Critics of hunting should beware of hypocrisy

Meat eaters should examine their own practices before criticizing animal hunters

Every year, hunting season seems to come with a large influx of Facebook statuses and tweets about how disgusting and inhumane hunting is. This season, the statuses and tweets seem to be at an all-time high after the recent controversy over the photo professional big game hunter Melissa Bachman posted of herself with a dead South African lion that she killed.

To be fair, I can understand the outrage over Bachman’s actions. Though lions are not considered endangered, they are, according to Panthera — an organization devoted to preserving big cats and their ecosystems — a vulnerable species, only one step before endangered on the spectrum of Least Concern to Extinct.

The tweet that sparked the outrage read, “An incredible day of hunting in South Africa! Stalked inside 60-yards on this beautiful male lion…what a hunt!” and featured a picture of her smiling with the dead animal. After, Bachman was met with unsurprising disgust. I think it’s the way that Bachman happily goes about killing animal after animal entirely for sport that upsets everyone.

Melissa Bachman, however, does not represent the average hunter. Most people don’t make it their livelihood to kill every animal they can. Most hunters are actually eating the animals they kill. And, ironically, most of the people who are so disgusted by hunting eat meat themselves.

It’s one thing to have no personal desire to take part in hunting, as I don’t, but how could anyone honestly believe hunting is somehow more ethically wrong than eating factory farm meat? There seems to be a curtain between the food on our plates and the source of our food, and hunting rips down that curtain. Hunting makes it impossible for us to ignore the fact that what we are eating was once a living being. The difference between ordering the cheeseburger and loading a dead deer onto your truck is that the deer has a face that kind of looks like your dog, and that makes us uncomfortable.

Of course that visual isn’t really the only difference between hunting and factory farming. Factory farming is by all means much worse.

Factory farming pollutes our already limited supply of clean drinking water with ammonia, nitrates, pathogens, antibiotics, hormones, heavy metals and salts. Unfortunately, 46 percent of the U.S. population and 99 percent of the population living in rural areas have groundwater as their source of drinking water. Hunting has no effect whatsoever on our water supply.

The key difference, though, is cruelty. We’ve all seen the horrifying undercover slaughterhouse videos. We all know what’s going on. The farm with the smiling animals that we all happily read and sang about as children is a fictional one. Cows aren’t roaming in the grass fields like some of those ridiculous McDonald’s commercials would like us to believe. The tails of piglets are cut off at birth without any anesthesia; veal calves are chained down for the few weeks or sometimes even days they are kept alive; male chicks are immediately killed from suffocation, gassing, crushing or being ground up alive. The life of a slaughterhouse animal and the life of a wild animal who is ultimately shot by a hunter are incomparable.

Maybe you don’t really like animals, and you’re not interested in thinking about the cruelty that produced your dinner. This article isn’t directed toward you, because you’re not the one posting long Facebook statuses about how hunters are evil. The point of this article isn’t to guilt-trip you or to convince everyone to drop the nuggets and become a PETA-supporting vegan. Hard-core meat eaters aren’t complaining about hunting, and neither are the vegetarians; it’s the group in the middle that’s doing all the talking. It’s the people who are shaking their heads in disgust over a picture of a dead deer on their News Feed as they eat their bacon, egg and cheese. It doesn’t make any sense.

These people need to make a choice. Either actually abandon cruelty, or continue on with your diet as is, but think before you give hunters a piece of your mind.

Views expressed in the opinion pages represent the opinions of the columnists.