I am an environmentalist

In case it hasn’t been clear from my writings or images, I thought I should state it plainly, once and for all.

– I recycle
– I do not use pesticides in my garden
– I use “green” products, when possible
– I purchase food from local growers, when possible
– I drive a fuel efficient vehicle, and drive it as little as possible
– I give financial support to multiple organizations involved in the conservation of flora and fauna

In other words, I am an environmentalist.

Please note, I did not claim that I was a saint. I am not. There are those who are better environmentalists, and I imagine there are numerous ways in which I could be more environmentally friendly. I’m learning, and I’m working on it. Nonetheless, I am proud to be an environmentalist.

Recently a small controversy has arisen over Nikon’s selling of rifle scopes for hunting. To be exact, the controversy involves the way these products are marketed. A couple of quotes from the Nikon marketing department – “‘Engineered for Safari” and “for those seeking dangerous game adventure on the Dark Continent.” Clearly Nikon is marketing these products to trophy hunters, and this has upset some conservationists, and a few Nikon customers. A great many who purchase Nikon gear use that equipment to photograph nature, and to one degree or another, those folks tend to be environmentally aware. Nikon itself markets it’s camera gear as a way to capture the beauty of nature, and as a way to further the cause of conservation through photography. Obviously there seems to be a conflict of interests here, and some people are upset about it(they’re also upset about the use of the racially loaded term “dark continent,” though that’s another discussion altogether).

When one considers all the ethically questionable, and downright evil acts being committed in the world on a daily basis, Nikon’s marketing of trophy hunting scopes is probably pretty far down the list. Still, it’s an issue worthy of discussion. That is, unless you consider environmentalists to be “extremists.” Based on the comments to the article over at Digital Photography Review, quite a few feel this way…

“The policitally[sic] correct (self absorbed) wackos need to get a life… hunting scopes are a fact of life. I don’t like hunting… so I don’t go hunting! Problem is these leftists and nanny-staters want to IMPOSE their will on EVERYONE!”

“Awful, biased reportage! Leave Nikon, gun owners and hunters alone.”

“There is not story here. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Nikon making scopes. There is nothing controversial about hunting. Nor is their anything wrong with the ‘the Dark Continent’ phrase, it evokes feeling of historical excitement and mystery.”

“That’s the problem with the internet, some group of panty waists throws a fit and publishes a ‘report’, and instead of being ignored for being annoying fools, they are featured on the front page of every news site trying to get clicks.”

“Such a silly, extremist view. Protesting a scope, now I’ve seen it all.”

“Can’t we get over this whining about sh!t on other continents? Unless you live in Africa, in which case, please, enlighten us with your insider’s perspective.”

As usual, the loudest folks on the internet have the least to add to the discussion. Typical of these types of responses, there’s plenty of name calling and unsubstantiated accusations, and little in the way of facts. By “little,” I mean none. Ah, those pesky facts. Who needs ’em? It’s so much easier to try to bully into submission those with whom you disagree.

Here’s where I stand on this issue, and those issues related to it. I’ll leave it up to you, gentle reader, to decide whether or not I’m a “politically correct wacko panty waist”. I believe Nikon is wrong to market these hunting scopes, mostly because I abhor trophy hunting. I have no issue with hunting for food, but I have never and will never understand, nor condone the taking of any life for “sport.” There are reasons to kill, and some are even justified, but killing for fun is not among them. For many, it is my opinion that killing for sport appears to be a sign of deep insecurity, and from such killings these hunters derive feelings of power and control that they lack in everyday life. It’s an opinion derived from personal contact with more than one trophy hunter. Furthermore, where is the sport in killing a less intelligent creature with a high-powered weapon from several hundred yards away? Many defend trophy hunting by saying that the point of it all is the hunt, not the kill. If that were true, then why kill? You can “hunt” an animal with a camera as well as you can with a rifle. You still get to have your “trophy” – in this case a photo – and the animal gets to live. No, I’m afraid I’m not buying that argument. For most trophy hunters, it appears as if in fact it is the kill that matters, the act that gives them pleasure.

Besides the questionable ethics of killing for fun and sport, there are the practical considerations of the effect trophy hunting has on animal populations. This type of hunting has contributed to pushing a great many species to the brink of extinction. Of course, there are almost always other factors at work as well, when an animal becomes endangered, most of which can almost always be traced back to humans acting selfishly, greedily, or unethically. Personal gain – monetary or otherwise – is almost always behind the causes for species endangerment. People often speak of protecting certain animals because of their beauty. However, my desire to protect a species has to do with more than it’s beauty, though in the case of many that is certainly a factor. Mostly though, it’s about maintaining balance in the natural world. As I’ve previously stated, every living thing on earth is interconnected – we’re all part of a large machine. You can only remove so many parts before the machine begins to malfunction. I’m less interested in saving the earth than I am in saving us. It is the environment that sustains us. The earth will survive no matter what we do to it, but it may not survive in a state that can continue to sustain us. That is one of the main reasons why I work to protect plants and animals.

Now let’s be clear – I’m not trying to impose my will on anyone. I’m not suggesting hunting scopes nor trophy hunting itself should be made illegal. I have no more a desire to ban trophy hunting than I do to ban giant sodas. Just as we must defend speech with which we do not agree, we must occasionally defend the rights of others to be stupid and cruel and short-sighted. However, just as hunters have a right to keep on hunting for sport, I have a right to voice my opinion on the matter. The beauty of the freedoms we have in America is that my obligation to defend your freedoms does not deprive me of my right to suggest that your choices are wrong. I have a right to attempt to convince people who feel differently that they might be mistaken, and a right to attempt to convince those on the fence to see things my way. You see, my right to free speech is just as valid as your right to kill.

As for whether or not I’m a panty waist, well… It doesn’t take a great deal of courage to hurl insults across the internet, nor to put your own selfish wants and paranoid fears of change ahead of what’s right. There may be a coward in this fight, but it ain’t me, nor those who share my point of view. In fairness, I suppose my views are extreme, compared to many in America. I have no problem with this. I choose to wear the badge of “extremist” as an honor. I consider myself to be an extremist in the cause of common sense and common decency.

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