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On “Are You Just a PETA Nut?”

Once in a great while, an individual who leaves a less-than-charitable, yet not deletable comment (because it doesn’t have expletives, has somewhat decent sentence structure, and isn’t pure rant), also leaves a website and e-mail address that are legitimate. In those cases, I will always leave the comment, as each time they speak worlds about what we are up against.

Yesterday, a man who runs The Countertop Chronicles left the following comment on my post from February 11 entitled "Virginia Thinks Kids Under 12 Should be Able to Hunt:"

And the problem with hunting is????????????

or are you just a PETA nut?

Ah, so much to say, so little time.

First, go to his website/blog. Like mine, it tells you everything you need to know about him (he has children, the movie he wishes he’d never seen was "The Crying Game" -hmmmm, wonder why? and he sends his kids to private school in Virginia, where he lives in "about as affluent a community as your gonna find anywhere in the country with schools generally to match." And, oh, he loves Howard Stern.). He goes to church regularly and his site is riddled with obscenities, porn, foul language, and a clear hatred of women. We can only hope his children have never seen his blog. Here’s where he wrote about Virginia losing hunters, which is what the post he commented on refers to (it’s below the Labor Day one, where he is clearly excited to kill all day).

I spent a good half hour at his site–and I think he’s a paralegal–maybe an attorney, to research exactly what kind of person isn’t sure there is a problem with hunting, and exactly what kind of person thinks those against hunting are "PETA nuts."

The important part of his comment isn’t so much that he thinks PETA people are nuts, as we’re not PETA people, anyway. The important part is that he–and other average Americans–equates any person who is against the senseless slaughter of animals with PETA. This is where we have a lot of work to do. This is, in fact, one of the reasons I feel compelled to devote nearly an entire page of my pamphlet to defining animal rights and pointing out the various ways the term is used and misused by the media as well as by activists themselves.

This countertop person would never be someone I would choose to debate. He loves killing and he wants to make sure his right to do so is preserved (he is a libertarian conservative), along with his right to degrade women. I wouldn’t waste my time engaging him.

However, through his blog, and his vitriol toward environmentalists, liberals, women and "PETA VEGAN shit heads" (that’s in the entry a bit below the photo of the men smoking a bong that is inserted in a woman’s vagina), he alerts us that there are people who don’t simply disagree with us, they hate us. They really hate us.

"Countertop" has succeeded in one thing: he has bolstered my commitment to nonviolence and my motivation to help (reasonable) people question what they eat and why, what they wear and why, and what place nonhuman animals should have in their lives.

50 Comments Post a comment
  1. So, you've managed to avoid the question entirely by insinuating I'm a gay closeted Christian conservative (I'm an Episcopalian, but actually rarely go to church – the name Personal Jesus comes from a Depeche Mode song that Johnny Cash covered on his American IV: The Man Comes Around. You can hear an excerpt here: I'm pretty sure most Christians).

    Whats wrong with hunting? And whats wrong with gays (Are you homophobic)?

    September 3, 2007
  2. Countertop,
    Did I really insinuate that you're gay? How? That was not my intention. I'm not homophobic, nor have I ever been called that.

    I was actually a straight edge punk rocker in my college days, when the sort of alternative (yet mainstream) movement was hip, so I do know Depeche Mode's song Personal Jesus. I did hear Cash's version (I like the original better, but that's me). I was more of a Joy Division person, anyway. And The Jam. And The The. As for the Christian thing, I didn't say that. You wrote about going to the same church as Lady Bird Johnson's daughter (right?). That was my source. Libertarian conservative came from you, verbatim, in that box with the results of the quizoid.

    As for hunting, I didn't really think it needed an explanation, but here it is: I am a person who does her level best not to use animals in her daily life. I don't eat them, wear them, use products that have animal ingredients or that have been tested on animals, and I don't support sports (like greyhound racing, horse racing, and hunting) that use animals, whether the point is to kill them or not. (Although killing as entertainment is definitely one of the most egregious examples of behavior that is morally unjustifiable.) Many people who read Animal Person live this way, too, and we're called vegans and also sometimes abolitionists. We are not members of PETA, as we have a different ideology as well as a different way of doing things. The difference in ideology is that we don't believe that tiny changes in the way we use animals will lead to NOT using them. And the difference in doing things is that we don't spend time campaigning for, say, getting laying hens out of cages and into sheds. Instead, we educate people about all of the reasons they shouldn't eat eggs, no matter where they come from.

    I know you disagree with all of this, but at least you now know that not all vegans are members of PETA, and we're certainly not "nuts." Thank you for coming back, for not writing a crazy rant, and for reminding me to answer your original question.

    If you are at all interested in learning more about the theory behind what we believe, go to There are wonderful flash presentations that explain it further.

    September 3, 2007
  3. well, I was never a big Joy Division fan but I think Paul Weller (in The Jam, The Style Council or by himself) is about as good as it gets.

    re: environmentalists, I consider myself (and most sportsmen/women) one. I used to work for Friends of the Earth and look largely to the example David Brower set in my journey's through the world. I have deep concerns with most modern day environmentalists who lack any understanding of the underlying forces at work in nature and are motivated out of a sense of perverse religion (the followers) financial greed (the leaders) or shear power (the politicians).

    As far as the Vegan thing, well we can just agree to disagree. If thats how someone wants to live their life, more power to them. I think its a bit crazy but its your life.

    I find PETA to be not only dishonest but to be misguided in their efforts. That, and the animosity I and most other Americans feel towards the average run of the mill PETA member turns off far more people than they could ever hope to attract to their cause (its a problem I have with Greenpeace too – sending out dreadlocked unwashed kids who smell like pot smoke isn't the way to win over the undecided though PETA's approach of using impressionable and misguided 20 something women to undress in public, while I'm not gonna complain too much, strikes me as much more abusive). HSUSA has done a great job of taking market share away from PETA, but like much of the modern day environmental movement, I find them (at least their leadership) more interested in fundraising and shear political power than actually doing good for the world.

    Hunting is and will always continue to be a natural role of all species of omnivores and carnivores (humans included). When you remove one predator from an ecosystem, things go out of whack leading quickly to other, more serious and unforseen problems. Case in point – Deer. Remove the predator (wolves, coyotes, people) and what are you left with: car accidents, disease, and ballooning deer populations which lead to mass starvation across the entire species and the rapid spread of things such as CWD and EHD. Have you ever seen a deer in the wild dieing the slow and painful death brought on by either??? Perhaps you'd change you position on hunting as a natural part of the ecological balance if you had.

    But beyond providing both an ecosystem balance and a source of protein (and really, would you rather me eat venison that lived a wild life and I was able to harvest in a natural manner or some beef that was pumped up with corn along with tens of thousands of other steer in a midwest feedlot – not that I think there is anything wrong with beef either) it also provides an important connection to the natural environment that most people have lost. While folks still get out in the woods on occasion to hike or camp, I imagine few who claim to be environmentalists have any understanding of the enhanced sensory experience that hunting brings. To wake at an early hour and climb a mountain to a spot that you hope will bring a reward after hours and days and weeks and months of scouting and anticipating and then to wait under cover of darkness as the sun rises and the forest comes to life while you sit still, moving only your eyes and waiting gives you a greater understanding of the impacts of human existence on a level not otherwise imaginable.

    Have you ever spoken to animals? Communicated with a flock of geese and called them into you??? Barked with a squirrel?? Grunted with a buck and had it, in the wild, walk right up to you unaware of who you were or what you were only that you didn't belong? Have you smelled the breath that comes from their snorting nose? Looked them in the eye as they scrapped the ground and kicked their heals – knowing you had the power to take their life – but passed up on them because they weren't the deer you were after and that you wanted them to live a couple of more seasons to mature and grow and experience the world??

    Hunting, as I said, is a natural part of the human existence. Like farming – the loss of participants is a shame not only for the past times and stories and skills that will be lost, but also for the connection and truly deep understanding of nature and all that is around us that is lost. I dare say, the average resident of White Plains, NY really has little understanding of the world and the environment, and all the donations they make to the Sierra Club or the Nature Conservancy will not stop the erosion of our environment or give them a greater understanding of it nearly as much as the presence of one more single hunter will.

    But I suspect you will disagree with me, and thats fine.

    I see – from your professional page – your from Juptier Florida. I have a condo not far from there up by Sewell's Inlet. Maybe we can meet to discuss this in more detail one day.

    September 3, 2007
  4. Man, everybody's got a condo on the coast of Florida but I'm the only one stupid enough to live here all year. For our stand on hunting, and particularly deer, check out the following factsheet, which debunks what you believe. We do however agree on large groups, both animal-related and environment related. We vegans worry about people who get off on the "power" of taking a life. We believe that we have the power, yes, but that's not a good reason to use it. We are nonviolent. Peace, for us, is manifest at each meal we sit down to.

    Have a peaceful day.

    September 3, 2007
  5. Ellie #

    Countertop, I'd also like to respond to some of the issues you've raised.

    You spoke of power. It seems to me the interest in hunting is precisely about power. Hunters with weapons have the power to kill or spare an animal's life. For animal advocates this is a moral issue. That humans can overpower other animals is not to say it's right.

    If you mean killing natural predators will offset the balance of animal populations, I agree. But I don't agree most humans are natural predators. Most of us don't live within nature, and neither can we claim the essential (and natural) reason for predation, which is survival.

    And though hunters say they save animals from starving by decreasing their population, hunting leaves more food for the animals who survive, which in turn increases their rate of reproduction. So in the long run, hunting increases the population.

    No doubt, hunting is part of our evolutionary history. We're able to digest both plant and animal foods. Even so, I think our physiology is best suited to a plant based diet, because we evolved with the ability to live without meat.

    The human body manufactures it's own cholesterol and many other vital nutrients. In our evolutionary stage, before we were aware of sanitation, we acquired B12 through our environment. Retaining this ability, after humans became hunters, might be due to long periods of little or no hunting, which would be just as much a part of our evolution.

    Plant protein is certainly just as healthy, but as you know, I'm a vegan for ethical reasons, as Mary explained.

    We disagree, and that's ok. I too am glad you can see we're very different from PeTA.

    September 3, 2007
  6. Mary, I wouldn't waste time debating with liars. So now you have lots of anger towards men? Scary! Oh…and where did you call him gay, as he says in his blog? The more you reply to him here, the more he will lie about you on his own blog. Who knows…maybe he will now invent something about me too?

    September 4, 2007
  7. All living species of the kingdom animalia thrive on the death of other organisms. If you want to get really crazy about this, who are you to say that thousands of soybean plants have to give their lives so that you may live?

    September 4, 2007
  8. So soy beans are "animalia" now. And they call US nuts!

    September 4, 2007
  9. Countertop,

    In the event you deleted it, I submitted the following comment on your blog about me:

    That is quite a dishonest characterization. The honey rather than vinegar thing doesn't mean you should lie.

    I will not be responding to you in any way hereafter.

    September 4, 2007
  10. Ken, if the reference to The Crying Game (which really was the only movie I ever actually regretted wasting the time to see) didn't refer to homosexuality, then what did it refer to?

    September 4, 2007
  11. You tell me. It was you who mentioned it in your blog. If anything, it would perhaps make people think you're homophobic, and not gay as you imply Mary called you.

    So yes, you're a liar, and I'll ignore you from now on. Have a nice day.

    September 4, 2007
  12. In case regular readers are wondering, the Sebastian who recently commented isn't our friend, Sebastian, whom I believe is currently in the U.K. (Not that the content of the comment didn't give that away.) Go to his site,, which tells you everything you need to know about him.

    September 4, 2007
  13. Nomen Nescio #

    er, mr. Cassar… Sebastian didn't say soybeans were members of animalia. he said soybeans were organisms, and that all members of animalia live by killing other organisms, not that we necessarily live by killing other animalia.

    the point should be obvious. it appears you would like to draw the moral line (for what organisms are acceptable to kill) between animalia and the rest of life, but to Sebastian (and to me) this choice appears neither more nor less arbitrary than any other one. the actual ethical debate to justify any one choice is (like most, perhaps all, ethical debates) ultimately unresolvable, and can go on forever. descending into invective seems pointless, given that fact.

    September 4, 2007
  14. emily #

    The Crying Game aversion would rather suggest a person who *wouldn't* want to be in a sexual situation with a penis, rather than a the reverse.

    September 4, 2007
  15. Ellie #

    Apparently, sentience and choice are concepts some people find too difficult to grasp.

    September 4, 2007
  16. Nomen Nescio #

    they're easy enough to grasp, but their relevance to ethical decision-making is not all overriding or entirely inarguable. (besides, "sentience" is an overloaded term in bioethics. i think you're referring to self-awareness, i.e., the knowledge that oneself is a separate, thinking, planning individual, and not to the much simpler ability to perceive sensory input and react to it.)

    "choice" is also a bit unclear. are you referring to my ability to choose what's for dinner, or to my dinner's potential ability to make choices? i would assume the latter, but…

    i could quibble about the distinction of kingdom animalia, still, but that'd be petty. i assume you're not in principle averse to killing those members of our kingdom that can't reasonably be considered to be sentient (self-aware) or have much ability to make independent choices.

    September 4, 2007
  17. "Nomen,"

    One of my rules is that you must be cordial, which you sort of are, and that you must leave a valid e-mail address. i.dont@e-mail or whatever, isn't valid, and if you would like to own up to who and where you are, you're welcome to comment. All of your comments hereafter will be deleted.

    Countertop does leave a site and e-mail, but it is interesting that on his own site, and his own comments, he doesn't own up to his identity. That tells me a lot.

    September 4, 2007
  18. mffalm #

    As a seasoned psychotherapist i had to sit on my hands for a couple of days to prevent an over emotional reaction to countertop-my main concern is the bong picture which can certainly be considered a subtle form of sexual abuse- this is pure degradation of women-if his daughters have not seen it-they will at least know of it some day-if there are sons-well, it is fair to assume that they might be adopting their father's mindset.
    As for ALLOWING an animal to mature before lying in wait for it and experiencing an ethereal feeling-well enough said.

    September 4, 2007
  19. Since I grew up in a family that hunted and raised and slaughtered animals I'm somewhat familiar with the hunting mindset. Any time you tell people that something they're doing is wrong they're bound to have a negative reaction, but sometimes we still have to say it.

    For the hunters in my own family I've never heard them describe hunting in such incredibly creepy weird language as countertop does, but they do enjoy stalking animals I suppose. In most cases it was a family tradition–they began hunting as kids and turned off all empathy they might naturally feel for the animals. My father described crying because his uncle purposefully ran over my father's kittens when he was a child, so you can see the kind of atmosphere that persists.

    Also, all the men in my family were in the military and served in wars. I imagine once you come to terms with killing human beings it's not exactly difficult to kill animals. Also my dad was a boxer when he was younger. It's tough guy culture taken to an extreme. There is also generally a great deal of alcohol consumed on hunting trips.

    Oh, and my dad described his hunting trip where he killed a bear and it was this weird thing where he said he really didn't want to kill a bear, definitely didn't want to clean a bear, and was pretty sure he wasn't going to eat a bear. But then the other guys were betting on who would get the first bear and he knew he was a better shot and not only killed the first bear but did it with one shot because of his sniper rating from 'Nam and all. He didn't even want to kill a bear, but he wanted to WIN. And he loved all the praise and attention it brought him. I mean, he's my dad and I love him, but that's kind of messed up.

    I have been very close to many wild animals, sometimes on purpose, sometimes accidentally. When I was about 13 I got into a fight with my mother and disobeyed her and took my dog out into the woods by ourselves. Generally you can smell a bear from a long way away, but the wind was blowing the opposite direction and I practically walked right into an adolescent bear. He looked at me and my dog and took off, but he was beautiful. I still enjoy going out and watching wildlife every chance I get. There are few things so beautiful and it's a privilege to sit quietly for a while and watch them.

    Anyway, off topic.

    The thing I find most frightening about countertop's post is the emphasis he puts on HIS personally having power over the life and death of others. He enjoys the power he feels from not killing an animal or from killing one. But this is an illusion. Even with killing he's just a stalker, a psycho. He doesn't matter to the animals and he doesn't matter to people. Generally when you find someone so intent on exercising power over others this means that they feel powerless in other aspects of their lives. Or that they have a personality disorder, I guess.

    Of course we all face life and death constantly. In rescue I've had to make some calls on whether to go ahead and put a sick or injured animal down or try to help her. For me this isn't a good feeling.

    I know that my attacker got a sense of power and satisfaction from stalking me. I believe I was stalked for weeks, maybe even several months without knowing it. People like this think that anything they want to do to someone else if that person is so stupid or inferior (in their view) to not realize they're in danger. People who are so intent on having power over others frighten me in many ways. Much the same I wonder about people who claim to find animals beautiful and at the same time enjoy killing them. I always wonder if on some level they feel such a need to control and dominate anything they admire, and since killing is the ultimate control… I've seen interviews with serial killers where they describe, similar to countertop, how they also felt power from stalking certain women and deciding not to kill them, because it was god-like granting them life. But of course, that's not really what they were doing. Well you get what I'm saying.

    But in any case, the rightness or wrongness of hunting aside, it's simply unsustainable. There are too many people and not enough land for everyone to hunt. Though it's not necessarily the case on the East Coast of the US, in many parts of the world hunters are driving species into extinction. The gorillas will be gone soon for example. Many hunters pay extra to hunt endangered species, often in canned hunts. So that demonstrates their pathological need to demonstrate their power, by killing animals who represent power or danger, like tigers. This sick desire in them is more important to them than the fact that their kids might never get to see that animal. People here in the Eastern US are so annoyed by the deer that they forget it was only a few decades ago that they were hunted until nearly gone. The deer population has resurged because we cut down all the trees and created huge grazing areas for them and then planted ornamental plants they like to eat… But that aside, hunting long term in no longer sustainable with our population and the environmental pressures.

    September 4, 2007
  20. Nomen said "er, mr. Cassar… Sebastian didn't say soybeans were members of animalia. he said soybeans were organisms".

    And yet, he equates soybeans with animalia. I guess while some people hunt, other people read evolutionary biology stuff. If soybeans have a right not to be eaten simply because they are alive, I wonder how on earth someone can have children without "murdering" millions of lives. Sperm is alive.

    Where do we draw the line? We draw it at sentience which requires a brain and nervous system.

    September 5, 2007
  21. Ellie #

    Yes, and sentience doesn't mean a complex understanding of oneself as a "separate, thinking, planning individual." Infants are sentient, adults with mental limitations are sentient, hunted and domesticated animals are sentient. Plants are not.

    September 5, 2007
  22. Ellie #

    I agree, Neva, hunting is about power, a kind of sick power that is devoid of all feeling except a narcisistic gratification. There's nothing natural about stalking and killing an animal for fun. It's pathologic.

    September 5, 2007
  23. I know that you guys are being truly honest about what you believe as vegans, but you have to realize that your ad hominem statements (I'll refrain from characterizing them as attacks, which is the usual formation) are counterproductive if your goal is to convince hunters to your way of thinking.

    Of course, I think that goal would be futile. You're no more likely to convince hunters to give up their way of thinking that they are to convince you to start eating steak.

    But really, how does it serve the discussion to say the folks on the other side of the debate have a "personality disorder," hunting is about "a kind of sick power that is devoid of all feeling except a narcisistic gratification" and that the desire to hunt is "pathologic?" You see, you're not debating the merits, you're insulting the debater. Usually (although not necessarily), that's an indication that the speaker can't marshal the facts to support their contention, and so has to descend into emotional insults.

    And please don't make the all-too-common mistake of accusing someone of lying because they say something you disagree with. There are many more possible explanations (such as what I believe happened in this case, that Countertop incorrectly jumped to a conclusion without thinking it through).

    Sorry, I sound like a nagging school marm. But you generally sound like reasonable folks, and I hate to see potentially fruitful debate and discussion devolve into useless "poo flinging."

    September 5, 2007
  24. Actually, Boyd, we've got some therapists and others qualified to diagnose psychological disorders. Therapists see the world as therapists and considering I'm the daughter of one and have several friends who are therapists and I know a bit about the issues myself, the way the hunters talk does indeed lead to the characterizations that are written in the comments. And with regard to the facts: the fact is that hunters are stalkers and killers who enjoy stalking and killing (and the power and all that). The hunters have provided ample evidence to be characterized the way they have been characterized. That's not "poo flinging," that's truth-telling.

    September 5, 2007
  25. At the risk of sounding snarky, I didn't realize that reliable diagnoses could be reached by reading a few paragraphs that someone has written in blog comments. Or that an individual could be diagnosed based on their membership of a group.

    "All hunters talk the same. All hunters are the same."

    That sounds more like taking the easy way out than actually, y'know, *thinking*. And it's less like "truth-telling" than it is like "truth-making-up-because-it-fits-my-opinions."

    But hey, if you think that this approach is going to overcome, for instance, the Pennsylvania Game Commission's approach to wildlife management through hunting policies, more power to you. I have my doubts, though, that the seven Commissioners of that body will be receptive to being called pathological narcissistic sickos devoid of power elsewhere in there lives, so they have to take it out on defenseless wildlife.

    Seriously, have a look at their thumbnail biographies at their web site( ). If you're going to influence folks like them, you need to take a different approach.

    September 5, 2007
  26. Ellie #

    Boyd, I made some of the comments you refered to. If you'll look at my first post on this thread, you'll see I did offer reasonable debate, but apparently hunters didn't want to discuss it. Nomen replied to my second post, but was absent a valid email address, so I suspect there can't be further discussion with Nomen.

    Neva's story and Counter's and Sebastian's posts illustrate why I think hunters seek narcisistic gratification. Stalking and killing a defenseless animal with high powered weapons. Intruding on their habitat. Interfering with a natural balance in population they could have if we respected them. Magnanimously sparing their lives on occassion. Do hunters not seek power over life and death, and ultimate control of nature?

    I don't mean to suggest only hunters seek power, or that they're the only ones who use brutality and kill, but right now we're talking about hunting.

    September 5, 2007
  27. Mary Martin, Ph.D.,

    You forgot one other thing hunters (and our families and friends and neighbors) enjoy (even more than the stalking and killing): Red Meat!

    And by your reasoning then, does all of humanity suffer from a pathological personality disorder???

    Thats news to me. Last I checked, even John Kerry (or lo and behold animal rights extraordinary John Ensign and at least 286 other Members of Congress

    As Boyd said, you've got a long way to go (but then, your just going to ignore my comment any way, aren't you????)

    September 5, 2007
  28. I'm sorry if this is a bit of a digression, but Ellie's most recent comment made me think of something.

    It seems as though anti-hunters want to regard all other animals the same as humans when we talk about hunting (we shouldn't murder lesser animals even as we shouldn't murder our fellow humans), but humans should be different from other animals when it comes to predation (lesser animals are allowed to hunt, but not humans). I can't come up with a logical resolution to that conflict.

    And just to flush it out of my brain because it's been floating around in there all day, humans are omnivores, but you want to turn us into herbivores. I don't understand why you think what we are (omnivores) is bad, and why we should change into something that we're not, or at least, that is only a part of us (herbivores).

    Sorry, I realize that's a digression, but I just had to spit it out before I forgot it completely. Feel free to quickly point me to reference materials rather than writing any lengthy prose. Or make a new post. Or ignore it completely. I don't want to hijack the thread.

    September 5, 2007
  29. Read more carefully. They diagnose for a living, yes. And they "characterize" behavior based on the evidence on this blog and at countertop. There is MORE than ample evidence to characterize countertop as manifesting some mighty disturbing behavior. Whether you're a lay person or a mental health professional.

    To enjoy stalking, killing, and the power involved in deciding when, where and whether to end someone's life, well, speaks for itself.

    September 5, 2007
  30. Oh, I read carefully enough, Dr. Martin, but thanks for implying that I'm a careless reader.

    Let's just say I have a lay person's healthy skepticism that a competent diagnosis can be achieved based on such limited exposure. We'll have to agree to disagree on that point. You believe it's valid. I believe it's self-serving, and I seriously doubt that either of us will convince the other to change our respective minds.

    "To enjoy stalking, killing, and the power involved in deciding when, where and whether to end someone's life, well, speaks for itself."

    And the willingness to decide the opinions, rationales and motivations of all hunters and therefore pass judgment on each member of that group, well, that speaks for itself, too, ma'am.

    September 5, 2007
  31. I never said all hunters have personality disorders, I just mentioned it as one possibility. I also made an issue not necessarily of all hunters, but countertop in particular because he used incredibly weird and creepy language in his comment that to me sounded like what people
    who hurt people tend to say.

    After what I've been through I'm probably overly sensitive to cues that people are approaching others in really scary ways, and Internet comments aren't exactly a great thing to judge by, so I could be wrong. But countertop's comment struck as really frightening. There are certain patterns of language that do seem consistent in people who are justifying or rationalizing hurting other people, and it is quite chilling to observe.

    My own father is a hunter and as much as I think it's messed up and I wish he wasn't I don't compare my father to serial killers because he has never talked like one. I think his reasons for hunting are faulty, self-indulgent, and misguided, but he never brags about the rush of power hunting gives him. He doesn't talk about control or
    granting life or whatever. At the same time I realize the due to the military and boxing background, my father is perfectly capable of hurting other people under the right circumstances, though he doesn't seek out those situations any more. And all of the hunters in my
    family with the exception of my brother have been in the military and seen action, so I do think there's a correlation between feeling ok with pointing your gun at people and feeling ok with shooting animals.

    Unfortunately in parts of the country hunting is like golf in that powerful men go on hunting trips and the men that go along with them get to be party to all kinds of deals and inside information. My father has several times told me that he went on such trips but didn't shoot any animals because he didn't feel like bothering with killing and cleaning animals but needed to be there because promotions would be decided and money allocated. Of course that's another sexist way to shut women out of the deal making–women aren't even invited on such hunting trips.

    My father has also several times made a point of telling me that he's not nearly as angry a person as he used to be and that the main reason he gave up boxing was he no longer felt an incredible rage he could tap into. He said of hunting that lately he often feels "mellow" now and just wants to sit in the woods and watch animals but doesn't feel motivated to shoot them. However, apparently competition with other hunters can motivate him…

    There is unfortunately a lot of macho culture attached to hunting and I've talked with men who hunted as kids with their dads or male relatives. Some say that they always hated it and felt terrible for the animals, but it was just so expected that all males would participate. If they felt sorry for an animal they were called names and mocked. So I imagine many hunters started that way and just turned off their empathy because it got to be so painful. Perhaps some in that position could be reached if somehow something broke through their "armor" and showed them a shimmer of personality or emotion in an animal. Others probably won't ever change.

    Macho culture of course has other drawbacks, to the point that there are some places where men are ridiculed and mocked just for being nice to their wives, or worse they're told they "need to keep their woman in line." It also boxes men into narrow roles and prevents them often from expressing a gentle, creative, or nurturing side when many of those men might have natural tendencies in those directions.

    September 5, 2007
  32. Ellie #

    Message boards can be very revealing, Boyd. It's not hard to get a good idea of how people think, especially if they make extraordinary comments.

    But even average comments can say a lot. For example, you refered to non-humans as "lesser animals". That tells me you hold a traditional (and possibly religious) view of humans as a "higher" species. I don't share this view, and neither does science support it.

    That's not to say humans and other animals are the same.

    Animals must hunt in order to survive. They have no choice if they are to live. But most humans do, and since we can be perfectly healthy on a plant food diet, there's no justification for killing animals.

    September 6, 2007
  33. Ellie #

    Btw, I don't think John Ensign spoke for animal rights.

    September 6, 2007
  34. I'll leave it to Countertop to address the John Ensign thing, since he brought it up.

    And please, don't try to psychoanalyze me because of the words I use. I try to pick them very precisely, and I usually succeed in making the right choice. I specifically chose to refer to lesser animals as such because that's exactly how I regard them, and it's got nothing to do with my religious views, either. I think you're wrong to regard them on par with humans, you think I'm wrong for thinking they're beneath humans. We're never going to agree on that point, and your drive-by reference to science supporting your position is gratuitous and, quite frankly, not true.

    I won't return the favor and psychoanalyze how you view hunting as misogynistic. I'll just say that's a huge amount of hubris on your part, and you're largely wrong.

    At any rate, I come here because I don't want to live in an echo chamber. I relish hearing opposing viewpoints, because it almost always pushes me in one direction or the other: I either question my position, or solidify it. In many cases, it will cause me to question one part of my position while it strengthens me in another part.

    Thanks for indulging me. It's a stimulating discussion.

    September 6, 2007
  35. Ellie #

    Boyd, my understanding is we're talking about how our posts reveal a lot about ourselves. If I posted my support for particular legislation or a presidential candidate, for example, you'd have a pretty good idea about where I'm coming from.

    I'm not pschoanalyzing you or anyone else. Your choice of words, like mine, is an expression of how we think. And neither did I say you were religious.

    What I said was science does not support the idea that animals are "lesser beings". This is entirely correct because science doesn't make such judgments. Assigning value to lifeforms is a social construct. It's not based on a scientific method that proves one lifeform is higher than another.

    I also didn't say hunting per se is misogynistic, but that's cleary an apt description of some posts. I think Neva is right that hunting has long been considered a sign of "manhood", and it's often connected to the macho mentality.

    But again this is a moral issue. Does our enjoyment and culture speak for what's right or wrong?

    September 6, 2007
  36. Of course, your last question gets right to the foundation of our disagreement: you believe hunting is immoral, or doing anything to animals, for that matter (forgive me if I missed the mark on that one, but that's how I understand the abolitionist position); we believe that there's much we can morally do with animals, including hunting.

    Is there really any other significant difference in this discussion? Does it advance the debate at all to analyze (not psychoanalyze, I suppose) anyone based on the words they use in their posts? Does it go to the core of the debate to toss the misogynist ad hominem at someone instead of addressing the merits of the fundamental arguments?

    If your point is the moral treatment of animals, why do you feel compelled to denigrate your opponents in the debate by disparaging their character?

    September 8, 2007
  37. Boyd,

    If I may chime in, I think that the character characterizations definitely began with me going to his site and spending some time there.

    Your site is very different, as you well know ( He, anonymously, speaks volumes about what he cares about and doesn't care about and much of his writing, references and photos are enormously disturbing, particularly to women who live by a code of nonviolence, and that nonviolence includes other species.

    He is a very, very easy target (I couldn't resist), and I personally do not mean to say that all hunters–or any other person, for that matter–have the identical combination of traits he shows us through his writing, both here and on his site.

    I hit a nerve by posting his material and sending readers to his site, and I'm not sure I would do it all again if given the chance. I certainly hope he does not represent you all. The enjoyment he and his friends got from insulting me (and all of us who think killing without necessity is morally unjustifiable) and of course from stalking and killing, tells me that I will never make a positive difference in the way he thinks or acts. I mistakenly assumed his intention was to have an honest dialogue. And I paid for that mistake.

    Perhaps readers disagree. Maybe they'll chime in, as well.

    September 8, 2007
  38. Mike Grieco #

    Mary – you just helped expose what continues to occur in our, "civilized" society? Which is the "use" and "abuse" of females,nonhuman animals,the environment,and the insulting of compassionate and intelligent human beings.

    Some people do just fine on their own defining themselves.What else is there to say?


    September 8, 2007
  39. Ellie #

    Ok Boyd, how about if we take one issue at a time? You're right about missing the mark on abolition. As I would explain it, it is certainly moral to care for animals in need, but it is immoral to breed animals as objects of property, and lacking protection of their moral rights, to exploit them for our interests. Abolition is part of the broader animal rights philosophy, which includes free-living animals, as well.

    If we are to talk about our differences, of course it should be in reasoned, respectable dialogue, but please keep in mind the origin of this thread was anything but reasoned and respectable. I think it was appropriate to 'deconstruct' such mentality, as Mary did.

    About the core of our debate, I happen to believe in right and wrong, as opposed to a so-called morality in which anything goes. As I posted above, I don't agree hunters are saving animals from starvation, because hunting actually increases the animal's rate of reproduction. If anything, it creates (allow me to say) a vicious cycle, in which animals will continue to exceed their food supply.

    Actually, I have my own philosophy about hunting, which is that if even when it is truly a matter of survival, it is not moral but rather a means to an end. But add to that, most people don't need to eat meat to survive and can be perfectly healthy without it, and I think you might understand why I oppose hunting on moral grounds.

    September 8, 2007
  40. Thanks to everyone for engaging me. We obviously have some core philosophical differences, but I think it's worthwhile to have reasonable people challenge my beliefs for reasons I mentioned in an earlier comment.

    Ellie, regarding your useful points about our debate, rather than extend an already very long comment thread on a post that will soon pass from the front page and start to get difficult to navigate, I'll withhold my response for now since I'm confident that Mary's future posts will give me ample opportunity to respond at that time. 🙂 Just know that I'm not giving up or running away; I think this is useful, for me at least, and I look forward to continuing the discussion.

    I won't justify everything Countertop does or says, even though we're friendly with each other. I also won't condemn him for maintaining his anonymity. He has good reasons for it (not stalkers or anything weird like that, he just wants to be free to say what he thinks *somewhere* without political repercussions, since he lives in the political world "in real life").

    At any rate, I look forward to future discussions with you folks, but I intend to do it in future threads rather than extending this one. Once more, thanks for the reasonable debate.

    September 10, 2007
  41. Sean #

    Just wanted to add to Neva's comment about Countertop's creepy description of the thrill he gets from hunting and deciding whether an animal will live or die.

    I found this quote from criminal profiler Clinton Van Zandt: "Part of the thrill for a serial killer is 'I make the decision, I choose if she dies.' There is nothing more Godlike to make the decision whether they live or die … it's powerful. It's the control of life over another human being."

    September 10, 2007
  42. Okay, I know I wasn't going to continue in this thread, but I fear that the point that Sean brings up, specifically as it applies to Countertop, may not arise again, and I think it deserves to be addressed.

    If your argument is right, just, logical and achievable without resorting to emotion, then ad hominem accusations, which is pervasive throughout the comments here, don't further your argument. If you (collectively) are not saying that hunters are macho, misogynist, angry, power-hungry, serial-killer-like pathological narcissists, why would anyone who's interested in reasonable dialog bring up these attacks? If you acknowledge that, whatever Countertop's traits may be, he's not necessarily representative of hunters, then chastising his conduct does nothing to advance the discussion. His personal traits are only relevant if they are, to some degree, pervasive among hunters. Say they are, and let's have at it; or acknowledge that they aren't, and drop the accusations.

    I think some folks are trying to have it both ways. And I'm more than happy to be the one to call them on it. 🙂

    September 10, 2007
  43. Sean #

    Yes, I do think all hunters are "are macho, misogynist[ic], angry, power-hungry, serial-killer-like pathological narcissists." Not all hunters will reveal themselves so evidently to be this type of person, as Countertop has, but anyone who gets pleasure from taking life (or having the power to take life but sparing it) has issues with power. You can talk all you want about the "justifications" for hunting, but I've never known a hunter who leaves for a hunting trip with a heavy heart. The "reluctant hunter" does not exist.

    That said, I think these traits are in a lot of people who never hunt. It could be said of most Fortune 500 CEOs as well. Probably most humans have the capacity.

    There is something natural about being power-hungry and narcissistic, these instincts surely helped prior members of our species survive, and continue to help some of us excel at things like the accumulation of assets. But in a civilized society, I think it's largely a trait we should try to evolve away from.

    September 11, 2007
  44. Thanks for your honesty, Sean. Few folks who take your position on animals and hunting will come right out and state that they believe they are superior to their opponents in the debate.

    I think where you made your mistake is that you started from your conclusion (all hunters are all these bad things) and worked backward. You can't just say "that's the only possible conclusion" in a legitimate debate. You have to substantiate your claim that I, as a hunter, am each of these things you agreed with.

    So tell me how I'm, for example, misogynistic (thanks for catching my noun/adjective error, btw). Or angry, for that matter. You can't get away with just saying that "you must be, but you hide it well."

    Y'see, I don't think you understand the wide variety of why people hunt (those people include a significant number of women, by the way, which makes the misogynistic claim that much harder to substantiate). There's no single reason why I do, and while I'll acknowledge that I'm undoubtedly not aware of all the factors that motivate me to hunt, I have to believe that I understand my motivations quite a bit better than you do.

    Unless, of course, you want to sweep it all away with your apparent claim that you're a superior being. That leaves no room for discussion.

    September 11, 2007
  45. Ellie #

    I have several thoughts about the recent posts. First to respond to Boyd, I too welcome a reasonable discussion.

    Second, while I think the above collection of personality traits can indeed describe some hunters, and as Sean said, non-hunters, I don't know they fit every individual who hunts.

    That hunting is associated with "being a man"– no doubt, even though some women hunt.

    That hunters are "misogynistic"– well, I think the subordination of women is part of traditional male dominated society, of which hunting is one expression, as is the drive for power, dominance (including control over nature), and competition.

    Imo, finding gratification in stalking and killing is pathological. It's one thing to hunt when there's no other way to survive, and quite another to find killing fun.

    But I suspect many hunters don't want animals to suffer, and I know many believe they are doing animals a favor. That's where I think a reasonable discussion might come in.

    September 11, 2007
  46. Thanks for engaging, Ellie.

    Sure, hunting is traditionally associated with "being a man," but many of us, including virtually all female hunters, don't associate hunting with maleness. And where it does touch on maleness, I think it's more to do with hunting tradition (to which I'll gladly confess) instead of maleness.

    I think you take a leap beyond reasonableness to connect misogyny with hunting. Yeah, there are a few divorced men who say they're picturing their ex while sighting in their rifles or maybe even aiming at their prey, but that's just macho banter, and isn't even true when spoken. A hunter needs to be rock steady and totally concentrated at that "moment of truth." The emotional baggage of thinking about "she what done ya wrong" is the last thing a shooter needs. In other words, it's locker-room talk and as such, has no connection with reality.

    Anyway, just because hunting is a (male-dominated) tradition, and our society is traditionally male-dominated (and therefore at least mildly misogynistic) doesn't justify transferring the misogyny from one to the other. That logic would make all male-dominated activities misogynistic, which I think is patently untrue.

    I think you've projected the drive for power and dominance onto hunting. I wouldn't say these aren't factors for any hunters, but I think it's far from true that they're inherent factors in hunting.

    Competition? Yeah, I'll cop to that. There's some mild competition with fellow hunters, but the real competition is with the prey. Non-hunters may think it's easy to shoot a white-tail buck, for example, but I'm here to tell you that ain't necessarily the case. But yeah, I'm competing with the buck. And they win more than I do (and I know you're glad to hear that!).

    That finding gratification in stalking and killing is pathological needs some substantiation. I have no doubt that's what you believe, but just because you believe it doesn't make it true. And exactly what definition of pathological do you mean? Are you saying I'm diseased (presumably mentally defective), or that I'm abnormal (there are an awful lot of hunters to justify calling them all abnormal), or maybe some other definition of pathology I'm not familiar with?

    And on this point, I think it's worthwhile to clearly define what we mean by "fun." Do I have fun hunting? Sure. That mostly revolves around the camaraderie, seeing the (non-prey) wildlife that I otherwise seldom see, getting away from it all for a while, and similar pursuits. Hunting is a challenge, and when I'm successful, my reward includes not just overcoming the challenge, but also food that I can't otherwise get, and providing food to others less fortunate (I always give away about half of the meat I harvest). But there are many aspects to hunting that are decidedly "not fun" which I won't detail here, because I'm sure many readers would find the list distasteful, and I think we know what I'm talking about, anyway. But that's part of the whole package. Please trust me when I tell you that "taking a life" is not much of a motivation to get me out into the woods and hunting. It's necessarily a part of it, but I don't go hunting so I can "kill something."

    There are many things in life we no longer *have* to do, but we *choose* to continue doing (even though we've evolved, both physically and societally. beyond *needing* to do them). I suspect you bring up this point because, from your viewpoint, removing the necessity of hunting helps to make the animal rights aspect of the debate become the overwhelming consideration.

    Ow, I'm really getting long-winded here, and I apologize for that. But this brings us to my last point, which mirrors yours, Ellie. The reasonable discussion that we're left with concerns morality, animal rights and possibly some consideration of the effects of hunting on the wildlife population. That's where the fertile ground for conversation lies, I think.

    But I said all of that prefatory discussion to emphasize to everyone that treating hunters as lesser beings, or defective people, or whatever ad hominem accusations you want to lodge, doesn't advance the debate. You turn people off, people you want to convince, by calling hunters narcissistic misogynists and so forth. Especially when that's not even your strongest point.

    You're against hunting, and for what you define as animal rights, basically for moral reasons with some science thrown in as well. I recommend that you focus on those aspects of the discussion instead of telling us how bad we are because we hunt.

    And please notice, I've never once mentioned that I think you're all nuts. (Just joking, honest!)

    September 11, 2007
  47. Sean #


    I do not claim to be a superior being. As a child I committed horrible cruelty against animals. There are many former hunters, vivisectors, and ranchers who are now animal rights advocates. Most of us are born with the capacity for both cruelty and compassion. At some point some of us choose compassion, which I hope you are capable of doing.

    I didn't necessarily analyze every trait I quoted from you, it was more about the general sense of the selected text.

    September 11, 2007
  48. Listen to yourself, Sean: "I do not claim to be a superior being…..some of us [apparently, this includes you, Sean] choose compassion, which I hope you are capable of doing."

    Condescending, Sean. You say you're not saying you're superior, then you claim superiority. Argue the merits, pardner, get away from the emotion and the condescension and the superiority. That makes the issue tough to discuss.

    September 11, 2007
  49. Sean #

    Boyd, you are not understanding.

    I am not inherently superior to you, unless you are incapable of living compassionately.

    The choice I have made — to be vegan — is superior to your choice not to be. (Though "superior" wouldn't be my personal word choice.)

    There is a fundamental difference between claiming to be superior, and claiming to have made superior decisions. (Regarding people incapable of empathy and compassion, yes, I am inherently superior to them. You think you are superior to Jeffrey Dahmer, a sociopath incapable of compassion, don't you?)

    Honestly, if I did not think it was a superior decision, that I could be a better person by through veganism, why would I do it?

    September 12, 2007
  50. Outstanding, Sean! Now we're making some progress.

    So, we can agree (I think) that we're both honorable, moral people, but we've made different decisions. Naturally, we each think our own decisions are the better choices, or we wouldn't have made them.

    So now that we can sweep away all the ad hominem, let's get to the crux of the matter: why you regard veganism to be superior to…what do we call it? Omnivorism? Omnivorousism? My head's starting to hurt.

    That's the point I wanted to get to in this discussion: let's debate the merits without taking the easy way out of denigrating those who disagree with us, and without picking outliers (such as how you perceive Countertop) to be representative of an entire class of folks. I won't use PETA to represent the vegan position if you won't use the pathological narcissist to represent the hunters'.

    Now I'm really done in this thread, I think. While I'm far from the most knowledgeable representative of the omnivore/hunter point of view, I'll do what I can to carry on the discussion, as our gracious host permits, in future threads. I want to understand the abolitionist viewpoint, and just as I'm unlikely to ever agree with it, I also want to promote more understanding on your side, even though you folks are unlikely to change your minds about animals, diets, etc. The conversation is still worth having, I believe.

    Thanks for the discussion, folks. It's been stimulating.

    September 12, 2007

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