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Psst, Wanna Kill a Scimitar-Horned Oryx?

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There are many things I don't understand. Star Wars Lego fetishism. Justin Bieber perfume. Dancing squid lunches in Japan. Quantum entanglement. Utah.


By extension, there exist innumerable subcultures and little eccentric freakshow cultworlds scattered about the American landscape around which my mind simply cannot gain traction, about which my emotional wiring and better reasoning slam into a wall of OMG WTF as my heart slips into a dark pit of you've got to be effing kidding me.


For example. Behold this fine piece of spam email I just received, sent by something called Safari Club International. Instantly did my expert journalistic eye deduce, from its alarmist wording, macho "weathered" fonts and multiple exclamation points, that the group deals in those charming, "exclusive" Texas hunting clubs for rich white hunters and the high-powered rifles who love them.


How I got on their mailing list, I may never know. Isn't life grand?


Have you heard of these places? Giant ranches where giant men pay giant fees to be driven in luxury SUVs out onto huge swaths of privately owned property in order to shoot carefully bred and relatively tame exotic and/or endangered creatures who never had a chance in the first place? And then they kneel down next to them and grin like caveman as they pose for revolting photos atop a very, very dead bison, or leopard, or gazelle -- a creature who was, minutes prior, pretty much just standing there waiting to be shot because, well, it's a goddamn game preserve, after all. What are they going to do, run?


Am I revealing a certain bias here? A general attitude toward what I freely deem is a heartless and gut-wrenching pseudo sport? I might be OK with that. Also, I might be completely wrong. But more on that in a moment.


"Alert to Everyone Interested in Protecting the Outdoors Who Own Herds of Scimitar-Horned Oryx, Dama Gazelle, Addax!"


...yelled the strange and grammatically strained email, in perhaps one of the most narrowly framed openings I've ever read, as I thought, "Really? How many of these people are there? How many Americans can claim herds of scimitar-horned oryx as their very own? Five? Fifty? Enough to justify an entire email alert aimed solely at them (and, for some reason, me), which is both bizarre and disorienting and a little bit creepy?" Apparently.


The email goes on to say something about how the Fish & Wildlife Department is changing the rules about the "take" of these animals, which I later learned meant the feds will soon require permits to kill said exotics (there is currently no limit), and thus will likely lower the overall number of creatures hunters are allowed to gun down for trophies and furniture and the aforementioned gut-wrenching Facebook photos that make your heart spit out its coffee in disgust.


It's all of a very familiar tone, angle, attitude. Much like the Tea Party, like religious fundamentalists, like various militias -- but also, of course, like hardcore lefty enviro groups, too -- the only reason any of these clubs ever sends out such "alerts" is when the government (or the gays, or women, or science) is trying to restrict some sort of "liberty" or take away some right they have to kill whatever they want with whatever firearm they like because, well, mankind rules and nature drools. Or rather, bleeds. Sighs. Sits patiently nearby for the imminent end of the world. Something like that.


But wait. Not so fast, self-righteous liberal columnist. Here is where I admit my own wild hypocrisy, my own complicit nature....

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Mark Morford is the author of The Daring Spectacle: Adventures in Deviant Journalism, a mega-collection of his finest columns for the San Francisco Chronicle and SFGate. He recently suggested that you please live in sin forevermore, that you also please help protect the conjugal sex fruit, and that you seem to enjoy always walking in circles. Join him on Facebook, or email him. Not to mention...