Monday, May 26, 2008

Exposing the Animal Rights Agenda and Setting the Record Straight

© By Othmar Vohringer

On the Outdoor Bloggers Summit blog Kristine published a challenge in two parts for the members; part one of the challenge was what can we do to educate the average person about the truth of the animal rights agenda and at the same time explain to society what hunting is really all about. The second part of that challenge was to think of ways how we could get the hunting organizations to unite and promote hunting to the public rather than preaching to the choir and then hoping that they will pass the message on to the public.

With the rampant and unfounded attacks on hunters and hunting by animal rights organizations like the notorious PETA and the equally offensive HSUS, it is a timely challenge. As hunters we should not tolerate this situation and the way animal rights groups portray our image in the public. Sadly though, a rather large part of the population never hears our side of the story and thus has come to believe what the anti’s say about us.

Some time ago I talked to a lawyer about the animal rights activists and their campaign against hunters. At the end of this conversation the lawyer told me that the hunting community would have good legal grounds to file a class action law suit against the animal rights organizations that easily could be won by us.

You see, that beautiful and often terribly abused phrase “freedom of speech” means that people can say what they want only to a point. When freedom of speech turns into hate mongering, character assassination and the ridicule of individuals then it becomes a crime. Not so sure about that? Okay lets see!

If a person or group would portray, lets say an African American, a Native Indian, a member of a religious group or a gay person in such a derogatory and demeaning manner as the animal rights do with hunters, how long do you think it would it take for this person or group to have to answer to a judge in a court of law? Not long! Why? Because it is against the law to discriminate against a person or group by spreading purposely false and misleading information with the sole intent of ostracizing that person’s way of life- one that he or she carries out within the given framework of the law and the constitution.

What the animal rights groups do is in fact not that different from what the Hitler regime did to systematically bring down the Jewish people in German society. The propaganda was repeated almost daily until society viewed Jews as “undesirables”. It was that willful spread of hatred, ignorance, lies and blame for social problems that made the Holocaust possible. Don’t get me wrong. Far be it for me to compare the plight of the Jews in Nazi Germany to hunters- but the tactics used to discriminate against a group of people is very much the same.

The really bad news about these character assassinations is that they are all done for the money. There is no doubt about it: animal rights groups care as little for animals as they do for people. The sole purpose of their existence is to make money off of gullible people- and they make BILLIONS of dollars annually. Very little , around 2% is used in some form for animals. The bulk of the money is used for advertising and paying legal fees. The largest amount of the money disappears into the bank accounts of the organization’s leaders. Yes, well-meaning people thinking that their donations will help animals have made Ingrid Newkirk a multi-millionaire.

So what can we, the individual hunters and the organization that represent us, do to swing the tide of public opinion in our favor? Right now the times are good because animal rights organizations have lost a lot of sympathy in the public’s opinion. PETA recently complained that it’s member numbers are shrinking and that it is having some difficulty generating donations. The mighty HSUS is still very strong and has taken up some slack from PETA, but they too feel the anti animal rights mood in society growing. That might be one reason why these organizations have become louder, meaner and more aggressive in recent weeks and months with their attacks on us.

Rather than revisit point by point a subject that I have written about quite extensively in the past, and no doubt will do so in the future, I will simply link to articles on my blogs. The articles express my opinion on what should be done and how we might best achieve our goal of telling the public at large the truth about hunters, hunting and the good things that hunters and their organization’s do for all.

The most important fact we hunters MUST learn if we intend to make a difference in the fight against animal rights and educating society is to have UNITY among us. Without unity we will not have a glimmer of hope in getting anything done. Unity is the single most important aspect of everything we do as a group or family. Without unity we are weak and can’t focus on the task at hand. Where I Stand on Crossbows (link opens new window) I illustrate what the lack of unity means for our future.

Explaining to non-hunters what hunting does for wildlife and habitat conservation for the benefit of all, not only hunters, is illustrated in The Economics of Hunting (link opens new window). I also suggest reading Hunting and Wildlife Conservation (link opens new window)

If we explain hunting to others it can’t hurt to add a personal touch as to what motivates us personally to hunt our own food. While statistics will go a long way to support irrefutable facts people generally have a hard time relating to cold facts but can relate to personal convictions and motivations. A good example of such a hunting promotion idea can be read in my article, Why Do We Hunt
(link opens new window). How we can get the message to the people is explained in Get Active In The Protection of our Rights.

This leaves us with the second part of the challenge of what our organizations could do to promote hunting in society. The basic rule here is the same as with hunters. Unity! Unity is the vital instrument in putting up a strong front and speaking with one voice.

Here in Canada we are a step ahead of our American friends. For the past year or so it has become common for several organizations to get together and release press communiqués and broadcast television and radio infomercials that promote hunting and fishing to society. Such united efforts have already shown results in more than one way. For starters Canadians have become much more critical of animal rights groups. It is not unusual these days to read several letters on the opinion pages of newspapers that show a not-so-favorable response to animal rights oriented letters. Secondly, the public has largely changed its negative opinion on hunters to a positive one or at least, a neutral opinion. And lastly, hunter numbers are slowly climbing a bit.

The U.S. Sportsman Alliance sent me an email in which they advised me of a letter they sent to the USDA explaining that the Humane Society of the United States’ “primary purpose is to advocate for sensible public policies and not provide direct services to shelter, rescue or provide any direct services for animals in need. “ because the USDA website has inaccurately portrayed the Humane Society of the United States (not to be confused with the American Humane Association which deals with animal welfare – NOT rights ) as a “shelter, rescue and welfare organization”. You can read the letter sent to the USDA here (pdf. file).

The U.S. Sportsmen Alliance is the only organization in America primarily concerned with the protection of our rights. That, as you can imagine, costs a small fortune in publishing press releases, lobbying politicians and so on. Now how much better, financially speaking and for clout would it be if the USSA could collaborate with other organizations and with that show unity and a force to be reckoned with?

I have often said this and will keep on saying it: If we hunters and our organizations would stand up as a united force, the animal rights groups wouldn’t have a leg to stand on. In fact they would disappear practically over night. That’s how much power and strength we, as a unified community, could generate. We would be so influential that no politician could afford to ignore us. Animal rights activists are a dwindling minority. Compared to hunter numbers they are not even a speck of dust. Yet what makes them strong is unity, they speak as one and adhere to one agenda. Unlike hunters where it seems that each segment has its own agenda and at the drop of hat will be ready to bash another hunter segment if it suits their agenda.

As blogging becomes more popular I see an opportunity that we bloggers can- and should- take advantage of to play our part in spreading and promoting hunting. The way blogs are viewed by search engines gives us a likelier chance of been read by non-hunters than a hunting forum or hunting website. When I check my statistics I regularly see visitors that came to my blogs that didn’t specifically search for hunting. I wrote an article about one such visitor and how I was able to follow him back where he came from and what happened. It is interesting reading and shows perfectly how we can influence opinions. In that particular case it was an animal rights activist and I am happy that my blog made him think and abandon the animal rights cause.

It seems that hunting organizations have not yet discovered the merits of blogs. Enter the outdoor bloggers. Many of us are often hit with what we refer to as “writers block”. One solution: how about contacting hunting organizations and asking them to provide you with material, or simply subscribe to e-newsletters from different organizations and you will regularly be updated with information you can write about on your blog.

There are also other avenues a blogger can pursue that are much closer to home. You could contact your local hunting organizations and clubs and offer to write about them in your local newspaper. Of course you also can contact your local newspaper and inquire about an outdoor column that you could write for them. There are many ways we can reach out to society and set the record about hunting and hunters straight.


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8 comments:

SimplyOutdoors said...

A great post Othmar and it spotlights some very good ways to get our message out there in a positive way.

Kristine said...

As always a terrific post. You made some great points.

I think the bit about how most of the money donated to animal rights groups goes into the pockets of the group's administrators, is a good one.

There's a lot to think about here.

The Adventurist said...

"What the animal rights groups do is in fact not that different from what the Hitler regime did to systematically bring down the Jewish people in German society."

Othmar, that's a bit of a risky statement, especially when paired up with the paragraph above it...

Thankfully, I like risk-takers. Sometimes that's the only way people will listen. You made your point and expressed yourself, as always, very well.

Othmar Vohringer said...

Arthur – I am glad you find the column helpful and thank you for the kind words.

Kristine – Thank you too for the comment. In my opinion it is important that people learn that PETA & Co DO NOT spend money on animal welfare or conservation. They say they do to get donations but they DON’T.

Adventurist – I agree with you that the statement is risky and I have been thinking about it if I should use it. I decided to use it because any discrimination against anyone person or group starts with willful denouncing campaigns. The propaganda is repeated over and over again until people believe it. My parents, both active in the anti Hitler movement, made sure we knew how dehumanization propaganda works and what it will do over time to people exposed to it.

-ov-

Adam said...

Great post Othmar! I admire you for your dedication and hard work on this subject. You inspire me to do more for the people who love the great oudoors, and hunting, and fishing, and the right to lawfully do so. Keep up the great work.

Anonymous said...

Comparing animal rights activists to Hitler is absurd. Comments like this destroy any meaningful dialog between people. You cannot speak for people you consider your "enemies". I have been a vegetarian for over 40 years. I raised all of my children vegetarian but when my son decided to include meat in his diet, I let him go his way. Furthermore he is an expert hunter who always gets his quota, and not because he shoots high powered rifles from the side of the road, with a can of beer between his legs. He scouts, tracks and does it in true sportsman fashion. This year he took up bow hunting and got his first elk.

And he respects his kill. He uses every part of the animal and does everything himself after he gets the animal home. He knows he is taking a life and does not waste it. This he learned from me.

I am not a Hitler and am deeply offended that you have resorted to carnival tricks to paint me, and other people who respect all living beings, as such. Grow up. Put down your damn gun and talk to us respectfully. The fact is, we share a deep respect for the wild lands and life and so are unwitting allies protecting nature under siege.

Don't bother replying. I will never visit your site again. Your witch hunt approach is a dead end.

Othmar Vohringer said...

Adam – Thank you for your kind words. It humbles me that other people feel inspired by my columns to do more to protect our heritage and rights.

Dear Anonymous, kudos to your son he is a hunter like 99% of all other hunters with a deep respect for animals and nature.

As for the comparison of the animal rights organizations slander propaganda against hunters with those used by the Hitler regime. I suggest you go back and read the article again. I did not compare you or any animal rights to the Nazis. What I said is that animal rights organizations use the same derogatory, demeaning, lying propaganda tactic to ostracize hunters in public.

I am glad you share a deep respect for nature, so do we hunters. I took up the bow over 15 years ago but still hunt with a gun too. I do not hold a beer can between my knees while handling a firearm or drive a vehicle. Another typical animal rights propaganda stereotype you had to chime there without knowing me or other hunters.
-ov-

Zach said...

Great article. I think unity is important. National Geographic ran an article a while back about hunters and fisherman being the primary contributors to habitat preservation and conservation. You made some great points.

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