Monday, January 09, 2006

Letting Us Live Our Own Lives

I was born in the mid-1950s, which puts me a strange demographic. I’m certainly a baby boomer, but I was too young for Woodstock. Instead, I came of age in the angst-ridden, agonizing-reappraisal, self-reflecting 1970s.

My baby boom segment believed, as did those only five years older, that you couldn’t trust “the man,” that you must question authority, and that you must live and let live. A line from one of our anthems summarizes this belief, “He can’t even run his own life, I’ll be damned if he runs mine” (“Sunshine” by Jonathan Edwards, 1971).

I liked “Sunshine” because it reminded me of what I thought we were fighting for, simply the right to live our own lives as we saw fit. Parts of that belief were naïve. One has to live in a society and for that society to work it needs productive members. You can’t just tune in and drop out. But other parts of that belief are good. Within certain boundaries, government and society should let its people make its own choices. But, those boundaries should be large and allow individuals to have as much freedom as possible within societal norms.

Today, many of those who hummed “Sunshine” and thought they were changing the world are now working actively to shrink those boundaries and redefine those norms. They are becoming the petty dictators they thought they saw in President Richard Nixon, or California Governor Ronald Reagan.

One boundary they’re shrinking is hunting. These people don’t want children out in America’s hunting fields and want to make it illegal for parents to take a child hunting. For instance, here’s a story about a boy who took his first deer at age 5. It mentions that The Human Society of the United States (HSUS) is trying to ban youth hunting or put an age limit on hunters and here is a HSUS press release on that very topic. Of course, HSUS is against hunting by anyone. (NOTE: HSUS should not be confused with the less extreme American Humane Association, which also opposes sport hunting).

Taking a youth or even a child hunting has a long tradition and as such is a societal norm. Taking a youngster to the fields is how we transmit a hunting knowledge and skills to another generation as well as a love of hunting. Of course, HSUS knows that and wants to break that chain and create a generation who will never know how to stalk game, how to kill it quickly and humanely, and how to turn it into food. They want to live our lives for us.

These organizations were started or corrupted by baby boomers who came of age humming “Sunshine” and other “freedom” songs of the 1960s and 1970s. Why do these people think they can run our lives? Why can’t they let us make our own decisions?

Well, they believe they know a better way to live--in other words, they'd fanatics. As the HSUS press release linked above says, “…sport hunting…is fundamentally at odds with the values of a humane, just and caring society.” They want to create a new world and to hell with those of us who believe that hunting and gun ownership is not at odds with a just and humane society. They want to reinterpret what is just and what is humane. They want to force a break with traditional wisdom and proven ways of living in order to replace it with a pipe dream.

I’ll leave you with two H.L Mencken quotes that come to mind as I’m stewing over what mistakes my generation has made and what horrors they’d create if they ever get carte blanche.
The worst government is the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression.

Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.

Let’s hope it never comes to the latter.

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