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Response to Socal31 (Reply #91)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 09:54 PM

93. It's a little different

I disagree that the "level of risk rests with the individual." The individual has the ability to mitigate risk by modifying their behavior in such a way as to reduce their risk of coming to harm in an environment for which others bear the responsibility of creating the hazard. If there were no muggers, I wouldn't need to take precautions when walking down the street at night; if there were no cars, I would not need to wear brightly colored clothes and lights in order to go cycling at night; and, if there were no hunters, I would not have to wear neon clothing in order to avoid being shot while out minding my own business in a public forest.

As you say, we all make adjustments to our behavior to adapt to the reality of the environment in which we live. But there's still a cost-benefit analysis to be performed with every such decision. I could give my toddler a vial of Hanta virus to play with and ask everyone else in my community to take precautions against accidentally being infected. But that would be insane. Because there's no benefit to giving my child a vial of Hanta virus to play with when a rattle would be a more gratifying toy anyway and the potential risk of causing harm to others is sky-high. We perform the same analysis with automobiles. There is undeniably a risk associated with automobiles. However, our entire economy and way of living would collapse without automobiles, so the benefit from automobiles outweighs the risks associated with them. Even so, we continue to have an obligation to be continuously making vehicles as safe as we possibly can, so as to make that cost-benefit ratio as advantageous as possible. If someone was indifferent to that duty and felt it was just fine to operate an unsafe vehicle, that person would appropriately be considered a selfish asshole, right?

So, if one applies the same sort of reasoning to hunting, how do the benefits and costs stack up? I'm not sure what benefits it offers, but I do perceive that there is some cost to myself and others who might like to enjoy wild areas without being shot. And, to some extent, you're right that I'm a treehugger at heart and I'm not a great fan of going into an unspoiled wilderness and killing things in it. I mean, that is the purpose of hunting, right? You don't go into the wilderness with a gun looking for animals for the purpose of wishing them a nice day, do you? Many species have been hunted by humans to the brink of extinction or beyond. Even if you don't hit anything, studies show that there is a growing problem in frequently hunted areas with animals contracting lead poisoning from eating lead shot and/or lead that has percolated down into the water table. Yeah, I know, I'm one of those obnoxious ecoterrorist types who thinks that animals have a moral right to live and that biodiversity is a thing to be valued. But, from my point of view, disruption to and destruction of wildlife fall into the "cost" column. Now I can't enter into that environment without adjusting my behavior to accommodate the rules that hunters necessitate to avoid being shot. Another tally stroke in the "cost" column. Is there some indispensable benefit on the other side, that can't be accomplished through other lest costly means, to outweigh these costs? If the "benefit" is the adrenaline rush of seeing another living creature's head explode, that doesn't seem like all that great a benefit when weighed against the costs. So the question as far as I'm concerned is not so much whether I like hunting (fine, you got me, I don't care for it, but that's actually beside the point), but whether it generates enough positives to outweigh its negatives.

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