Thursday, January 11, 2007

Hunting out dishonest language

I don't feel particularly strongly about fox-hunting, though, in general, I'm opposed to pleasures that depend on inflicting non-consensual pain. But I was quite seriously agitated by the Countryside Alliance car-sticker I saw earlier:


Of course, you can see what they were trying to do: reach out to the not-strongly-committed (people like me, in fact), by making their preferred rural pastime a civil liberties issue. "OK," they wanted us to feel, "I may not really be in favour of hunting, but only a bigoted animal rights fanatic would want to ban it, and deprive country people of their age-old right to ride to hounds". But it all falls down on their hateful use of the word prejudice.

Prejudice is popping a dog turd through your neighbour's letter-box because his skin is a different colour from yours. It's daubing a swastika on a synagogue. It's assuming that every dark-complexioned young man with a rucksack is a terrorist. It most emphatically isn't questioning the right of the county set to pursue a "sport" that a very large body of public and expert opinion believes to be cruel and barbaric.

It's dishonest communication, and it won't work. Not a single mind will be changed by that slogan. By adopting what we might call the Martin Luther King defence, the hunting lobby have made a mockery of their own case.


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