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Deadeye Dick's Fogotten Victims
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Hey, how about some kind words for the most serious victims of Deadeye Dick Cheney's infamous Texas hunt. President Bush and others spoke compassionately of Cheney and Harry Whittington, the guy the vice president accidentally blasted with birdshot in February. But though it's been several months now, we still haven't heard any concern for the defenseless quail that Cheney, Whittington and two friends were stalking with a clear and undisguised intent to kill.

At least one quail was saved when Deadeye hit his buddy Whittington while aiming for a bird, and there was a bit of poetic justice since Whittington was struck as he was returning from retrieving a quail he had killed. But no one bothered reporting how many other birds were killed. After all, they were inferior beings raised for the amusement of Vice President Cheney and others who get their kicks stalking and killing fellow creatures.

Cheney's been at it a long time, targeting ducks, pheasants and other living things as well as quail, in company with such Bush administration favorites as Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Although apparently not as skilled and frequent a hunter as Cheney, President Bush has managed to bring down a few winged creatures himself, most notably during his New Year's holiday in Texas a few years back. Bush, who modestly declared that "I'm not that good a shot," managed to down five quail. He said that "was a lot of fun."

Bush praised the owner of the area in which the hunt took place for maintaining the land as a good habitat, not because it benefited the birds, of course, but because - like the Texas farm where Deadeye Dick was hunting -- it provided easy targets for hunters who wished to kill the birds.

They're "sportsmen," our president and vice president -- two of the more than 20 million Americans who find it fun to prey on innocent birds and animals.

The number of "sportsmen" has declined in recent years, thanks to anti-gun sentiment, urbanization, the animal rights movement, availability of a broad range of other leisure activities, heightened environmental awareness and the increasing cost of hunting equipment. But there are still far too many people searching the countryside for winged and four-legged victims, and manufacturers of guns and other hunting gear have greatly intensified efforts to increase their number. So have state fish and game departments, which rely on hunters' license fees to cover much of their operational costs.

Hunters and their advocates argue that, although the hunters' targets are too dumb to realize it, hunting actually benefits them by "thinning out the herds" and thus keeping them from starvation. But though there's no doubt that reducing or at least relocating some animal populations may be necessary for their survival, there are civilized ways to do it.

Once, long ago, we had to hunt and kill to survive. But this is the 21st century. It's outrageous that the leaders of the world's most powerful and influential nation, one that presumes to be the role model for all others, find it amusing to engage in the barbarity of killing for sport.

If this were a truly civilized society, Dick Cheney, George Bush and others in the administration would not be killing our fellow beings but would be working to protect them and expand and safeguard their habitats.

It's not just the bird and animal targets that need protecting. Think of the message that's being delivered to the rest of us. It's a message, as animal rights activist Jamie Kemsey noted, "that it is acceptable to commit an act of violence and take innocent life simply for the fun of it. In these violent times we cannot afford, under any circumstances, to condone such morally bankrupt actions."

Copyright (c) Dick Meister.