A man from my neck of the woods was mauled by a bear. A politician, to be more accurate. John Chelminiak, who is alive but disfigured for life, is a Bellevue city councilman. Bellevue is a wealthy suburb of Seattle. When he was attacked, the councilman was at his “vacation cabin” at Lake Wenatchee, in central Washington.
Chelminiak described the sounds of his cranium cracking as the black bear chomped down on it. Bears eat their prey alive. At least Chelminiak spared us the familiar, “No one knows why she attacked.” “Bears rarely attack human beings.” Or, “Before taking ‘measures’ against him, the bear community had issued fair warning about the Timothy Treadwell nuisance factor.”
Before he was gobbled up by an Alaskan brown bear, Treadwell had been pursuing a career as a bear whisperer. He had Hollywood ambitions, too. Treadwell spent 13 seasons in the Alaskan Katmai National Park. There he whiled the days away filming himself crawling around with grizzlies. His bleach-blond locks were always carefully coiffed for the camera, or covered with a bandana. The brown bears seemed indifferent to Treadwell’s cooing and clucking routine.
Unbeknown to Timothy, who was usually able to read the minds of bears, one, not-so-little teddy had made a mental note to himself: “If the porridge pickings are slim, come winter, come back for Goldie Locks.” And that’s precisely what Ursus Arctos Horribilis did. For good measure, the bear consumed Timothy’s girlfriend, who had come to the park to break up with bear boy.
“Most places in Alaska [at least in Palin's Alaska] … don’t have a persistent problem with bear or moose, because if it’s anywhere near the village, they shoot it, no questions asked,” Rick Sinnott told a Washington Post staff writer. Sinnot, who was reacting to a spate of savage bear attacks in 2008, was then “the Alaska Fish and Game Department biologist charged with reconciling the 350,000 humans who reside around Alaska’s biggest city with the wildlife who live there, too. ‘It’s the Last Frontier mentality: You don’t tolerate any risk from wild animals.’”
And so it should be.
While Western man works to rid himself of the most basic ethical instincts, like defending his kinfolk, animals remain true to their nature. Wild beasts intuit that their teeth and talons are meant for tearing flesh – any flesh, the easier the better. It makes perfect animal sense to attack a thing that is docile, slow and passive, like the not-always sapient Homo sapiens.
It has been decades since wild animals were aggressively repelled from human habitat, and they now brazenly make themselves at home in manicured suburbs. It used to be that men killed and hunted encroaching creatures. But thanks to decades of cultural and legal emasculation, our queered men folk no longer have the urge or license to protect home and hearth.
I suspect that as his healing proceeds, Chelminiak’s inner-bear is sure to surface, and he will begin to robotically intone the Sierra Club’s subliminal propaganda, so pervasive in his state: “Animals are the true homesteaders of the planet. I had it coming.”
To divine one teddy’s certifiable conduct, Fox News anchorette Julie Banderas reached right away for the therapeutic idiom. “Is he mentally ill?” she asked an “expert” about the black bear that attacked campers in Tennessee’s Cherokee National Forest, early in 2006. The animal devoured a 6-year-old girl and mauled her mother and brother. To listen to Banderas and her “expert,” the bear acted out of character. Looking to do what his kind usually does – have a teddy bear’s picnic – he was seized by a counterintuitive urge to rip into flesh with his pointy teeth and sharp claws. No one saw it coming.
The handful of honest experts left admit that attacks are up because politically correct policies have bred fearless critters. The Pavlovian response to aversive treatment has been bred out of the wild animal population. Mary Zeiss Stange, author of “Woman the Hunter,” says that hunting ultimately has less to do with killing than with instilling fear in animals that have placed us on their menu.
If animal-rights activists possessed the smarts of a parrot, they’d understand the perils of such a PC program, for an unafraid animal is a dangerous animal; an unafraid human an endangered fool.
And so, the casualties of animal attacks are shrugged off. Lessons learned – elicited usually on shows like Oprah’s or Larry King’s – are confined to a victim’s pitiful accounts of learned helplessness: plaudits to you for living to tell how you lost half your face to a puma. What a hero you are for curling up in the fetal position and pretending to be a porcupine! You punched Ursus Americanus with your powder puff?! You go girl! A real man who greets a bear on the balcony, guns blazing, is investigated. Did he Mirandize the bear? Was it a justified “homicide”?
Wildlife worship that culminates in annual human sacrifice is thoroughly barbaric. Human beings should care for and look out for animals. That’s only ethical, even biblical. But the safety of a human life must always trump that of a wild animal. A society that reverses this ethical order is philosophically primitive, base and ultimately immoral.