The Independent newspaper has just run a story that – on the face of it perhaps – seems curiously timed. The article reproduces a much-quoted opinion piece that current UK prime-minister Boris Johnson published in the right-leaning Spectator magazine back in 2005, not long after the Hunting Act (which banned the hunting of wild animals with hounds) came into force.
In The Independent piece journalist Jon Stone says that:
In the 2005 piece, Mr Johnson said he “loved” hunting with dogs, in part because of the “semi-sexual relation with the horse” and the “military-style pleasure” of moving as a unit.
The future prime minister argued that the imposition of the ban was “not about cruelty” but “a Marxian attack” by the Labour government on the upper class.
“It is a brutal and pointless liquidation of a way of life. They ban it just because they can; and the people I really despair of are those idiots who say that they ‘don’t care much one way or another’,” he wrote in a piece for the Spectator magazine, which he edited at the time.
Arguing that hunters should break the law to continue the killings, Mr Johnson said it was unlikely that the ban would be properly enforced.
“I loved my day with the hunt, and hope they have the courage and organisation to keep going for ever,” he said.
“They are going out with the hounds this Saturday, and if the hounds pick up a fox, so be it. How will the poor cops prove mens rea?
Jon Stone, The Indpendent, 18 July 2020
It’s all typical ‘Boris’, designed to be provocative and presaging the ‘lies as truth’ fake news propaganda of the alt-right (the Act was a response to public opinion and animal welfare not ‘a Marxian attack’ on a ‘sport’ that lobbyists are still – more than fifteen years later – desperate to convince us is followed by rich and poor alike, providing the poor can afford to own a horse and pay the fees to hunt of course).
The deliberate reference to ‘semi-sexual’ is typical ‘Boris’ too: it’s a ‘nudge-nudge-wink-wink’ thumbs-up to his hunting chums. alluding to his own virility and the charge a ‘real man’ gets when he’s in control of an animal (also known as ‘dominionism’, which was defined in 1980 as ‘an attitude where “primary satisfactions [are] derived from mastery or control over animals” ‘). Does the need to feel power end there? There are of course numerous studies and published research that clearly show links between animal abuse and sexual inadequacy: in a groundbreaking book, Abnormal Psychology and Modern Life, published way back in 1948, the authors stated, “Perhaps more directly relevant are experiences in which individual infliction of pain on an animal or another person has given rise to sexual excitement. We have noted elsewhere the connection between strong emotional and sexual stimulation.”
Should any of this concern us? Aside from the fact that fox hunters get their kicks killing animals (we wrote an article at the tail end of last year asking whether – according to a widely-used diagnostic tool used to rate a person’s psychopathic or antisocial tendencies – foxhunters were psychopaths or not) this is an old article and the Hunting Act is supported by 85% of the public according to pollsters. The Conservatives themselves dropped a pledge to repeal the Act from their manifesto (though notably didn’t make a parallel pledge to strengthen it or fund its enforcement either). Of course, thousands of hunts still go out every year, using the lie of ‘trail hunting’ (which was invented by fox hunters after the passing of the Act to keep the paraphernalia of hunting intact while lobbyists like the Countryside Alliance worked for its repeal) and foxes are still being killed, but there is little possibility that any government would want to be seen to be debating foxhunting right now. Especially as the country reels from the impact on families, jobs, and the country’s culture caused by Covid-19
So why this piece now?
We’re not in touch with the journalist who wrote it, but this seems to us like a rather clever pre-emptive strike on fox hunting and its (allegedly) ‘sexually inadequate’ supporters. The summer months are a relatively brief respite for wildlife here in the UK. Both illegal fox hunting and so-called ‘gamebird’ shooting temporarily pause their war on wildlife, but of course that doesn’t mean that behind the scenes preparations aren’t being made for its resumption. Hunts will soon be getting ready to go out ‘cubbing’ – tormenting young foxes and training their hounds to get ready for another eight months of ‘accidentally’ ripping adult foxes apart. Now is perhaps a good time to remind the public that Johnson has been and always will be a supporter of foxhunting. That the people who flout the law enjoy it in ways that most of us find distinctly odd. And that the war on wildlife may look as if it’s gone away, but that it’s merely being repressed for a while instead.
It’s also important to remember that there is organised resistance to fox hunting. While hunts will be gearing up so will the fabulous Hunt Saboteurs. You can find out more about how to support – or perhaps even join – the Sabs on their website: https://www.huntsabs.org.uk/