Recently, there has been somewhat of an uproar over police officers embracing a quote from an essay written by Ernest Hemingway. The quote reads, “There is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter.” Many people seem to be frightened by an us versus them mentality that, without explanation, the quote seems to highlight. It has been said that it gives the appearance that police enjoy killing to those that do not truly understand the sheepdog mentality. Please allow me a few moments to explain it through the eyes of a veteran police officer/sheepdog/wolf hunter.
Although Hemingway was an avid hunter, you’ll note that at no point in the quote does Hemingway use the word killing. In fact, at no point in the essay does Hemingway mention killing a man. The majority of the essay is about fishing, hence the title “On the Blue Water.” The key point that people seem to take issue with is the word “hunt.” Merriam-Webster lists several definitions for the word. Here are a few:
- to pursue with intent to capture
- to search out
- to attempt to find something
In fact, Merriam-Webster uses the following as an example of the proper use of the word, “Police hunted the escaped prisoners through several states.” There are instances that the term is synonymous with killing, but when in modern times has that been the case in law enforcement? Even the media, which is so quick to attack our use of the quote, often reports that law enforcement officers are “hunting” for a suspect? Why then is it so shocking when we acknowledge that we are, in fact, hunting?
I suppose that it is because sometimes we are forced to kill.
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