Friday, May 9, 2008

Tradition and progress


If, as part of a fraternity in college, you got drunk silly and participated in, say, the TP’ing or egging of someone’s house, or smashing mailboxes, or some other immature act, people would likely pass it off as a stupid youthful indiscretion. While it won’t be the best thing on your record, it wouldn’t look outright ludicrous either. If, however, you did the same thing when you were 50 years old, you would look pretty ridiculous and it would be safe to say that something was not quite alright in your head.

The same act is viewed differently depending on when it was committed. Things that are excused in infancy or adolescence are not accorded the same indulgence in adulthood. And correctly so, as one is expected to mature with the passage of time and one is expected to exercise better judgment with maturity.

The same should be true of the human race and the human experience as a collective, but this is, sadly, often not the case.

Last Saturday at the Kentucky Derby, a filly named Eight Belles made a strong charge, finished second, unfortunately snapped both her ankles immediately after, and had to be killed right there on the track (Does “put down” or “put to sleep” or “euthanized” make you feel better? Then by all means use those terms; but the fact is, they had to kill the horse to put it out of the misery they had put it in). Expectedly, this raised a bunch of discussion and debate, much of it over the public airwaves. Many people criticized horse-racing as barbaric. And many other people defended it as a ‘noble sport’, ‘grand tradition’ etc, and with the “They love these horses and treat them like royalty” argument----all I’ll say about this latter argument is that the folks at the FLDS church loved their children too, but nevertheless adhered to the practice of having them ‘married’ and raped as soon as they hit the teen years. People routinely exploit the ones they love, often in the name of tradition; in the immortal words of Tina Turner, “What’s love got to do with it?”

So anyway, whenever someone mentions ‘tradition’ my bullshit-meter starts working overtime because ‘tradition’ has been, far too many times over our history, a prime excuse to exploit and discriminate against women, colored people, poor people, disabled people and, really, all kinds of life forms. I know there are some traditions that are good but, for the most part, when I hear “Hey, we’ve been doing it this way for X-hundred years!!” my reflexive reaction is “That’s reason alone to stop it or change it”.

We live in great times. The variety in entertainment/recreation options is incredible and the access to them is easy. We now have video/simulation games that can get your mind racing and heart beating faster than many actual physical activities. Technology has made the world small enough that it is easier than ever to network with people and set up groups/clubs etc for all kinds of regular activity--- outdoor, indoor, you name it. Basically, between the virtual and the real worlds as they are today, one should have no problem finding entertainment and recreation options that don’t involve harming, exploiting or destroying other life-forms. But, as a species, we still love to hang on to our ‘traditions’.

Horse racing is just one example of people unwilling to let technological progress relieve them of their penchant for exploitative or destructive pursuits. Boxing is another good one. A couple of centuries ago (while it was still barbaric) I can see how it became popular---there was little else to do, and beating people--your wife, your children etc--- was not only accepted, it was encouraged!

---Hey, let’s get a couple of guys to get into this ring and beat the living shit out of each other!

---Seriously? Why? What’s the point?

---THAT’S the point, stupid! The object of the whole thing is for them to inflict physical harm upon each other till one of them literally beats the other into submission or senselessness!

---Cool. Although I’m sure that that guy will easily beat that other guy.

---Hey, wait a minute! That gives me another degenerate fucking idea… sure are you? How about a little wager?

So anyway, with all that we have at our disposal today, particularly the accumulated knowledge of all this time, it is freaking inexcusable to still have a ‘sport’ where the sole point and the whole point is to inflict physical harm on the participants.

And don’t even get me started on hunting. It is sad that someone should find relaxation and recreation in shooting, say, a bunch of flightless birds raised in captivity expressly for the purpose of being shot by impotent old farts that get off on killing things. It is downright pathetic when old farts who are fabulously wealthy and powerful, and have access to virtually anything this world has to offer, find relaxation in watching living things die by their actions. It is totally fucking tragic when such old farts, who are so fundamentally fucked-up in their heads, are allowed to make policy, start wars and send your children to fight them. Your ‘patriotism’ is their R&R, get it?

But I digress---the point is that even if one is not rich and powerful, today one should be able to find good entertainment options that don’t involve killing other things; one should get past deriving pleasure from seeing something die, especially by one’s hands.

The urges to exploit, harm, dominate or destroy, the primal urges of bloodlust, are all the equivalents of teenage hormonal surges of the human race when viewed within the frame of reference of time; they were never honorable pursuits, but could be rationalized in the context of an earlier, immature time. We now need to get past these infantile and adolescent ‘traditions’, to adopt progressive thinking and to mature into the responsible-adult phase of our species’ existence.


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Robb said...

There nothing wrong with hunting, Veggie. Or would you prefer to find the carcasses of deer who starved to death on your lawn every morning due to higher than sustainable populations?

Or ask Sam how well the indigenous wildlife on Catalina Island was doing before he visited his own personal holocaust on the feral pig population there.

Anonymoustache said...

I'm sorry, I completely overlooked the fact that our illustrious veep was only trying to cull that rampant, higher than sustainable, quail population.
And of course, no forms of hunting would have anything to do with "shooting it just to watch it die". What the fuck was I thinking?

I was trying to make a point about what people do for R&R dude, not what they do on contract from the parks and forestry depts.

Anonymous said...

Robb, you got no points till you present some linky's, background and more. I'll jump in on what you HAVE posted, when you show some hole cards, hoss.

Anon, Hell of a post. Got my attention.

I don't mind ANYONE killing to eat, but, that's a real small minority of our population. I wish I WAS one of them, the taste and savings of eating wild game is sweet. But then, I'm a former chef, too . . .

I abhor killin for sport and recreation.

And like the analogy you set, it's like sending children off to die in a war of no sense.

Nope, the beating of each other, like the screwing of each other, is infantile and adolescent.

And until this species moves past the power and control that COMES with waging that abuse upon the weaker, we are doomed from ourselves.

We're just killin ourselves. And FLDS and backwoods wanna be's are only two sick and torpid examples of hate and fury and evil we have to defeat.


Anonymoustache said...

Thanks again, larue.
And just so you know, there's a backstory to Robb's needling--- Robb's a good friend who's taken the population control issue (a valid one) to give me a friendly elbow to the ribs, that's all.
I should take this chance to plug his site, Tokatakiya (linked on my page)---Robb posts some really good stuff on important issues, most recently some great coverage on the post-election sham in Zimbabwe.

Robb said...

Deer overpopulation is actually a real problem. Here's some links:

Ironically, over hunting of wolves and big cats resulted in the boom in deer populations. However, that doesn't mean hunting can't be part of the solution.

PS: I've never fired a gun in my life, let alone hunted.

PPS: V, I can't remember if I told you this, but Sam had a front page story on him in the Wall Street Journal last year. I've been meaning to post it, but this is all I can find online (because WSJ online is a ripoff):

He even got a little WSJ pencil drawing!

Anonymoustache said...

You had sent me a link a while back but it didn't work, I think, and I forgot to follow it up---I just used the first of the two in your comment(ended it in .asp) and it worked----it's freaking HILARIOUS!
"Hired killer stalks wild pigs..."??!!. Send Sam to DC, dammit!
With a perp-sketch to boot! You gotta put his perp-sketch on your sidebar or something!

Anonymous said...

Anon, thanks for the heads up on Robb.
Robb, hunting to eat, I'm TOTALLY down with.

As I said, and yer pal in here said, Rec Hunting with staged shoots and such suck.

And they sure don't cull species, do they. Certainly NOT the one's that NEED culling!

Cats are cats, we took their turf. They had to die. N so the Puma's of our country die like previous human people's did as we ran out the game on Manifest Destiny. It's a sick game, I'll admit, and stacked for the Eurocentric White Model.

However, even THAT'S changing generation by generation! For the better.

Too many deer? Hunt them, kill them, feed the homeless and the poor. Simple.

Same with any other species in the wild where WE hooman's helped to disrupt.

Watching THIS will cause MOST humans to rethink a lot of things, including support of the systems in place we depend on for our food stuffs.

There's GOT to be a better way . . . . but I don't wanna jump this thread.

Best to both of yas. Anon, yer friends should be MADE to ID themselves when they post. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Whoops, no linky in previe post!

Sorry about that, Chief . . ;-)

Pawel said...

I'm 100% with you on hunting for R&R and horse racing and such. Population control is a sad necessity (mostly because we f...d up the environmental balance to begin with, but that's another story), but it doesn't mean we should let amateurs do it for fun. Just like we don't want amateur enthusiasts to work as butchers (or, for that matter, prison guards), even though I'm sure you'd find some sickos who would actually enjoy such jobs.
Boxing is a bit different (although my personal opinion on it is similar to yours), as it involves (or at least should only involve) consenting adult humans. If two adults decide that they want to make a living by beating themselves to pulp on the ring, and there are people willing to pay to watch it, then who am I to object. It's not that they force me to watch it (it follows, obviously, that violent martial sports should be sctrictly off-limits for minors). With hunting and horse-racing (or circus animals etc.) the situation is fundametally different - you cannot speak of any form of "consent" with one of the life forms involved.
And I wish I could be optimistic on the "progress" thing. The problem is that our brains are a product of long and slow evolutionary process, and they are adapted to work in an environment very different from the one we created. Culture and civilisation add but a thin layer on top of the primitive instincts. Now, for obvious reasons, cultural "evolution" moves on at a much quicker pace than biological evolution (it's lamarckian, not darwinian, for starts). The gap between our culture and technology on one side, and our primitive nature on the other, will therefore only grow wider. And no good can come of it.

Anonymoustache said...

Excellent points Pawel.
The difference in horse-racing vs boxing brought about by the consent issue is something I should have brought up in the post ---the implication of this is that the former needs to be weeded out by regulation while the latter by the peoples' choice via education.

I am a bit more optimistic as to the last point though---I believe that education---good fact-based education, not wishful woo-based crap---can help narrow the gap. After all, there are hundreds of millions of humans who do get it.
And unless the internet gets regulated (admittedly, many are trying to do just that) the message can be spread to young people very effectively. And that's all that matters going forward---change can be slow in coming, but can spread quickly once it does. After all, 40 years ago, black people in the USA were still largely second-class citizens. While they are still fighting those battles in the minds of many, it is also true that a person like Obama is poised to become president--- more importantly, he has tremendous support in the under-30 crowd. To paraphrase CSN,
"Teach your children well
and their fathers' hell will slowly go by".