Monday, March 9, 2009

Shoot Yourself in the Foot Award No. 2

After a long hiatus, the Shoot Yourself in the Foot Award is back.

This time, the winner is... Oklahoma hunter safety instructor Kell Wolf.

Wait, make that former hunter safety instructor.

Wolf made news over the weekend after he kicked a 13-year-old boy and his grandpa out of his hunter safety course because Grandpa had voted for Barack Obama.

Wow, that's so smart. Let's make sure everyone who hunts votes only Republican. That will give us so much clout when our side loses. Our letters to the president can all read the same: I didn't vote for you, but you should listen to me when I say that you shouldn't sign X Y Z gun bills.

Also, people who don't hunt will be so much more inclined to listen to our side of the debate when we make it absolutely clear that disagreement will not be tolerated.

Folks, rhetorical rigidity just doesn't work.

Let me tell you a story. When I was getting ready to start hunting - taking my hunter safety class, buying my shotgun - I visited an old friend while I was on a trip to Washington D.C. I told him I was excited about my new venture. He told me he what I was about to do was sick and wrong.

"But Howard," I said, "you eat meat. How can you say hunting is wrong when animals die on your behalf all the time?"

He offered up all the rationalizations that people on that same shaky moral ground always do, and when I tried to argue back, he literally shut me down. Flat out refused to talk about it. He had his opinion, and he wasn't going to subject it to any sort of challenge whatsoever.

When I said good-bye to him that night, I knew it was the last time I'd speak with him. Not because he disagreed with me - I have plenty of friends who don't hunt and can't imagine hunting, ever - but because he wouldn't even talk about it. That's what happens when you draw a line in the sand.

This is why what Kell Wolf did was such a bad idea. The guy "took a stand," and in doing so not only shut down a potential ally, but made hunters look like our guiding principles are so weak that they can't withstand disagreement. Brilliant.

If there's a silver lining to the story, it's this: Within 30 minutes after learning about what Wolf did, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation told him his services were no longer needed.

But the damage has been done. There are more than 400 comments about this story on the Tulsa World's website, and Wolf is getting slammed.

Postscript: I've had a little more time to look over more of the comments, and I can tell you Wolf is getting some support too (and it really turns into a big pissing match between a few commenters). What a shame. But that's OK. Tune in again tomorrow for a heartwarming story that ends with a bunch of non-hunters supporting a hunter.

© Holly A. Heyser 2009


Albert A Rasch said...

It is a fine line between tolerance and intolerance. I had a impassioned discussion with two Obama supporters right before the elections. I presented my side with passion tempered by logic, and in the end they shook my hand, thanked me for my service to the Country, and thanked me for being reasonable and intelligent.(I must have been in rare form!)

The point is, that I came off, not as a belligerent right wing loon, but as a thoughtful and responsible American.

Rule #2 of Albert's "Three Rules of Construction":

Good manners, they don't cost you anything, but they pay huge dividends.

Albert A Rasch
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
The Rasch Reviews: Tactical
Proud Member of Outdoor Bloggers Summit
Southeast Regional OBS Coordinator

NorCal Cazadora said...

Amen, Albert!

SimplyOutdoors said...

Hmm. I mean I didn't vote for Obama either, but what this gentleman did was just plain wrong. I can't believe the intolerance this guy exercised. That is amazing!

I'm glad he was told his services were no longer needed.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

You really cover these issues in the nicest way.

The Hunter's Wife said...

There are a lot of people out there like that unfortunately.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Yup. And in truth, the polarized way of thinking you see in that debate - both in Wolf's actions and the response to the newspaper story - is really a reflection of what's happened to politics nationally. I'm not that old, but I remember a time of more civility.

Man, it sure would be nice to get away from that. It's just not productive.

Phillip said...


The end of civility.

With us or against us.

Black or white.

It makes me tired. And, sadly, I don't see it getting better.

Deer Passion said...

This is such a sad story. Some of the most heated discussions are over our elected officials. But even tho things get heated, it's the logic and the tempered control that can win almost every challenge. I'm glad the State of Oklahoma stepped up and reprimanded this instructor for his behavior. The last place to criticize personal political beliefs is in a classroom. I'd hate to think that someone wouldn't take a hunter's ed class for fear of being ostracized.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the division. It used to be that the strength of this country was that there were lots of different ideas and opinions. You could fight hard for your viewpoint and still be civil and neighborly.

Now it seems that everyone has to pick a side and you're either for us or against us. It's a dangerous mindset. If we can't have civilized disagreement, this country is in a lot of trouble.

The Downeast Duck Hunter said...

I'm floored, people need to understand that not all Republicans are gun enthusiasts or that all Democrats are gun banners. This action is part of the problem not the solution, however actions like this do create a dialogue amongst our friends and amongst others throughout our world.

Start buying more ammo, I know this is the first wave of regulation...


Josh said...

I hate to be the against-the-grainer here, but this kind of partisanship is as American as apple pie. I'm reminded of an old Southern Democrat joke about a Yankee reporter who journeyed to a Southern town. He met a man on the road, and when he learned he was a Democrat, asked him why. The man responded:
"Well, my daddy was a Democrat, and my daddy's daddy was a Democrat."
To which the reporter asked, "What if your daddy was a horse thief and your daddy's daddy was a horse thief?"

The man thought for a minute, and then said, slowly, "well, then I guess I'd be a Republican."

So long as reasonable Americans band together and keep up our ire as well as our reason, we can keep this country together. It's something about the cost of liberty... I'm just happy to have found such a reasonable, passionate group of folks here at your site, Holly. Keep up the good work!

gary said...

I'm sure it doesn't help that we look at our own congress and don't see any real individual thinkers. Bi-partisonship is very alive and well there and doesn't leave much of an example to their constituants.

NorCal Cazadora said...

I'm fine with spirited debate. I am absolutely NOT fine with people being denied government mandated services they paid for because they didn't vote for the "right" man for president. And I don't think you are, either. But that's the key issue here.

The larger point about all hunters being expected to vote the same way or being branded "traitors" - a word you'll see often in the comments on the news story - is a little different. That kind of argument is part of our tradition as a nation.

But strategically, it's moronic, and I'm really sick of watching the extremists in our ranks shoot all of us in the foot to make their point.

Beside: Manners and civility are ALSO a part of our nation's history. I know this from having covered the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere - the Virginia General Assembly. They have strict rules of civility in place because it reminds people of the gravity and importance of what they're doing. The civility isn't always heartfelt, but everyone respects it, and it keeps them on their best behavior - and has done so for 400 years now.

Wolf was not on his best behavior last week. He behaved like an ass, and no amount of rhetorical tradition can justify that.

NorCal Cazadora said...

(And the "you" in that comment was Josh, not Gary - there was a little lagtime in my response.)

Live to Hunt.... said...

Sigh.. I wonder if our founding fathers ever get tired of spinning in their graves. Whatever happened to civilized discord? I guess it is now translated as polarized partisian politics.

Native said...

I fully agree with the fact that we must have civility and harmony because the next word after those two, will be "Anarchy".

And another civil war will leave us absolutely nowhere but with dead loved ones!

I believe that the main component which we are dealing with these days is simple "Fear".
Anyone under the age of 50 does not remember in their lives of ever having to fear for things such as: Job Loss, Home Loss, Destruction Of our sacred Constitution.

We of this age group were taught that if we worked hard and saved and obeyed the laws of the land as well as God's laws, that we would be alright.
Well, we did all of that and more as is evidenced by the amount that we "Give".
Did you all know that statistically, we Americans are the "most" giving nation on this planet?
But yet and still other nations, some of which we gave to, still hate our guts and want to see us dead.

It is such a hard thing to, all of your life, always try and do the right thing, and then suddenly realize that someone snuck into your back door and took all of the things which you worked so hard to achieve and accomplish and then give you a swift kick, out and into the dirt.

This is what is happening to we Americans right now and it is a very fearful thing to wake up and realize that our very foundations which we thought were solid and true, are being usurped.

This fear is manifesting itself in the form of Drawing Lines In The Sand.
People are feeling backed into a corner and are beginning to try and fight their way out of that corner.

Having said all of that, I also am a firm believer that we need to get rid of this two party system and simply vote: AMERICAN!
Vote for prosperity, Freedom, and most of all for Posterity!
Because our little ones are the future and we must cherish, love them and leave this a better place for them when it is time for us to pass it on to them.

And just sit and watch those sweet little innocents playing with one another, there is no Physical Handicap , Race, Gender nor Political Barriers with them.
They simply just play and enjoy each others company.
We would do well to learn that sort of tolerance and practice it ourselves once in awhile.

Matt, from Citrus Heights, CA said...

After reading about this former hunter safety instructor, I threw up in my mouth a little bit. What a tool!

Anonymous said...

Wow--thoughtful, reasoned out comments, great Blog! I'm going to throw in more to think about--but don't take it as support to fast.

In case there is misunderstanding, the class is free and Kell volunteered his time for teaching. You can of course take that a step further and point out that the materials and the wildlife department are paid for by hunting licenses and fees.

I took the course from Kell about a month ago. I vaguely recall some concern over the new administration, but clearly remember he went over-and-above to do a good job teaching and emphasized the importance of the younger generation in the class. He brought some "show and tell" items for the class--compasses, maps, paper targets--and gave them to the kids to keep as he went. He asked that the kids sit up front for the class, and encouraged interaction. Kell started the class by going over his (extensive) qualifications to teach. He has thorough knowledge and experience with hunting, safety, and firearms. He had instructed professionally with military, law enforcement, has multiple accreditations, and is a gunsmith. He was a good instructor.

Kell is not a 40-something political activist, he is past retirement and was just teaching something he enjoyed. That said, from my limited experience in his class, I would say the story rings true. Perhaps he was too comfortable after doing the class so long. I suspect the culprit is age more than anything else. I don't know if it is age that makes someone care less what they say to other people, or if some "what is appropriate" filter goes first.

I think the Wildlife Agency did well to act fast and decisevly. I would not support Kell's attitude and action here, or anyone else acting the same way. I can't get past the feeling that everyone may be quick to judge him on just the reported story though.

I did not vote for Obama, but I would also have been compelled to leave the class starting under those circumstances. I think the worst behaved examples were those who didn't walk out in support of the 13-yr old and his grandfather. I am sure Kell was on a personal soap box for his 2nd amendment concerns, but he trivialized multiple constitutional rights of others.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Matt, wanna see a tool? Check out today's post, and make sure you click through to the video in the news story.

Anonymous: My bad - I assumed everyone has to pay for their hunter safety classes. I think my point remains the same, though, that government services should not be denied based on politics. but thanks for that correction.

But thanks for your up-close-and-personal insight. I don't doubt for a second that he knew his stuff, was good at teaching and cared about kids. Yours is a good reminder not to judge people in their entirety by one ill-advised act. I thank you for it!