It sounds like something from a second-rate science fiction novel: The mad scientist hunched over this computer screen as the crosshairs search out and find his prey, his index finger hesitates briefly but then clicks the mouse and 1,000 miles away, a bullet fires. The prey falls mortally wounded. Altogether another successful hunt.
In a science fiction novel, of course, the prey would be human. In reality, apparently, the prey is an animal or bird. The hunter uses the Internet to seek out and shoot the prey by remote-controlled gun or bow with the use of a computer.
Real life hunters are so appalled at this kind of cyber hunting that legislation to ban it has been introduced in the Kentucky General Assembly and in legislatures of a number of other states. Texas, where this kind of thing originated, banned computer hunting last year.
House Bill 289, introduced by Rep. Robin Webb of Grayson, has the endorsement of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife as well as by anti-hunting, animal-rights activists. The National Rifle Association has given its powerful nod of approval.
Webb says, Its not a sport, its a video game.
Certainly, a cyber hunting game involving real wildlife is hardly as violent as many of the actual video games popular throughout the country. As far as the wildlife is concerned, it doesnt matter whether the trigger is pulled 30 yards or 3,000 miles away. The result is the same.
But we have to agree with Webb and other supporters of the legislation. There must be a limit to what society is willing to turn over to someone with a home PC and nothing better to do than go hunting for wild game in South Dakota from a Manhattan high rise apartment.
Sadly, however, like child pornography, someone determined to be a cyber hunter will find a way no matter what the laws of Kentucky or other states say or how high the fines.
The Internet unquestionably is the marvel of the ages. Another marvel is how its users can find ways to abuse and pervert it.