Who says politicians can’t move swiftly and decisively to block an imminent threat to public decency?
Consider the courageous work of most of our state legislatures and, potentially, the Congress of the United States, to put an end to the shameful scourge of internet hunting.
Since 2005, 33 states have outlawed the cruel, unsportsmanlike practice, and when the governor signs an Illinois bill that’s already passed both houses that will make 34 states that have taken action to put an end to the slaughter. As the Humane Society of the United States declared in a mailing that went out in 2006 to 50,000 households: “Such horrific cruelty must stop and stop now!”
As recently as last week, sportswriter and novelist Frank Deford delivered a scathing commentary on NPR decrying the hordes of knuckle-dragging internet hunters and comparing their viciousness to the alleged dog-fighting abuses of football star Michael Vick. Even the United States House of Representatives has taken up the cause, with one of the senior Republicans in Congress, the usually level-headed Tom Davis of Virginia, introducing HR 2711, The Computer Assisted Remote Hunting Act. “You just wonder,” he declared, “who would do something like this?”
The answer is no one, actually.
Despite the nationwide hysteria (deliberately fanned by the Humane Society and other animal welfare groups) there’s no evidence anywhere, that anyone has blown away herds of unsuspecting wildlife through an internet connection.
According to a revealing expose by Zachary M. Seward in the Wall Street Journal, the concerns about internet hunting began with one John Lockwood, an insurance estimator for an auto-body shop in San Antonio. In November of 2004, he launched “live-shot.com,” a website designed to provide disabled citizens with the excitement of hunting. For a monthly fee and $150 an hour, they could peer through a webcam and aim a .30 caliber rifle at various animals on a hunting farm in Central Texas, pulling the trigger by clicking the mouse. The resulting game could be frozen and shipped (at additional expense) to the internet hunter. Immediate public outcry forced the quick abandonment of these plans: at the time he withdrew his service only one individual – a friend of Lockwood’s – had tested the service, succeeding in killing a single wild hog.