I’ve been busy on mission trips the past two weeks, so my ability to follow the news was greatly lessened. However, I am back, just in time for the media explosion and social media outrage over the killing of Cecil the Lion, a majestic, 13 year old male lion who was a popular attraction for Zimbabwe. Evidently, an American dentist paid over $50,000 (!) to a local company that is supposed to guide hunters to legal game, but here, they baited Cecil away from the national park with a carcass and then the dentist shot Cecil with a crossbow. The lion, however, did not die immediately, and ran away wounded. The hunting party tracked him for 40 hours before finally shooting him to death. He was decapitated and skinned for trophies before his body was simply left to rot. The dentist claims that he did not know that he shot a protected lion that was used for research until after he killed it, but even if that were true, it does not help that he and the people with him tried to destroy the tracking collar on the lion when they found it.
The unnecessary and seemingly arrogant nature of this killing threw the Internet into a frenzy. People raged against this dentist, with many peppering his yelp page with angry comments, so much so that he has closed down his dental office for the time being. The media is angry. Bloggers are angry, with sites denouncing him as an evil, shallow, despicable human being who tries to make up for his own lack of self-esteem by killing animals (and those are the nicer things they are saying about him). The angriest social media commenters have opined that he should also be decapitated and skinned, or better yet, he should be dropped into the savanna without a weapon so that the lions can come kill him. Justice!!! Even Jimmy Kimmel got in on the action, hurling several personal insults at the dentist before showing his precious sensitive side by tearing up over the lion. A Democratic Congresswoman has already called for a federal investigation.
And as I saw all of this, I was once again convinced that America has gone insane.
Rewind two years ago. An absolutely astonishing story broke about an abortion doctor, Kermit Gosnell, and his grisly practice. His practice was responsible for the deaths of dozens of babies, many of which were deemed “viable,” and also the deaths of some women. His practice was unsanitary, his methods were brutal, and his cavalier attitude was disturbing. He was “only” convicted of three counts of murder and one count of manslaughter out of the seven murder charges, but that was more than enough to land him in prison for life without parole. This was a horrifying serial killer, preying upon women and children for profit. As bad as that is, it’s often a boon for media outlets because nothing gains viewership like news about serial killers, right?
Except the media was largely silent for a long period of time. As pressure mounted, the mainstream news outlets began to cover it. More self-reflective journalists asked serious questions as to why the media was slow on this story, with many plausibly citing that the pro-choice world of most journalists made them reluctant to cover it. Some even tried to defend this lack of coverage initially by stating that they felt that it was a “local” story. It was mind-boggling.
And yet, when a lion gets killed, people go bonkers. Kermit Gosnell? Eh, not interesting. The huge controversy hanging over Planned Parenthood? No thanks. America’s crumbling infrastructure? Boooring. Thousands of babies aborted per year? IT’S OUR RIGHT! Instead, let’s freak out over a lion, despite the fact that lions can be pretty brutal to each other and to other species. Fun fact: Did you know that male lions try to slaughter lion cubs when they take over a pride so that they can impregnate the females? Go do a youtube search for those fun videos. But hey, Mufasa was a cool character and Simba sang fun songs.
Look, I don’t have a hunting bone in my body and find spending that kind of money to shoot big game to be a waste (and yes, I would totally say that to Dr. Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Seminary, who is an avid hunter and has shot such things like giraffes and hippos). If I had 50 G’s laying around with no other use, there are a million other (and cheaper) things I would do than travel to Africa to shoot at a lion, such as give to missionaries, eat a lot of ice cream, and buy some UT football tickets (and after all of that, I would still have a mountain of money left over). I also tend to like animals: I love dogs and I enjoy nature documentaries, including those that are actually about lions. Furthermore, I think what the dentist did was stupid, and at the very least, his guides should be prosecuted for breaking laws that they should have known (and maybe he should be too). I also do not think that humans having dominion over the earth, as it says in Genesis, means spending tons of money to shoot at dwindling animals for no reason. All of that said, at the end of the day, Cecil was a lion across the Atlantic Ocean, as unfortunate and pointless as his death was. The level of outrage over this is comical in light of how many people gloss over far more serious issues.
What is also amusing is how many progressives are responding when confronted with the issue of abortion. I’ve seen many say things like, “Well, abortion is legal and the fetus is not a human.” Are you joking? First of all, let us not pretend that liberals are outraged because this dentist shot Cecil and not a different lion; as even Kimmel makes clear, the anger is over the whole enterprise of shooting a lion in the first place, whether or not it is legal. Secondly, even if we were to grant that human fetuses should not be considered fully human, you know what else isn’t a human? A lion, because it is, well, a lion. Why flip out trying to protect this clearly non-human life while being cavalier with another, whose status as a human being is actually upheld by so many? Is it because Cecil and other lions, quite unlike babies, are familiar to us only through pictures and film, making no demands on our lives? Is it because we can rage on our keyboards about lions, give lip-service to our support for them, and then go about our day without the sort of responsibility that a baby will put on our lives? After all, a lion across the Atlantic has little to no effect on most people’s careers, sleep schedules, energy, hobbies, finances, etc. But that baby… yeah, that selfish, demanding little thing.
Priorities and logic. We sure have them.