While most people are lamenting the violence in Pakistan, Burma, Afghanistan and Iraq, apparently it’s not enough bloodshed for Vice President Dick Cheney.
Last month in a caravan of 15 sport utility vehicles and an ambulance–no jokes, please–Cheney made his way to Clove Valley Rod & Gun Club about 70 miles north of New York City, near Poughkeepsie, for a day of controlled bloodletting.
Cheney landed at Stewart Air Force Base and took off the following day for the upscale gun club at a cost of $32,000 for local law enforcement officials who guarded his hotel, protected his motorcade and diverted school buses.
Unlike Cheney’s 2003 trip to Rolling Rock Club in Ligonier Township, PA in which he killed 70 pheasants and an undisclosed number of ducks (his hunting party killed 417 pheasants), staff at the Clove Valley Rod & Gun Club remained
tight lipped about the take. An employee who answered the phone would not disclose which species was being shot–ads say pheasants, ducks and Hungarian partridges–and kept repeating “I don’t know anything about it,” before hanging up. Like Cheney’s last visit to Clove Valley in 2001, the 4,000 acre club which costs $150,000 a year to join was a fortress with Blackwater style snipers “protecting” the Vice President’s right to shoot tame birds.
But a New York Daily News photographer did snap a picture of a small Confederate flag hanging inside a garage on the hunt club property which prompted civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton to demand that Cheney “leave immediately, denounce the club and apologize for going to a club that represents lynching, hate and murder to black people.”
Cheney spokeswoman Megan Mitchell said neither Cheney nor anyone on his staff saw such a flag at the hunt club. (Maybe the flag was on the women’s side of Clove Valley; only men are allowed in the clubhouse.)
Of course the nation is still amused about Cheney’s 2006 hunting mishap in which he shot 78-year-old attorney Harry Whittington in the face in Texas instead of a quail–and everyone from Letterman to the President Bush jokes about it.
But canned hunting isn’t funny.
Birds raised for canned hunts at gun clubs and in state “recreational” areas are grown in packed pens–think factory farmed chickens–and fitted with goggles so they won’t peck each other to death from the crowding.
When released for put and take hunters like Cheney, pen raised birds can barely walk or fly–or see thanks to the goggles. They don’t know how to forage or hide in the wild and sometimes have to be kicked to “fly” enough to be shot.
Some hunters say shooting the pellet-ready tame animals who offer no resistance is like having sex with a blow up doll.
But others say hunting itself is like sex with a blow up doll and that the ten percent decline in hunters seen in the US since the late nineties–from 14 million to about 12.5 million–coincides exactly with the debut of impotence drugs like Viagra.
Still for the Veep to pursue his addiction to the “programmed massacre of scores of tame pen-raised birds” despite all the “negative publicity it has generated for him” suggests a deep psychological disorder writes Gerald Schiller in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Especially since criminologists have long recognized that premeditated, sadistic treatment of animals is a strong predictor of criminal and homicidal violence.
Sociopaths Jeffrey Dahmer and Richard Speck were both big on animal cruelty. And they weren’t running foreign policy.
MARTHA ROSENBERG is staff cartoonist on the Evanston Roundtable. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org