Magazine article The Spectator

Abattoir, Yes, Hunting Field, No: What New Labour Hypocrisy!

Magazine article The Spectator

Abattoir, Yes, Hunting Field, No: What New Labour Hypocrisy!

Article excerpt

My main purpose in writing a column - apart from the money - is to help me to come to conclusions, to make up my mind. If I feel quite certain about what I think about something, there is no fun to be had in writing about it. Just as it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive, so it is better to start a column without quite knowing where the train of argument is going to end up - better not only because the author has to stay awake but, much more importantly, so has the reader. If the columnist thinks something is too obvious for words, he obviously should not write about it. He should write only on subjects about which he feels in doubt. That is why columnar omniscience bores so quickly. An ounce of doubt is better than a hundredweight of certainty.

For all these reasons, I have hitherto abstained from broaching the subject of whether or not to ban fox-hunting. In my view there is no case, absolutely none at all, for banning fox-hunting. It is as simple as that. End of story, or rather end of column. I don't think I have ever felt so absolutely negative about any subject on the political agenda before. Without exception I have always been able to see a bit of both points of view; been able, that is, to see that there are good arguments on either side. Although myself an ardent monarchist, I can see the point of republicanism; although in favour of preserving the hereditary element in the House of Lords, I can see the point of abolition; although in favour of staying in the European Union, I can see the point of coming out; although myself finding no difficulty in justifying capital punishment, I can see why others do. Likewise in earlier days with such vexed topics as nationalisation, planning, equality, nuclear disarmament and even communism. One could not resist arguing against them, not because the case in favour was so weak but because it was so strong. The protagonists of these causes were worthy opponents with whom it was a joy to do battle.

Not so the hunt saboteurs. Because they don't have two reasons to rub together, there is no chance of a debate with them setting the flames of genuine controversy alight. They have feelings, sentiments, emotions but all so obviously misdirected as to make the job of rebuttal a boring waste of time. Such a dismissive attitude, of course, would be entirely inappropriate if levelled against animal rights campaigners in general, since they are saying something which most certainly cannot be dismissed out of hand. They are saying, if I understand them rightly, that the old Christian justification for exploiting animals - that God's creation made man dependent on them for his survival - no longer applies. Just as the invention of machines in the 18th century invalidated this justification for enslaving and killing blacks, so the invention of artificial foods in the 20th, it is argued, has invalidated it for enslaving and killing animals. We may like to eat animals, but no longer have to for survival. In other words, they argue, we are in the midst of another great shift in public perception which will sooner or later make the sight of carcasses of meat on sale in marketplaces as unacceptable to the civilised conscience as nowadays would be the sight, once so common, of slaves on sale.

For serious animal rights protesters to home in on the meat trade does indeed make a lot of sense. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.