Of course this is a rehash of a basic moral issue. You statement, however, implies that this issue is firmly settled and that no further debate is warranted. Perhaps that is true for you...but would you not also agree that to folks such as PETA, the issue is also firmly settled...but on the other side of the fence? Discussion of even "unequivocally settled" issues can be of great value (consider many of your classes in school,) and given the current prominence of animal ethics in the public eye and academic circles I do not think I could describe this question as close to settled. Neither do I think we can accomplish that here...the purpose of a discussion such as ours is not to settle the issue, but simply to compare our opinions with others, perhaps to make some adjustments to our own or even adopt completely new ones.
You mention that "the price of their lives is the study." I would suggest rephrasing that to read "the price of our study is their lives." Under many circumstances I find such an exchange acceptable, for the benefit that study brings to humanity. But not in all cases, and further, it is confined to study. Can you seriously tell me you believe your activities as a cephkeeper and falconer have contributed as much to science as those of a dedicated researcher? I would think the answer to that is an inherent and emphatic "no." I believe those contributions are genuine, but cannot compare to hard laboratory or field science. The contributions you describe of the falconers' community are an excellent thing, but surely a dedicated program of reintroducing species to the wild would be more efficient and effective? If the effects of ddt would have made it impossible to establish such a program after the fact, without falconers, can this truly be counted as a benefit and not merely a happy coincidence? Furthermore, how many dog owners care for their pets properly? How many falconers are "good" falconers? Many of us keep pets or otherwise "use" animals in ways that, though loving and responsible, cater exclusively to our individual desires. I do not believe that science justifies all animal use, but does mitigate it partially, especially when applied to "recreational" purposes.
Please forgive the rather icky connotations of the above paragraph...
...it's very difficult to discuss this without making it sound odd at best!
I do however believe that the reality of the relationship between humans and other animals as we coexist in this world, as well as the raw nature of humanity itself, ultimately justifies our exploitation of animals to a point. That point is of course what most people debate, and it is strongly affected by the previously discussed thicket of benefits and costs including science, intelligence, pain, suffering, economics, human emotion and empathy, etc. Eating octopuses live is, to me, a bit over the line. Eating worms alive is not (though I find neither terribly appealing.) I encourage all ceph owners to be more curious and investigative with their pets, and to share their findings in the grand and glorious tradition of science, and have great respect for those who do.
I would not describe Pakoc's language and manner as highly insulting--as I'm sure you have witnessed at some point, at its worst this conversation is civil compared to countles bbs threads. I will not discuss who "threw the first punch" as by this time it is utterly irrelevant. I recognize your feelings regarding perceived attacks on Tony and others here, and do not think you are wrong to feel that way, but as I advised, please consider the influence your feelings have on your statements and logic.
I do not demand an apology from Pakoc. Though I realize you make no demand, you do frame a situation which is by default equivalent--that he apologize or go "unforgiven" and ignored, at the very least by you. I am willing to overlook heated statements and attitudes on anyone's part. We are all somewhat prone to such behavior. At this time whatever insults have been made are fairly indirect and negligible, and apologies should not be necessary in such situations provided the responsible parties are willing to make consistent best efforts.
I find your suggestion that Pakoc has manipulated his participation in this conversation to maximize disruptive and aggressive effect ("laying low until he could fire grapeshot") clouded by your distress and unjustifiable. The nature of a bbs discussion is prone the the vagaries of personal schedules and global timezones and lack of participation cannot inherently be held against anyone. Further, I could not blame him for simply being afraid to jump back into a brewing firestorm, though perhaps he should have been better prepared for the reactions he might receive.
I do not think "replies" to mudslinging are justified when they are in kind. I am quite firm in that. Perhaps this is a philosophical conversation for another time and thread.