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Anti-Hunting Activists Shouldn't Ban Your Saturday At A Hunting Show

01/18/2016 12:31 EST | Updated 01/18/2017 05:12 EST
WLDavies via Getty Images
Close up of male lions on the prowl through high grass - Masai Mara, Kenya

Is the world a better place because activists have worked to pressure hotels and banquet halls to cancel the leases of African Events Canada in Toronto and Saskatoon, simply because they object to what the vendors do, lawfully? The venues have lost money and untold damage has been done to the vendors who have travelled from Africa to be here to promote their businesses.

To paint all hunters as poachers is both unfair and untrue. To invoke the shameful killing of Cecil the lion as a justification for wiping out legal hunting operations confuses what made the killing of Cecil so outrageous and wrong in the first place. Most hunters are conservationists who understand the role hunting plays in funding and promoting conservation. But none of this seems to matter.

While the Saskatoon show has been able to secure a second venue, with a manager who has an intact backbone and is prepared to defend the show's right to exist, the Toronto show was cancelled for a second time, less than 24 hours before opening. due to 'threats' from activists on the venue. It will move forward, in an undisclosed location. Making threats is hardly something a morally superior being would do.

Despite the fact that hunting is perfectly legal in Canada and in each of the countries represented at the African Hunting Shows, narrow-minded individuals who appear unable or unwilling to seek to change the opinions of those most likely to engage in lawful safari hunting, have instead sought to make it harder for those hunters to participate in a lawful activity.

Apparently Canadians aren't allowed to visit hunting shows anymore because overzealous individuals who don't like hunting, don't want you to go. In fact, activists would like you to know 'the noose is closing around the neck' of this sector.

This isn't about whether hunting is good or bad, and at this stage, it can't be. This is about whether Canada is prepared to allow sanctimonious activists to have the absolute right to tell everyone else how to live their lives, and run their businesses, issue by issue as they see fit.

While we can thank our lucky stars these folks don't get to make all of our decisions for us, whether you are a hunter or not, you should be extremely concerned when anyone can decide what you can and cannot do on your Saturday or Sunday, based on their opinion alone, without any consideration of your own.

Real activists respect the rights of their opponents to engage in whatever activity or opinion they disagree with. They use powerful arguments and compelling messages to shift opinion to their side and seek to create a climate where people adopt their views, not by force or by fear, but because they too fundamentally agree. I am all for that, whether we agree or not. Lobby a government, write a petition, try to change the law, or even the system; whatever. But do it right.

Economically bullying a third party, depriving them of lawful income and forcing people you disagree with out of a venue they have an absolute right to lease and peacefully assemble in is shameful and not something any democracy-loving Canadian should celebrate or accept.

Imagine if anti-capitalists shut down small business trade shows, or prevented area Chambers of Commerce from operating because business owners hurt their feelings on the economy?

The most important speech to protect is unpopular and controversial speech. Censoring and shaming your opponents, seeking to take their voice to protect your position goes against the core of every freedom those who seek to shut down their opponents rely on to protect their own actions.

There is plenty of room to debate and discuss animal rights, the impacts of hunting and to show your opposition to activities that you oppose without seeking to economically destroy your opponents instead of winning the argument.

If anti-hunting activists wanted to take time out of their Saturday or Sunday, make some signs and some compelling flyers and stand on public property in front of the venues to express their views about hunting, that would be a reasonable way to wade into the lawful activities of others, without interfering the rights of those who don't share their views.

Instead, democracy-loving opponents of hunting who want that opportunity will now face more difficulty as legal hunters are being driven to meeting in secret, because of this growing trend away from civil discourse. Canada is too diverse to be run based on how some people feel about the morality of other people's lawful actions.

Tolerance can't be ad hoc. You either are tolerant or you aren't. And we all need to be if there can be civil discourse.

Economically destroying people you disagree with, isn't tolerant, democratic or anything to be proud of.

John Laforet isn't a hunter and has never fired a gun at anything. He hasn't even gone paintballing.