Friday, October 03, 2008

What a chilling...

...story on so many levels.


Anonymous said...

I have heard a lot about this story. From what I have read, this is how serial killers start.

RevRon's Rants said...

Serial killers and some of the "sportsmen" who go on increasingly popular "managed hunts," in which the "hunter" is brought within range of captive animals and shoots them.

While I've hunted all my life, I have little respect for people whose actions bear remarkable similarity to this little boy. As a kid, I worked one of my father's clients' deer lease during the summers and acted as guide to the clients he brought out during deer season. Occasionally, when one of the clients was unsuccessful on a hunt, my boss would needle them, telling them that "the kid" would get them a deer if they liked. A few laughed, but most agreed, probably to humor a 12-year-old with a WWI rifle that was longer than he was tall. When I'd bring back a deer (I knew where they were and how they moved), inevitably the client would only want the head, so he could have a trophy to hang on his wall. I didn't think very highly of these guys, but didn't gripe, since I got the meat and the hide. I've little doubt that these are the same kind of people who would enjoy the opportunity to assassinate a semi-domesticated animal that was virtually caged - or to wander through a zoo, killing animals, so long as they would suffer no repercussions. Can't help but wonder whether they would do the same to humans if they thought they could get away with it.

Steve Salerno said...

Rev, this is one area where you and I probably would have a strong philosophical disagreement, as I've never hunted or saw the attraction of killing animals, really (that is, beyond the somewhat dark fascination that many of us have with killing, period). Right now, for example, it's bow-hunting season here in PA, and given the inherent killing inefficiency of an arrow, and the fact it has been embraced by many people who have no idea what the hell they're doing, it strikes me as a horribly cruel way to allow animals to be killed.

I've enjoyed shooting, as I think I've mentioned here, and for many years my beautiful and highly accurate (target/range) Sako 30-.06 was my pride and joy. I just don't think I could kill an animal without reason. Though--I will admit--I am far less vehement and judgmental on the point than I used to be at one time. I guess one could say I've made peace with it--that there are people who see it differently, and hunt for reasons they regard as legitimate, and that's just how it is.

RevRon's Rants said...

I never saw the attraction of killing animals, either, believe it or not. The first time I hunted, it was an unsettling experience for me, yet it was something expected of boys in the culture in which I grew up. Being completely apart from the "things of man" left me elated, and the act of stalking felt challenging. When I actually killed a bird, it upset me. A lot.

As I spent more time in the woods, I killed squirrels, armadillos, and deer for food, as dad's client left me on the lease for weeks at a time, telling me that there was the garden for vegetables, and plenty of game for meat. Killing got easier, yet I never lost sight of the fact that I was killing.

As time went on, I observed animals starving and dying of disease because the elimination of predators had allowed their numbers to swell uncontrolled. Trust me, it's easier to kill something swiftly than to watch it die slowly.

When my kids were small, we were pretty poor, and there were many times that a pot of squirrel & dumplings was all that stood between us and going hungry.

I went for years not hunting, even going in the opposite direction & volunteering to fed starving elk in Colorado. Nowadays, I'll hunt deer and feral hogs for the meat, and would routinely shoot skunks and coyotes, since the majority around here are rabid. Though I have hunted with a bow many years ago, and was proficient at it, I don't like it, for the very reasons you state. Though the kill, if done properly, isn't that painful to the animal, my sense that the panic they experience as they die must be excruciating. If I'm going to hunt, I want the act of killing to be swift and merciful, and won't take a shot unless I feel assured that it will be so.

I realize that many people find killing animals to be brutal and barbaric, but if one looks closely, it is no more brutal than life itself, and is a natural part of life. The only difference between a conscientious hunter and most other people is that the hunter kills his (or her) prey, while most people pay someone else to kill, and buy their prey neatly packaged. I've spent some time at feedlots and slaughterhouses, and have seen the abject terror the cattle experience as they await their fate. They can hear the screams of those being slaughtered, and on some level, I believe they are aware of the fate that awaits them. If I'm going to eat meat, I just feel better knowing that the creature that is laid upon my plate at least had a life beyond a stall, and that its end was swift, rather than being the culmination of a slow march to a hook on a conveyor belt. But that's just my take on it, and I make no judgment on others' choices in the matter.

Steve Salerno said...

Thanks, Ron, for taking the time to put things in perspective. It's one of the more intelligent (and also visual/evocative) takes on the subject I've heard in recent times. It does not surprise me that such a balanced and literate take would come from you.

I think it's the arrow thing that I have a hard time getting past, these days. Very few of us are capable of the quick/expert dispatch immortalized by Burt Reynolds in that scene from Deliverance. Around here, they'll let almost anyone go off into the woods with a bow. And some of these people... Well, this falls into the category of "I swear I am not making this up," but a couple years back I saw a guy on a highway overpass, peering off into the recesses of an adjacent woods, taking aim with a crossbow, of all things. I don't know if he was just goofing around or trying to get a rise out of passing traffic, but if he'd taken the shot, he would've been firing over an exit ramp, and also into a section of woods with a blind hill behind it. I called the state police on my cell, but I don't know if anything came of it.

Anonymous said...

Good God. Would anyone want to bet he'll be back in the news in about ten years after another killing spree?


RevRon's Rants said...

"Very few of us are capable of the quick/expert dispatch immortalized by Burt Reynolds in that scene from Deliverance."

I'd go one step further, and say that *none* of us is capable of such a feat. Without going into grisly detail, I will state that an arrow, no matter how expertly placed, does not immediately kill an animal, and rarely even immobilizes it. Such a weapon simply doesn't induce sufficient tissue trauma to effect an instantaneous (or even particularly quick) kill. I've tracked deer that were hit with a perfect shot for over a mile through thick woods. And my decision to quit hunting with a bow wasn't influenced by laziness, but rather by the look on as deer's face when he finally weakened enough for me to catch up with him.

RevRon's Rants said...

It just occurred to me that my statement about "the look on a deer's face" conveyed little more than anthropomorphic projection. To be more clear, what I saw were the flaring nostrils, furtive eyes that sought some escape route, and the flailing efforts of a beast struggling desperately to flee, but too weakened to even stand.

The "look on his face" was merely an attempt to use "shorthand" to render the image less unsettling than it was. However, upon further consideration, I felt that it only appropriate to offer a more accurate description, if for no other reason than to present the emotional impact of the experience. Removing the illusion is the best way to avoid ill-advised complacency, in my opinion.

I wish such an approach had been used in, for example, the old John Wayne war movies, rather than presenting images of gravely wounded soldiers, dispassionately (and painlessly) enduring their wounds. Perhaps we'd have not been so quick to rush into wars if we'd known what they were really like. But I digress...

Elizabeth said...

I've been trying to avoid this story since I saw it last night.

I reserve my hatred (I use this word very pointedly) for animal and child abusers. Animal abusers have a special place in the hell of my imagination. But this is a very young boy...

Rev, your stories here are disturbing. I guess I'm with Steve on this: I don't like hunting, would never do it myself, but I know there are people who do and that's just the way it is.

I understand your points, Rev, on killing for food and the difference between a "swift" hunt and the mayhem of a slaughterhouse.

I eat meat and like it too -- but I experience a growing dissonance over it as I get older. I cannot imagine not eating it, for practical reasons, among others, and yet it is very difficult to reconcile my knowledge about how "my" meat is obtained with my eating habits.

Reading your youthful recollections, Rev, also reminds me of some of mine. We used to "grow" chickens and rabbits when I was little. I spent days and often nights in our "animal house," taking care of our charges, especially the sick and lame ones, naming them, nurturing them, protecting them, and, LOL, "helping" them resolve their various "disputes" (major LOL, I know). They were my friends, for some time the only friends I had.

Then I watched them killed, and we ate them, of course.

I know it sounds pathetic, even ridiculous, perhaps; but even today I can hardly talk about it.

I cannot imagine what went on in the mind of that 7-year-old boy.

Anonymous said...

Zoo chief Rex Neindorf said:
"The fact that a 7 year old can wreak so much havoc in such a short time, let alone even think of doing something like this, is unbelievable.
If this was back in my day he'd get a big boot up the backside. The boy was lucky he didn't become dinner for Terry the 32 stone croc. The croc could have easily taken him from the ledge he was standing on. If he had slipped and fallen in he would have been gone.
By all accounts he's quite a nasty 7 year old. We'll be looking at suing the parents who were supposedly in control of him at the time."

RevRon's Rants said...

"I eat meat and like it too -- but I experience a growing dissonance over it as I get older."

Eliz, that "dissonance" we feel between our beliefs and our actions is the one thing that separates us from the sociopaths. It represents our desire for answers to the questions that we cannot stop asking ourselves, and the drive to become better beings. For myself, the incongruity between eating meat and respecting life is dissolved by the knowledge that at some point, I'll take my place at something else's table in the food chain. Justice (dinner) will be served!