This is just a quick follow-up post, to update you on things since yesterday’s about Chris Packham’s mental health problems and Asperger’s syndrome being used to attack him by the hunting fraternity.
Packham was asked for his views on the matter by the Huffington Post and in typical fashion responded in a sober, mature way.
“It’s very disappointing to see such comments retweeted by an MP. People with Aspergers are not ‘nut jobs’ they are simply different.”
“And if associated depression qualifies them for such categorisation then I hope he manages to engage with some of the important messages from Mental Health Week.”
Meanwhile the origin of the story appears to be John Connor, the partner of the Nurse who runs the company Hunting Solutions. Connor realised he had hit paydirt for the pro-hunting anti-Packham campaign, as soon as Soames had retweeted the offending message. Here he is on Facebook:
Hunting Solutions is now been trolled by equally offensive vegans and animals rights activists. This is par for the course – I have also been trolled on twitter by vegan animal rights people.
Someone insightfully suggested yesterday that hunt supporters and vegan animal rights activists feed off their mutual hatred – in a mutual dance of death. It’s an unedifying sight and will not solve anything.
Hunting Solutions, far from recognising the offence they have given to a large proportion of the population, sought to defend their actions by claiming that because Packham called fox hunters psychopaths, he was, literally, “fair game” and called him a “nutter”.
This claim refers back to the interview Packham gave when the Countryside Alliance were attempting to have him sacked from the BBC on trumped up charges. What Packham actually said was (of Foxhunting)
“I don’t understand it, I suppose. That’s the bottom line. To me, it has to have a psychopathic element, if you’re taking pleasure from killing things, just for that pleasure. If you’re going to eat it, if you’re culling an animal that is otherwise damaging the environment because it’s too abundant, I have no problem with killing animals. But if you have no reason but pleasure, then that surely is psychopathic.”
Now whether you agree with him or not, it is a reasoned argument, and he’s not calling Foxhunters psychopaths, but calling Foxhunting psychopathic – there is a big difference. A difference that will fly high over the heads of people like Connor.
While the Countryside Alliance’s famously spiky Chief Exec Tim Bonner declined to get involved, their head of shooting Liam Stokes dropped a comment in to the twitter conversation yesterday.
The petitioners relates to Packhams support for Mark Avery’s “ban driven grouse shooting” petition, which has now gained 36,669 signatures – that’s about 5000 added since yesterday – mostly I would imagine thanks to their own attack on Packham.
Stokes also appears to think attacking Packham for his Aspergers and Depression is the “petitioners” fault for having dared to suggest that driven grouse shooting was wrong. If a shooter had shot Packham dead would Stokes have nodded and sagely pointed out that if he hadn’t supported the petition in the first place, he would still have been alive?
Some commentators, who I respect, suggest the answer is to find the common ground and work with local communities, regardless of what their impact on nature is.This is undoubtedly an important approach to adopt, and the impact of farming on nature is a good example where this approach can help. But I’m not at all convinced it can apply to something like driven Grouse Shooting, which has as much to do with the politics of land ownership and property rights, as it does to do with the custom and practice of rural communities.
Would the Suffragettes have successfully gained Votes for Women by seeking to find common ground with men who would do anything to prevent their gaining suffrage? Would the Slavery abolitionists have succeeded if they had agreed to sit down and agree a common-ground approach to abolition? Clearly not. Common-ground approaches have their place, of course, but not every issue can be resolved this way.