Like “Squirrel Slam,” an annual killing contest in Holley, New York, in which participants slaughter as many squirrels as they can for the chance to win guns and cash, “Gopher Fest” encourages the same kind of savage behavior among residents of Lima, Montana. Each is billed as a fundraiser — the former for the local fire department, the latter to support the upkeep of the local swimming pool. “Gopher Fest,” named after its target species, includes a gun raffle and barbecue.
In a column published yesterday in the Lake County Leader (Polson, Montana), Kylie Richter explains, callously, that “Gopher Fest” took place earlier this month on properties whose owners welcomed the massacre. Richter supports her claim that “hunting is a Montana culture” by pointing out that a “few years back, a reporter from Bozeman wrote an article about how terrible it was that people were shooting these rodents in mass quantities. Apparently, the next year, Gopherfest almost doubled in size.”
If that’s true — and let’s assume that it is — it’s because violent knuckle-draggers are predictably defiant in the face of rational scrutiny. They use the word “culture” because it allows them to play the victims and to cast their critics as antagonists. The real victims, of course, are, to their killers, nameless, faceless interlopers — “furry nuisances,” as Richter describes the gophers targeted in Lima and elsewhere.
The smug refusal of the Neanderthals among us to recognize their evil hypocrisy is an ugly and destructive posture. That they frame killing contests as fundraisers through which their communities are enhanced is obnoxious. Town officials in Holley have declined offers to help raise money through nonviolent means. That’s because they won’t be told that their “culture” is backward and vicious.
This year in Lima, according to Richter, more than 100 psychopaths showed up on June 6 to kill as many gophers as they could. Each paid a $10 entry fee. Those 100 lowlifes could just have easily donated to the community-pool fund without killing any animals. And it’s worth pointing out that the town could raise $1,000 for upkeep of the community pool by asking each member of the community, which numbered 226 in 2013, for an annual $4 contribution.
But that’s all beside the point, which is that killing contests are about killing, and not about making their host communities better places to live. Certainly not for the nonhuman residents who call those areas home.
Contact information for the Town of Lima’s mayor and councilmen can be found here.
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