MIDLAND, Texas––An alert for American voters and humane educators everywhere appeared on May 21, 2000 in the 61st through 64th paragraphs of a 76-paragraph New York Times feature on the childhood of Republican candidate for U.S. president George W. Bush––if anyone noticed.
“One of the local rituals for children,” reported Nicholas D. Kristof of life in Midland, Texas, when George W. was a boy, “were meetings with cookies and milk at the home of a nice old lady who represented the SPCA. The cookies were digested more thoroughly than the teachings.”
“We were terrible to animals,” recalled [Bush pal Terry] Throckmorton, laughing. A dip behind the Bush home turned into a small lake after a good rain, and thousands of frogs would come out. “Everybody would get BB guns and shoot them,” Throckmorton said. “Or we’d put firecrackers in the frogs and throw them and blow them up.”
Kristof made plain that “we” explicitly included George W. Bush, and that George W., the Safari Club International Governor of the Year in 1999 for his support of trophy hunting, was the leader among the boys who did it.
George W. Bush, 54, apparently learned hunting and alleged sportsmanship the National Rifle Association way, from his father, former U.S. President George H. Bush.
NRA vice president Kayne Robinson boasted at a members-only meeting in early 2000 that Bush, if elected, would be “a president where we work out of their office.”
That got some attention, along with the role of NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre in raising $250,000 at a recent Republican Party fundraiser honoring Bush, and the Bush record as Texas governor of signing bills allowing people to carry concealed handguns and take guns to church, and barring cities from suing gun-makers.
Yet no one, not even Representative Tom Lantos (D-California), raised with reference to Bush the character issue implicit in having recreationally shot and blown up frogs––or talked about the failure of humane education to dissuade Bush from cruelty which must have been known by his famous father, as the evidence would have been hard to conceal.
On May 25, however, Lantos and 20 other Representatives showed that they should have recognized the character issue by introducing House Concurrent Resolution 338. The resolution, according to Lantos’ press release, urges “greater attention to identifying and treating individuals who are guilty of violence against animals because of the link between abuse of animals and violence against humans.” In addition, it urges federal agencies to further investigate the link between cruelty toward animals and violence against humans.
Offered Lantos, “It is common-sense knowledge that any individual who harms animals cruelly and deliberately is not otherwise well-adjusted. A man who abuses the family dog or cat may turn that violence on his spouse or children. Those children involved in school shootings weren’t just ‘having fun’ or just being boys’––they were engaged in torturing and hurting animals. As a society, we cannot overlook the fact that a person who hurts animals is committing an act of violence and may eventually turn on human beings.”
But the only people George W. Bush is known to have had a part in killing were the 135 convicts whose executions he has authorized during his five-and-a-half years as Texas governor. Bush mocked the executed killer Karla Fae Tucker s plea for her life in a falsetto, and reportedly giggled when asked by a journalist how he could send the executed Gary Graham to die, when Graham s court-appointed attorney was judicially admonished for sleeping through much of his trial.
If accused serial killer Robert Yates, 48, of Spokane, Washington, had been caught and convicted in Texas, he might have been among those whose killing by lethal injection Bush approved.
If Bush and Yates had been closer in age and geography, they might have been friends, sharing their love of church, baseball, and especially using their guns to kill small animals.
Instead Yates grew up in Oak Harbor, Washington. An April 26 investigative report on Yates youth by Jessie Stensland of the Whidbey News-Times and South Whidbey Record buried mention of Yates hunting in the 17th paragraph of 21.
Like George W. Bush, Yates evidently graduated to trophy hunting. But instead of blasting exotic species on Texas hunting ranches, he allegedly hunted young suspected prostitutes. He allegedly terrorized them, robbed them, and shot at least 18 of them them at close range with a handgun.
Yates shares his background as a teenaged hunter not only with George W. Bush but also with at least 42 other adults and 35 teens who have been charged with murder in recent years, whose hunting backgrounds have surfaced albeit often just barely in news coverage of their alleged crimes.
The Whidbey News-Times and South Whidbey Record did not publish a letter by ANIMALS 24-7 editor Merritt Clifton citing the statistics; discussing the traits that studies have found are often shared by hunters, serial killers, and child abusers; and noting that early involvement in legal sport hunting––not just illegal animal torture––also was in the reported backgrounds of convicted school massacre perpetrators Luke Woodham, Andrew Golden, Mitchell Johnson, Kip Kinkel, Michael Carneal, Barry Loukatis, and Evan Ramsey.
Press, public, and politicians who are just barely beginning to recognize the link between illegal violence against animals and violence against humans remain far from understanding the distinction between the inhibition about getting caught that discourages illegality, and the inhibition about causing suffering that George W. Bush s humane education teacher tried unsuccessfully to encourage.
(From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2000.)