As the Los Angeles Times wrote with approval last summer, Californians who enjoy decimating flocks of doves "simply park the pickup or SUV next to a field, unfold a chair, pop the ice chest and let it rip." Then there's baiting bears and shooting them at close range, frequently in the back, a custom that the citizens of Maine recently voted to preserve. It is obvious that the real attraction of these "sports" is the thrill of the kill, and the more honest devotees come right out and say so. ("An excitement just rushes through your body," a high school homecoming queen in Louisiana told a reporter last year, "when you see a squirrel and you say, 'I've got to shoot it.'") If one adds the many fans of circuses, rodeos, cockfights, dogfights, and other American spectacles in which animals are tormented or killed, the total would probably fill Spain itself. Judging from the T-shirts and postcards sold at highway rest stops, some of us are even tickled by the sight of wildlife hit by cars. (For a while there, Kraft was selling "road kill" candy animals, complete with tread marks.) Anyone who thinks this is all just redneck culture should look around the bleachers the next time Ringling Brothers drags its miserable menagerie into New York City.
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