What’s wrong with this picture?

As hunting seasons are introduced to control the deer population in Boston suburbs and nearby parklands, I’m reminded of an article which appeared in the alumni magazine of Middlebury College, one of my alma maters.

The article told how Middlebury College sanctions students’ involvement in hunting, and described the usual controversy over hunting which occurs from time to time. This photo appeared on the cover of the  magazine.

Cornwall, Vermont (November 21, 2013) - Middlebury College student hunters John Montgomery, Katherine McFarren, and Alexander Cort (L-R). (Photo © 2013 Brett Simison)

Cornwall, Vermont (November 21, 2013) – Middlebury College student hunters John Montgomery, Katherine McFarren, and Alexander Cort (L-R). (Photo © 2013 Brett Simison)

On one side of the controversy, there’s concern about cruelty to animals, dangers to people and access to firearms.

On the other side, anyone who understands Vermont (including, famously, Vermont Senator and Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders) knows and accepts that hunting holds the deer population to a tolerable level, provides a food resource and is deeply ingrained in Vermont culture.

So, what’s wrong with this picture? You might give yourself a minute to think about it before you continue reading.

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Not the usual controversy, no. It’s that two of the three young people are shown carrying firearms unsafely.

This, I might add,  as sanctioned by Middlebury College, a reputable institution of higher education.

That nobody involved in their hunting activity prevented the error, and nobody involved in producing the magazine article caught it, is appalling, whatever your opinion about hunting or firearms may be. That point wasn’t made until comments from an alumnus appeared in a later issue of the magazine, and online. (I could also add: one of the students isn’t wearing high-visibility clothing).

The article is available online.

I could draw parallels with the issue of the general public's (and Middlebury student population's) understanding of bicycling.

An article appeared in another issue of the alumni magazine about a student who suffered serious head injury on a campus path when struck by another whom she did not see, because both were riding bicycles after dark without a headlight. That a college campus, with the ability to reach its student population and to enforce safety and legal requirements, did not enforce the requirement for a headlight, is disturbing and all too typical.

The article about that incident also is online. It makes no mention of lighting.

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