All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The arguments put forward in the story are exaggerated versions of actual arguments made on a variety of threads by a variety of people relating to the topic of canned lion hunts. Morality isn’t what it used to be, as one startled human being is about to find out...
The Makulon slowed down his breathing, raising a tentacle to wipe a dollop of sticky, silvery sweat away from a mandible.
The slightest tremor and his prey might bolt, losing him the entirety of the seven minutes it had taken him to pocket his hunting license, fly down from the Makulon mothership, land his craft in the garden beside the apartment block, engage his cloaking device and fix his prey in the sights of his Plasmagasmic Neon-Blaster Phantom Mark III rifle through its apartment window.
As he began to draw on the trigger an unwelcome thought intruded on his mind. For a fleeting moment he wondered whether he should be feeling some compassion or remorse, rather than buzzing with excitement and anticipation.
He pushed the thought from his heads. It wasn’t like this was a Makulon he was dealing with. He wouldn’t dream of doing something like this to a Makulon. It would be frowned upon, and was also illegal. No. This was an inferior animal, just one of the countless human creatures who scuttled meaninglessly across this blue and green planet on its paltry four appendages, spending hours sitting stationary in front of flashing screens or putting things into its mouth only for them to emerge from its rear end a bit later in a pointless progression of meaningless cycles. Humans were hardly even sentient, having emerged from the trees only a couple of thousand years after the Makulon’s grandmother was born. The witless creatures hadn’t even evolved the capacity for telepathy.
The whacktivists back home said that humans could suffer, but the whacktivists were all emotion and no reason. Even if humans were sentient enough to feel pain, the death of the little creature in his sights would be quick and relatively painless - and of great benefit to its species and the planet it dwelled upon.
The 50,000 Squallors he’d paid the Human Defence League for the privilege of this hunt would be funnelled straight back into protecting the planet from intrusion by non-conservation minded Makulons and would fund continued efforts to prevent this species from over-running its habitat and destroying it entirely.
The fact of the matter was that without paid hunts, nobody would take an interest in protecting the planet or preserving this species, and unscrupulous Makulons, or some other alien race, would doubtless arrive and either enslave or murder the lot of them. The universe was a messy and complex place and sometimes you just had to make the best of it.
Buoyed by these thoughts, the Makulon focused on his target again, gluing his eye up against the sight of his weapon. Gently, gently he squeezed on the trigger, breathing out slowly as his instructor had taught him to. Relax, draw the trigger slowly, exhale.
It was crucial that his shot not hit the head. These creatures didn’t have a proper exoskeleton, and apparently if you struck the head it all went out of shape and squishy and you’d need to go hunt another one, and nobody had that sort of money. He’d already made space for the head on the wall of his cabin - had even bought an expensive magnatite plaque to stick it on. He wasn’t going to mess this up.
In his apartment, blissfully unaware of what was transpiring outside his window or the inscrutable synchronicity of the moment, Rationalist Rob, thread commenter extraordinaire, and quadruple recipient of the Rationalist Rob Medal for Intellectual Enterprise, allowed himself a smile.
He’d just tapped the last keystroke on his comment on a thread that had mushroomed up around a Weekly Bait article discussing the burgeoning popularity of the canned dolphin hunting industry. The hapless masses were in a state of fussed hysteria once again, and there were few - so very few - people who could step forward and demonstrate to the masses the errors of their moral presumptions and the significant benefits such industries bequeathed upon all parties.
People had such an odd tendency to get excited about things like this without focusing on the essentials.
How did they think dolphins would survive if they weren’t sold for canned hunts? Every cured, grinning dolphin snout on a hunter’s bar wall meant another thousand dolphins were bred in fish pens around the world, ensuring the survival of the species. In fact, dolphin numbers were booming.
There were now so many of them that the forward thinking industry was looking into offering hunters the opportunity to lob hand grenades into the dolphin breeding pens – the hunters would be charged at premium rates, the dolphin conservation coffers would be filled, the dolphins themselves would be guaranteed a humane instant death and there’d be an all-you-could-eat dolphin sashimi platter to enjoy afterwards. And it would all be done efficiently, and efficiency was good.
But the mindless masses were a hindrance to such progressive and enlightened strategies. Instead of embracing the possibilities, they continued to make ridiculous assumptions about the creatures deserving rights and moral consideration, spouting their irrational, hypocritical and rather profane cries of disgust.
Rationalist Rob had no such problems. Dolphins weren’t human. Anyone who couldn’t see that and didn’t understand the plain and self-evident moral implications of this, and instead harped on about the supposed plain and self-evident moral implications of killing for fun, was simply too stupid and too caught up in subjective moral prescriptions, arbitrary boundary setting and emotion to even waste his time on. Yet, being of a philanthropic mindset, he felt obliged to explain the errors of their ways to them on Internet threads. It was the least he could do, really.
“Be patient, old chap,” he thought to himself. “Be patient.”
As misfortune would have it, no sooner had this thought passed through Rationalist Rob’s mind when it was followed by a fifty billion watt round of plasma charged nano-particulate fired from a Plasmagasmic Neon-Blaster Phantom Mark III rifle from a distance of thirty yards at seventy five times the speed of light.
An expression of bemusement crossed Rob’s face as he observed a crimson spray envelop his newly shattered computer screen. He was accustomed to having a red mist envelop him when he came across a particularly persistent opponent on a comment thread, but he hadn’t been rebutting an opponent just then. Also, he was almost certain that his left eyeball belonged in his skull and not on his desk, from which it was currently fixing him with a reproachful, bloodshot glare.
Back in the yard the Makulon cursed. He’d somehow botched his shot and managed to send the round directly into the creature’s head. For a moment he bravely resisted the urge to break his rifle over one of his pereiopods, then decided to wait until he got back to the mothership where he could break it over the heads of the Plasmagasmic Neon-Blaster salesmakulon who’d sold the rifle to him instead.
To make matters worse, his prey appeared to have survived the impact to its head and seemed more bewildered than anything else. This sort of thing got peoples’ carapaces up back home and could get him some bad press if word got out. There was also lot of blood, which stained horribly, and which his guests were certain to notice it if he directed their attention to his trophy at his next cocktail party. Brog only knew what he’d do to the creature’s physiology if he buggered up another shot. Would a severed foot on his wall draw the same admiration as a head? Maybe... hmm. Unlikely. Perhaps if he painted the toenails...
The Makulon pondered his options for a couple of seconds before realizing he had precisely one of these available. He’d need to make the best of this, see if he could salvage some sort of trophy and end this creature’s pathetic suffering as soon as possible. The Makulon dialed the wattage on his weapon up, raised the rifle again and took aim at his prey.
Back in his office, Rationalist Rob’s one functional eye continued to stare in bewilderment at its dislodged companion, which was slowly glazing up on the desk. While he’d survived the impact, it hadn’t been without consequence. His IQ had dropped to room temperature at the moment of impact, as a sense of profound peace descended upon him along with a throbbing headache.
“Need to clean red mist and take an Aspirin,” he announced to nobody in particular, before jerkily rising to his feet to fetch a dishtowel and a glass of water from the kitchen.
He took two stuttering steps towards the kitchen before a second blast from the Plasmagasmic Neon-Blaster Mark III blew his feet away, along with his legs, hips and torso. His detached head did a slow, theatrical somersault through the air and landed with a plop on his desk, a look of despairing puzzlement fixed onto it as death directed its attention towards the unfathomable depths of eternity.
The Makulon punched a tentacle into the air in a moment of triumph then cursed itself, realizing it shouldn’t waste any more time. You never knew who was watching, and it wouldn’t do to cause a panic amongst the naturals, who could be unpredictable, aggressive and dangerous when the mood struck them.
Without further hesitation, he ripped his hover-board from behind his seat, swung himself out of the cockpit and boosted up to the window of the apartment where his prey lay in several pieces in pools of gently congealing blood. He gave a quick glance left and right to see if any other humans had noticed proceedings, and then flipped himself into the office, pulled his hover-board in behind him and ignoring the shattered body, scuffled over to the head.
Now that he was out of view of the street he relaxed slightly.
He didn’t want to rush this part – it was what he’d been waiting for. He shuffled over to the desk, and set the head onto its neck, right way round with the furriest bit on top. He was relieved to find that it had mostly retained its shape. He picked up the detached eyeball and delicately pushed it back into its empty socket, which gave a satisfying pop as the eyeball slid into place.
However, the baffled expression on the face looked all wrong. The Makulon frowned, then tugged at the lips to expose some teeth. This proved to be an exercise in frustration, because the lips were becoming rigid and kept sliding back together. Eventually he managed to fix a somewhat fearsome grimace onto the thing’s face by stapling the bottom lip to the chin with a stapler he found in the desk drawer.
Naturally the head topped over almost immediately, and the exasperated Makulon had to start from square one. He noticed a pen lying on a paper pad on the desk. He picked it up, stabbed the sharp bit forcefully down into the desk until it was embedded halfway, then shoved the creature’s neck into the protruding bit, fixing it upright. To ensure it wouldn’t topple over again he wrapped a tentacle around the back of the neck, holding it steady.
The Makulon wriggled his maxillipeds, pouted them for the camera, held up the Plasmagasmic Neon-Blaster Mark III with another tentacle and focused his Hologramo device at himself with his remaining tentacle. There was a bright flash as his moment of triumph was captured for posterity. The Makulon took a couple more snaps to make sure he had a share-worthy one, then tossed the creature’s head into a knapsack and made for the window.
Then he paused. No. That wouldn’t be ethical. This wasn’t all fun and games. There were poor, starving Makulons back home, and while he’d spent all his savings on this hunt and didn’t have money to give them work or even some groceries, there was good eating on a human – even if they were a bit stringy. He’d do the moral thing and take the carcass home with himself. Hells the kids could play with the bones.
Hastily he gathered up body parts and piled them on the hover-board, shuffled onto it himself, and trailing rivulets of blood, shot down to his spaceship, clambered into the cockpit and blasted back off into space. He’d won. And he was going to share this achievement on Spacebook the second he got home.
"To act on the belief that we possess the knowledge and the power which enable us to shape the processes of society entirely to our liking, knowledge which in fact we do not possess, is likely to make us do much harm. The recognition of the insuperable limits to his knowledge ought indeed to teach the student of society a lesson in humility, which should guard him against becoming an accomplice in men’s fatal striving to control society—a striving which makes him not only a tyrant over his fellows, but which may well make him the destroyer of a civilization which no brain has designed but which has grown from the free efforts of millions of individuals." Friedrich Hayek