The Melissa Bachman saga has slowed down, but there's an important lesson to be learned.
In case you missed it, accomplished hunter and TV personality Melissa Bachman was recently the target of an unprecedented attack by anti-hunting forces.
I won't detail the depth of the vile vitriol spewed toward her, but suffice it to say that the number of death threats she received numbered in the thousands per day until she ended up having to take down her Facebook and Twitter pages. Melissa and her family have no doubt suffered and continue to suffer a level of personal and professional anguish that few of us can imagine. Some even went to the ridiculous extent of petitioning the government of South Africa to bar her from ever entering that country again. And what exactly was Melissa's crime?
She had the nerve to post a picture on the Internet of herself proudly posing beside a gorgeous male lion she had just taken in South Africa, the culmination of a life-long dream of hers. The fact that she - and the many other hunters who do the same thing each year - did nothing wrong or illegal, and in fact contributed significant dollars to local wildlife conservation and enforcement efforts in the process, mattered not at all to the ill-informed who chose to crucify her.
The question is, why was Melissa singled out and targeted in this way? Was it just a random case of something catching the interest of the Net and going "viral?" Unlikely.
Is it simply another all-too-common case of "cyber bullying," whereby people who would not ordinarily have the courage or nerve to say something so shocking to someone's face are emboldened by a perceived sense of security and anonymity that typing on a keyboard can provide (make no mistake, there is nearly always a way to determine who posted something on the Internet!)? Perhaps, but I think it goes beyond that.
I think that Melissa not only stands for everything that groups such as PETA and others exist to destroy, but that they see her as a threat. Put simply, she is a woman. If a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal of a male hunter had posted such a photo (and many do), it would have largely gone ignored.
But because such groups often see and focus on women as being potentially the most sensitive and sympathetic toward their causes, and because Melissa is a role model for countless women who hunt or wish to hunt, and often encourages women and girls to get out and take up the pursuit, she has been the target of a highly-organized campaign to bring her down and silence her. I don't think they'll succeed, but I guess it's not surprising that they are trying.
What has been a bit surprising is a seeming lack of an organized response-in-kind from the hunting community as a whole in support of Melissa. Yes, some people have spoken up, and I'm sure many more individuals are afraid to do so for fear of also being caught in the maelstrom, but certainly some of our larger organizations have the scale, resources and backing to not be easily discouraged from a fight. They seem to have been disappointingly silent in defence of one of the hunting community's most engaging ambassadors.
This is a good time to be reminded of the saying, "United we stand, divided we fall."
Featured image via MelissaBachman.com