Pig-headed application of ingrained privilege. Something to tick off the list once all this is over?

No. 29 | Spring Hunting and the Global Pandemic

What are we skinning? The possibility that spring hunting may still go ahead this year, despite the restrictions to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Why are we skinning it? It’s a blatant illustration of the kind of privilege that the hunting lobby enjoys, and the fact that all of this is happening against the backdrop of the COVID-19 wreaking social and economic havoc only plunges the knife deeper.

So you’re saying hunters should just bite the bullet. Now’s not a time for jokes. Even if I did appreciate that one. Oh, and the answer is yes.

But why, exactly? Surely the hobby can still be practiced while following the social distancing rules put into place? Maybe, but we’d be coasting on assumption if we just let that one go by willy-nilly.

Okay, fair: hunters have not been great at self-policing, historically speaking. Yes, and this is the more alarming issue: there are simply not enough Administrative Law Enforcement (ALE) officers at our disposal to handle the entire hunting population anyway… let alone when they’re also kept busy with COVID-related matters.

This makes the hunters look like entitled brats. Children with no sense of scale or consequence. It’s also a slap in the face to all of us who are sacrificing our freedoms, and sometimes livelihood, to combat this virus. But hunters are not the only privileged group on the island...

Are you referring to construction? Yes. It is telling that two of the most enduring – and, unsurprisingly, decidedly ‘macho’ – thorns in the side of a decent Maltese living are perversely experiencing something of a heyday in what are otherwise times of anxiety and deprivation for us all.

How do you mean? Well, the dreaded Central Link project is now allowed to proceed in its tree-murdering wake, unhindered by traffic. And Planning Authority meetings are continuing via video link, thus nipping the possibility of any dissent in the bud.

But construction is crucial to our economy. Listen, this is a health crisis, and the mental health of the population – especially its most vulnerable segment – should not be put in the backburner either. Especially when you can no longer escape the noise pollution generated by nearby construction sites, to say nothing of the added anxiety that construction in Malta now comes swaddled in following the death of Miriam Pace due to a home collapse last month.

Sounds macho indeed. Yep. Pig-headed application of ingrained privilege. Something to tick off the list once all this is over?

Do say: “While the present situation should not be used as an excuse for the anti-hunting segment of Maltese society to dig its heels in simply because an opportunity to do so has presented itself, hunters should also heed calls to sensitivity given the terrifying prospect of mass infection we all face.”

Don’t say: “They’ve had the government under their thumb for generations, breezed through a referendum aiming to curb their excesses and are likely responsible for Malta’s very first viral video (‘Rubber Jolly’, anyone?). It’s proof that hunters are utterly invincible, so COVID-19 doesn’t stand a chance with them.”

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