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If You Brush Your Teeth, You Should Support Hunting

If You Brush Your Teeth, You Should Support Hunting

by Michael G. Sabbeth

My writing in this elegant magazine shows my unceasing search for ways to illuminate the virtues of hunting and to defend it. One way is to ask good questions. Here’s a good one:  Do you brush your teeth? I show how asking that question can defend hunting. Instructors in Uvalde, Texas, at the Texas Hunter Education Instructors Association Conference last May, asked me how to respond to anti-hunters  when confronted with aggressive questions such as: “How can you kill those innocent beautiful animals?” and “You trophy hunters are about vanity and don’t respect the animal.” (for a full discussion on trophy hunting, please see my article:

My responses included offering skills on asking questions. Here are three skills. One, challenge the logical fallacies in the attacks . Two, ask questions to get clarity about the beliefs of the other person. Three, ask questions that frame the discussion on your terms.

Skill #1: An accusation is made: “You are a hunter, so you favor killing innocent animals!” This contains a logical fallacy: injecting the moral concept “innocence” into wildlife’s existence. Animals die for many reasons and many animals kill other animals to live. Innocence is a perverse injection into reality. Ask, “Is a lion that kills a hundred impala innocent?” or “Is the elk that dies from starvation more innocent or less than the elk killed by a hunter?” Unable to give a coherent answer that applies generally, the concept of innocence will be negated.

Skill #2: Ask questions like these: (I use grizzly bears as a subject) “Do you prefer more healthy grizzly bears or fewer?” “Would you support hunting grizzly bears if hunting resulted in more healthy grizzly bears?” Demand yes or no answers: do you or don’t you? Don’t lapse into unfocused discussions or by vague or attenuated answers. For example, saying “I favor hunting, just not trophy hunting.” is like saying “I believe in physics, except for gravity.” Please note: no matter the answer—yes or no—you get clarity regarding the person’s beliefs. If the person answers ‘no’ to the second question, the plea of concern for bears is fraudulent.

Skill #3: Rather than being on the defense from accusations of killing innocent animals, ask questions such as: “Why are you opposed to scientific game management?” “Why do you accept more disease and starvation for bears? ” “On what moral basis  is mounting an animal for display showing no respect for the animal when the consequence of the hunting includes healthier bear populations, less poaching and less human injuries?” Get clarity: what does the other person believe? If the belief is immoral, it can be easily refuted.

The above examples demonstrate that asking good questions is a powerful skill for advancing hunting. Here’s a good question: Why do you brush your teeth? The answer is you want to keep them because they are valuable. Why does this fundamental economic principle not apply to animal conservation?  Animals without value will be discarded. Dennis Prager wrote: “When you don’t ask intelligent questions, you cannot come up with intelligent answers.” His advice applies to hunting. Until we stop allowing the anti-hunters to dominate the questions, we will have no intelligent answers for defending hunting. Let us ask good questions, such as Do you brush your teeth?

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.”