How did the Beatles know?
Hey, Bungalow Bill
What did you kill
He went out tiger hunting with his elephant and gun . . .
Pittsburgh, PA Post-Gazette, Tuesday, December 9, 2003: “For the second time in two years, Vice President Dick Cheney arrived at daybreak at Arnold Palmer Airport in Latrobe. Air traffic was halted briefly at about 7 a.m. as Air Force Two landed and Cheney's security detail loaded him and his favorite shotgun into a Humvee and drove up U.S. Route 30 to the exclusive country club.”
When Bungalow Dick stepped out of his shiny elephant, the birds must have shivered beneath the nets. A “get it done” kind of man was in town; one who wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger (many times) on their seditious kind.
In case of accidents he always took his mom.
He’s the all American bullet-headed Saxon mother’s son.
“Scott Wakefield, a dog handler at the club, said about 500 farm-raised pheasants were released from nets for the morning hunt. The 10-man hunting party that included Cheney shot 417 pheasants. Cheney shot more than 70 ringneck pheasants and an unknown number of mallard ducks. The birds were plucked and vacuum-packed in time for Cheney's afternoon flight to Washington, D.C.” – Post-Gazette
The kind of men who stacked the plains with rotting buffalo carcasses, obliterating the associated ecosystem and disemboweling a civilization’s economy have never left us. Modern adherents usually eschew the buffalo hide coat in favor of a business jacket and necktie, but the mentality’s the same: Kill as many as possible, as quickly as possible, and get the hell out of there.
One needn't kill to profane that which others consider sacred. A fairly recent development is the weekend television genre of good old boys dressed up like NASCAR drivers (Lennon & McCartney’s bullet-headed Saxons), who maintain a steady stream of product endorsements between their brief and impersonal interactions with their ostensible quarry, usually “bigmouth bass.” One’s heart has to go out to an otherwise noble creature as he or she is yanked without ceremony from the water, paraded briefly before the camera, and then thrown back into the drink as disdainfully as an empty Lone Star beer can. Cut to commercial.
Years ago I read Richard Nelson’s Make Prayers to the Raven, a remarkable account of Alaska’s Koyukon people, cousins to the Navajo and Apache. Nelson’s book goes beyond ethnography in relating the Koyukons’ deep-abiding respect for those with whom they have successfully shared habitat for millennia. Illustrative of this level of reverence is the Koyukons’ spiritual avoidance (the term “taboo” is often condescendingly applied by westerners) of introducing mechanized technology, even their sounds, into areas where animals are being prepared for consumption or storage.
Contrast this kind of respect and ecological sustainability with the explosion of internal combustion machines one now sees –and hears – in formerly peaceful places. I’ve had my share of painstaking belly stalks ruined by overweight yahoos belching up proudly on their "off road vehicles." How can these characters not see how their actions destroy the indispensable sanctuary wild areas offer us? By rationalizing that "if it's good enough for the vice president, it's good enough for me?"
As the descendant of a hunting and fishing family – and who among us are not? – who still practices what many of us consider spiritual activities, I have the responsibility to condemn such institutionalized profanity. Mechanized decoys, night vision scopes, field radios, electronic fish finders, “canned” hunts – they’re all for sale in a culture that values results and profit at the expense of process and the future. I don't use them and I don't think other hunters or fishers should, either.
Whatever the facts behind “Bungalow Dick plugs Harry,” the vice president has turned his gun on himself to become the poster boy for slob sportsmen. Cheney's warped sense of how a man expresses himself is consistent with someone out of balance with his world. Sadly yet predictably the discussion surrounding his tarnished friendship with Mr. Whittington has occupied the level of trivia, rather than a serious inspection of how we as a civilization relate to the natural world we are blessed, for a short while, to inhabit.
"LLC” or “limited liability company,” a status which shields corporate shareholders from legal action, has seen its scope vastly expanded in the case of Mr. Cheney.
The Pencil Warrior, Dave Wheelock, is a member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin who lives in Socorro, New Mexico. Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.