John Jackson, head of the Countryside Alliance (the organisation for people who kill wildlife for fun), has a new inspiration in the form of the late American naturalist Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau, we are told, is an example “of good man using the only means available to him in the face of bad law.”

In the run up to today’s vote in the House of Lords, the Countryside Alliance are once again championing Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience as the way forward for the good man.

Probably unknown to the Countryside Alliance is the fact that their adopted hero’s definition of a good man wouldn’t have included killers of wildlife. “Every creature,” Thoreau wrote in The Maine Woods, “is better alive than dead”, he also wrote “life force should not suffer violence merely to satisfy the whims of fashion, the pocketbook of farmers, or the curiosity of a scientist.”

In Thoreau’s most famous book Walden he wrote, “No humane being, past the thoughtless age of boyhood, will wantonly murder any creature which holds its life by the same tenure that he does.” Little wonder that one leading authority on Thoreau said, after reading Jackson’s article, “John Jackson what a prat!”

Henry S. Salt did more than anyone to champion Thoreau’s views in England, even introducing Thoreau’s work to Gandhi. Salt wrote many essays on Thoreau and his Thoreau biography is still in print over 100 years since it was first published.

Henry Salt campaigned tirelessly against hunting with hounds and co-founded the Humanitarian League which later became the League Against Cruel Sports. Salt would have enjoyed the unintended humour of the Countryside Alliance championing Thoreau.

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