. That was pure joy for me. Good times.

     Finding that rifle prompted me to look on the Internet at Camp Wauwepex, Nassau County, Long Island, New York…  saw photos of the camp I attended when I was 11, 12, 13 .. satellite view of the lake where I got my swimming merit badges; the roads I walked… those moments brought joy to my heart… I sat at the computer and smiled.. grinned.. I had wonderful moments at Wauwepex. I hope you are having wonderful moments.. capture them; embed them in your minds and souls… for one day you will be sixty, seventy, eighty years old.. more even… and you will have these moments. Impossible? It happened with me. You  will remember the campfires; you will remember the sunsets; you will remember the jokes.. even the people you didn’t like… you are investing in memories… you adding richness to your bank accounts…

    I remember evening I was inducted into Order of the Arrow. The scout master spoke these words:

    No man is as tall as when he stoops to help a child.

    I remember those words vividly. And that was perhaps 55 years ago. You folks were very young then, yes? 

    .

    Treasure these days. And think of the volunteers that gave their time to you. They gave their time because they wanted to help you become better people. Remember that.

    Make a better world:

    Freedom is always one generation from extinction. Freedom and the love and value of liberty are not passed on genetically. They are passed on by instilling values which includes the value to fight for liberty. They are passed on by honor.

     

    Here is a statement of profound insight by my friend, Alice Abrams:

    “In life, as in dance, grace glides blistered feet.”

    Think about that statement. Alice is saying that beauty and grace come from hard work. Remember, nothing worthwhile is easy.  

    We are living in difficult times… irrational times… where contradictions are welcomed… rewarded if they advance the causes of the powerful:

    ·       Celebrities and other super rich tweet and text from their multimillion dollar private jets about the oppression and injustice in this country

    ·       People of different nationalities wave the flags of and scream the virtues of the countries they never want to return to and vilify and attack this country that they never want to leave

    ·       A superstar athlete who makes more money in one month than most Americans will make in their lifetimes refused to stand for the national anthem because of this country’s oppression and injustice

    ·       Pampered lazy, stupid and bigoted university professors condemn this country for being racist, homophobic, islamophobic, sexist, colonial and other idiocies from the safety of their immunized privileged and highly paid positions

    Lots of talk about following your heart. I have my doubts about the wisdom of that advice. Generally, the heart is not a good indicator of right and wrong. If you choose to follow your heart, you better have a virtuous heart.

    We have read about chicken soup for the soul. That’s good as far as it goes, but it does not go very far. What you need more than chicken soup for the soul is tempered steel for the mind.. something you can count on; something that will hold an edge, something that gives direction, values, measurements to guide whether you are good, bad, right or wrong.

     

    So, closing thoughts about honor.

    --do not trade away your honor to get along… to be accepted, to be liked… if you do, you will have neither…. Recall the words of Winston Churchill regarding Neville Chamberlin negotiating with Hitler:

    He traded his honor for peace and got neither.

    Don’t trade on your honor. Never.

    -honor is earned hour by hour, event by event, like the drip drip drip in a cave that builds up a strong solid stalagmite… ..  getting into shape.. day by day.. tedious, painful, difficult… risk, error, failure, getting up… Rocky Balboa… not how hard you can hit but how hard a hit you can take and still get back up…

    Self-discipline is the foundation of all morality

    And you fight for that honor.. inch by inch, person by person, shot by shot, animal by animal, situation by situation, moment by moment, you fight for honor. And then you will have fulfilled the noble vision of your scout oath and of being an honorable hunter: you have done your best.

    Look for beauty; fight for beauty and nobility; nurture the seeds of greatness within you… be a great child to your parents; a great contributor to your school, your community; Honor among all else…

     

    Be a better person. It starts with you.

    Want to make a better culture?

    Be a better person.

    Don’t lose confidence in your values. Your values are good and decent and virtuous.

    Don’t let anyone shake your confidence in what is right. You examine; you make judgments; if necessary, you make changes and corrections.

    Don’t worry about making mistakes or being wrong. You could devote your entire lives to making mistakes and you could not cause as much evil as many people in this world do in one hour.

    Don’t let this conflicted culture defeat you.

    Don’t work on the world so much. Work on your own character. Work on perfecting you own honor.

    Your honor is you. Your honor dictates your future. You choose.

    Your honor is sacred.

    Thank you. 

  • Seeking World Approval Will Lead to Hunting’s Suicide

    At this year’s annual conference of the African Professional Hunters Association held at the 2017 Safari Club International Convention, a participant expressed the opinion that after the Cecil incident the world “will not tolerate unethical behavior.” My blood pressure rocketed to   190 over 120!

    I said I disagreed with that statement and explained why. I said that there is no “world” in any coherent meaningful sense of the word, especially as it applies to hunting. Thus, it follows that there is no world opinion on what the world will and will not tolerate, not only pertaining to hunting but pertaining to any human behavior. No consistent measurement enables anyone to judge what the world will and will not tolerate.

    I went on to say that the world is incapable of distinguishing ethical from unethical behavior, and has no interest in trying to make the distinction, particularly as it applies to hunting.

    World Opinion is Morally Bankrupt

    I don’t want to tip toe into the world’s politics but I am compelled to write that the world’s grotesque horrors and obscenities of human behavior, well-known to all of us, are ignored, evaded, suppressed and not universally condemned. They are all tolerated. What the world will tolerate, thus, is morally meaningless.

    The assertion that the world will not tolerate unethical hunting behavior is not supported by any evidence. To the contrary, the world is drenched in unethical animal killing—poaching, absurd hunting bans and trophy bans and trade bans that kill substantial numbers of animals —which is not only tolerated but paradoxically supported by powerful organizations and governments. Particularly regarding the iconic big game—lions, elephants, black rhino, leopards—legal hunting kills relatively few. Legal hunting, does, however, provide millions of dollars for local populations, anti-poaching support and habitat development.

    The Cecil situation did not prove the world will not tolerate unethical behavior. To the contrary, Cecil proved with exquisite unarguable clarity that the world willfully refuses to differentiate between ethical and unethical hunting and tolerates all of them.

    Let’s analyze the concepts of world opinion and what the world will tolerate in the specific context of Cecil. I won’t rehash all the details of Dr. Palmer’s hunt but mention a few key facts: the hunt was legal; Cecil was not induced or drawn out of the Hwange Park; no legal significance attached to the fact the lion was collared; Cecil was an aged lion and no longer reproduced; the hunt raised a lot of money for local populations and for conservation.

    The world did not wait until these facts were determined and publicized. Rather, agenda-driven people instantly promoted and disseminated lies. We may recall Winston Churchill’s astute comment that a lie will travel half way around the world before the truth gets out of bed. That was certainly the case with Cecil. But the world and its opinion, such as they were, responded to these lies with the enthusiastic intensity of burning heretics at the stake. A dishonest narrative constructed by anti-hunting forces went viral. Truth did not matter; facts did not matter; reality did not matter. Driven by a delicious smug ignorance, with no interest in attempting to discern the truth, aspects of world opinion responded venomously like a viper’s strike.

    The Cecil situation demonstrated conclusively that the anti-hunting hysteria it generated was not based on evidence or truth. Drenched comfortably in ignorance, world opinion, such as it was, willingly was seduced by a simplistic notion of the hunting ecology. Seeing things simplistically facilitated a passion bordering, in some instances, on the fanatical. Passion and moral smugness create a toxic stew when one knows nothing.

    Given what the world tolerates generally, as articulated through international institutions, and the cascade of constraints it imposes on legal hunting specifically, we may justifiably draw several conclusions about the morality and consistency of world opinion and the moral weight of what the world tolerates. The world tolerates barbarity and often condemns moral behavior. Often the world vilely makes a moral equivalence between the aggressor and the victim. Thus, world opinion is morally meaningless. World opinion is often morally bankrupt. The Cecil situation proves those conclusions.  

     Cecil and the Weaponizing of "World Opinion"

     

    How does the world articulate what it does and does not tolerate? Who decides? How sanctimonious to say, “I am the arbiter of what the world tolerates!” Nice work if you can get it! If we are to judge the moral competence of the world based on the actions and pronouncements of the United Nations and the European Union, a strong argument can be made that the world is morally deficient.

     “World opinion” is a mythical creature, like the tooth fairy. It can mean anything the speaker wants it to mean.  Like pretzel dough, it can be twisted into any shape. Here’s the key point: this ambiguity is the source of its power. Anyone can make the accusation no matter the facts. Yet, the rhetoric, the accusation, that the world will not tolerate unethical hunting, is powerful. How intimidating to charge that the world is against you! Not every person has the mental agility and knowledge to effectively fight back. Indeed, the accuser is counting on the inability to refute his attack.

    The accusation that world opinion is against you is not an offer to discuss and debate the proposition. It is a rhetorical device used to shut you up; to prevent discussion; to make you submit to the abstraction that the world will not tolerate certain kinds of hunting although no facts are provided to support the accusation. Thus, saying the world will not tolerate a Cecil-type hunt or the black rhino hunt created under the auspices of the Dallas Safari Club, as examples, weaponizes the phrase. It transforms the concept of world opinion into a tool for attacking. I make it clear that the person at APHA did not have that intent. He was expressing what others would likely suggest.

    What Can We Do?

    First, we must reject any notion that the world will be reasonable or will be informed when it comes to certain types of hunting. Such thinking is delusional. Segments of the world have their own agendas. Many factors influence what the world seems to tolerate regarding hunting, among them cowardice, a perverse ideology, greed, corruption, narcissism, moral smugness and condescension toward indigenous populations. Ethical hunting and prudent responsible game management are, regrettably, not the most powerful factors that influence what the world appears to tolerate. Here is my key point: any tendency of our hunting communities to conform to and appease this abstraction of  what the world will tolerate will lead to hunting’s destruction.

    Second, we must develop the skill to analyze the ethical and factual content of the accusatory rhetoric—what is world opinion? How do you identify it? —and use that analysis to refute the accusation.   

    Third, it is vital that we fight back; that the hunting community not allow the aggressive anti-hunters to frame the issue as us against the world and thereby enable it to capture the moral high ground. Hunters have the moral high ground.

    Fourth, we must, at least, we should, grasp the reality that we are in the persuasion business as much as we are hunters and advocates for hunting. We must understand that truth is meaningless unless someone is persuaded that truth has meaning. We must understand that facts do not advance themselves. Arguments do not compel on their own. We must, therefor, persuade.

    Finally, we must persuade the vast majority that the values and actions of the hunter, including hunting Cecil, is, in fact, in harmony with their opinions. We can do so because it is true.

     

    Michael Sabbeth is a lawyer and writer in Denver, Colorado. See his book The Good, The Bad & The Difference: How to Talk with Children About Values.Available atAmazon.com http://tinyurl.com/c5flmmuNow available as a Kindle EBook.

     


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Michael G. Sabbeth is a lawyer in Denver, Colorado. He lectures on ethics and rhetoric. He has written the book "The Good, The Bad and The Difference: How to Talk with Children About Values." & is now working on a book titled "No More Apologizing! Arguments to Defend and Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports."

Michael Sabbeth

Michael Sabbeth

Michael G. Sabbeth is a lawyer in Denver, Colorado. He lectures on ethics and rhetoric. He has written the book "The Good, The Bad and The Difference: How to Talk with Children About Values." & is now working on a book titled "No More Apologizing! Arguments to Defend and Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports."

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