Fox Hunting et al 105

I am writing an important letter to William Hague on his proposed inquiry into torture (via my MP to make sure an FCO bureaucrat does not bury it). I am marshalling my evidence but trying to keep it short, plain and unemotional.

So no energy or time for significant blogging today. Some thoughts to keep people going.

I am staunchly against fox-hunting. In my youth I was in the Hunt Saboteurs Association and remember great fun laying aniseed trails to disrupt otter hunts somewhere near Kings Lynn. I would happily do that again. I supported the ban on fox-hunting.

But I have changed my mind. I still strongly oppose fox-hunting, but I no longer think it should be illegal. New Labour changed my mind. They opened my eyes to the dangers of authoritarianism and the criminalisation of numerous activities. The mind that will ban protest outside parliament and make it illegal to photograph a policeman or railway station, is a mind seeking to abuse the power of the state.

New Labour convinced me that excessive state power is a real evil to weigh in the balance when considering how to deal with any issue. I consider fox hunting an ill, but state interference a greater ill. Any liberal should believe that the state should interfere in liberty as a last resort.

Other forms of social sanction can and should be deployed against fox hunters. Social disapprobation, ridicule, protest, peaceful disruption. But is the crushing hand of the state really required? No, I don’t think it is.

The same goes in my view for the smoking ban. I don’t smoke and hate cigarette smoke, But should it be illegal in pubs and restaurants, which are private property? No.

Lights blue touchpaper and goes back to his letter to William Hague…

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105 thoughts on “Fox Hunting et al

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  • Anonymous

    An undiscerning treatment of the subject matter is quite obvious from here ;p

  • Duncan

    “Other forms of social sanction can and should be deployed against fox hunters. Social disapprobation, ridicule, protest, peaceful disruption. But is the crushing hand of the state really required? No, I don’t think it is.”

    My policy on fox hunting is one of studied indifference. As a liberal and moreover as a liberal who believes politics is for human beings and foxes don’t vote I can’t accept that it should be illegal but at the same time given how wretched I find it I can’t really bring myself to call for its reinstatement. It’s rather like the argument over simulated child porn; should it be legal? Probably. Am I going to make a point of trying to make it legal? Like hell. Politics may be the art of the possible but it’s also the art of structured priorities; in a world where children go to bed hungry, when we vote under a system which wastes more votes than it honours, when we stuff prisoners into prisons rather than engaging in real rehabilitation and when we have schools in which teachers bound up with red tape are effectively forced to cram their overcrowded pupils with facts rather than teaching them how to think I kinda feel the right of aristocrats to terrorize and maim small canines is low on the priority scale.

    “The same goes in my view for the smoking ban.” – Worth mentioning (perhaps) that we actually brought the smoking ban into law in Scotland before Labour followed suit in England. The argument would I suppose be two-fold: (a) the ‘private’ nature of places like bars and restaurants is mixed; you don’t have the right to refuse service to people on the basis of race or sexual orientation, for example. Some might argue that by allowing smoking you prevent the use of the establishment (either as employees or customers) of those who have respiratory conditions or who simply don’t want to inhale carcinogens (certain this is an argument I bought for banning smoking in our student Union though I am, in general, opposed to them: you can see what the status of a student bar might be slightly different (less private) than a pub however and (b) the concern in Scotland was public health. They had attempted to use a voluntary ban but that did not appear to have much impact as almost all night clubs and pubs continued to allow smoking rather than risk losing some customers, so the view was taken that an external ban was necessary. In this you could regard us as acting as liberal republicans rather than liberals but the existence of a state health care system makes your health part of my material interest.

  • ScouseBilly

    I hardly drink so your and other bar frequenters’ health is part of my material interest.

    According to your reasoning.

    Where did common sense go?

  • Rob

    Like you I’m an ex Sab, and my view on the fox hunting ban is the same as yours on Eugene Terre Blanche’s murder. In principle I can see it’s a bad thing, but in practice I find it impossible to shed a tear over. Hunters have the right not to be criminalised: Terre Blanche had the right to carry on living. Lackaday.

  • Anonymous

    “[Hunting] In principle I can see it’s a bad thing, in practice I find it impossible to shed a tear over”

    The extended violence and suffering involved in fighting is a bad thing. This is the horrible aspect of true bloodsports where rage and suffering is drawn out and celebrated.

    In foxhunts, the hounds do not fight the fox, there is almost no contest involved. A dog may be wounded sometimes, the fox will die in seconds, such is nature.

    In principle hunting is an absolutely unavoidable natural neccessity. Coming to terms with this fact is part of loving and caring for the natural world.

    Wild animals hunt with teeth and claws. Humans have used spears, dogs, bows, guns… fences, stun guns and shopping trolleys.

  • other richard


    Why not abolish regulations for slaughter houses, too, then? Let the animals be slaughtered however people choose – let people have fun slowly killing the animals – it’s better than too much state power!

    Let’s have dog fighting and cock fighting brought back!

    And why make the murder of humans illegal? State power is bad! Let society sort itself out without state interference.

    Have the guts to admit that you are happy to let foxes suffer for “sport”, Mr Murray, because that’s the kind of man you are.

    Not being able to kill a fox for fun has ABSOLUTELY NO IMPACT on our lives. Has the ban on dog fighting and cock fighting affected our lives? NO!

    If the “countryside” can’t survive without fox hunting, then there’s something seriously wrong with the UK economy – sort that out, don’t defend upper-class cruelty.

    “As a liberal” seems to mean as a selfish person who cares only about number one and my own damn ego.

    Still blaming “New Labour”, Mr Murry? – you, of course, praised BAT, a dirty tobacco company. You talk about this false freedom from state power in order to allow big business – the CEOs! – to take control of the government, the economy and our lives (every state asset must be privatized, including schools and health care, welfare must be abolished to create more desperate and suicidal people, and the law must be tailored to satisfy CEO greed and insanity, rather than to create a healthy society), a matter you never discuss. THE GOVERNMENT IS EFFECTIVELY CONTROLLED BY CEOs, BY THE RICH AND POWERFUL. Many in government hail from the corporate world.

    Politics truly is an evil, filthy game – any pretext is used to push an agenda.

    The way things are going in the UK, I’m really not sure I can drag out my life much longer. I’m reaching a point where I’ve had enough.

    You can all have your “social darwinism” – it’s NOT evolution at all, but a grotesque distortion – and it’s what Hilter supported! Atheists – based on what they BELIEVE rather than on SCIENTIFIC FACT – will continue to destroy society by turning humans into expendable lumps of matter, human “resources” that will be exploited by CEOs to the fullest.

    Increasingly, all I want is to be out of this Hell and nightmare. There’s no life for me in the UK. I was dead for over 14 billion years, then I woke up. Soon, it will be time for me to sleep again.

  • Clark

    Other Richard,

    you sound truly tormented. If I can help at all, I will, or at least try to. You can contact me via the link below.

  • Clark

    Here in the Essex countryside I rarely see a fox, once every couple of months maybe, whereas in built up areas I see several every night. I don’t know the figures, but foxes seem to be predominantly urban animals now, presumably because wasteful humans ensure a plentiful food supply.

    Conversely, the rural badger population seems to have increased a lot since badgers became protected. Would more foxes reduce the badger population?

  • Jon

    @other richard, I hear your frustration, and on the issue of foxhunting I too think Craig is wrong. I am not moved by being called ignorant by @sabretache et al, nor statistics that show that foxes have started to die in other ways as a result of the ban. That may be true, but it does not detract from the fact that foxhunting is a barbarous sport, and foxes die barbarous deaths as a result of it. If there is a negative side-effect to banning fox-hunting, then let us see what can be done about it without resorting back to cruelty.

    On the BAT issue, I agree that multinationals are generally harmful, but in Craig’s defence he only spoke well of them, I believe, because BAT were defending ordinary Uzbeks against their atrocious government. I think in other less desparate circumstances, Craig would join you in condemning the excesses of tobacco firms – and he often does criticise neoliberal capitalism. As do many of us here!

    I am inclined towards negativism sometimes, as you are. In my view, the best tonic is to examine your talents and to see how you can help fight back against the neoliberal tide in your area. For example, manning a Free Palestine stall occasionally in your area might bring you together with other people who care about the state of the world.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    other richard, chill man. Politics is not everything. Much good happens in the world and in this country between ordinary people. Craig represents good and he hasn’t given up, in spite of the difficulties he’s faced. One can get a distorted picture from cyberspace and it brings one down, I know. It’s better to be with actual people. We’ve all been there, man, we’re all 14 billion year-old stardust. Space beings. Put on some earth music – maybe check-out Richard Robinson’s tunes. Have a cuppa. Think of Ozymandias and of the last paragraph of ‘Middlemarch’.

    As Clark said, we’re mud that sat up. But that’s better than mud that lay down.

  • Russell

    The ban was also against hare coursing, hare and deer hunting, not just fox hunting, something no one seems to mention. Anyone who has witnessed the hare coursing event that was the waterloo cup will be very happy with its demise. Craig, do you also think that badger baiters and dog fighters should not have the state breathing down their necks either? The hunting ban is badly written, but I think it should be improved upon, not destroyed.

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