Nov 09 03
When something is broken, what should be done about it?
For example, if an expensive watch has stopped telling the time do you a) throw it away, b) leave it to provide nothing more than a pretty but useless ornament, or c) have it fixed to fulfil it’s original purpose? Another example might be if a law to stop people driving without wearing seat-belts was flawed in some way should we a) repeal the law and allow everybody to go without wearing seat-belts, b) leave it as it is and allow some people to go on risking theirs and others lives, or c) amend the law to have everyone safely “clunk-clicking”? This later example was the case in late 2007; those ”engaged in making local rounds of deliveries” were exempt from being lawfully obliged to wear a seat-belt. This exemption needed to be fixed to make the law better and to save more lives, especially when one considers that many road accidents occur near to the home (local). And so it was by an amendment to the Draft Motor Vehicles (Wearing of Seat Belts) Regulations 2005.
So what of the Tory plans to repeal the law banning fox hunting with dogs should they be elected to government next year? This is probably what we might call a broken law – it’s extremely difficult to enforce because it’s just too easy for hunts to present that a fox was accidentally killed by their pack of hounds whilst engaged in a legal drag-hunt. Therefore the police simply don’t bother enforcing it. Although perhaps some of that lack of enforcement is because the police are fearful of the mighty land owning hunt management? However, there are likely other flaws too. So, what is the right option, a) repeal the law and go back to legalised hunting with dogs, b) leave it as it is and let a very vocal minority of hunt protagonists get away with “accidental” fox deaths, or c) fix the law?
I know which option I like, every time something – anything – is broken and I have the skill to fix it, my answer will be to fix it, not bin it.
I guess it comes down to what kind of society do we want. One that condemns blood sports, or one that condones them?
So why does this issue simply refuse to go away? The hunts suggest all sorts of reasons, even the one above about it being an un-workable or broken law, but they also cite tradition… Sure, fox hunting is a fine old tradition – along with bear baiting, cock fighting, breaking badger’s jaws to give jack russels a fair fight, deporting children to Botany Bay, the rack, etc. That isn’t really it is it. Traditions come and go, and of course it takes a long time for them to do either. I’d suggest at least a lifetime. The time it takes for any change to take affect is really how long it takes for all those who can remember how “great things used to be” before something was changed (and made better) take to move on. For example, implementing a major new business process in a large organisation only really succeeds with lots of management buy-in and often (sadly) when some of the old-timers leave. If only I had £1 for every time I’ve heard the phrase “But, we’ve always done it like this”! Thing is, the only constant in life is change. So I feel that in the case of hunts, it’ll only be when some of the hunters pass-away that this change will finally find it’s way in to contemporary culture.
Almost everyone hates change to some extent, we are all human and like some sort of predictability, a constancy in our lives. It makes us feel safe.
Of course another side of traditions, like Xmas for example, is the social gathering. It must be great to meet your friends and go for a fantastic and adventurous, in that you don’t quite know where the chase might take you, ride across open country side! But does a fox have to risk being torn apart whilst still alive to provide that social and adventurous activity? In fact I’d argue that a well laid drag-hunt would provide a more exciting chase. What is more, that trail could be laid to take in to account the abilities of those on the meet and avoid unnecessary or dangerous obstacles. In other words, the actual horse riding and “treasure hunt” aspects of the meet could and should be better without a fox having to risk death.
A problem with the hunts is that they often come from wealthy and influential circles, allowing their vocal insistence to keep this topic in the headlines bear no relation to the size of their minority. Just look at the people supporting the hunts on the TV – not one of those people lives on a council or ex-council estate. According to a Mori poll, 77% of people are strongly against a repeal of the ban on fox hunting with dogs.
Do we live in a democracy? Well, I hope so, but to be honest sometimes I doubt it. All politicians are dubious people – just look at the cross-party scandal around MP’s expenses! So considering that the Tory party is a party from wealthy and influential origins, a repeal of this law (albeit somewhat broken and in need of repair) is just another example of a political ruling class taking it’s queues from it’s peers and not from the 77% of citizens who want to keep and fix it. How many of those 77% will be swayed in how they vote based on this issue? Probably none.
It’s sad that the environment always comes second isn’t it…
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