Letter: Concepts of cruelty,class... and cookery

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The Independent Online
From Mr Colin Booth

Sir: It is most unfortunate that our society cannot discuss matters of humane behaviour and social mores without becoming dragged into the mire of party politics, where few subjects are dealt with in a balanced manner.

My wife and I have only lived in the country for seven years. This is not thought remotely long enough for an incomer to qualify to comment on traditional village affairs. When the hunt meets on the top of our hill, I feel mildly repelled by most of those who attend - riders, followers, spectators, saboteurs, and police. However, even if I felt more strongly, I would agree with Polly Toynbee that it would be hypocrisy for a meat- eater to seek to ban fox-hunting on the grounds of cruelty.

There is, nevertheless, an important dichotomy in our law that should be addressed - the traditional working-class sports of badger-baiting and cock-fighting are illegal on grounds of cruelty. Either these activities should be immediately legalised, or fox-hunting (and arguably other forms of hunting too) should be banned. Only after one of these alternatives has been implemented can a "level playing-field" be established, and the issue of bloodsports be debated on its merits, rather than on the basis of class prejudice.

Yours sincerely,

Colin Booth



1 November