What the British Parliament did last Friday was something a democratically elected legislature of a free society should never do: They forced into law, over the objections of the other house, a bill outlawing a previously legal activity that’s the centerpiece of a culture just because they didn’t like it. Yes, after almost a decade of votes on various bills to ban hunting with hounds, the Labour lunatics in Britain’s House of Commons overcame the House of Lord’s objections with the seldom-used Parliament Act.
It’s the equivalent of conservative Republicans in our House of Representatives using some arcane emergency procedure to push a law making abortion illegal past the Senate and the President. Of course, that couldn’t happen here. But a group of desperate Labour M.P.s, driven by class-warfare revenge, has sparked a potential constitutional crisis, with foxhunting in the middle.
The legal challenges foxhunters have already launched could take years before the courts reach a decision. Until then, men and women who’ve spent their whole lives following hounds may have to become criminals. Until then, thousands of huntsmen, whips, kennelmen, terriermen and people who work in foxhunt stables could be out of work. Until then, thousands more who run or work in feed, tack and clothing stores, plus hundreds more in stables that rent out horses for a day’s hunting, could lose their businesses or jobs.
The ban’s effect will be wider than foxhunting. Britain’s steeplechase racing, especially the incredibly popular point-to-pointing (run almost completely by and for the hunts) will feel the most immediate consequences. But almost all the country’s best event riders–and many horses–learned to go across country in the hunting field. Plus U.S. land conservationists have long admired England’s ability to preserve their island country’s open spaces. Well, suburbia is already starting to consume their countryside, and without foxhunting landowners (both horsemen and farmers) will have less incentive than ever to not turn their precious meadows, fells, grain fields and rich pastures into McMansions, condos or shopping centers.
And this is all because some people in London or Manchester, who wouldn’t know a fox from a badger or a hare if it ran in front of them, have wrestled enough power to try to tell the rest of their country how to live.
Next, Britain’s foxhunters are anticipating massive civil disobedience, beginning with planning the season’s biggest hunting day on Feb. 17, the day after the ban becomes law. They’re hoping that at least 50,000 people will ride to meets all over the country that day to demonstrate to the rest of England how stupidly unenforceable the law is. The police simply won’t be able to arrest all those people and confiscate their horses, hounds and tack, as the law provides. And that governmental embarrassment will be almost perfectly timed just before the next general election.
Nor is this lunacy something we can just ignore. In some form or another, it’s going to come here, probably on a state-by-state basis, as has already been tried by animal-rights activists in California. So we need to support the Countryside Alliance in any way we can, and the easiest way is to send them money by going directly to their website (www.countryside-alliance.org) or by linking to it from the Masters of Foxhounds website (www.mfha.com).
Oh, and if you doubt that this law is driven by a centuries-old class warfare, not by concern for fox welfare, remember that not one single fox will be saved because horsemen can’t hunt foxes with hounds. The farmers can still legally shoot, trap and poison them to protect their chickens and lambs.