Hi to everyone on the Happy Cow Forum. I'm posting from Ireland about a wonderful book I've read...it's called Bad Hare Days, and it's the memoir of an animal rights activist...though it reads more like a thriller! I thought so anyway.
Ever had to suffer for a cause you passionately believed in? For going out on a limb because you felt so strongly about something you reckoned it was worth all the hassle?
Many people have, over the centuries, for a multitude of causes and beliefs, and their fate ranged from social isolation and physical punishment to wrongful imprisonment or death.
The author of Bad Hare Days certainly got his share of hard knocks for his trouble. John Fitzgerald joined Ireland's Ban Hare Coursing campaign after witnessing scenes of cruelty in a field as a teenager.
Men were out netting hares (jack rabbits to Americans) for use in a live baiting session known as a coursing event. Hare coursing is a legal "sport" in Ireland and involves setting hyped-up greyhounds after timid hares in large wired enclosures. There is much cheering and applauding and gambling as the dogs chase the hares, many of which are caught and mauled to death.
One of the men in the field picked an injured hare of the net, and seeing it was unfit for coursing proceeded to batter it against the wall of a church ruin.
This incident affected John Fitzgerald deeply and he took up the cause of the persecuted Irish Hare with enthusiasm.
He quickly discovered that the hare coursing fraternity in Ireland was a powerful force to be reckoned with….and that tackling these people in a district where their "sport" was entrenched and deemed a proud tradition was inviting serious trouble.
When he got a job in a Farmer's Co-Operative hardware store, coursing fans strode into the building in broad daylight and viciously assaulted him. Further workplace bullying followed.
Then all hell broke loose in the locality when the British-based "Animal Liberation Front" exported its direction action methods to Ireland in the mid-1980s. There were frequent attacks on coursing club venues around Ireland. Hares captured for baiting were released by masked nocturnal raiders.
John Fitzgerald and many of fellow campaigners, though committed to a peaceful, non-violent campaign against hare coursing, were targeted by police and the author found himself in a police interrogation room almost every time the militants struck.
In the book he recounts the impact of the anti-coursing campaign on himself, his family, and on the lives of other campaigners. He also makes what I think is a convincing case for outlawing cruel animal baiting practises, especially hare coursing which, despite all the protesting and political lobbying, remains legal in Ireland.
Bad Hare Days is an absolutely superb read. The author, a freelance journalist, offers a fascinating insight into what can happen when you begin to "rock the establishment boat"; or when you take a stand on a highly emotive issue.
The book is highly readable, and is alternately shocking, profound, disturbing, and very, very funny.
If you read nothing else this month, read Bad Hare Days. You won't be sorry! It's published by Olympia Publishers of London. You might let me know what you think..anyone who gets around to reading it?