Thanks to the Associated Press
(AP), I recently learned about an innovative new method in psychological
therapy: killing. Thanks to the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), wounded
American soldiers are now attempting to �recover� from their violent trauma by,
well, imposing violent trauma onto defenseless animals.
"The PVA learned many years
ago that participating in sporting events helped restore self-confidence and
that �can do' attitude to someone who has received a catastrophic injury,� said
Bill Kokendoffer, president of the Mid-America Chapter of PVA. "We older
injured, like myself, try to show the newly injured that life is not over after
an injury, just changed.�
"It is about giving them the
experience,� added Lew Deal, a retired Marine who serves as director of outdoor
programs for PVA. Deal�s venue of choice was the Great Turkey Hunt 2008 in
Miami, Oklahoma. Four paralyzed veterans took part this past April. One of
them, according to AP, �earned his inclusion� by getting shot in the head while
serving in Afghanistan. The goal, according to
organizers, is for the hunt to serve as a �mechanism to set a psychologically
wounded service member on a path of healing.� (Reminder: this is not an SNL skit.)
When one of my local daily papers�AM-NY�ran this story, it provoked two
angry letters in the following day�s edition. �What perverse logic is at play
here?� asked the first reader. �How about feeling better about yourself and
helping animals, children, or community?� A second reader objected to �victims
of violent actions or situations� seeking to �feel better about themselves by
creating other victims.�
While it may seem a more obvious choice (for sane people, at
least) to give wounded humans an opportunity to heal through efforts that
involve compassion and caring, we must never forget the deep connection between
volunteer soldiers and the American hunting culture.
I remember a 2004 New
York Times article called �In Iraq's Murky
Battle, Snipers Offer U.S. a Precision Weapon.� Author Eric Schmitt explained
how American snipers earn all those yellow ribbons we see on passing SUVs.
�Soldiering is a violent business, and emotions in combat run high,� Schmitt wrote.
�But commanders say snipers are a different breed of warrior -- quiet,
unflappable marksmen who bring a dispassionate intensity to their deadly task.�
Such intensity is often honed at
the expense of animal life.
�Most snipers are familiar with
firearms even before joining the armed forces,� Schmitt wrote. He interviewed
two snipers who �grew up on farms, and both owned their first rifles before
they were 10.� According to Schmitt, these patriotic heroes �fondly remember
hunting deer as youngsters.�
You just gotta love the use of the
word fondly to �soften� the image.
To further highlight the age-old
hunter-soldier connection, let�s flashback to the early days of the 2003 US
invasion of Iraq. That�s when some gallant American soldiers, in their unswerving
quest to spread freedom and democracy, had an after-hours beer party in the
bombed-out and neglected Baghdad Zoo. When all was said and done, one of those
soldiers had shot dead a rare Bengal tiger. "Someone was trying to feed
the tigers," the zoo�s night watchman told Reuters. "The tiger bit
his finger off and clawed his arm. So his colleague took a gun and shot the
tiger." In that same Reuters article, we learned: �The tiger was one of
two in the zoo�once the largest in the Middle East, today a decrepit collection
of dirty cages and sad-looking animals.� (No mention of U.S.-imposed sanctions,
If we want a better world for animals, we must make no
excuse for the hunter. If we want peace for all
living things, we must dispense with the unconditional support for our [sic] volunteer troops.
�War will exist,� declared John F. Kennedy, �until that distant day when the
conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige as the warrior
Or, as Albert Einstein sez: �The pioneers
of a warless world are the youth that refuse military service.�
Mickey Z. is the author of the upcoming novel, CPR for Dummies,
and his blog can be found here.