Lan­guage mat­ters

Field and Game - - FROM THE EDITOR - (03) 5820 3184 Mo­bile: 0419 522 844 jamie.gil­bert@fiel­ Dar­ren Lin­ton (03) 5820 3160 Mo­bile: 0437 770 144 ed­i­tor@fiel­ Jamie Gil­bert

The start to the 2017 Duck Sea­son in south­ern Aus­tralia has gen­er­ated the usual war of words; it is a never-end­ing chal­lenge faced by hunters but this year we made the most of our se­cret weapon, truth.

It is easy, of­ten in frus­tra­tion or out­right anger, to take on the out­landish and emo­tive claims of the anti-hunt­ing move­ment head on.

Hunters, faced with emo­tive words like mur­der, slaugh­ter, mas­sacre and blood­bath, are im­me­di­ately in­clined to de­fend them­selves and their tra­di­tion.

A swift and pointed re­sponse is un­der­stand­able but not al­ways ef­fec­tive, and a tit-for-tat ex­change with a zeal­ous ac­tivist usu­ally ends badly. It is dif­fi­cult to de­bate with ide­o­logues who have a fixed view and refuse to budge, even a lit­tle, in the face of facts and data.

While we deal in re­al­ity, they deal in emo­tion. The facts are not im­por­tant, the over-the-top lan­guage, the emo­tive cap­tions on im­ages and the gen­er­a­tion of sym­pa­thy, out­rage and hor­ror are all that mat­ters.

Anti-hunt­ing groups are try­ing to mo­ti­vate peo­ple and the best way to do that is to heighten the emo­tive re­sponse.

It is the same ap­proach in­ter­na­tional aid or­gan­i­sa­tions use when they high­light the suf­fer­ing through famine in some far-flung place most peo­ple have no con­nec­tion to or knowl­edge of. Peo­ple have an emo­tive re­sponse and give gen­er­ously to help the cause and end the suf­fer­ing.

Over­play­ing emo­tion in op­pos­ing hunt­ing ducks plays to an au­di­ence that has no knowl­edge or con­nec­tion to the har­vest­ing of wild food, a prac­tice that has ex­isted for mil­len­nia but in this mod­ern age is for­eign to our over­whelm­ingly ur­ban so­ci­ety.

The easy re­ac­tion is the an­gry post fired off in re­sponse, but the more ef­fec­tive method is largely to ig­nore the diehards you will never win an ar­gu­ment with and in­stead, slowly build knowl­edge and a con­nec­tion with the un­in­formed but neu­tral ma­jor­ity.

That is why facts, data and, in­deed, lan­guage are im­por­tant.

As the sea­sons opened across three states, Field & Game Aus­tralia en­tered the key bat­tle­ground of so­cial me­dia de­ter­mined to charge across no man’s land rather than bunker down in the trenches and de­fend.

Posts were reg­u­lar, un­der­stated, rea­soned and, above all, factual, and amid the flurry of out­landish anti-hunt­ing posts, any analysis demon­strates our mes­sage cut through.

We reached an au­di­ence much larger than our mem­ber­ship and gained some valu­able ground. You can fight lies with facts, and out­rage with calmly pre­sented rea­son­ing, but ev­ery­one needs to be an am­bas­sador for truth. The friendly fire of mixed mes­sag­ing does un­told dam­age.

Have a read of FGA’S so­cial me­dia feeds and re­mem­ber the next time you are moved to re­spond on­line that point scor­ing is not im­por­tant, what mat­ters is that we ex­pose our key mes­sages, our nuggets of truth, to the widest au­di­ence.

There’s plenty of hunt­ing ahead, en­joy the rest of the sea­son.

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