Sunday, May 22, 2011

Part II: Bear Referendum - Ch. 16: Medieval Dungeon in Modern Museum

Part II - Bear Referendum
Chapter 16 - Medieval Dungeon in Modern Museum

June 21, 1996, Friday, sunny

[20:44@ the Malatest residence]

Dearest Christopher:

Back in Victoria means that the Vancouver Island leg of the road tour is done. While Paul, Adriane and Sue Fox are in Victoria, we had a meeting in the WCWC Victoria office together with WCWC-Victoria's Allison Spriggs and Misty McDuffy, both being exceptional women. Misty said, “I thought you handled yourself in an admirably professional manner with the hunters last night."

Tomorrow, I will go back to Vancouver with Paul, Adriane, Sue and Erica, for a brief hiatus before heading on into the BC interior. This afternoon, I spent with myself, by choice, just driving around, feeling free as a bird, to Sooke, to Esquimalt - Canada's Pacific Fleet naval base - and back to Victoria, where I checked out the much touted Wax Museum.


You enter on the main floor, and it is like walking into Buckingham Palace, with the Royal Family regally arrayed, and like Hollywood, and the Sports Hall of Fame..., and it is all very innocuous and done in good taste. But descend one level into the dim and menacing Medieval Dungeon, and it is more horrid than the worst version of Hell one could imagine. There is probably no change in the actual room temperature, but you'd feel chilled to the bone. The sound of torture victims screaming would send shivers up your spine.

I have read about medieval torture especially in the context of the Inquisition, which in the three centuries spanning the 14th and 17th centuries burned half-to-nine MILLION women at the stake for being witches, and at that after hideous torture to force confessions. Most of those women targeted were well-to-do spinsters or widows whose properties would then be confiscated. And thousands of men and women likewise murdered being heretics. A woman and a man came to mind: Joan of Arc and Giordano Bruno. And I have seen medieval woodcuts depicting scenes of tortures and of burnings, and they are uniformly revolting. But the words are alphabetical, and the woodcuts are 2-dimensional, both being in black and white. These wax-museum pieces are 3-dimensional, and in vivid colors, especially blood red. The only exhibit that could top the one I saw this afternoon in terms of being disgusting and terrifying would be if the victims were animated, and screams actually emitted from their always gaping mouths. If so, I couldn't guarantee I wouldn't lose my lunch on the spot.

(I have cropped off the right-hand half of the original picture. It is just too horrible to behold. The expression on the face of this beholder does not begin to tell the way she is feeling.)

After I had recovered from the initial shock, I became aware that Raminothna was seeing the exhibit through my eyes, probably for the first time. Before this realization, I felt a seething revulsion against the Inquisitors and the Church. A split second after, the revulsion broadened to include my own species in its entirety. And a sense of shame spread through me like a cold fog through a damp forest in the middle of the night.

"Are you shocked, Raminothna?" I asked, meekly.

"I've seen it before, live," she said, matter-of-fact-ly.

"What?! When?"

R: "While it was happening, of course."

I: "You mean, during the Inquisition?"

R: "Possibly."

I: "Oh my God!"

R: "That is one of the things the victims often said, screamed, in vain."

I: "Don't tell me you were an avatar of some of the victims..."

R: "Possibly. I might even have been the avatar of Joan, and of Giordano."

I: "You're kidding me, right?"

R: "Possibly not."

I: "Well, were you?"

R: "Only they could tell."

I: "So can you."

R: "I'm bound by the Interstellar Protocol against imparting certain kind of knowledge to intra-planetary societies."

I: "Yes, yes, I've heard it before. But if you were Bruno's avatar, or Joan's, how could you let them die in such a horrible manner?"

R: "Again, the Inter-Stellar Non-Interference Principle."

I: "Sounds cold hearted."

R: "Tell me. When Christ was on the cross, the pain must have been unbearable. Why didn't God just take him off the cross?"

I: "You tell me."

R: "Where would Christianity be without Christ dying on the cross?"

I: "What about Bruno. He wasn't starting any new religion."

R: "In a way, he was. 'In a way' because 'religion' is not exactly the right word."

I: "But why did he have to die so horribly?"

R: "To show two things."

I: "which are?"

R: "One, how cruel humans can be, which indeed I abhor."

I: "I'm sure you enjoyed your research!"

R: "No need for sarcasm."

I: "And Two?"

R: "To show how courageous humans can be, which, dear Homo Sapiens, I adore."

After a spell, I said, "So, I can't count on you to stop an arrow or bullet for me?"

"If I said yes, I would be denying your courage of all opportunities to express itself," said Raminothna.


June 22, 1996, Sat.
The Parksville/Qualicum News
by Chris Beacom

Crusade to end bear hunting hits QB

The system. Difficult to change and more frustrating even to try. Anthony Marr is finding out first-hand how far the provincial government needs to be pushed before change ensues. Marr is a campaigner for the Vancouver-based Western Canada Wilderness Committee, an organization focused on protecting wilderness and the environment. Marr and assistant Erica Denison are on a cross-province road tour, visiting every town in British Columbia to gain support to ban Grizzly and Black bear hunting...

At the meeting the Chinese-born Marr was questioned by hunters for not cracking down on illegal Asian poaching instead of focusing on legal hunting. Marr replied, “I’ve raised so much hell in Chinatown I’m known as a traitor to some members of the Chinese community. When I challenge the Chinese tradition of killing bears for medicine, you guys back me, but when I challenge the European tradition of killing bears for entertainment and trophy, you oppose me. Where is your sense of objectivity and fair play?”

Denison expects a string of battles along the road tour, especially in towns like Williams Lake where bear hunting could be considered an important part of the culture.

“They already know we’re coming,” said Denison. “They had a front-page headline saying, ‘bear hunting under attack’, and a hunter there just got killed by a bear. So it could be tough.”...


The Fortunate and the Called Upon
at your service


Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)

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