Death of the Emperor
27th October 2010
There has been a lot of news coverage over the shooting of the red deer stag known as the Emperor of Exmoor. I have been to Exmoor many times and have seen the hunters out with their guns and, I admit, they represent one aspect of humanity that I am none too impressed with (aside from anything else, they just look ridiculous). But I am curious over the outrage at this shooting which, incidentally, is perfectly legal. The anger is a moral one, and so I am wondering what the moral arguments are here. One newspaper argued that it is wrong because the Emperor is ‘wild and beautiful’, but is this a good reason to not shoot it? Lots of things are ‘wild’, and should we really base our preferences on whether we find something beautiful or not? There is certainly no shortage of red deer roaming around Exmoor. Perhaps the standard utilitarian response works here: the pleasure of seeing this animal roaming around alive (not to mention the pleasure of the Emperor itself?) is much greater than that priovided by its antlers danging from the wall of someone’s stately home?