Sunday, February 12, 2006

Why Experience Is Not Always the Best Teacher

When news broke that Vice President Cheney had shot a hunting companion today, conservatives around the country braced themselves for the onslaught of nonsense about Cheney's character and the threat of guns.

Certainly the most reprehensible statement so far comes from James and Sarah Brady. Denizens of the 80s will remember Mr. Brady not as the father of the Brady Bunch (a 70s phenomenon) but as Ronald Reagan's press secretary, tragically shot in the head by would-be presidential assassin John Hinckley. For the last 25 years, Mr. and Mrs. Brady have been the most visible public symbols of greater gun control in the United States.

So it's little surprise that today the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence issued these statements:

"Now I understand why Dick Cheney keeps asking me to go hunting with him," said Jim Brady. "I had a friend once who accidentally shot pellets into his dog - and I thought he was an idiot."

"I've thought Cheney was scary for a long time," Sarah Brady said. "Now I know I was right to be nervous."

It's little surprise, and it's little help. The facts of the Cheney accident, per the Chicago Tribune's news service, are as follows:

  • Mr. Cheney is an avid and experienced hunter.
  • He was shooting quail with a shotgun.
  • His companion approached from an unseen angle and did not announce himself.
  • Cheney turned to shoot a flushed bird and did not see his companion.
  • The man received several pellets in the face, chest and arms, but his life was never in danger.
  • The medical team that always accompanies Cheney attended to the victim, rushing him to the hospital.
  • He's doing fine.

SWNID is no hunter. Only one male member of our extended family was an avid hunter while we were growing up, and he only avid for small game like squirrels and rabbits. SWNID was invited to accompany said relative on multiple occasions, but fearing that we would not cope well with the specter of death that we had personally inflicted, we declined. Also, we did not care to dine on fried rodents, the inevitable outcome of such excursions.

However, we assert that hunting lies deep in the psyche of many humans, especially of the male persuasion. We also assert that hunters have likely done more to protect wildlife and their habitats than any other group. Certainly the republic's most famous protector of the wilds was also its most famous hunter, the extraordinary Theodore Roosevelt. We are therefore in favor of hunting.

We also assert that whatever the merits of more careful controls on the distribution of firearms, hunters tend to be most careful with their weapons, subject as they all are to being accidentally shot personally.

So we believe that this little episode says nothing about Mr. Cheney, except that such things happen in the dangerous world of hunting.

But it does say something about Mr. and Mrs. Brady. It says that they care less for the facts than the exquisite feeling of taking a moral stand regardless of the facts.

Mr. Cheney is an experienced hunter, but he made a single unfortunate mistake that thankfully did not prove to be tragic. Mr. Brady is an experienced victim, tragically disabled by a bullet intended by a madman to kill someone else, but he has become a doubly tragic figure as he allows himself to be exploited by those whose moral commitments outweigh their honesty. Experience, it seems, is not always the best teacher.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Was it not Billy "Bob" Clinton who said that he wanted to protect our constitutional right to hunt as part of his one campaign platform? If this is true then I await a statement by the former president defending the VP's rights and reprimanding Mr. Brady for attacking the constitution.

Danny Joe