Afternoon of a Faun

Ehrenreich and von Hoffman

Afternoon of a Faun

Ehrenreich and von Hoffman

Afternoon of a Faun
An email conversation about the news of the day.
Oct. 28 1998 6:41 PM

Ehrenreich and von Hoffman

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I used to be a strict gun controller. Ban them all, every kind of firearm, and string anyone caught with one up by the ears. That was me. Guns were fascistic, owned by people who sport what they used to call white wall hair cuts and scratch their crotches in mixed company. No more, however. Now I'm ready to join the National Rifle Association.

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I go all the way on this. I don't want any restrictions on semi-automatics. Indeed, I'd put a machine gun in the hands of anyone who's got the guts to defend home and hometown. And please, no guff about hunters don't use machine guns. I know they don't, but they should. Single shot rifles don't begin to have the fire power necessary to keep the enemy at bay.

I am carrying on like this because the all too short hunting season is nigh, bringing with it the only chance we have throughout the year to get in our licks in the struggle to maintain ourselves against the ever swelling deer population. Kill Bambi.

I quote with the highest possible approbation the nearly immortal words of John McPhee who has so wisely written of the white-tailed members of the mammal genus Cervidae that, "In my opinion they are rats with antlers, roaches with split hooves, denizens of the dark primeval suburbs...I once saw a buck with a big eight-point rocking-chair rack looking magnificent as he stood between two tractor-trailers in the Frito-Lay parking lot in New Brunswick, New Jersey."

Hundreds of thousands of deer, too lazy to live in the wilderness, which is also clogging up with the beast, have in effect gone on welfare by taking up residence in the suburbs, small towns, and cities. In his must-read book, Heart and Blood: Living with Deer in America, Richard Nelson reports that, where one hundred years ago there were not 1,500 of these dangerous herbivores in all of the great state of Pennsylvania, there are now more than that number despoiling vegetable plots and ornamental gardens inside of Philadelphia alone. I have friends in Westchester County, New York, who put cast iron fences around their rose bushes. It makes a stately exurban home look like an adjunct to the county jail.

No part of the country is safe. No way of living confers protection. If you live in an apartment and you hate all things which grow green, you still aren't out of danger. In 1961 in the state of Wisconsin, where there are now more than a million and a half of the beasts, they caused a mere 400 traffic accidents. Thirty years later, according to Mr. Nelson, upwards of 50,000 threw themselves against the hoods and fenders of innocent automobiles. I need not dilate on what that does to insurance rates.

Make no mistake about it, we are losing the fight. All this sensitivity and mollycoddlism has resulted in discouraging our young 'uns from taking up hunting. Too fat and too soft, they have been brain washed into a kind of American version of Hinduism. You know, sacred cows and all that tosh.

If we're not willing to do our own fighting, then let's get somebody else to do it for us. Bring in the bears, the mountain lions, the coyotes, the hyenas, or wolves. We've got to stop the antlered people. Now, I'm off for a haunch of venison, chestnut dressing, and a goblet or two of ruby claret.

 

Barbara Ehrenreich is contributing editor at theProgressiveand author of several books, including Blood Rites. Nicholas von Hoffman is a columnist at theNew York Observer. His books include We Are the People Our Parents Warned Us Against.