CBC story on trapping isn’t the news – the Facebook comments are

Written by Michael Howie – Director of Digital Content and Special Projects, host of Defender Radio

It breaks my heart.

I get sent videos, photos, and various other links to media every day – that’s my job. I look at it all, take it in and decide how (or if) to examine it and write about it. A friend from Nova Scotia sent me the link to a lengthy feature video shot and shared by The CBC National on Facebook.

The video profiles a family in a northern community for whom trapping is a way of life – including their children. I think the purpose of sharing this was more out of shock that no warning was given prior to the clip being aired – graphic images of dead animals in traps and fur-bearers being skinned was shown.

After watching it, I started to read the Facebook comments: nearly 1,000 at the time of this writing. And after reading them, I felt that what they showed by far outweighed the CBC video itself.

“Educate yourself” seemed to be a common phrase – from every side of the argument. Individuals who dislike trapping but support the ideals that the family are teaching their children (self-reliance and ‘survival’ skills). People who think anyone opposing trapping must be a hypocrite. The old argument between hunters and vegans is repeated often, as well.

What struck me was the anger and hatred in these comments. It isn’t an intellectual argument (because as soon as you add ‘son of a bitch’ to a statement about mesopredatory behaviours, it isn’t scientific anymore). It isn’t even a strictly emotional argument (because when you try to argue emotion with fact, you create a paradox). It’s just… anger.

Anger from both sides. Those who believe that trapping and hunting is a way of life that should be continued feel threatened by those who believe that trapping is cruel. Those who believe trapping should end feel extreme empathy for the millions of animals being killed. And nothing is changing.

And that is what breaks my heart about this story. That a family from a northern community is trapping is saddening to me: every time an animal, regardless of species, dies needlessly, I feel sadness to some degree. But that so much anger and hate has grown out of a simple, misguided, feature story about a single family devastates me.

I will be writing a blog for The Association later today about the CBC National feature – what’s wrong with it, why it is misguided and why it should not have aired as it did. But for now, I will walk my dogs and contemplate how we can ever break a cycle in this digital age that is fueled by hate.

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