October 14, 2012

"But people love badgers."

"This is not a campaign against some kind of airborne creepy-crawly, spreading disease as it feeds on the blood of poor, innocent cows. This is Old Brock they are trying to kill, the black-and-white gentleman of the forest, who adds dignity and substance to children’s bedtime stories, from The Wind In The Willows to Fantastic Mr Fox."

I know The Wind In The Willows and Fantastic Mr Fox, but who's Old Brock?

"'Old Brock,' as the badger is affectionately known to country folk, is a familiar part of Britain’s rural scene."


Wikipedia has an incredibly long "List of fictional badgers." These include:
Brock Blueheart... in the graphic novel, Fables...
Brock the Badger in Yours Ever, Sam Pig By Alison Uttley...
Detective Inspector Archie LeBrock, in... Grandville by Bryan Talbot...
Lord Brocktree... in Brian Jacques's Redwall series....
Old Brock... in Watership Down....
Tommy Brock from The Tale of Mr. Tod
Wikipedia links to a website called "Living With Environmental Change": "The role of badgers in our culture may muddy policy decisions":
Social attitudes to badgers shaped by literature, the media and even heraldry may be clouding debate about their contribution to spreading tuberculosis to cattle....

There are dignified depictions of badgers in heraldry, and an early version of Mr Badger even crops up in an Anglo Saxon poetic riddle from the 11th century, as a noble creature defending its family against attack.  More recent heroic appearances in children’s literature are common, with The Wind in the Willows probably the best known.

So we are familiar with the idea of badgers displaying characteristics that we like to think of as both human and laudable, such as strength, bravery and loyalty, while also being mysterious, nocturnal creatures that are symbolic of the natural world and British countryside.
I support the fight against TB and the vermin that spread it, but I will nevertheless promote the cultural character, the loveable badger. Here, Project Gutenberg has The Tale of Mr. Tod available in its entirety, with all the illustrations. I hope it doesn't further erode whatever foundation in reality you've maintained in your lifetime of exposure to fiction. 


[Mr. Bouncer] sat in the sun, and conversed cordially with Tommy Brock, who was passing through the wood with a sack and a little spud which he used for digging, and some mole traps. He complained bitterly about the scarcity of pheasants' eggs, and accused Mr. Tod of poaching them. And the otters had cleared off all the frogs while he was asleep in winter—"I have not had a good square meal for a fortnight, I am living on pig-nuts. I shall have to turn vegetarian and eat my own tail!" said Tommy Brock.

It was not much of a joke, but it tickled old Mr. Bouncer; because Tommy Brock was so fat and stumpy and grinning.
ADDED: My advice to animals: Get some stripes. People will fixate on your cuteness and let you overrun the place. It's not just badgers. Think of chipmunks. We have chipmunks all over the place here in Madison (where, despite our fictional character, Bucky Badger, we don't have badgers). Without stripes, they'd be more or less rats, and the level of infestation would horrify us.

32 comments:

edutcher said...

If people like this had been around a hundred years ago, we'd have had a similar plea for the anopheles mosquito.

Rusty said...

Oh sure it's "the old gentleman of the forrest" until the chickens go missing and the cat is pregnant.

madAsHell said...

First Big Bird, now Old Brock.

I blame Bush....er...um..ah...Romney.

madAsHell said...

First Big Bird, now Old Brock.

I blame Bush....er...um..ah...Romney.

Michael K said...

On my first trip to England in 1977, the only program on BBC television in the evening was "Badger Watch." This program consisted of aiming a TV camera at a badger;s hole and waiting for it to come out. Needless to say, it did not do much to reduce the activity in pubs. Closing time was still in force in those days so once the pub closed there was nothing much to do but make babies. Now, better TV and abortion takes care of that.

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

My advice to animals: Get some stripes. People will fixate on your cuteness and let you overrun the place.

Not always.

In the immortal words of Mel Blanc, "Un grand skunque de pew".

EDH said...

Wikipedia has an incredibly long "List of fictional badgers." These include: Brock Blueheart, Brock the Badger, Detective Inspector Archie LeBrock, Lord Brocktree, Old Brock, Tommy Brock...

"Those are great names!"

People love Badgers...

"Oh, it's true, you are Brock Landers."

Carnifex said...

Oh God! Disney, anthropomorphism, and PETA strike again. All I can say is that the people in the country, you know, the ones who actually interact with animals the most? They laugh their asses off at this sort of twaddle.

ricpic said...

Think of the horror of an Old Barack father figure. Last chance to avoid that fate is November sixth.

Calypso Facto said...

(where, despite our fictional character, Bucky Badger, we don't have badgers)

Says who? I saw a badger in Madison (at my worksite) just a couple years ago.

kcom said...

Badgers? Badgers? We don't need no stinkin' badgers.

furious_a said...

People love badgering other people.

Ann Althouse said...

"Oh, it's true, you are Brock Landers."

LOL. (And I didn't have to click on the link.)

Ann Althouse said...

"Says who? I saw a badger in Madison (at my worksite) just a couple years ago."

Maybe you once saw one, but there's a crazy chipmunk infestation. They use our roof gutter drain as a hamster habitat.

pm317 said...

Ann, how about a post on this:

Felix Baumgartner space jump live now!

Doc Merlin said...

This is why we can't get rid of diseases. The same applies for cats and Toxoplasmosis.

chrisnavin.com said...

Go Felix!

John said...

I call racism.

Brock sounds deceptively like Barrack. This talk of killing Brock is thinly disguised code for wanting to lynch Barrack.

RAAACCCIIISSSSSTTTT!!!!!

And no thread on badgers would be complete without linking here:

http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/flash/badgers

John Henry

John said...

I call racism.

Brock sounds deceptively like Barrack. This talk of killing Brock is thinly disguised code for wanting to lynch Barrack.

RAAACCCIIISSSSSTTTT!!!!!

And no thread on badgers would be complete without linking here:

http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/flash/badgers

John Henry

wyo sis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wyo sis said...

Are these the same people who tell us conservatives are anti science?

Fr Martin Fox said...

I'm glad to see foxes get good press.

Every reference I've found to foxes in the Scriptures (four so far) is negative.

technogypsy said...

Old Brock's TB would seem to be a problem, besides the eating of small household pets. They were all over the road in Wales - sunbathing as my host said. Of course, the English badger is a different beast from the American. Kinder, gentler, less aggressive.

I saw badgers on my last trip to Sturgeon Bay, Miss Ann. Right about dusk, a female and a couple of kits, cubs? (We have them down here in Texas too. Had a couple on the land in East Texas.) You might not see them in Madison because they are both predators and self-sufficient, hence probably Republicans and not welcome.

Question: Is the Matthew Fox above the same who wrote On becoming a musical mystical bear?

technogypsy said...

Old Brock's TB would seem to be a problem, besides the eating of small household pets. They were all over the road in Wales - sunbathing as my host said. Of course, the English badger is a different beast from the American. Kinder, gentler, less aggressive.

I saw badgers on my last trip to Sturgeon Bay, Miss Ann. Right about dusk, a female and a couple of kits, cubs? (We have them down here in Texas too. Had a couple on the land in East Texas.) You might not see them in Madison because they are both predators and self-sufficient, hence probably Republicans and not welcome.

Question: Is the Matthew Fox above the same who wrote On becoming a musical mystical bear?

Palladian said...

The Tale of Mr. Tod

Tod means "death" in German.

Paddy O said...

Badgers!? Badgers?! We don't need no stinkin'...

Oh wait, did someone already make that joke?

Paddy O said...

"They use our roof gutter drain as a hamster habitat."

Are the chipmunks engaged in a breeding program? Slave labor? Maintaining hamsters as pets?

Fred Drinkwater said...

If you encounter a badger in the wild, I bet you will not be thinking "Oh, look, there's Mr. Badger from Wind in the Willows". No. One look at the teeth and the facial expression, and you will be thinking "Oh Sh*t, I hope I get out of here with my nads intact."

Fred Drinkwater said...

A North American badger, that is. I have no idea how cuddly a UK badger is.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

I approve of Badgers.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

I approve of Badgers.

Largo said...

Everyone loves badgers--especially the honey badger!