In this, the year 2004, most Americas consider themselves fortunate to be able to buy food at supermarkets and restaurants rather than have to forage vegetables and hunt game. Many take advantage of the food options afforded by our global economy to make diet choices based on ethical and medical factors instead of sheer desperation. Our culinary quality of life is high indeed. Why is it, then, that so many of the wealthiest individuals like to make a sport of subsistence living?

The Core Team promotes watching birds as opposed to killing them, but we can’t dismiss hunting entirely. After all, many families rely on wild game to get by. Multi-millionaires do NOT fall into this category. Killing animals for sport is a fairly cruel way to get one’s kicks. It’s certainly not a spiritual exercise, which is why I was surprised to read that Madonna hosts shooting parties on her English country estate (thanks for the story, Bruce!) As one might expect with the Material Girl, money does play a role; the San Francisco Chronicle states that she and husband Guy Ritchie earn a reported $900,000 a year from the shoots. But Madonna has also admitted that she enjoys the shooting. This is difficult to reconcile with her public embrace of mystical Jewish teachings. Ian Broadmore, who runs the Kabbalah School at East Sussex, England, is quoted as saying, “Three hundred years ago, it was quite acceptable for people to go out to shoot and hunt for food but there is a world of difference between that and people shooting birds for fun.” Furthermore, PETA is outraged.

Madonna may be a hypocrite, but a bunch of Hollywood types getting together to make deals while shooting birds isn’t the worst thing in the world. Worse would be collusion of the United States executive and judicial branches to protect energy industry interests while shooting birds. How else could one characterize the recent duck hunting trip shared by Vice President Dick Cheney and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and hosted by Wallace Carline, the head of energy services company, Diamond Services?

Most people know that Cheney has been stubbornly, not to mention illegally, hiding the details of his Energy Task Force for years, despite a federal appeals court ruling that he must reveal who participated in formulating U.S. energy policy. The Supreme Court recently agreed to hear Cheney’s appeal. Then Scalia and Cheney went to hunt ducks together. Does any part of that strike you as, say, a conflict-of-interest? Yet, Scalia refuses to recuse himself from the case.

Senators Patrick Leahy and Joe Lieberman wrote Chief Justice William Rehnquist, stating, “When a sitting judge, poised to hear a case involving a particular litigant, goes on vacation with that litigant, reasonable people will question whether that judge can be a fair and impartial adjudicator of that man’s case or his opponent’s claims.” I agree, and would like to add, “What about those ducks?”

Written by Mike
Mike is a leading authority in the field of standardized test preparation, but he's also a traveler who fully expects to see every bird in the world. Besides founding 10,000 Birds in 2003, Mike has also created a number of other entertaining but now extirpated nature blog resources, particularly the Nature Blog Network and I and the Bird.