Friday, April 1, 2011

Gospel truth: the ethics of sport fishing

Having recently seen a post in my Twitter feed concerning the ethics of fishing for sport, I felt compelled to address it here. It's mostly self-serving for both posterity and clearing my own conscience. But hell, it's my blog. I'll do with it what I like.

Since it is not possible to say it better than David James Duncan does in an interview with David Thomas Sumner from Weber State University, I'm just going to paste it here. Do with it what you will. Meanwhile, I'll be back on the water at the end of  the month.

[DTS] I have a lot of friends, eco-friends, who are good people but who give me a hard time about my fishing habit, telling me I am just torturing the fish. But I argue that there is a certain ethic found through that habit. How do you see it?

[DJD] I wouldn't call it an ethic; I would call it a spiritual truth. It's sacrifice that feeds all of us. Fifty-five pounds of toxic waste generated by the construction of a television set. Something slightly lower, but near that, to build a nice computer monitor. You drive up to the PETA [People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals] meeting and the grill of your car is covered with dead insects. You become a Jain where you only walk outside during the daylight so you don't crush insects, but you start to get sick and you've gotta take antibiotics and there is a holocaust that goes on inside you. You're killing these innocent organisms. I mean, there is no way to define anything as large and clumsy as a human being that doesn't involve an animal that is eating other animals the same as the rest of nature. We practice a beautiful traditional craft where you and I stand on land, and fifty feet away this creature from another realm is very quietly taking part in the food chain and through a work of deceit—a kind of low-level fiction—and through some incredible technology, we insinuate ourselves into that food chain, and we betray the sincerity of that creature. But in its struggle for life we feel its life in our hands. And that is important. Because we do hold other lives in our hands. Fly-fishing, in this sense, is an avenue to understanding gospel truth.

Amen, brother. Amen.

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