Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hunters a fringe group? Et tu, Brute?

Here I was this morning, minding my own business, trying to head out to the gym, when I suddenly became dizzy. The cause? More spin from the Humane Society.

The story in question is actually good news for hunters: Meijer Inc. - which has stores located in the hunter-rich states of Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio - has withdrawn its pledge to donate a dollar to the Humane Society for every entry into its online pet photo contest.

The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance last week protested the store's support of the anti-hunting organization, hunters everywhere raised Cain and it worked. Congratulations, hunters! You won a battle. Feels good, doesn't it?

But here's the stuff in The Grand Rapids Press story that demands a response:

Without directly criticizing Meijer, (HSUS Executive Vice President Michael) Markarian suggested the retailer may have made a mistake by siding with what he called an industry trade group.

"We feel any business would want to be on the side of protecting pets and a group that has more than 10 million members rather than on the side of a fringe group," Markarian said.

Sure, I would say the 10 million members claimed by the Humane Society beats 35,000 claimed by the Sportsmen's Alliance. But 1) it was a broad backlash, not just a U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance press release, that got Meijer's attention, and 2) the implication that hunters are a fringe group is plain nuts.

Markarian said "fringe group" specifically in reference to the Sportmen's Alliance (which has someone named Cabela on the board - hardly fringe). But make no mistake: HSUS is utterly committed to marginalizing hunters as a whole, because the smaller and more irrational we seem as a group, the easier it is to convince lawmakers and policymakers to chip away at our rights.

Let's review some facts in the culture war between those who oppose eating meat and those who not only eat meat, but would rather eat wild game than industrially farmed meat. And here, I use the term "meat" to refer to any animal flesh, because that's the issue.

  • 7.3 million: The number of adults in America who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. That's 3.2 percent of the population. Of these, 54 percent cite "animal welfare" as a reason why they don't eat meat. (Source: Vegetarian Times study)
  • 1 million: The number of adults in America who follow a vegan diet, consuming no animal products at all. That's 0.5 percent. (Source: Vegetarian Times study)

Meat eaters who harvest their own

  • 29.9 million: The number of adults in America who hunt and/or fish. That's 13 percent of the population. (Source: U.S. Fish & Wildlife survey)
  • 8.4 million: The number of adults in America who hunt. That's 4 percent of the population. (Source: U.S. Fish & Wildlife survey)

Other meat eaters

  • 83.8 percent: The percentage of adult Americans who do eat meat, but get it from the grocery store or their own farm animals instead of from nature. (Source: Doing the math on the items listed above - not statistically pristine, because the numbers come from different sources, but a reasonable approximation.)
Reality is that the antis are far more of a fringe group than we are. The only question is how willing we are to exercise our clout as hunters have done in the past few days with Meijer.

Does this whole think make you feel like joining the Sportsmen's Alliance? Click here. It's only $25. If not USSA, join something - make your voice heard. It's time to fight back against the propagandists.

© Holly A. Heyser 2008


SimplyOutdoors said...

Glad to hear that Meijer changed its mind. I had to go through 3 email addresses yesterday before I could find one that worked.

I knew then that they were getting bombarded. I would have to say that we are far from a fringe group, and I'm sure Meijer's email servers could prove that as fact!!!!

Kristine said...

It was nice to see that Meijer had changed their minds about the promotion.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, you have to give credit to the antis for their grasp of marketing and spin. They know the right words to say to get their message across.

I also like your analysis. That's the sort of message we need to be getting out to the apathetic hunting supporters.

Blessed said...

It is good to know that we've won a battle! I also agree - every hunter should belong to an organization - and this gives me an idea - I'll be thinking about it and I've got another post idea for next week...
Thanks Holly!

Othmar Vohringer said...

Great article, I am glad you keep pushing the numbers issue, because it makes me feel that I am not the only one doing it.

Hunters are a huge majority in numbers and in economic power. The problem, as outlined in the article and in the comment of Kristine, is that we’re a largely silent majority. The antis on the other hand, although a dwindling minority, appear to the public as majority because they are masters at promoting their cause. Antis are not afraid to get controversial or even ridiculous to get the publics attention and it works.

I have often said and keep saying it. Until hunters learn to organize and get public like the antis do we will loose that battle. It can be done.

Take as an example my home province British Columbia. Our government began this year with a huge advertising campaign, radio and TV infomercials about hunting and fishing. The advertising tells people how important hunting and fishing is for conservation, how much fun it is to be out in nature and something worthwhile.

People at large actually pick up on it and start talking more positive about hunting and view hunters in a different light. The only ones that do not like the commercials are, as expected, the antis. The bottom line is that while hunting gains more acceptances the antis start to lose face and even politicians began to publicly endorse hunters and bash animal rights.

It’s a good feeling as hunter to know that we have finally some officially recognized backup in the public rather than having to hide and explain our way of life to ignorant people.