The pursuit of happiness, Minnesota style

In connection with “Fish in a barrel,” reader Greg Lang reminds us:

[When] Jesse Ventura was elected Governor [in 1998] there was a MN state constitutional amendment guaranteeing fishing and hunting. PETA came to town to protest, right before the election, citing the Wheaties box cover with fishing tournament winners.
The constitutional amendment on fishing and hunting passed with 72% of the vote. That’s amazing because constitutional amendments are at the end of the ballot and not voting on them is considered a “no” vote.

Taking a look at the Minnesota Constitution, we find that it lacks the concision of the federal Constitution. As a result, it has room for important provisions such as Article XIII, Sec. 12:

PRESERVATION OF HUNTING AND FISHING. Hunting and fishing and the taking of game and fish are a valued part of our heritage that shall be forever preserved for the people and shall be managed by law and regulation for the public good. [Adopted, November 3, 1998]

Here we see the “natural right” understanding of the Declaration of Independence, heavily filtered through the light of the Progressive era that brought us the administrative state. Hunting and fishing are not proclaimed to be one of the rights that man possesses by nature, but rather are declared “a valued part of our heritage.” Sort of like bocce ball, the beloved recreational activity of the late Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich. The practice of hunting and fishing are accordingly subject to regulation by experts “for the public good.” This isn’t exactly the sort of proclamation that stirs men to stake their lives, fortune or sacred honor on it, but it should do to hold off the likes of PETA.


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