Destroying Beauty

I figured what better way to come back than with a rant?

If you’ve seen or read “Fight Club” you may remember a standout line where, in the movie, Edward Norton’s character says to Brad Pitt’s character, “I wanted to destroy something beautiful” after he had bludgeoned angelic Jared Leto’s face into a puddle of blood and broken teeth. The line is shocking because it’s a ludicrous notion that’s meant to give the audience a glimpse into the depths of which the demented, angry, and twisted psyche Norton’s character had plummeted to. The amount of hate one must feel to see something so beautiful that you feel the need to bring upon its annihilation must be immeasurable. But, surely that’s just entertainment. It’s just an emotion presented in a book and in a movie for sensationalism, right? Right??

Wrong. It just happened in real life and the perpetrator (the Edward Norton) of the story, sadly, is an 11-year-old kid. Read the story here.

The deer he killed was not for the family’s survival. Hell it wasn’t even for their love of venison. This child and his father sought out this specific deer especially for his looks. This was an act of brutality purely for the sake of sport and in my honest opinion, trophy hunting is for Neanderthals. Though that’s sort of unfairly insulting to Neanderthals since all they really hunted for was meat…hmm…I’ll have to rethink that insult. Hunting for meat is one thing; hunting for sport is another thing entirely.

The saddest part for me is that this kid is being told by his family that what he did was a good thing. They’re proud of him for destroying such beauty. He’s being praised for taking the life of an extremely rare animal. What possesses someone to want to do that? To see something that only comes about once in 20,000 (some biologist claim as rare as 1 in 100,000) births and decide that the greatest thing to do would be to wipe it from the earth? And, perhaps even more disturbing, what does this say about our society if the entire community has rallied behind him? Well, maybe not the entire community, but certainly a good portion of them.  The hunting community anyway.

Of course the family is going to “honor” the deer by having the whole damn thing stuffed and mounted instead of just the head. I mean, it is albino so a little respect please! Imagine if this were not a game animal but anything else. For example, say someone stumbles across a very, very rare species of redwood that hasn’t been seen in god knows how many years. They take a chainsaw, cut it down, and burn it so they can save the ash “forever.” What if a miner uncovered a precious piece of dark green jade that no one has seen in a thousand years and then just smashed it to dust with a sledgehammer? How would these people be perceived? They’d probably be condemned rather harshly for treating our planet so poorly. Or at least be called idiots for their selfish destruction of such rare objects. So why isn’t it the same with this boy? Why is he a hero for what he did?

Sure, sure, I understand the argument that perhaps the deer population was overflowing and hunting them would actually help the local ecosystem. Valid enough…although this method has been argued and proven scientifically to be somewhat counter-productive. But even if that were the case, I would think the town would give this special, rare animal a pass. Instead of gunning for it (literally), they’d let it live its unique life to the fullest while they fire rounds at the more common-looking whitetails grazing in their backyards (if venison is what they were after). You’d think the town would want to be known for something special, something unique (since, again, albino deer are so very rare) – “the town with the white deer,” or some such thing.

To me, this gives hunting a bad name. Trophy hunting. And how sad that this boy is learning at a young age that when you see something rare and beautiful, the first thing you should do is kill it.

As Ellen DeGeneres said “I ask people why they have deer heads on their walls. They always say because it’s such a beautiful animal. There you go. I think my mother is attractive, but I have photographs of her.”

Photo: Daily Press & Argus)

(Photo: Daily Press & Argus)

Pest Problem (Agreed – But Who is the Pest!?)

I’m not sure if you saw but recently Time Magazine had a cover story with the bold headline “America’s Pest Problem”. Dun dun duuuunnnnnnn. Sound the alarms and make sure you have plenty of non-perishables on hand, people. The article went on and on about this surge in animal population sizes where deer and the like are so numerous that they’re turning well-regulated and prim suburbs into veritable zoos. Gardens are being eaten, there’s crap everywhere, occasionally there’s a car accident when a deer wanders into the street at night. And, gosh darn it, something has got to be done about this! People pay good money on those mass manufactured mini-mansions. They don’t want to see a rabbit ruining their lawn. God forbid a raccoon should meander briefly onto their property. Yes, this is apparently such a big problem that it made Time. Really!?

I’d be completely behind joining some think tank and huddle up with scientists to figure out how to solve this vexing conundrum if it weren’t for one little thing. Ummmm…maybe animals aren’t the pests. Maybe, just maybe, we people are. Humans, I’ve noticed, seem to have this amazing talent that when they want something, they just sort of show up, give it a good once over, and if it happens to meet their needs they declare that it’s now theirs. Conquest is just in our genetic code. But let’s think about it a little. We build these suburbs smack in the middle of nature and then are surprised when wild animals make their way into the backyard? Not only that but when we see one of these animals we get angry that they dared to wander through our neighborhoods and are more likely to bash its head in with a shovel than to just let it wander right on out again of its own accord. Let’s not forget, it was their neighborhood first!

Imagine that you’re sitting in your living room watching TV and some guy just walks in and starts strolling around the room. He bounces on a chair, rubs the grain of the coffee table, opens and closes the blinds, then nods in approval, rolls a mat on the ground, and falls asleep. You, obviously shocked, poke him awake and when he opens his eyes to look at you he says irritably, “What are you doing in my place?” You reply, “I’m sorry, sir, this is my place. I live here. I’ve been living here for years. See, my stuff is all over the place.” He just sighs, rolls his eyes, and responds, “Ugh, something just has to be done about this pest problem.”

That wouldn’t be cool, would it? Yet it’s pretty much what’s happened as we press farther and farther into the environment.

We, as a species, can’t just take and take and take and assume that there won’t be repercussions. We killed all the wolves and coyotes so our toddlers can play hide-and-seek in safety. I know, I know, but that was the rationale people used. Anyway, with those animals gone not only will Little Tommy not get mauled but it also shouldn’t be a shock that the number of deer is going to rise. How is that not expected? Take away predators and guess what happens? So now there are a ton of deer and rabbits and chipmunks and pheasants playing loud music, doing drugs till the wee hours, setting off firecrackers, and engaging in gang activity. Oh wait, no, they’re not the ones doing that. But chewing leaves and drinking water from streams is practically the same thing, right? So how do we resolve that? Maybe we begin by understanding that the world is not our buffet but also, and perhaps more importantly, realize that sometimes we have to share.

But that seems a long way off. The article didn’t quite bring up a “Let’s All Get Along” plan. It went more towards the depressingly expected “Let’s Just Kill Them All” plan instead. And with that, hunters around the world rejoice because now there’s an official reason to get out there and shoot something. It’s for the good of the neighborhood, damn it. The government is telling me to kill, honey. That’s right, Mr./Mrs. Hunter, go kill something — it’s very important work you’re doing.

Time Magazine Cover