Wednesday, November 17, 2004

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About that values gap....

I've been back and forth about whether the values gap explains the 2004 election. Mystery Pollster Mark Blumenthal looks at the latest Pew analysis of the role that moral values played in the 2004 election, and comes away convinced that there's something to the argument. Go check it out.

And, for a lovely example of this, see how you react to this Reuters story (thanks to R.H. for the link):

Hunters soon may be able to sit at their computers and blast away at animals on a Texas ranch via the Internet, a prospect that has state wildlife officials up in arms.

The Web site already offers target practice with a .22 caliber rifle and could soon let hunters shoot at deer, antelope and wild pigs, site creator John Underwood said on Tuesday....

Underwood, an estimator for a San Antonio, Texas auto body shop, has invested $10,000 to build a platform for a rifle and camera that can be remotely aimed on his 330-acre (133-hectare) southwest Texas ranch by anyone on the Internet anywhere in the world.

The idea came last year while viewing another Web site on which cameras posted in the wild are used to snap photos of animals.

"We were looking at a beautiful white-tail buck and my friend said 'If you just had a gun for that.' A little light bulb went off in my head," he said.

Internet hunting could be popular with disabled hunters unable to get out in the woods or distant hunters who cannot afford a trip to Texas, Underwood said....

Underwood, 39, said he will offer animal hunting as soon as he gets a fast Internet connection to his remote ranch that will enable hunters to aim the rifle quickly at passing animals.

He said an attendant would retrieve shot animals for the shooters, who could have the heads preserved by a taxidermist. They could also have the meat processed and shipped home, or donated to animal orphanages.

Here's a link to the site in question. Josh Chafetz says, "Only in Texas," but I suspect there are other states out there where this would be a viable option.

posted by Dan on 11.17.04 at 03:14 PM


I wonder if there's some sort of safety feature so that you can't shoot the attendant who goes to retrieve the carcass?

posted by: House of Payne on 11.17.04 at 03:14 PM [permalink]

Other than Texas, few states have large private forests for hunting (actually, this doesn't seem that large at 330 acres).

It would probably not be legal in many states, too. Most have strict rules about hunting, and the types of procedures that are allowed, even on private lands.

I'm a little doubtful about this as a paying business anyway.

posted by: erg on 11.17.04 at 03:14 PM [permalink]

You are surprised?

posted by: TexasToast on 11.17.04 at 03:14 PM [permalink]

Ultimately, whats the difference, other than our kneejerk sense of outrage at something obviously strange?

If you're cool with hunting, does it matter how one hunts? Is this any different than bow hunters who look down on rifles? Is a sports fisherman morally superior to a guy who drops a stick of dynamite in a pond?

If you want to call this story a Red/Blue Rorschach, it probably is. But doesnt that just prove that much of the alleged 'morality' divide is simply a matter of perspective, and what one is used to? As opposed to an actual difference in values?

posted by: Mark Buehner on 11.17.04 at 03:14 PM [permalink]

Mark, do you have to stretch yourself very far to be that disingenuous?

Tell me again what the mystique of hunting is supposed to be. I could swear I heard hunters wax rhapsodic about the spiritual benefits of getting out into the woods and reverting back to primal behavior; that the point was not the kill, heavens no, but the cameraderie among fellow hunters and worship of the animal and blah blah blah.

This? Hunting by remote control, not even having to get your precious little feet wet? It has nothing to do with any of the so-called virtues of hunting. It's killing-made-easy.

Christ, I thought those dickless wonders who paid five figures to go blast ranch-raised semi-tame lions were about as pathetic as you could get.

I guess there is indeed no bottom to human degradation.

posted by: Palladin on 11.17.04 at 03:14 PM [permalink]

No, killing-made-easy would be a deer (or a cow) in a metal pen, which would be electrified when you pressed a button in your browser.

You could thusly "hunt" a cow, and have the fresh meat delivered to you.

"Killed it m'self, honey!"

Pay a little extra for a closeup of the cow's sad brown eyes before the fatal moment.

Would that be inappropriate?

the wesson

posted by: TheWesson on 11.17.04 at 03:14 PM [permalink]

This is not a red-state blue-state thing at all. I suspect that hunters would probably be among the first to oppose this type of "hunting".

As regarding the morals of hunting, I find the idea of hunting animals by dazzling them with light, or from motor vehicles or from aircraft dubious. Ditto for using dyanmite for fishing. Clearly, there are enough hunters who agree with me that these practices are illegal in most (all ?) states.

posted by: erg on 11.17.04 at 03:14 PM [permalink]

Killing made easy?

How about the meat department at the local grocery store?

posted by: James Joyner on 11.17.04 at 03:14 PM [permalink]

FYI - Texas is already moving to make this kind of hunting illegal. So, end of story. Nothing to see here. Move along.

posted by: Don Mynack on 11.17.04 at 03:14 PM [permalink]

What an absolutely disgusting idea. If you are going to kill an animal, go out and kill it. Trust me, if a person can't go out and kill the animal in the wild, they sholdn't be hunting.

Also, who is responsible the first time one of these fools miss and that bullet winds up killing someone a mile down the road? Or they screw up the shot and the animal is merely wounded? Pain for pleasure should be limited to cgi, it should not be brought into any semblance of real life.

posted by: flaime on 11.17.04 at 03:14 PM [permalink]

"In an age when politics remains a matter of identity and affinity, being against Bush--or for him--is culture war by other means." -Ramesh Ponnuru, The National Review 2003

"[I]dentity is rarely constructed out of thin air. Subjective perceptions of identity often depend on more objective traits assigned to individuals based on physical features, language differences, or ancestry... [It] can be both palpably real and an artefact of the imagination rooted in the recesses of history - fluid and manipulable, yet real enough to kill for. This is what makes [cultural] conflict so hard to understand and contain." -Amy Chua, Prospect Magazine 2003

"Another important factor illuminated in the model has to do with the divisibility of stakes. Wood shows how greater indivisibility (the less divisible the pie), reduces the likelihood of enduring resolution by reducing the range of possible and robust settlements. A good example of this is when one side in the conflict is demanding to name the sole language, a stake that seems to be indivisible." - Lesley S King on Elisabeth Jean Wood's Indivisible Stakes and Distributional Compromises, Santa Fe Bulletin 2002

"In the same connection, look at Figure 2. This time the agents seek only one neighbor of their own color. Again the simulation begins with a random distribution (Frame 1). This time sorting proceeds more slowly and less starkly. But it does proceed. About a third of the way through the simulation, discernible [cultural] clusters have emerged (Frame 2). As time goes on, the boundaries tend to harden (Frames 3 and 4). Most agents live in areas that are identifiably blue or red." -Jonathan Rauch, The Atlantic 2002

posted by: ARCHER on 11.17.04 at 03:14 PM [permalink]

archer, precisely.

"when one side in the conflict is demanding to name the sole language, a stake that seems to be indivisible"

substitute "language" with "moral value system" and i think we have a winner^H^H^H^H^H pretty good working model of the current situation. when one frames politics as either 'winning' or 'losing' or considers what's at stake in morally 'right' or 'wrong' terms, it's hard to come to a "robust settlement," as you say.

me, i like to think of things as 'working' or 'not-working', which i happen to believe makes problems more tractable! but then i'm clearly in the minority :D

posted by: glory on 11.17.04 at 03:14 PM [permalink]

They should have been shooting liberals.

posted by: NoAcademic on 11.17.04 at 03:14 PM [permalink]

Has it occurred only to me that this might be a joke? I note that the Reuter story doesn't include a URL -- a fairly strange omission, considering its a story about a specific Web site.

posted by: Eric Berlin on 11.17.04 at 03:14 PM [permalink]

I suspect there will be a lot of hunters against this. It's roughly equivalent to having a machine with a bat in the batter's box for you, and controlling it with a mouse and a laptop from the dugout.

My position on this is much like my position on assault weapons for "hunting". If you need an AK47 to hunt, you're a shitty hunter. Stop hunting.

If you can't make it out into the woods to hunt, go down to the store, pick up "Big Buck Hunter" for PS2 (it comes with the light gun, I'm sure) and play at home. You don't need remote controlled guns to pick off animals for you.

posted by: Jim Dandy on 11.17.04 at 03:14 PM [permalink]

"Tell me again what the mystique of hunting is supposed to be."

I'm not defending hunting. Obviously you think the mystique is bullshit. Fine. So if the mystique is bullshit, back to my original question, how does this practice differ materially from blowing an animals head off 20 feet away? The end result is identical, no?

"I guess there is indeed no bottom to human degradation."


posted by: Mark Buehner on 11.17.04 at 03:14 PM [permalink]

Remenber the game "Oregon Trail"? That had a "hunting" screen wher your "settlers" killed food. Whats the big deal?

posted by: TexasToast on 11.17.04 at 03:14 PM [permalink]

Fascinating. Could prisons use webcam guns in guard towers? Police stake-outs at the corner crack house? Maybe the late shift at 7-11? And about that dog that always shits in my yard when I'm gone...

(too bad the light bulb that went off in his head was so little)

posted by: wishIwuz2 on 11.17.04 at 03:14 PM [permalink]

I don't get why some people are so upset by this. Some people like to hunt. They're willing to accept this as the next best thing. Particularly for people who can't go out and hunt.

It's pretty odd, but not something worth freaking out about.

posted by: austin on 11.17.04 at 03:14 PM [permalink]

I think the part of the issue here is that with "web-based hunting," few of the customary justifications for hunting apply. Hunters like nature, they like tracking, they like the tradition, the camraderie, etc. That's all great, and very valid.

But with this kind of hunting, you don't really get much of that. What you get is the pleasure of killing (as well as the meat, to be sure) and some people find that unpalatable.

Also, I think the detached, clinical nature of the "click mouse to kill critter" concept is intuitively off-putting to some. Actual hunters at least get their hands dirty-- there's something weirdly sterile about doing it all from a remote location.

"The Wesson"'s analogy is perhaps a fair one-- how would we feel about a "net slaughterhouse" which allowed users to personally bump off penned-up livestock from the comfort of their living rooms? Would it be hypocritical to oppose this kind of entertainment and still buy meat at the grocery store?

posted by: JakeV on 11.17.04 at 03:14 PM [permalink]

This has 'hoax' written all over it.

Remember 'bambi hunting' in Las Vegas? Those hoaxers even got TV news reports made about them, with interviews of the fake bambis.

posted by: MattJ on 11.17.04 at 03:14 PM [permalink]

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