Letters: 29 March 2015

The case against hunting

“No humane being, past the thoughtless age of boyhood, will wantonly kill any creature which holds its life by the same tenure that he does.”

The author of this remark was Henry David Thoreau (1817-62), one of many writers who plead for the humane treatment of animals. Other writers, including Lord Byron and Michel de Montaigne spoke out against the killing of animals for sport.

In 1845, Thoreau built a cabin at Walden Pond, near Concord, Massachusetts. He lived there on his own for two years, and his experience in self-sufficiency was later eloquently described in Walden, his major work.

Before Thoreau went to Walden Pond, he did hunt while studying “new and rare birds” until he decided that it was of more value to study their habits rather than to kill them.

Hunting, observed Thoreau, is a phase that the individual passes through, similar to “the thoughtless age of boyhood”, which gives way to maturity and more responsible behaviour.

George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) had a genuine love for animals. He maintained that animals were not merely brute creatures but sentient beings worthy of his concern and consideration.

Although Byron participated in some sports, he condemned many others, including all those that tormented, wounded or destroyed animals.

He castigated the clergy for their foxhunting, and he refused to participate in live target shooting when practising marksmanship with Italian revolutionaries.

In his essay “Of cruelty”, Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) wrote that those who mistreat animals are more likely to ill-treat their fellow men.

“I cannot without grief see so much as an innocent beast pursued and killed that has no defence, and from which we have received no offence at all.

“The stag we hunt, finding himself weak and out of breath and seeing no other remedy, surrenders himself to us who pursue him, imploring mercy by his tears.

“Those natures that are sanguinary towards beasts discover a natural propensity to cruelty.”

Recalling Montaigne, William James (1842-1910) wrote in his Principles of Psychology: “The hunting and the fighting instincts combine in many manifestations. They both support the emotion of anger; they combine in the fascination which stories of atrocity have for most minds.

“The utterly blind excitement of giving free rein to our fury when our blood is up is only explicable as an impulse that is aboriginal in character.”

In a television documentary, Anthony Burgess, author of Clockwork Orange, said: “Evil, in our age, is violence: it’s destruction for its own sake – the impairing of other living organisms for the sheer joy of seeing them destroyed.”

John Guillaumier, St Julian’s

Wolves in sheep's skin

I have been inspired by our newly appointed archbishop, who publicly announced that he is pro-life and therefore will be voting ‘No’ to spring hunting.

It was enlightening to see him releasing white doves as a positive sign of peace and goodwill. Thank God that the hunting season is closed, because I bet that those doves would not have made it safely home.

I speak from experience; this happened to me several times without my knowledge when on 4 October students in schools release doves to commemorate animal awareness day. 

We have been witnessing hunters returning from Ethiopia and others donating blood, all very commendable acts, although I have always been taught not to brag about good deeds.

It just irks me that we never heard of such things before, so why exactly now? Or why should a person give a mention of this “hobby” while engaging in such noble deeds.

I am sorry, but I do not buy it. I know that this is just another mask they are donning to try and deceive that theirs is a noble hobby. On the other hand I augur that the No campaign wins the day so that these noble gentlemen will have more time and money on their hands to engage in noble practices and learn how much more rewarding it is when one contributes positively towards life as against the killing of the innocent and protected.

Rita Brincat, Via email

A disaster called Gozo 


Marthese Attard felt the need to respond to me by saying that infrastructural works being carried out during these last months at Independence and Sabina squares are the sole responsibility of the Victoria Local Council.

First of all I did not even mention the Gozo Ministry. I feared I might wake them up. Secondly in the past the Transport Ministry did intervene on works being carried out by several other local councils in Malta. So why not this time?

One does not tackle problems by sitting on one’s behind all day in a heated office. You have to go out and tackle the problem head on. The fact that Marthese Attard did not refute anything I said, is proof that everything I said was true! Not only is Gozo a complete disaster but a complete disgrace!

On Monday two weeks ago, some road works were started on Marsalforn Road and on the road that from St Ursola Street goes towards Zebbug, closing them both. With Republic Street still closed for almost a year, all traffic heading west is being directed towards St Francis Square and on to Vajringa Street, thus creating a huge traffic gridlock and hundreds of people complained that it took them more than 45 minutes to drive less than two kilometres, emptying a tank full of petrol in the process.

The question I have for the Transport Ministry is this. Did you ever think about doing the works during the night? Or working on one side of the road so traffic, even though slowly, can still pass through? Of course not! The problem is, you do not learn from past mistakes.

This banana republic has too many people who have too many important sounding titles but are not worth two cents! Obviously I do not expect Marthese Attard to respond to me again. I’m sure she’ll be too embarrassed to do so. People of Gozo and Malta too, I just hope you enjoy your rides in Gozo.

J. Buttigieg, Xewkija

A right we should not give up

Allow me to put forward my last arguments why voters should vote ‘Yes’ in the referendum on April 11. 

1. Hunting is not like any other pastime or hobby. It cannot be practised at anytime one chooses throughout the whole year. Nowadays it is an extremely regulated pastime and the penalties one faces if regulations are disobeyed, are very harsh indeed!

2. Those who base their argument on acts of illegal hunting, as SHout are doing, should be reminded that no one would even think of prohibiting the use of knives just because there are individuals who abuse knives and use them as a weapon to kill humans, not birds. Or ban cars from our roads just because there are drivers who abuse driving regulations and end up killing people, not birds!

3. This referendum is actually not about spring hunting as such, but about Malta’s right to use a derogation so that the Maltese government will retain the right to decide whether or not to open the hunting season in spring. Or close the season if necessary.

This is one of the few rights which the Maltese government, irrespective whether it is a PL or PN one, still has. Do we want to also give this right to the EU to decide? Those who will be voting No will be saying that they do not want their own representatives in parliament to decide, but are willing to let foreign bureaucrats to decide for us!

This is why I will be voting Yes even though I am not a hunter. And because I strongly believe that the pastimes of minorities should be protected by the majority, not denied.

Eddy Privitera, Mosta