Monday, September 20, 2004

Royals and Foxes

While I have always subscribed to the view that "He prayeth best that loveth best all creatures great and small" I have generally regarded fox-hunting as a barbaric but remote practice. Something that was neither of immediate concern to New Zealand nor near the top of the list of evils afflicting this unhappy world. Last night I happened to hear the subject debated on BBC world and was reminded just how alien a species a traditional British Tory is to a New Zealander (and no doubt to most British). Suddenly it wasn't just about foxes any more. It was about a pompous windbag being able to declaim that "in the home of democracy itself [well they did get universal suffrage in 1928] the government is putting vermin ahead of individual liberty" without anyone in an international panel crying "bullshit".

Today we learn that the current and future monarch of New Zealand are both apparently prepared to put the interests of their own privileged class ahead of their constitutional duty and the clear wishes of the majority of their subjects and their duly elected representatives - to say nothing of (I suspect) the near-unanimous view of Her Majesty's New Zealand subjects. This is deeply disturbing to those of us who have tempered our distaste for the corrupt (and unNZ) privilege represented by the monarchy, with respect if not affection for the personality of the incumbent.

The argument that hunting is a town versus country thing and that "Blair doesn't understand the country" is a crock. Hunting splits people who own country estates and apartments in Belgravia from everyone else - and the country would get by just fine without them. Nor is their any merit in the "individual liberty" claim . Dog-fighting has been illegal in Britain since 1885. If it is a crime for working-class men to watch two dogs tearing each other apart, why should it be legal for the gentry to watch a whole pack of dogs tearing a hapless wild animal apart? One might as well argue that the legal age of consent denies the individual liberty of paedophiles.

Nor is anyone banning people from riding to hounds - just from inhumane killing. Drag hunts (where nothing gets killed) are already popular in England and many other countries (including NZ). True they tend to demand higher standards of horsemanship than many traditional hunts but there is no reason why lower-grade drag hunts could not be set up for gentlefolk who were too old or too drunk for the real thing.

If the report of the Queen's (or Prince Charles') positions on a law that is only bringing England into line with Scotland, New Zealand and other Commonwealth countries should be confirmed then their fitness to be the monarch of New Zealand (or leader of the Commonwealth) comes in to question. Perhaps the Republic needs to roll on a little faster.


Blogger sagenz said...

I heard Monbiot say on BBC Today, absolutely without a hint of irony in his voice that ".. Hunting should be banned because it used to be a medieval aristocratic practice...". that is real class envy

21 September 2004 at 9:53 AM  
Blogger Lewis said...

Here, here! This further debunks the myth of a 'non-political' monarch.


21 September 2004 at 12:51 PM  
Blogger Uroskin said...

"The unspeakable still in hot pursuit of the inedible" - Oscar Wilde

21 September 2004 at 2:13 PM  
Blogger Greyshade said...

SageNZ: I can't speak for Monbiot as I didn't hear that bit but surely the point is that hunting has NOT been banned till now because it is a medieval aristocratic pursuit. If the upper classes wish to pour Chivas Regal on their morning Corn Flakes or practise any other harmless eccentricity they are free to do so.

Where, however, their passtimes involve doing unspeakable (thanks Hans and Oscar)things to other people or to small(ish) furry animals the law may tend to look at things from the other person's (animal's) point of view. It is right and proper that it should do so without regard to social class. The new British law treats Fox Hunting the same as other inhumane blood sports and thereby (finally) treats all social classes alike.

21 September 2004 at 3:27 PM  
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