Hunting and Hate Speech

» April 16th, 2014

Language– in particular the ability to harness it’s power to tell stories—is arguably a phenomenon that makes us unique as humans. Whether or not this ability confers upon us special moral status is a topic of debate, but as as I see it, while the ability to forge narratives enriches life in an essential way, language also serves to undermine our humanity as much as deepen its worth.

Violence, for one, thrives on the distortion of language. When we harm others we account for it by twisting language to articulate a legitimate culture that excuses that harm. Consider the lexicon of hunting. Humans walk into “the wilderness,” sneak up on critters, and blow them away with high-powered machinery. The inequity of our actions, however, in no way prevents us from glorifying hunting as a noble endeavor—a culture— that meaningfully binds us to the natural world. Words allow us to create and celebrate that unreality.

To grasp how unreal reality can quickly become under the influence of language melded with a predilection for savagery, it helps to check in every now and then with the Texas Hunting Forum, where language renders violence the norm. Pour a stiff one, because here’s what’s happening:

Erich: “i’ve heard that you can castrate feral boars and then either raise them or turn them loose and that they will put on a lot more weight and will improve the quality of the meat. is this true? has anyone done it? any advice on how to do it? does it do any good to castrate one that is already an adult age animal? or does it have to be done when they are young. seems like it’d be a difficult task, but seems like there’s enough folks out there that do it. was just wondering if it was worth the hassle.”

Big Tuna: “yeah they call those barr hogs. When they are castrated they supposedly loose interest in mating and just eat so they get massive. Not sure about how it affects the meat. I guess you would have to use a tranquilizer to neuter them but not sure.”

Texaswolf: “It gets their mind of @ss and puts it on Grass…..I knew a guy on our old lease who would catch them and put a tight rubber band around their Nutz and they would eventualy fall off due to poor circulation…..????? Not sure because I never saw it done but at the time, it made sense…..”

elliscountyhog: “We cut 4 boars this weekend and yes it will cause them to grow faster and bigger with bigger tusk and most of all it shortens there home range up. Just make a small slice and pop em out and cut off then use cut and heal and they are good to go.”

dwayne2003: “This would turn the hog into a ‘barrow’ hog which is what pork producers do; it is best done at a young age if you are gonna feed them out for pork. Texas A&M is doing a study with boar hogs in the TDCJ hog farms to see if they can castrate mature boars and see if it will improve meat quality of those boars so they can then be slaughtered.”

ccbaseball: “haha sounds funny but then again point of getting rid of them is so they are destructive and dont compete with info tho.”

CFR: “A common practice here in Florida is to trap them, cut them, and then let them loose. The result is a better quality meat, bigger hogs, and bigger teeth, as they do not fight as much and break them off.”

It goes on.. But if anything here is clear it’s that language is all too easily used to forge sick cultures of hatred under the guise of normal. People who speak this way about sentient beings who, for all their power, lack the ability to fight narratives with counter-narratives (and thus have no truck in our big verbal mud sling), should have their right to use their words severely curtailed. Their hatred and insensitivity is that blatant. It has no place in civilized society.

Like so much of our language, it’s hate speech. And I hate it.





33 Responses to Hunting and Hate Speech

  1. John t maher says:

    Derrida teaches that in Lacan’s The Subverdion of the Subject that Lacan’s wrote “man is prey to language” which, aside from the play on words in this context, the human capacity for abstraction excludes animals from an imaginary and thus all human abstractions such as justice. The animal is excluded and therefore killable. The human discourse referenced is a type of redneck biopitical control over a biome where they hybridize ecosemiotic communication with animals. I would like to add only that pj Harvey has discussed doing rubber band castration of sheep on her parents farm and her discourse normalizes what you term hate speech a every bit as much as the good ol boys on the wild boar LISTSERVE. It is that pervasive

  2. Ingrid says:

    I agree. And sadly, it’s all over every hunting forum, in the most grotesque ways. The hunting culture’s own language and behavior could be entirely self-defeating if more people were exposed to what really happens in the field. Hunters themselves provide the best counterpoints to the oft-repeated talking point, that “hunters are our greatest conservationists.” Thanks for shining a light on that dark niche in the woods.

  3. Kristina Labart says:

    You are amazing James. I would like to share your texts on the “Djurens Parti” website (The Swedish Animal’s Party). I am new on Facebook and I have not figured out how to do it yet. I shared it with other FaceBook friends anyway.

    Best Regards


  4. Laura says:

    Totally repellant, ignorant, wicked, overgrown boys out to prove their manliness which will never happen as long as they remain willfully numb to any sense of respecting the lives of others (which is true manliness, i.e. humanity); thus the brute frustration they vent upon those innocent animals. Abuse as children and self-perceived sexual inadequacy and resulting deviancy are also (usually) huge factors in those people’s awful character flaws. It’s why child abuse has got to be exposed much more and dealt with effectively… so much of it is swept under the rug or excused.

    • James says:

      Agreed. But I’m not sure these are all men. In my experience trolling in these dungeons, I’ve found a fair share of women who indulge in similar rhetoric and behavior.

      • Laura says:

        I know, sorry, I tried to hyphenate womanliness in there but it got to looking too weird: “manli-/womanli-ness,” so I just put “i.e. humanity” hoping that would infer women too. I know all about those women and that there are quite a few of them. Their hideous “smiles” while posing over the dead animals are well-known… it’s always that SAME glazed “triumphant’ grimace, man or woman. The women are just as lacking as the men, if not more so, as women should naturally be more compassionate and nurturing, or so it would seem. Thanks for replying,
        ~ Laura

  5. Lisa LeBlanc says:

    This is grotesque, but somewhat mild (and I use the term loosely) compared to wolf killer sites.
    It isn’t simply the joy of instruction; it’s sharing the most abusive and barbaric methods in making the kill last as long and be as agonizing as possible.
    Disagree, and they will turn that psychotic venom on you. And I think the most profound component is the lack of realization of how miscreant their words and possible deeds really are.
    I find a great deal of difficulty in understanding the quote in Ingrid’s comment, stating their belief that “hunters are our greatest conservationists.”
    No. They’re not. They are without empathy or ethics, kill with impunity and they are dangerous.

    • Ingrid says:

      Hi, Lisa, I hope it was clear from my comment that I was being critical of that idea, not in fact condoning it. In advocating for wildlife, the ‘conservation’ talking point is the one I most often encounter which — sadly — manages to convince many non-hunters of hunting’s modern viability. There are times I find myself fighting against “my own” because this idea has been so firmly ingrained. The idea that hunters fund our wildlife and wild lands programs is repeated so often that many people believe the rhetoric to be true. It’s not until you break it down and show people the actual numbers and the truth of field behavior, that the ‘conservation’ facade disintegrates.

  6. Anim says:

    “Harvesting” is a word commonly used in hunting, farming and vivisection to make atrocities sound more wholesome. Hunters use the same argument that slave owners used–that they were performing a natural duty by keeping slaves and taming the savages. Hunters act as if Nature would fall apart without human intervention which is yet another example of human arrogance and psychosis… Like vivisection, hunting attracts a great number of psychopaths and exposes the most wicked aspects in human nature for sadism (and cowardice). While some who hunt are indoctrinated, others enjoy causing harm and they can do so with protection of the law. I would love to see statistics on how many hunters are successfully prosecuted for hunting accidents. I dont mean hunters shooting other hunters–this is routine since humans are not real predators like tigers and require projectiles and traps which they cannot control like fangs or claws, I am talking about pedestrians. I remember reading about a case in the early 90s where someone in an Eastern US state was standing on their porch and were shot dead by a hunter who claimed to mistake white mittens for a deer tail. The shooter-a grocer, was acquitted. Seems to me that if you go out and fire a gun somewhere, you should know what you are shooting at at all times and seeing a white spot you think is a deer tail is a pretty flimsy excuse. They forced hunters to wear orange vests to protect THEM but what about civilians? Clearly someone’s privilege to shoot and kill for recreation trumps the average human’s right to live. There are many cases of these hunting accidents and people accept it as normal. Same with presidential debates when they talk about gun control–they always reassure hunters–NOT those who have guns for self-protection against crime. Interesting priorities. I think many people find something sadistic about hunting—-the Elmer Fudd persona (as with the Mad Scientist one) but they are silenced due to their meat consumption behavior. What is difficult to comprehend is how these people think guns or bows– technology–is a natural right. Without access to the tools and materials there is no right. Not until they can manufacture bullets and arrows from their asses.

    • Mountain says:

      “Without access to the tools and materials there is no right.”

      Freedom of association is how the tools and materials (and knowledge) are acquired. The idea of freedom of association certainly didn’t originate with the First Amendment, but it is nicely documented there.

      • Anim says:

        Freedom of association–so much for the rugged individualist BS that gets spewed forth from the mouths of gun nuts when they talk about personal liberty. That’s cherry picking their definitions of society. They want to be part of society in order to be violent, but when society wants to reign in their violence suddenly there is no society they depend on. Maniacal.
        Unlike a tiger, a human hunter must rely on others–so much for it being a natural right.

        • Mountain says:

          I think you’re confusing individualism with a sort of isolationism. An individualist wants to be free to be her/himself, freely associating with those who choose it associate with her/him. It isn’t a rejection of society; it’s a rejection of someone else’s idea of how to live.

          • Anim says:

            No confusion. The gun nut/hunter claims they have a natural right to hunt but they are dependent on tools and materials that Nature does not guarantee them regardless of what a piece of paper says. Therefore it is not a natural right–not until ammunition is manufactured from their asses. A tiger has the natural right because it requires no tools (or associations) only its body. You reinforced it by bringing up their dependence on associations and cherry picking the way they define that. Thanks for reinforcing my point.

          • Mountain says:

            There is nothing unnatural about tools or weapons. Crows make tools. They manufacture them not from their asses, but with their beaks. Humans don’t have beaks, but they craft tools with their hands. They also have language, with which to tell stories and share information. This sharing of information allows for the crafting of more complex tools. The tools with blades or points are called weapons. At no point is any of this unnatural or apart from nature.

            Get the point?

          • Anim says:

            “There is nothing unnatural about tools or weapons. Crows make tools. ”

            Bad example with the crows. A gun is natural in the same way an atomic bomb or toxic waste or a guillotine is natural-I wont disagree–but I was talking about natural predation. As far as we know crows do not use tools to kill other crows–humans do use tools to engage in massive amounts of homicide and for gardening. Tool use by humans for predation is a choice or a privilege–not a right. As I said repeatedly-and hopefully wont need to repeat-the average hunting gun nut acts as if they are like tigers or lions –but real predators dont need tools for the predations humans cannot do without them and as far as we know, do not come close–not even remotely close, to the type of interspecies violence that humans engage in without any connection to necessity or survival-related endeavors. Hopefully you get the point, but if you want to keep reinforcing my argument–keep going-I welcome the additional evidence to make the case.

  7. Jennifer Mora says:

    I assume that what these hunters are doing is legal but if you look at the laws for baiting/feeding deer by state (see this site is it possible to discover that what they are doing be made illegal?

    Yeah, to use these words and immediately equate living creatures already as meat, walking and breathing meat, is to deny any sentience or ability to suffer.

  8. Mountain says:

    “Violence… thrives on the distortion of language.”

    Not likely. As documented by Steven Pinker (and blogged about here Dec 5, 2013), humans have become steadily less violent over recent decades, centuries, and millennia, even if media reports on violence become ever more common. While violence has been diminishing, literacy (and vocabulary size) has been growing. So, while language has expanded, violence has shrunk. What are the odds, then, that language is causing violence? Or that violence thrives on language? Isn’t it much more plausible that there is no causal relationship, and that language is simply a way for violent people and cultures to express themselves?

    • James says:

      Ah Mountain,
      Get off the farm for a spell, put down the Fukouka, and come grade a stack of senior seminar papers. You will change your tune about vocabulary, and appreciate the fact that increasing literacy does not mean grave violence is not being done, sentence by sentence, to the English language.

      • Mountain says:

        “come grade a stack of senior seminar papers.”

        Don’t you threaten me!

        Seriously, I am under the impression that vocabulary size, which had expanded throughout most of recorded history, has shrunk in recent decades. I wonder if that is due to the continued spread of literacy– someone who is illiterate might not be part of the vocabulary sample, but once they become barely literate, their small vocabulary begins to drag down the average vocabulary size. Or it could be something else entirely.

        On a less serious note: since the English language is not a sentient being, is there any reason to be concerned about violence being done to it?

    • Anim says:

      Pinker needs to check the stats on 20th century warfare and pronto. The 20th was the most violent in documented history just for civilian causalities in war time. Thanks mainly to changes in combat technology. Certainly hard to call it progress if more civilians are killed in war than soldiers.
      And obviously that says nothing about dietary violence (way on the upswing)
      I was curious about the Rwanda genocide in the 90s-to see if this was a long time animosity or something that just happened suddenly. Some conflicting opinions but the ethnic group that was considered the colonial collaborators and became the target for attacks was appointed as such because they had cattle which was considered wealth. Once again Socrates’ point about animal husbandry and the promotion of territorial violence gains a little boost in evidence.

      • Mountain says:

        He has checked those stats. The 20th century was violent in absolute terms, because there were so many more people alive in the 20th century, but it was very peaceful on a per-capita basis. That is, a smaller proportion of the population suffered violence than any other time period. This holds true even with all the civilians killed in wars.

        I’m no expert, so I don’t want to make any stronger a statement than that. But Peter Singer, who has a bit more credibility in the vegan world than do I, thinks very highly of the book.

        • Anim says:

          I had seen Pinker’s work mentioned before and if you take the time to examine his critic’s arguments you will see his views are thoroughly skewered–too lengthy to quote here. ..It is an interesting feature of the modern age that many adhere to a belief in Progress–that things started off bad and get better over time. The ancient worldview is often described as the 5 Ages–things started out great and gradually got worse (Golden, silver, bronze etc).
          I cannot foresee the future but I know that increased populations, pollution, extinction, dependence on non-survival commodities and warfare based on ideology to control them or justify defense spending is not progress by any sane definition. As for Peter Singer–while he did promote an argument for nonhuman animal rights when hippies were the most widely known vegetarian advocates in the public (excluding Mr Spock), he also created a needlessly complex and distracting argument for nonhuman rights which I recognized as weak decades ago. His utilitarian worldview is not gospel and I am not surprised he would adhere to “the end justifies the means” morality and embrace “salvation through technology” dogma to advance his philosophy and self-promotion.

          • Mountain says:

            James is a progressive, not me. I don’t reject the idea of Progress, but I am skeptical of it.

          • Laura says:

            Reading you two has been very conflicting. I agree and disagree with you both on several things. I’m a “gun nut” but only responsibly, for self-defense in a world of uncertainty and possible violence… not for any sort of “bad-ass” posturing nor to bully anyone, nor to use them unfairly in any way. As “hunters” do, extremely; I mean, look at the mentality of those people!
            And Peter Singer, I’m with Anim on that one. Wow, Singer believes some ends justify using and killing animals (albeit “kindly” somehow), such as vivisection (for magical “cures” that never come) and for smiley-happy meat (as if) because it’s too hard for people to give up the carcasses. And he wrote a treatise on the joys of bestiality if done with “love,” called “Heavy Petting.” He’s a benevolent seeming malignancy in my view, and I want no part of his derangement in this movement. I’m not of the Peter Singer worshipping crowd, to be very polite about it. Because this is a polite and mature forum, I’ll not go further in my feelings about that man.
            And about what James said about violence thriving on language? Yes it does. Just one term shows the prevalence and usefulness of language in numbing and brainwashing people into accepting totally unacceptable human behavior: “Harvesting,” as a euphemism for gunning down, snaring, stabbing to death or otherwise taking the life of an innocent totally helpless under our artificial aids i.e. “hunting” equipment, and on “farms” at slaughter time… they’re “harvested” or “sacrificed,” or they “give their lives to benefit us,” and blah blah blah. Disgustingly phony and evil. It’s why misanthropy exists.
            And about “progressives”? I’m skeptical of that along with Mountain. But I don’t see where he got that from Anim’s reference to progress above, but so be it. My poor mind is spinning. And no one cares, haha.

  9. Wasn’t certain, when this was forwarded to me, whether it was a commentary on feral pigs, language skills (lack thereof) or hunting. Regardless…allow me to at least address the feral pig/hunting sides of the argument.

    Our 100-acre pig sanctuary often takes in “wild boars”. The majority of them are young…often not much more than piglets. Many were found and raised after hunters shot and killed their mother with complete disregard for the fact she was still nursing a litter.

    We dutifully neuter each intact “boar” who arrives to prevent accidental breeding, which is the bane of any good sanctuary. We do so with a competent vet, general anesthesia and local injections for pain management. The boar (now a barrow) is generally up and running around within an hour or so and, other than pain management for a few days, requires very little surgical aftercare.

    We also try and get the females (gilts) spayed if possible. As they age, uterine tumors and infections of the uterus become are real concern with the unspayed females. Because this is essentially a complete hysterectomy, the surgery is always done at the University of TN School of Veterinary medicine and the pig stays at UT for an adequate recovery period before being brought to the sanctuary.

    Not all of us who “deal in pigs” are barbaric savages. Some of us are even borderline literate. Needless to say, we have no use for the hunters, whether they hunt these intelligent and social animals for sport or for meat.

    Contrary to the “horror stories” and “hype” that has been perpetrated on the public about “wild boars”….the feral pigs are among our most gentle and playful pigs. Even though the males do tend to look ferocious, they are for the most part timid animals who enjoy roaming our woods and ponds in small social groups of other pigs. Most of them will take apples and other treats out of my hand and will easily drop to the ground for a belly rub when I walk up to them. Several of my “big boys” with impressive 8 inch tusks will gently take an apple right out of my mouth. They are extremely energetic pigs and, even in the middle of a snowstorm, I can find them out playing in the woods or sliding down a hill in the pasture.

    In the wild and un-neutered, they are still by and large timid creatures and would much prefer to run and hide from humans unless cornered and in fear for their lives or unless it is a sow protecting her piglets.

    The much-maligned pigs are a joy to have at the sanctuary and we virtually never refuse to take one in when asked.

    • James says:

      Your comment is much appreciated. I don’t think anyone was suggesting you were a “barbaric savage.” As for your first query, it’s a commentary on all three.
      Thanks again.

    • Doug T. says:

      I just clicked on the link to your preserve. What wonderful work you do. Thank you on behalf of the pigs. And thanks for clarifying about the behavior of the feral pigs. I had always heard that they were bloodthirsty monsters who needed to be exterminated. Good to hear the truth.

      • Jennifer Mora says:

        See this news story from Randy Rauch of Nashville News 2 with Richard Hoyle, the sanctuary’s co-founder.

        • Laura says:

          I just watched that video and have to THANK YOU :) True heroes they are… and thank you Richard Hoyle and lovely wife and any dedicated staff.

          • Kind words to be sure. Unfortunately, we have no staff. Just me. And, on weekends when she is not working at the hospital, my wife. I hold the elevated title of Sanctuary Director. In truth I am the guy who feeds 120 pigs every day, cleans the barns, fills up the water troughs, builds and fixes the fences, rakes up the poop, keeps the farm equipment running, cut and bales the hay twice a year, does the plumbing and electrical work, plays veterinarian to sick and injured pigs, plants and works the garden, fixes and builds the barns and shelters….and does just about every other chore you can think of…365 days a year.

            But it is a grand way to spend my “retirement” years….keeps me active, healthy and certainly keeps me from getting bored. The fact that I get to spend each and every day with a host of wonderful pigs is simply icing on the cake.

          • Laura says:

            You are definitely loved by all of us animal lovers who know of you. It’s an extremely hard job you do to keep all those animals healthy and happy. You probably want to do it yourself because 100% trustworthiness is needed for anyone working with animals, and that can be hard to find.

            All the best to you and your wife and all of the animals. And thanks for replying.

  10. Bonnie says:

    This phrase used by one of the hunters:

    haha sounds funny

    makes me want the world to end right now because it’s become to ugly and sinister to tolerate.

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