Thursday, August 17, 2006

AR Follies Continued: "Conger Cuddling"

In a surprising place, the religious (mostly Catholic) blog "On The Square", Joseph Pearce offers good defense of foxhunting.

But that is not the best part: AR loonies are now trying to protect DEAD EELS!

"The following is a true story, though it may seem surreal enough to belong in a Monty Python sketch. A charity game, in which the people of the Dorset town of Lyme Regis attempt to knock each other over with a five-foot conger eel, has been banned because animal rights activists complained that it was “disrespectful” to the dead fish. I kid you not.

"Conger cuddling, as it is known to the locals, has been staged annually for many years in the town’s harbor (which is featured, incidentally, in Jane Austen’s novels, in the work of Beatrix Potter, in the movie The French Lieutenant’s Woman, and was a favorite holiday resort of G.K. Chesterton among others). The “cuddling,” which also has a charitable benefit since it raises funds for the Royal National Lifeboat Institute, involves teams of men standing on six-inch-high wooden blocks while other team members take turns swinging a twenty-five-pound eel at them. The team with the most people left standing at the end wins. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? But not if you’re a humorless animal rights activist. Claiming that the event was “disrespectful” to the dignity of the dead fish, they threatened to launch a national campaign against the cuddling unless it was stopped. In the event, as is often the case in our cowardly times, the threat was enough to put an end to the venerable tradition."

Long ago, in another life, I lived in the little (then) fishing village of Brant Rock in Massachusetts. In the local bar one cold winter evening I was privileged to watch two over- sixty fishermen slug it out with a pair of dead cod. I suppose ARistas would now fine them for their "disrespect".


Matt Mullenix said...

Great article! Too true this (we suffer the urban/rural conflict here also):

"The urban proletariat and its Labour Party representatives perceived hunting as a preserve of the rich and as an archaic throwback to the days of feudalism and privilege. In fact, hunting is enjoyed by all social classes in rural England and is an expression of the community spirit that still survives in the countryside, even as it has long since become extinct in the cities. This fact was made glaringly obvious by the sheer enormity of the size of the pro-hunt demonstration by the Countryside Alliance before the ban became law. The rural rich and poor descended on London expressing the unity of the countryfolk of England against the stripping of their ancestral rights by an urban tyranny alienated by the very notion of cultural roots and traditional notions of communitas."

Anonymous said...

While I am distinctly uncomfortable siding with the AR types on anything, I must say I can see their point with regard to disrespect.

I fish myself, mainly for put-&-take rainbow trout in cool weather and "wild" bluegills when it turns warm, and thoroughly enjoy eating my catch. But I make sure that the leftovers -- heads, guts, bones -- end up in my prairie garden where they can feed the tallgrasses and flowers, not in the trash. A small way of honoring the quarry I pursue...

Likewise, the fur, feathers, and larger bones from my hawks' kills are returned to the earth -- usually in a haphazard, "stay where they lay" fashion, but deliberately when necessary. (Though I suppose a few quail, starling, and sparrow feathers end up in the trash via the vacuum cleaner after feeding my sharpie indoors... So my efforts to show respect, although sincere, aren't perfect.)

A dead animal is, of course, dead, and I can understand why some people would think that what happens after its death is irrelevant. But do we, as hunters, believe that? I suspect that if people were pelting each other (pun not intended) with dead cottontails, both Steve & Matt, as present or former rabbit hawkers, would be more inclined to take offense (although not necessarily to legislate against such activity).

Just my $0.02 worth.

Steve Bodio said...

Good comment mark-- I am distressed by the way some of my felllow hunnters and fishers treat game, do much as you do, and try to teach others to do so also. Nor do I think any animal, whteher pigeon, starlig, carp, or sucker, is "trash"..

I do object, though, to using the power of the state to end a (very silly) old tradition .

Incidentally, congers are delicious, and "cuddled" or no, I doubt any were wasted.

Matt Mullenix said...

Mark and Steve, I have in fact taken offense to others' "playing" with dead animals---ducks and rabbits in the cases I recall---their hawks caught. One guy used a duck like a puppet and another was tossing rabbit guts around. Well, childish behavior and disrespectful to the animals, dead or not.

But I think I found it more (or at least as) disrespectful to the activity we were engaged in (hunting, which is serious!). An old ditty always comes to mind: "Boys kill frogs in sport, but the frogs die in earnest."

Slinging rabbits at each other would be hard to take in the hawking field. But if there was some other sport in which that was the stated object (provided the meat wasn't ruined and the rabbit died quick), I don't know I'd object; I just wouldn't want to play.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just need to know if this Steve Bodio is the one from my neighborhood in Easton, MA!

Steve Bodio said...

The one and only. Hi Suzie!

Anonymous said...

is this steve bodio who went to xaverian brothers high school

bill coady

Steve Bodio said...

The same, Bill! Check-- just wrote you some emails...