Cheney Wasn’t Hunting, He Was Shooting

New Yorker Talk of the Town piece mentions, “….eight years of watching our leaders hunting quail and clearing brush in front of television cameras….”

Hunting had nothing to do with it. In the mother tongue, if we can believe novels and films, British aristos used to go to the country for weekend shooting parties. Being aristos, they weren’t ashamed of standing around while beaters flushed quail so they could shoot them down like so many clay pigeons. Cheney was doing the same thing, but our media—even our literate media—call it hunting.

Is this a zeitgeist issue?  Does usage matter? To hunt means to look for something, not have it put in front of your face. Hunters used to spend time stalking their prey, meaning they had to learn its habits and how not to give themselves away. (Does anyone outside of maybe Montana any longer know the difference between upwind and downwind? That was useful general knowledge for urbanites in the 60’s, when deciding whether it was safe to light up a joint out of doors, but doesn’t seem to have much application today.)

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