Thursday, December 16, 2004

On Foxhunting

I am not really fond of hunting and fishing that does not put meat on the table or destroy pests. Foxhunting does neither of these. (Foxhunting the sport, that is, not a rural person going after the fox that's been getting into his chicken coop.) It does give pleasure to its human and canine participants and has a lot of tradition behind it; compared to much of what people could be doing, it seems relatively harmless. I don't like to see foxhunting harassed into non-existence and I could conceivably one day hang one of those foxhunting prints in my house, but I wouldn't be likely to participate in it, even if I could afford it. That said, let me recommend an article on a foxhunting ban up at today's Tech Central Station.

The author makes two points worth mentioning here: First, and most important, is that the foxhunting ban in Britain sets dangerous precedent for restricting the pasttimes people may engage in on their private property. Second, he says there is a tendency of the Anglo-American Left to want to ban pleasures that some people can not participate in (foxhunting is a pasttime few can afford.) I have seen some of this. For example, a public elementary school in the town I moved from banned students from bringing fast food or restaurant lunches--homemade lunches were the only alternative to eating in the cafe--because children eating a homemade sandwich or cafeteria food might see another child with a Kiddie Meal, or whatever, and feel bad they didn't have one. (And heaven forbid anyone in today's society should ever feel bad for any reason!) What he says is interesting and has a lot of truth to it, but I think most of these pleasure-banning urges of the Anglo-American Left are not due so much to a "no one should ever have more pleasure than another" mindset as they are to puritanism.

There is a strong puritanical streak in the Left--not that it isn't found on the right or even that this element of the human personality wasn't found before the actual Puritans, because it is and was; it's just more blatant on the left--and it seems to be getting worse. Think about it for a moment. Where are the most stridently anti-tobacco voices? Anti-alcohol? Anti-meat? Anti-fur? And, for that matter, anti-wool, silk, and beeswax? Who is more likely to sneer at people who like to lie on the couch and watch television? Who wants to take toy guns and knives away from boys, because boys like them too much? Which side of the political spectrum has more people who obsess over the nutritional properties of every bite of food they put in their mouths? Which side wants the government to tax junk food? Which wants the government to bully people into eating healthfully? Which side would be more likely to try to ban the sale of Oreos? Which side can actually make sex sound boring? If someone says he likes big luxury cars, where are the complaints at his preference likely to come from? Who is more likely to try to make you feel guilty for buying a new suit when Third World children are starving? I could go on, but I think I'll leave it here: Ralph Nader. If Ralph Nader is the ideal, you can't tell me there isn't a puritanical streak on the left. Lefties may want to ban competitive games and honor rolls from schools because not every child can know the pleasure of a blue ribbon or seeing his name on a principal's list of "All A's" students, but anyone who can fret over the fact that adults they've never met enjoy eating sweets or go apoplectic over a woman saying she likes the feel of fur on her skin has pleasure issues.

Of course, there is also a strong element of "telling the poor benighted underclass how to live, because we enlightened folk know so much better".

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