Letter: The ‘Duhhh’ factor

It is difficult not to sympathize with Mr. Brady [“Clark Hollow Ramblings,” Feb. 23]. He presents himself as such a beleaguered soul. Hunting in itself is not a problem. Who said it was? The issue being debated by communities all across Virginia is whether or not hunting should be extended to Sundays. Mr. Brady overreacts as if the commonwealth were considering a ban on all hunting all the time. It’s facile for Mr. Brady to make coy personal innuendos about a person’s IQ, but while it may elicit a few chuckles I’m afraid it doesn’t constitute a valid argument.

In the 1950s, when I was a boy, the population of the United States was 160 million. At last count, the population is 310 million and growing rapidly. In the 1950s, I hardly remember traffic jams. Now they are ubiquitous. In the 1950s, with 150 million fewer people, there was lots more room to hunt. With significantly lower population density there was considerably less opportunity for hunting accidents. Naturally enough, the dramatic rise in the overall population was accompanied by a dramatic rise in the number of people hunting. Mr. Brady may not be doing anything differently than what he did as a boy, but the world around him and me has changed.

But what is Mr. Brady’s argument after all, when all the folksy patois has been boiled off? He’s insisting that six days a week is simply not enough time to hunt. His personal desire to hunt on Sundays, he insists, should trump the desire of millions of Virginians to enjoy some peace and quiet and an extra measure of safety on their own properties. And, he further asserts, to expect this in a rural environment is downright foolish. Or, as he so eloquently put it, “Duhhh!!”  His way of life is somehow threatened by not being able to hunt everyday all the time. Beleaguered indeed.

I’m truly sorry that it annoys Mr. Brady to hear other people extol the natural beauty of Rappahannock County, especially since he’s been lucky enough to appreciate it for oh so much longer. But I’ve lived long enough to see many other places that looked like Rappahannock County back in the day and don’t look anything like it now. I don’t take it for granted and know how quickly its pastoral natural beauty can be eroded and ultimately extinguished. This is the perspective gained by having lived in other places over a lifetime, of seeing an old place with new eyes.

Mr. Brady accuses me of a “falsehood.” What would that be? You can love to drive cars and still be honest about car safety. Likewise, you can appreciate the sport of hunting and still be honest about hunting safety. Cars and roads weren’t made safer by ignoring the dangers. Hunting is kept as safe as it is, also, by not ignoring the dangers. Citing hunting accident statistics doesn’t make one against hunting any more than citing driving accident statistics makes one against driving.

Perhaps Mr. Brady is a bit squeamish and doesn’t like to be reminded about innocent victims like the Franklin County coed fatally shot by a hunter who mistook her for a deer. Does he have any words of sympathy for the family and friends of this victim? It’s hard to tell, because his only reaction in print, the only one we are left to ponder is, “. . . it is small wonder that half the county citizens haven’t  been killed, drawn and quartered by the bloodthirsty hunters.”  I started my piece by stating that I have very close friends who are hunters. Why is Mr. Brady not willing or able to accept this as the simple truth? Why must he insultingly characterize this as a “falsehood?” Why must he reach for a lurid portrayal of hunters that was not made nor implied?

Mr. Brady has an empathy problem. He finds it really difficult to empathize with anyone who has anything less than his own idealized vision of hunting in populated areas; with someone who doesn’t  revel at the sound of gunfire on a Sunday morning, who isn’t jolly about stray bullets hitting his house and who actually doesn’t want his loved ones to end up like those biology students in 2009. Instead of making an argument which tries to address the legitimate concerns of his neighbors, his answer is to bluster and ridicule.

Oh, and on those good folks who’ve “built their lives around the water and the creatures who live there,” I have yet to hear of anyone getting killed by a flung fish-hook or complaining about the intrusive noise of fishing. Fishing is not a sport that puts others in danger. No one in Rappahannock County complains about the racket caused by anglers. In case it’s gone unnoticed: There are no restrictions to fishing on Sundays.

Much as Mr. Brady would like to narrowly frame this issue as being little more than the solitary prattling of a relative newcomer to the county; and much as he thinks ridiculing the messenger is a better way of winning hearts and minds than actually addressing legitimate issues, perhaps he should be reminded that generations of Virginians expressed their will on this matter long before I moved here and long before Mr. Brady was born. The restrictions on Sunday hunting were put in place in 1904. So the question must be raised: Who’s actually in tune with the old traditions of Virginia anyway? The one who wants the established and settled ways protected and maintained, or the one who wants them changed?

Since Mr. Brady is fond of dispensing “wise words,” how’s this for an old adage? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Ron Maxwell
Flint Hill

About Ron Maxwell 8 Articles

Ron Maxwell: filmmaker, dog lover, tree hugger; moved to Rappahannock County in 2003. He is currently prepping a western entitled “Belle Starr.”