What is Torture? Answer: It’s what Maine does to its prisoners at the Warren Supermax. It’s what the US Government does to its captives in the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and at other less-publicized holding tanks around the world.
It’s also what Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (DIFW) does to helpless animals and their families. At DIFW it is called “TRAPPING”, a painfully cruel practice that hurts and frightens animals and their orphaned offspring. The DIFW openly advocates trapping and claims that its neanderthal trapping practices are humane, scientifically justified, and part of Maine’s rich tradition of recreational activities.
As we are all somewhat aware, much of our human heritage and “tradition” was, and still is. hopelessly bound to man’s capacity for primitive and cruel behavior. Exterminating Native Americans was steady exercise for the many generations of colonists 1,2/. Slavery, a tradition that made our Country rich was indeed tradition, if not a proud one 2/. And we should not forget the 1914 murder and incineration of wives and children of husband miners on strike at Ludlow, Colorado 3/.
Lynching and police brutality are still popular recreation even in their gross illegality. Cock fighting is clean, traditional fun for virile people. Cruel racial profiling enjoys current popularity in law enforcement circles. Racial discrimination is torture for hardworking minorities who are not allowed to compete for the good life so close at hand. “Wholesome” games of chance, promoted by the state, doom poor people to disabling addiction. Logan Marr’s gruesome death 4/, under the care of a listless state bureaucracy, entertained the news media and its readers for many days.
We are fascinated with state punishment, especially when the evidence is in question, and then we grovel before the TV to glean intimate details of the lives of the rich, famous, and — the unfortunate — until we contemplate in wonderment the institutions that tuck away the victims of drug use and abuse; while in the end, the news media covers up audacious mischief of our government officials. Old people are of course safe targets for mischief such as protecting pharmaceutical companies that suffer from us oldies sneaking into Canada to buy US-manufactured drugs at more reasonable prices.
Then there’s the all-too-well-established “tradition” of blowing our minds with corporate advertising like that which targets the young with flashy, tempting, romantic cigarette and liquor ads and more ads for flashy clothes manufactured by US corporations in their sweat shops abroad. Great American tradition? You bet. Who suffers? The poor and relatively defenseless — like our bears in Maine.
Let’s get civilized and stop the pointless, barbaric torture of living creatures — people included. What better place to start than by protecting from trapping our beloved wild black bears. Let’s pass LD-1635 to ban bear trapping, and then abolish the traditionally shameless DIFW which still serves today as a shelter for the promotion of torture of helpless animals to amuse craven DIFW officials, and others, for whom violent video games must have lost their edge.
JULIAN C. HOLMES lives in Maine.
1) Ward Churchill, Indians Are Us? Culture and Genocide in Native North America, Common Courage Press, Monroe, ME, 1994.
2) Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, 1492 — Present, HarperCollins, New York, NY, 1995.
3) Harvey Wasserman, History of the United States, Four Walls Eight Windows, New York, NY, 1988, p.162-163.
4) Terrilyn Simpson, Common Sense Independent, P.O. Box 408, Augusta, ME, July 2005.
For those looking forward to eventual protection of black bears in Maine, Among the Bears: Raising Orphaned Cubs in the Wild (Benjamin Kilham & Ed Gray, Henry Holt, 2002) will be a valuable book. The Get Bear Smart Society (GBSS) of Whistler, B.C. says this book “is at once a groundbreaking work of science and a truly personal story of the bond between animals and humans. …”
The GBSS teaches Non-lethal bear management! Would that DIFW in Maine could do more of the same.