Hook, Line and Thinker - Book Review
A review of Alexander Schwab's book
Anglers in North America may not worry much about the impact that the 'Animal
Rights' groups may have on angling here in North America, but if the truth be
known, organizations such as PETA seriously want to ban angling everywhere.
And they are making inroads and influencing people with their philosophy.
So, what exactly is the philosophy of these 'Animal Rights' groups? What is it that they actually believe? What motivates them?
Alexander Schwab has written an informative book that every hunter and angler should read. Even non-anglers and non-hunters, who don't quite know where to take a stand on these issues would benefit from Schwab's work as he examines the philosophies behind the two major animal rights movements in the world today. Schwab points out in his introduction that "If fishing is going to be banned, restricted or otherwise meddled with it will be on philosophical grounds." The author further points out that many anglers dismiss absurd anti-angling propaganda: "But what about non-anglers? If things come politically to a head it's the non-anglers who will carry the day."
While being sure to distinguish between 'animal rights' and 'animal welfare', Hook, Line and Thinker examines what exactly the implications are if 'animal rights' are granted. What does this mean for the sport of angling? What does it mean for other outdoor activities? Many in the 'animal rights' camp are not merely proposing animal welfare. The are proposing legal standing for animals which seem to even go beyond 'equal rights' with humans, to a degree where the rights of animals exceed those of human beings.
Schwab, who has a Masters degree in Philosophy from the University at Aberdeen, has obviously fully acquainted himself with the premises of the movers and shakers in the animal rights movements. Equipped with his training in philosophy, he exposes it for what it is, debunks their ideas, and shows what a world with these 'animal rights' could look like. And it's not exactly like Walt Disney's Bambi movie, either. But unfortunately, many who have bought into the animal rights religion probably haven't understood the premises from which their leaders preach.
One particular chapter of the book delves into the issues of 'pain' and 'cruelty' as applied to fish. How do we define pain? What is it exactly? An explanation of pain taken from the Napp Pharmaceuticals Limited website was mentioned in a footnote in the book. This website brings to our attention a very important aspect of pain - one that perhaps should be looked at further before ever discussing or trying to debate whether fish feel pain.
I found this book to be extremely informative. Prior to reading it, I didn't really understand the animal rights movement or what exactly their basic beliefs and premises were. Alexander Schwab has done a tremendous job in showing me that I cannot simply dismiss absurd propaganda. Rather, it's our job to understand what men like Tom Regan and Peter Singer have advocated, how they have persuaded, and what we can do to meet their tenets of faith head on in order to assure our aesthetically pleasing and beautiful right to fly fish.
Getting back to Schwab's introduction, he admits to taking "liberties of style." It is perhaps in this liberty that I have my biggest complaint with Hook, Line and Thinker. Schwab intersperses poems and personal vignettes (most of them quite funny and entertaining) in places where I think he could have done a bit more to examine the points he wants the reader to think about. But for other readers, this style would be welcome - I know that my father would have enjoyed Schwab's style of writing and his use of good poetry. I found it a minor annoyance at times.
Minor annoyances aside, the book is packed full of information, thought provoking ideas, and vital facts about the beliefs (some of the quotes that Schwab provides us, courtesy of animal rights leaders are bound to shock you) of the animal rights proponents. This is a book that I will refer to often, and is already influencing my own dedication to helping expose the animal rights people for what they really are. As Schwab points out, "anti-angling is not about fish. It's about what you should think about the world, how you should live and what you should or should not enjoy."
I recommend that you read this book. You'll refer to it often, and learn what the anti anglers think you should enjoy, and what you should not enjoy. Learn to fight back in ways that are effective.
Published by Merlin Unwin Books, Shropshire, U.K.
224 pages. Hardcover.
Related: Alexander Schwab's Website
-Background information, useful links and more.
Alexander Schwab grew up in Switzerland and gained a Masters Degree in philosophy and history at Aberdeen university. He now lives in the beautiful Emmental region of Switzerland and fills the gaps between fishing trips by working as a managment consultant.
He is author and photographer of a widely acclaimed book on Lake Thun, which is his local fishing ground. His hobbies include mushrooming, cooking, exploring the countryside and reading poetry