The Common Good

Pull the plug on Hunting for Bambi

Sojomail - July 30, 2003

Quote of the Week What's in a word...or three?
Batteries Not Included Pull the plug on Hunting for Bambi
Funny Business Why did the chicken cross the road to Baghdad?
By the Numbers Business Week: Workforce will diversify, but not management
Politically Connect Do the Democrats have a prayer?
Soul Works Gandhi: Anger management
Boomerang SojoMail readers hit reply
Web Scene Repentant Nader voters vent | Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki - worship resources | Virtual Church of the Blind Chihuahua

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"...Lots of lies can be uttered in less than 16 words. 'No Child Left Behind,' for example, is four words, and 'Clean Air Act,' only three."

-From "The Daily Enron" blog
(produced by American Family Voices).

Pull the plug on Hunting for Bambi
by David Batstone

David BatstoneCity officials in Las Vegas conducted an investigation last week of the Hunting for Bambi company - featured in my SojoMail column last week - and uncovered more layers of corruption. Mayor Oscar Goodman told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Michael Burdick, the self-professed mastermind behind the videos and purported hunts of naked women in the Southern Nevada desert, staged the events to fool potential customers and the media. "...There were actors and actresses and there wasn't even the real shooting of paintballs," said Goodman.

Hunting for Bambi became an international sensation earlier this month when KLAS-TV, Channel 8 aired a piece by reporter LuAnne Sorrell that purported to show a local man hunting several nude women and shooting them with a paintball gun. Even though Burdick was later confronted with the fact that he faked the hunts, he lied to other reporters (including MSNBC) about their actual existence.

The controversy drew the attention of Las Vegas city officials because the business license of Real Men Outdoor Productions Inc., which is owned by Burdick's fiancee, Lakana Campbell, only allows the sale of videotapes. "He confessed to our investigators that this was simply an effort to get attention so that he could market his video," said City Manager Doug Shelby to the Review-Journal.

The unabashed misogyny - be it in staged video or real-time hunts - that Hunting for Bambi commercializes drew an unprecedented volume of Boomerang mails from SojoMail readers (see a small selection below in this week's Boomerang). A reader from Canada, Wendy Gallagher, voiced the ire of many when she wrote: "I don't really know what to do about this atrocity. I do know this: If this particular sport is not stopped there will be men who take this game further. Please do all you can to rally your people to act on this as soon as possible."

Yes, Wendy, let's do all that we can to pull the plug on Hunting for Bambi. And let's do more - let's keep thinking about ways in which we can understand the more widespread violence against woman in our culture. And let's take courage to confront the forces that feed it.

The mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman, has filed misdemeanor charges against Real Men Outdoor Productions Inc. (the parent company of Hunting for Bambi). I ask you to join me in sending a strong message to Goodman to revoke the business license of Real Men Outdoor Productions Inc. Unfortunately, the commercialization of violence against women is not sufficient to revoke a business license. That in itself is a sorry statement. But we can find another way to close down Hunting for Bambi. The company has made false representation of its commercial activities, and as such knowingly has deceived the public. A reprehensible product delivered by corrupt business practices. Let's make it known to Mayor Goodman that no such business should be allowed to operate in his jurisdiction. Send e-mails to:

Oscar Goodman:

Goodman has accused Burdick of "trying to embarrass Las Vegas." But what Las Vegas - and the rest of the country - should really be embarrassed about is the thousands of women who work in the U.S. as prostitutes, often under coercion. Studies show that over half of all prostitutes suffer from post- traumatic stress disorder - that's a higher rate than combat veterans - and that cities with markets for adult prostitution have a higher rate of child sexual exploitation (often by the same clientele). If we're outraged about Hunting for Bambi - and we should be - we should also speak out against this much more widespread commercialization of violence against women.

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Why did the chicken cross the road to Baghdad?


"We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road or not. The chicken is either with us or it is against us. There is no middle ground here."


"Now at the left of the screen, you clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road."


"We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed access to the other side of the road."


"This was an unprovoked act of rebellion and we were quite justified in dropping 50 tons of nerve gas on it."


I did not cross the road with THAT chicken. What do you mean by chicken? Could you define chicken, please?


"I don't know why the chicken crossed the road, but I'll bet it was getting a government grant to cross the road, and I'll bet someone out there is already forming a support group to help chickens with crossing-the-road syndrome. Can you believe this? How much more of this can real Americans take?


Because the chicken was gay! Isn't it obvious? Can't you see the plain truth in front of your face? The chicken was going to the "other side." That's why they call it the "other side." The liberal media hides that fact from you.


To die. In the rain. Alone.


Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed, I've not been told!


I missed one?

Business Week: U.S. workforce will diversify, but not management

Most new workers will be minorities...

Increase in U.S. workforce between 2000 and 2020 by racial group:

Hispanics 6.8 million
Blacks 2.8 million
White 2.6 million
Others* 1.2 million
Immigrants 6.1 million

*Others includes Asians, Native Americans, etc.

But few are on track for management jobs. College graduation rate by age 26, by race:

Hispanics 11%
Blacks 17%
Whites 34%

Source: The Census Bureau, The Aspen Institute, Education Trust, Business Week.

Job Opportunity


Seeking a high-energy senior development professional with proven major donor and foundation fund-raising experience to assist the development team and the executive director in securing major gifts and foundation grants for Sojourners, a highly-respected progressive Christian organization that has for the past three decades inspired people of faith on issues of peacemaking, economic justice, racial reconciliation, and environmental responsibility.

For more details, go to:

Do the Democrats have a prayer? To win in 2004 the next nominee will need to get religion.
by Amy Sullivan

Those who hope to challenge Bush in 2004 have uttered scarcely a word about religion - or how faith informs their stances on issues such as health care and the environment - during any campaign event so far, including the first primary debate last [May] in South Carolina. In part, this is because Democratic voters are so multicultural that candidates fear they may alienate some part of their base, especially religious minorities, if they invoke faith in any way whatsoever. Moreover, organized religious groups aren't very active in Democratic primaries. Candidates feel little pressure to speak to the concerns of faith communities, while they do feel compelled to address the issues of secular groups, like the ACLU. But it is telling that Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, the only Democratic nominees to have won the White House since 1964, both went out of their way to discuss issues of faith and to speak before congregations early during their respective campaigns. Whereas Republicans seem almost obligated to campaign with Jesus as their running mate during the primary season, Democratic candidates today feel they must keep a lid on religious talk in order to win.

To read the entire article by Amy Sullivan, link to:

Gandhi: Anger management

I have learned through bitter experience the one supreme lesson to conserve my anger, and as heat conserved is transmuted into energy, even so our anger controlled can be transmuted into a power that can move the world.

- Mahatma Gandhi

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SojoMail readers hit reply

Christian EmploymentRev. Ginger Brittain Jarman, co-senior minister of the First Christian Church, Las Vegas, Nevada, writes:

Thank you for David Batstone's article on violence against women. When I saw the headline, I thought immediately that I would like to let you know about the recent news report here in Las Vegas on men paying to shoot women as paintball targets. But then as I read on, I realized you were already addressing it. So thank you for doing so. Our legislature has had a difficult time agreeing on anything and just this week finally adopted the budget for public schools so that they can now hire teachers for the upcoming school year. I would love to see our legislature encouraged to take action on the paintball business. I have been wondering what we as a church might do. It is an embarrassment to everyone I've talked to. I, too, wondered at first about the women who choose to do this, but it supposedly pays well, and for many perhaps it is a better alternative than prostitution - and less risky in terms of AIDS and STDs. Supposedly they get $1,000 if they are hit, and $2,500 if they can avoid being hit by a paintball. That's pretty good money for a single mother who is trying to feed her children!


Rev. Debra W. Haffner, director of the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing in Norwalk, Connecticut, writes:

I appreciated your editorial about violence against women, and Hunting for Bambi. I read these reports last week as well and felt sickened by them. The Web site seems to me little more than a come-on for prostitution. It would seem to be that there might be issues for the FBI to investigate as this is interstate commerce on the Web.


David Sinclair, church and nation secretary of the Church of Scotland, writes:

The article about violence against women makes dreadful reading - but does manage to suggest that such violence is "out there," weird and strange. The truth is that it is near to home and a daily occurrence. Churches need to be working on ways to acknowledge this and to deal with it.


Marshela Salgado writes from San Diego, California: I just wanted you to know how much I appreciated David Batstone's commentary! I definitely agree that we need to stand up and say, "Enough." While pornography is a multi-million dollar industry that seems indestructible, we have to start fighting somewhere. Thank you for taking a stand against the abuse of women. It happens every day, from the "subtlety" of a Victoria's Secret commercial to hard-core pornography, not to mention the violent sexual crimes that take place every day. Maybe I don't have any ideas, but I would definitely support someone with a good one!


Marna Anderson writes from Minneapolis, Minnesota:

I agree with David Batstone that we need to say "enough" and organize to end commercial sexual exploitation of women. But we can only organize effectively if we work to dispel the myths that surround it. Hunting for Bambi, like all forms of commercial sexual exploitation, goes much deeper than morality and the degradation of women's bodies. It exists because of male privilege and a belief that men should have unlimited access to women's bodies, whether it's their wives or girlfriends or women used in pornography, strip clubs, and prostitution. Though Hunting for Bambi is a markedly gross example of male sexual privilege, it is no different than the suburban men (typically well off and white) hunting for women (poor and often women of color) in our urban areas as if they were on a hunt in the Nevada wilderness.

The myth that women prostitute themselves "of their own volition" ignores the economic and social context in which commercial sexual exploitation occurs. The sex industry takes advantage of women and girls without real choices. The average age of entry into prostitution in the United States is 14. Legislation protects these girls until their 18th birthday, when we change their status from "child victim" to "consenting adult." As adults, women used in the sex industry are told they get what they deserve.

So, let's organize to bring an end to commercial sexual exploitation, including Hunting for Bambi, but our actions will need to address the economic and social realities in which it exists. Focus on the demand side of this market - the men who believe it is their entitlement to buy the right to rape and have the class and race privilege to do it.


Wandalee Kabira writes from Tokyo, Japan:

If we want to stop the denigration of women by men (example of so-called paintbomb "hunts for Bambi" of naked women in the deserts of Nevada) then the quickest way is for women to stop agreeing to be a participant in this ugly commercialization of women. These women are not forced to participate in this by having a gun to their heads. Women have a choice to stop this kind of misuse. I remain in hope that all women will stop any participation in such use of their bodies or in any sexually explicit advertisements, or in porn, etc., which all use women who agree to show their bodies for money. I agree that we all can pressure or outlaw the companies that engage in such "hunts" and can boycott companies that use women in advertisements that degrade women and/or use them as objects, not as human beings loved by God. However, the sure and quick way to stop such exploitation is for all women to refuse to be used in any of this. Women arise, you have nothing to lose but your chains. Can we deal with the "demand" for exploitation of women by cutting off the "supply" of willing women?


SojoMail reader Daun Allen writes:

Regarding Kobe Bryant and his alleged indiscretions: If the activity was between two consenting adults, it is their business. If he coerced her up to his room for any reason, yes she was stupid to go. Why would a man with morals and ethics think that inviting or allowing a woman in his hotel room late at night could lead to anything else besides trouble? Women who are insecure and immature exist in our complex and troubled society; men who have power and prestige should not prey upon them. How many times will the Monica and Bill scenario sell papers and intrigue the public? We have so many more important issues to deal with collectively. I personally am sick and tired of tabloid journalism. This story [Hunting for Bambi] is about violence toward women. So the justification a smiling Christian byline puts on it is, in my opinion, misplaced at the least.


Toby Hoover writes from Ohio:

Thanks so much for speaking out against this outrageous new act of violence. I am afraid the act of shooting women with paintballs is just another disgraceful game and an acceptance of violence in our society. Unfortunately I also think it is part of a bigger picture to degrade women and also to continue the acceptance of guns of any kind in our society.

As a survivor of a gun violence victim and also a director of a state group to prevent gun violence, I see too often the total acceptance of killing in our society. Public policy keeps deteriorating under the guise of "rights," and social policy is too timid to speak against its armed and violent-thinking neighbors and legislators. Our U.S. legislators are currently considering giving the firearms industry complete immunity from accountability in the courts and are actually having to think about whether to continue a ban on assault weapons.

We should all start naming the policies, legislation, games, sports, entertainment, and war just what it is: violence. Violence in the worst sense because too many accept it and tolerate this kind of world for our children. Nevada should outlaw this bizarre behavior and we as a society should stop being quiet.


Michelle Salazar writes from Manassa, Colorado:

Last spring in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a billboard located ironically on Avenida Cesar Chavez and owned by Clear Channel displayed three huge images of the head and shoulders of Saddam Hussein. The first day I drove by, the center image had splotches on it, but they weren't like blood, and there was no text on the billboard so I went on my way curious as to its purpose. The following day, there was a small message below the images that said "Shoot Saddam for a dollar," and the leader's face was all but obliterated with various colors of paint. Then I noticed the vans on the ground below renting paint guns to passers-by. It appears paint guns have many purposes but ultimately represent our society's fascination with violence. I suggest we boycott products advertised on Clear Channel billboards and do whatever we can to halt the "Hunting for Bambi" enterprise.


Jon Kuhrt writes from Shaftesbury, United Kingdom:

Good on Sojourners for consistently arguing the case for greater structural re-distribution of income. In the U.K., the biggest disappointment of the current Labour government and Tony Blair's leadership is that they have failed to push the moral and practical argument for more radical re-distribution. Christians in our rich countries need to swim against the strong tide of selfishness and display an example.


C.G. White writes from Elizabethtown, Indiana:

In response to Brian Brumbaugh [Boomerang, 7/23/03], I would note:

While the poor pay no federal taxes, they pay many other taxes. Senator Rockefeller lobbied to make the child tax credit more inclusive and refundable because the poor get eaten alive with sales tax, gasoline tax, excise tax, etc. Consumption-based taxes are regressive in nature and the burden of the poor is disproportionately high when all forms of taxation are considered. Including them in the tax credit/rebate is only fair because they pay other taxes in a disproportionate manner.


Peg Nelson writes from Astoria, Oregon:

Why is it that those who want to support a conservative economic policy do so without looking at what actually happens? Two of the letters to Boomerang spoke of the poor not paying taxes and so not deserving tax refunds, but they did not address the many loopholes that the super rich use to hide their money from taxes. I wonder how close those in the highest tax bracket come to meeting their required amount of taxes. Recent scandals and revealing testimony regarding Enron and other corporate CEOs hint at or even show that their moneys are hidden in off-shore companies and accounts that the IRS cannot touch. This is the picture of greed that concerns me. Those who would take millions, perhaps billions, from this country and by hoarding off-shore would financially starve the economy of this nation - not enrich it with investing back in this country the tax bonuses they receive for being super rich.

Nor do the two responders identify with the plight of the poor. At some point I hope there will be an editorial on living wages. Having worked for a homeless shelter agency helping guests to develop business skills, I am aware of the disparity between what many people earn and what the actual cost of living is in many areas of the country. It is easy to judge without knowing the facts.


Scott Daniel writes from Bonaire, Georgia:

It appears that SojoMail recognizes that publishing angry, confused letters like Brian Brumbaugh's in last week's edition is the price we on the left will have to pay for our own polarizing and reductionist rhetoric.

I think our movement will be stuck with the kind of partial truths so easily picked apart by belligerent readers such as Brumbaugh, and even sympathetic readers such as Chet Baker, until we move beyond the distorted oversimplifications that reduce the conflict between liberalism and conservatism to one between compassion and greed (as we see it), or between dangerous utopian abstractions and practical common sense, as they see it.

Like many readers of Sojourners, I think that advocacy for the poor and disadvantaged is a biblical and an ethical imperative, but I also understand that conservative arguments against "putting the poor on the agenda" are more often rooted in a belief in the value of work and distrust of government power than in materialism and greed. I see the fault of their position more in its mythic inflation of individualism and its excessive faith in capitalism as an engine of global progress than in its moral underpinnings. If our policy differences lead us to vilify those who do not agree with us, we have lost the opportunity to work with, influence, and be influenced by them, and we have earned their vilification in return.


Dick Williams writes from Boulder, Colorado:

My congratulations for SojoMail's citing of data like the income of the 400 richest people in the U.S. Whether or not any of these 400 people really WANT to stop hunger, it is a fact that most of their riches (and the income of most of the rest of us) come from the blood, sweat, and deaths of the starving people of the world. Furthermore, it is a fact that most of these top 400 do not pay taxes at all, due mostly to loopholes found by highly compensated tax lawyers - loopholes that some highly paid members of Congress (also rich) create for them. Incidentally, that information is "hard data" from the "Internal Revenue Service Data Books 2000-2002." I think Sojourners is not touting income redistribution theory but facts about how things really are, which we all need to pay attention to, whether we tithe to our churches, give to orphans and widows, and proclaim our great piety from the front pews or not!


Michael Swoyer writes from Kansas City, Missouri:

I enjoyed your article on Liberia, "Rescuing Ourselves: Can America do more than save its own?" by Tad Daley. However - and this is a very common error - he refers to Liberia as having been founded by freed slaves. In reality, Liberia was founded by a society of white men dedicated to ending slavery gradually and repatriating freed slaves back to Africa. Essentially, Liberia was founded as a place to dump our problem children, who could never possibly mix with white society. It was a solution similar to Native American reservations, only across an ocean. I realize that the "freed slaves founded Liberia" myth is convenient shorthand, but to muddle the truth on this only perpetuates the greater myth that America treats all races equally. Not then and not now.


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*Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki - worship resources

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