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MIKE BRAUN The right thing to do



Published: Fri, June 22, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



I've been filling this space for more than 16 years. Maybe it's time to clarify a few things some readers just don't seem to understand.

This jumble of words and thoughts that I put together and slap my smiling mug on each week is called a column. It's called that for one very specific reason: Because it's a collection of opinions, not a news report.

More often than not, I'll spout off about one thing or another dealing with the great outdoors.

One week I'll go on about boaters being careful and not drinking and driving, or I'll further an opinion about the need for more opportunities for hunters with disabilities, or I'll take issue with -- and here is why I'm writing this explanation -- those nitwits at PETA.

Oops, I did it again. In last week's column, I called the group a bunch of nitwits. Apparently, someone didn't much care for that description and wrote back to tell me as much.

Now, that's OK. If I have the opportunity to skewer my opponents, then they should have the right to call me on it.

However, the person who wrote could not believe I would write a "news" article (her emphasis) that was "opinionated and one-sided." Plus, she called me rude, inconsiderate AND sarcastic.

Excuse me, Ms., but this column is SUPPOSED to be opinionated and one-sided. Rude and inconsiderate? Maybe, when it comes to PETA and its all-encompassing goal of eradicating anything and everything connected with hunting, fishing, trapping, animal research and pets, I get a bit rude and inconsiderate.

I like to think, rather, that I am being introspective and thought-provoking.

There, that sounds better, huh?

Oh, am I being sarcastic again?

Too bad: Tough. Get real, Ms. If a group such as PETA is going to go on an all-out offensive to rid the world of hunting and hunters, expect the battlefield to get a bit rough.

I write a column on the great outdoors. That HAPPENS to include hunting, fishing and trapping -- among other pursuits. If you can't stand the heat, don't play with fire.

I believe very strongly that there is a right, not a privilege, to hunt, fish and trap. The privilege comes into it on the conservation side. We look out for animals specifically so they aren't hunted to extinction. Years ago, that was NOT a consideration. Years ago, hunters shot first, NEVER asked questions later.

Hunters, anglers, trappers and others related to them have done so much for the health and well-being of animals. What's PETA done, aside from mouthing off?

Are PETA members paying for licenses to provide funds for nongame species as well as game animals? Are PETA members going out and donating time and money as members of outdoors clubs do to help set aside game refuge areas?

Go ahead: It's fine if PETA wants to promote a vegetarian lifestyle. I have no problem with that. I LOVE veggies. Eat them ALL the time. Even broccoli. I even lost 35 pounds recently on a high-vegetable, low-carbohydrate diet. A vegetarian diet and lifestyle is a personal choice, NOT a government mandate or religious crusade -- though the way some act, the latter is nearly so.

Finally, I am accused by the writer of not understanding the difficulties of educating this generation about morality.

I have five children. And one grandchild. I know PLENTY about educating morality. I also know it is very difficult to do so in this day and age.

I will continue to promote hunting, fishing, trapping and other outdoors pursuits for as long as I am able. I believe it is the right thing to do and the moral thing to do.

I also believe there is room for many opinions.

I just wonder, does PETA feel the same way?

braun@vindy.com




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