from the Lincoln Journal Star
Commentary on the “constitutional hunting protection” issue, including response from Sen. Tony Fulton, follows the cartoon.
I was angry when I saw that the idea of a constitutional amendment to protect hunting was once again being brought up. I was especially upset that it was being associated with Sen. Tony Fulton. I grew up in Auburn with Tony, and though I was closer in age to his two younger brothers, we always knew each other and kept in good contact since we both left our hometown.
What upset me about this coming from Tony was the fact that, less than a year ago, he opposed adding language to the state’s discrimination policy based largely on the premise — as he stated on the record and separately in correspondence with me — that there was no evidence of hiring discrimination against homosexuals, therefore it was unnecessary to clutter our laws for something that required no government intervention for a group that needed no protection.
Sen. Ernie Chambers recently introduced a bill banning hunting, fishing and trapping, knowing very well it would fail horribly, to illustrate the fact that hunting is not in any danger of being outlawed. It faces absolutely no threat.
So I e-mailed Tony, asking him please explain to me why it’s not worth changing a state policy to protect a group of people whom he perceives are not threatened, yet it’s okay to change our state’s constitution to protect a hobby that is clearly not threatened.
Here is his response:
I appreciate your candor. You ask a fair question. The reality is that I probably won’t be introducing a constitutional amendment, though. I was asked to do so, and I responded that I am not going to consider it this year because this is Ernie’s last year. [Journal Star reporter] Nancy Hicks overheard this and asked if she could do a story on my decisions being influenced by Ernie’s presence. I agreed. That set off an exchange (via the papers) between Ernie and me.
It is presently being construed that I plan on introducing an amendment next year. Not true. I don’t have any plan — I haven’t thought through the issue — I am engaged in my present agenda. It is more likely that I would introduce a resolution. An amendment to the constitution would need to encompass matter of a more substantial nature. I don’t plan on really contemplating the entirety of any such measure until next year, though, and that’s what set off this thread of stories: Ernie is causing me to adjust plans.
So you will want to know why I would even consider saving something that doesn’t need saving. If I were to introduce any measure of support for hunting, fishing, etc, it would not be to protect the practice. I am not worried about PETA flying in with a ban in Nebraska. Rather, it would be as a means of outwardly expressing what many consider a part of our state’s heritage. Being from Aub, you may have the same experience as me. I used to fish with friends (it all started at the mini-pond aka scum lake!), and I hunted with my father.
Since I have moved to Lincoln, I have not been able to do that so as much. Further, the pace of society is more hectic today than in my youth, and that further exacerbates the difficulty of participating in hunting, fishing, etc. My children, unfortunately, are therefore not exposed to these things which I was exposed to as a child. I have the sense that this story is playing out in a generational way here in Nebraska. If the demographic figures are accurate, then we have a lot of small-town folks living in Lincoln/Omaha. If that is true, I suspect there could be a lot of Nebraska children growing up with limited sensitivity to sportsman issues. Any expression I make would not be to militate against a ban — it would be to posit a reality of our heritage which may soon be forgotten.
There are those asking me to do so via the Constitution of Nebraska … probably I’ll introduce a resolution or perhaps not introduce anything … just try to draw attention to the dynamic.
I told Tony that, though it detracts from hyperbolic commentary about hypocritical politicians (kind of kidding …), I’m glad to hear that he likely won’t be introducing a constitutional amendment, though obviously many things could change between now and then.
I’m totally fine with the idea of doing something outside the constitution. I just don’t think that’s what the constitution is for, and I think when people suggest using the constitution for pet projects and political points, I feel it cheapens what’s already there.
Or as Ernie Chambers said, “I don’t want them to clutter the constitution with that … Some people view the constitution as a utility closet, a storage drawer, a basement or an attic, that can hold anything.”