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It’s Natural: Skills To Refute A Deceitful Anti-Hunting Argument

It’s Natural!

Skills To Refute A Deceitful Anti-Hunting Argument

by Michael Sabbeth

A few weeks ago, a person asked what I planned to talk about at a forthcoming hunting seminar. “Hunting’s contribution to animal conservation,” I replied. An example to support my position was the Dallas Safari Club’s auction of a black rhino hunt in Namibia. Hunting, I explained, had led to the enrichment of many wild game species. The black rhino hunt, I said, would raise money for clean water projects, increase funding for anti-poaching enforcement and, significantly, hunt a mature non-reproducing male that had already killed five young rhinos.

Thinking my pro-hunting argument was beyond refutation, I recalled this statement by Sir Francis Bacon made in 1597: Ipsa scientia potestas est, which is Latin for “Knowledge itself is power.” If only! The person responded, saying: “Humans should not interfere with animals’ lives. It’s against Nature.” My power drained away as if holding water in barbed wire. This response is, regrettably, common, and illustrates what I call the Bambification of Nature. Many people have a tendency, and some have a psychological need, to harbor an idealized but thoroughly irrational view of Nature. Nature is not the grizzly bear roaming collegially with the fawn, waiting for a dinner of organic non-GMO tofu and steamed broccoli. Nature is dominant animals killing weaker animals; it is disease, starvation and injuries. Nature is a rough neighborhood. Hunters know this reality.

Note that resorting to the abstraction of Nature to oppose hunting is a very selective invocation. Indeed, doing so is a lie. This person, when confronted by aspects of Nature, would fight unceasingly to undo or constrain Nature. Cancer is natural; tooth decay is natural; hatred is natural; war is natural.

My opponent would spend, no doubt, a fortune, and preferably someone else’s money, to gain medical help to stave off what is totally Natural. Many people derive a sense of moral superiority by extolling an idealistic view of Nature. Idealism can be, however, devastating. The eminent psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung said, “Every form of addiction is bad, whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism.” Idealism has killed more humans than any other inspiration. It also kills wild game animals.

Another aspect of the illogic of the resort to Nature to oppose hunting is the destructive power that derives from the word. As with the phrase “trophy hunting,” the word Nature is used to shut down all discussion; to drown out all disagreement. Merely state the word Nature and all decency lines up with the speaker and all un-Natural actions and all indecency is heaped upon the pro-hunter. Accusing someone as against Nature is powerful. Rebounding from such an attack is difficult. Refuting the attack requires skill and a command of the facts. That’s not easy.

The anti-hunting attack based on the claim that human engagement with animals is against Nature can be refuted easily in at least three ways. One, the charge is false: humans are part of Nature and have influenced the lives and deaths of wild game for tens of thousands of years. Two, the rhetorical use of the word Nature is deceitful and inconsistent, used and ignored when convenient. Three, no one believes and acts consistent with what they are saying. Take a look at how they act when the person gets cancer or needs dental work. Suddenly, Nature is no moral standard at all.

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.”