Archive for October, 2012

Brian May thinks badgers. I think cows. Who is going to speak up for cows and for those who lovingly breed them, raise them, care for them and then have to kill them because the nasty, unhygienic badgers have made them ill?

Cows are useful too. They mow all that grass, for free. They make milk and other, little cows that grow into meat, including that delicious veal.  They stand in meadows flicking their tails and making the English countryside the best in the world, like so many other features of life in England, milk, wine and the education system among them.

Who is Brian May to condemn them to death? Let’s ask the crowd, the plebs, one might say these days. Thumbs up or thumbs down for the cows? The plebs will know for sure; their moral compass is unfailing. They have watched all those lovely David Attenborough films of cuddly baby animals playing and displaying while, safely removed behind the TV screen, mummy bear or daddy leopard rips apart a living salmon or beautiful doe-eyed antelope, without waiting for an official certificate of humane killing.

When the Flood subsided, God told Noah that all beasts of the earth, birds of the air and fishes of the sea, “into your hand are they delivered.” In other words, as is obviously the case, it is up to mankind to manage, husband and generally direct what happens on earth. Including the fate of badgers. They are, after all, only animals.

When I was a child, sixty years ago, there were many fewer badgers and much less TB in cattle. Coincidence?

Killing things is not in itself cruel. Badgers and deer have no natural predators in England. Their populations need to be managed, for their own good. It is just so English to work up a furious lather over animals. Pure sentimentality, in fact: something that only a largely urban nation, that does its hunting and gathering in supermarkets and shopping malls can afford to indulge in.

Aren’t they cute? So cuddly. Just like us. Just like us, they frolic and play when they are young and kill each other when they grow up, although I have not heard that they indulge in grooming young girls and interfering with them à la Savile. But then of course in England we are not too bothered about what happens to children, or old people, come to that: where they die, whether they die alone in retirement homes, far from their families. They are not half as cute as animals. If only Brian May would turn his weepy sympathies to human children…

Does he know that when you find a little lamb with a broken back and no stomach, it is most likely the work of a badger? Badgers, like bears who get a taste for an easy meal of lamb or cow, go for the soft parts. Badgers of course cannot kill cows this way, but bears do; they go for the udders. And what about wolves… I have just spoken with Greek shepherd friends starting their autumn transhumant journey with their flocks. They have to contend with both bears and wolves. Would Brian May be campaigning against men like them who defend themselves and their animals with guns? Wolf and bear cubs are awfully cute.

You would think, wouldn’t you, that given that there is a problem with TB in cattle and that badgers are clearly involved and that there is not any other effective solution in the offing, trying a cull might be a sensible first move. Suppose it worked? That would rattle the superannuated pop singers who have suddenly discovered the infallibility of science.

And as for Ayatollah Steven Grant, CEO of the RSPCA, and his outrageous fatwa against farmers taking part in the badger cull…if you were to substitute for farmers, Muslim shopkeepers refusing to display I-love-Rushdie posters, he would find himself in court for inciting hate crime!

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