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A List Of Things To Ban
1. Talking on your cellphone without a handsfree device while behind the wheel of your flying car.
2. Having sex with a space alien without using birth control.
3. Internet hunting.

Zachary M. Seward writes for The Wall Street Journal that the Humane Society is behind a push to ban #3:

The Humane Society of the United States last year mailed more than 50,000 people an urgent message, underlined and in bold type: "Such horrific cruelty must stop and stop now!"

The cruelty in question was Internet hunting, which the animal-rights group described as the "sick and depraved" sport of shooting live game with a gun controlled remotely over the Web. Responding to the Humane Society's call, 33 states have outlawed Internet hunting since 2005, and a bill to ban it nationally has been introduced in Congress.

But nobody actually hunts animals over the Internet. Although the concept -- first broached publicly by a Texas entrepreneur in 2004 -- is technically feasible, it hasn't caught on. How so many states have nonetheless come to ban the practice is a testament to public alarm over Internet threats and the gilded life of legislation that nobody opposes.

With no Internet hunters to defend the sport, the Humane Society's lobbying campaign has been hugely successful -- a welcome change for an organization that has struggled to curtail actual boots-on-the-ground hunting. Michael Markarian, who has led the group's effort, calls it "one of the fastest paces of reform for any animal issue that we can remember seeing."

Vicki L. Walker, a state senator in Oregon, says she wasn't aware of Internet hunting until a representative from the society told her about it and asked her to sponsor a ban. "It offended my sensibilities," she says. The bill passed unanimously this year.

Melanie George Marshall, a Delaware state representative who sponsored an Internet-hunting ban that passed in June, considers her legislation a matter of homeland security. "I don't want to give ideas to people," she says, "but these kinds of operations would have the potential to make terrorism easier."

Even the National Rifle Association endorses the ban. "It's pretty easy to outlaw something that doesn't exist," says Rod Harder, a lobbyist for the NRA in Oregon who supported an Internet-hunting ban that took effect in June. "We were happy to do it."

John C. Astle, a Maryland state senator, angered animal-rights groups in 2004 when he successfully pushed to allow hunting black bears in the state. Safari Club International, a hunting group, named him the nation's State Legislator of the Year in 2005. But last year, working with the Humane Society, he sponsored an Internet-hunting ban that sailed through the legislature.

"If you're a dedicated hunter, you believe in the concept of fair chase," says Mr. Astle, who once shot a 13-foot crocodile in Africa's Zambezi river. Internet hunting, he says, "flies in the face of fair chase."

But, what if you don't believe in the concept of fair chase?

Posted by aalkon at August 12, 2007 10:45 AM


Regardless of how you feel about hunting in general or canned hunting in particular, as a network geek, the idea of letting some goofball try to control a deadly weapon across an IP connection is insane.

Posted by: martin at August 12, 2007 2:17 PM

I'd imagine it would be in a controlled environment, first of all. The thing about Astle's comment above that gets me is how not long ago, people could have the same attitude toward killing animals with guns -- that they fly in the face of fair chase vis a vis the bow and arrow. And then, the bow and arrow, I guess, flies in the face of fair chase vis a vis going out there with a club.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 12, 2007 2:45 PM

I see your point. When the crossbow first came on the scene, there were objections that it was wrong for a mere foot soldier to be able to shoot a noble knight out of the saddle. (Although I think the objections came mostly from the knights.) And I'm sure the first time somebody used a firearm to kill an animal there were plenty of grumbling comments like "oooh, big man."
But still, every techie I know has a collection of anecdotes from the frontiers of imbecility and the best ones have a system that was designed to anticipate any possible user error and a user who found a new one. Adding a rifle to the picture gives me night sweats.
And clicking on an animal, selecting mastercard and getting a new head for your wall in 4-6 weeks isn't hunting, it's shopping.

Posted by: martin at August 12, 2007 3:14 PM

Out here in The Sticks - I get 2 TV channels, and we're so far away from civilization that we still get new episodes of The Andy Griffith Show (that Barney Fife... what a lawman!) - there is contempt for this idea. Hunting with a modern rifle, for essentially a rabbit with antlers and "Bambi" as PR (nothing about Bambi is true - surprise!), is very much about realism. None of the people I know out there, from Otis, the one-shot wonder to Melvin, somewhat the ninny, forgets where meat comes from.

Whether hunting makes someone a "better" citizen is still questionable because of the myriad ways to be nasty, but at least these people know that our living costs other living things their lives.

That's something that people with huge cars and waterfront homes - or who aspire to same - or those who just trash wherever they happen to be, and/or back a destructive public project - don't seem to "get".


Hey, you want a real contrast? Remember when a Predator drone targeted "al-Queda" operatives in a car and killed them with a Hellfire missile?

It's OK to kill people by remote control. Just don't kill animals that way.

Posted by: Radwaste at August 12, 2007 6:26 PM

Rad, I have contempt for this idea, precisely because it is so disconnected from the animal -- from seeing that you've taken the life of a living thing. At the same time, I don't think my opinion is a valid reason for something to be off-limits by law to others.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 12, 2007 6:31 PM

P.S. Frankly, I find boxing horrifying, especially given what it seems to do to boxers' brains, but again, if consenting adults want to box, and people want to watch, not for me to ban.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 12, 2007 6:32 PM

Possibly, this will be self-limiting due to the contempt factor ("You did what? That's lame!).

There is a name for "rule of the busybodies": polypragmatism. That there are more serious issues to pursue desn't occur to them.

Posted by: Radwaste at August 13, 2007 2:31 AM

Funny thing is, hands-free celphone driving is at least as dangerous as using the handset--it's the talking that makes morons crash.

And drinking (coffee, et c.) is far more dangerous than celphone use.

Posted by: David Traver Adolphus at August 13, 2007 7:57 AM

OK, I'm trying to imagine how this would work. You've got a gun and a camera out in the woods somewhere, and you control the aiming point of each remotely. If the animal moves before you've got everything lined up, you've got to track its movement with the camera, then line up the gun again. If it moves out of range, you can't follow it unless the equipment is on something mobile, which is another control.

This is supposed to be less difficult than hunting in person?

Posted by: Rex Little at August 13, 2007 10:46 AM

"This is supposed to be less difficult than hunting in person?"

Oh, heck yes!

You have to find a rifle, a place to hunt, get a license, drive to and from the site, hike to a tree-stand or roam (your choice). If you already know what you're doing, the trip will take you several hours on the average.

Then you have to figure out how to drag 100+ pounds of leaking deer back to a vehicle, and that's after "field dressing" - that's removal of deer innards and all liquids. If you're in some places out West, the crack of your rifle is the "dinner bell" for some bears, protected during deer season and not at all cuddly.

The work involved is hugely satisfying to hunters, who derive a sense of providing for the table in a way that "civilized" people at the store can't. Venison is also a great deal better for you (caveat: in a healthy deer population) than other meats, although it tends to be dry (exceptionally low fat content).

Here in SC - as in hundreds of areas around the USA - we have provided ideal deer habitat, in that we grow food crops beyond the wildest dreams of deer 200 years ago AND provide them with shelter in turnrows and other forested areas. So it's less work than it used to be, but it's still work.

And they call it "hunting" because that's the real point. If these people were actually into "killing", they'd be down at the slaughterhouse gettin' somebody a steak.

Posted by: Radwaste at August 13, 2007 6:23 PM

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