It’s too soon to tell whether the world will be able to recover from its grief, but we suppose civilization must go on, if for no other reason than to preserve the memory of the deceased. We speak, of course, of the tragic killing of Cecil the Lion—the beloved symbol of Zimbabwe’s wildlife. To be abundantly clear, The Scrapbook abhors the illegal or gratuitous killing of animals. Walter Palmer, the Minneapolis dentist who shot the lion, had previously been fined and put on probation for lying about shooting a black bear miles outside the area where his hunting permit was valid. We are not inclined to give him any benefit of the doubt.
Nonetheless, the condemnation of Palmer not only is over-the-top but says a lot about our inability to channel outrage and otherwise have a collective sense of moral priorities. Palmer’s dental practice is closed for the time being. His home address is all over the Internet, and he is besieged by death threats. Daytime TV host Sharon Osbourne tweeted, “I hope that #WalterPalmer loses his home, his practice & his money. He has already lost his soul.” All of those things may yet happen to Palmer, but we’re not ready to join the gang that looks forward to his two children ending up impoverished. The condemnation is also a little rich coming from Mrs. Osbourne. Her famous heavy-metal husband, Ozzy, is notorious for biting the heads off of two doves—symbols of peace!—to intimidate a couple of recording industry execs. She’s bragged about the stunt for decades.
Much of the media coverage has been indistinguishable from the bloodlust of the online mob. Piers Morgan, perhaps auditioning for a job with ISIS, wrote the following in the Daily Mail:
I’d like to introduce a new sport—Big Human Hunting. I will sell tickets for $50,000 to anyone who wants to come with me and track down fat, greedy, selfish, murderous businessmen like Dr Palmer in their natural habitat. . . . Then we’d calmly walk over, skin him alive, cut his head from his neck, and [take] a bunch of photos of us all grinning inanely at his quivering flesh.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering about the political fallout: “JUST IN: Cecil the lion killer Walter Palmer donated to Romney,” reports the Hill.
Sadly, other male lions don’t take well to the offspring of dead lions, so Cecil’s progeny may not live much longer. “Infanticide is the most likely outcome,” an Oxford wildlife researcher told the Telegraph. The media have been especially outraged by the fate of the lion cubs, even as they eschew coverage of actual, you know, human infanticide, following the recent revelations of Planned Parenthood’s organ harvesting. Cosmopolitan’s senior political writer Jill Filipovic was both defending Planned Parenthood in Time and declaring “Palmer deserves all of the public shaming” inside of a day.
Still, it’s hard to top ThinkProgress for blowing things out of proportion: “Killing a single lion in 2015 is mathematically equivalent to murdering 400,000 of the planet’s roughly eight billion people.” Palmer may have committed crimes he has to answer for, but we’re confident genocide isn’t one of them. While we’re counting, it might be worth mentioning South Africa is hosting three million Zimbabwean refugees—but the only crisis in Zimbabwe that’s garnering wall-to-wall outrage isn’t a humanitarian one.