I love animals. I love animals so much that I no longer eat them and haven’t done for a number of years; 17 vegetarian/pescetarian and 3 vegan, if you want the strict background. I’m also, no surprise, a pretty big ‘live and let live’ person in general. I try not to flatten or step on critters–even the ugly, multi-legged ones who seem to love my bathroom–and I try to take the high road (not always successfully) when someone pisses me off.
I’m lucky enough to live in a country where it’s not necessary to eat any form of meat or their derivatives. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, meat substitutions, and all manner of convenient, pre-made vegan foods are plentiful. And yes, you can do this without a lot of money. I’m a secretary right now, not a CEO, or (yet) a best-selling author. Everyone could be a vegan quite easily and without any hardship whatsoever. Let me repeat that: anyone can do this in the US. And, really, in most industrialized nations around the world.
I don’t have any problems with people who need to hunt in order to live their lives. The people who eat what they hunt, use what’s left, and do so in an ecologically sound way? It’s how they live and that’s, well, not great but understandable. Trophy hunting and poaching? That’s someone who has zero compassion for animals and too much money on their hands or, conversely, the greed to have too get money in their hands. Taking an animal’s head and skinning its body so you can display the kill later is disturbing to me on multiple levels. Killing an animal and selling its body on the black market is just as bad.
A few months ago, Ricky Gervais took to twitter to mock a woman who’d killed a giraffe, then taken and posted gratuitously callous pictures of herself with that kill. I refuse to use the word “hunt” in regards to a slow-moving, peaceful target. Much mockery was needed in that case. Ricky Gervais is a huge animal rights advocate (though not actually vegetarian or vegan, which surprised me) and a voice like his is absolutely necessary in bringing attention to the ‘hunting issue.’ Someone to mock and point out people being assholes in a way that I’m too polite to do.
Here’s the problem: death threats resulted.
First of all, and I can’t believe I have to say this to people who are advocating for the lives of animals: DEATH THREATS ARE NEVER OKAY. I don’t care what the situation is, no one should ever threaten to kill someone else over any issue. I’m not naïve. I know it happens on pretty much all the issues: abortion, gay rights, political stances, interracial relationships, gaming (don’t get me friggin started), racism… the list is endless. Because people are assholes. But issuing a death threat over someone killing an animal is not just a dick move aimed to ruin someone’s mental health and the mental health of their family, it’s pointless. The animal is already dead. Threatening to kill someone isn’t going to bring it back.
And now we come to the main reason for this post: Cecil the lion. Like everyone else, I was pissed that some asshole trophy hunter lured a protected animal off the preserve and then killed it in an extremely horrific way. There is no getting around the fact that Walter Palmer, his guides, and the safari people are all responsible for the terrible and unwarranted killing of Cecil. For that, they should all be brought up on the relevant charges and sentenced, whether to jail or massive fines, whatever the Zimbabwean punishment is. They should be treated as poachers, because that’s what they were. Palmer should be extradited and sent back to Zimbabwe to face his punishment, just like the locals. He killed Cecil, he should face the consequences.
What should not be happening is so many people issuing death threats that the local police in his town have to keep an eye on his part of town to make sure things stay quiet. Tanking Palmer’s yelp page, his website, posting “Rot in Hell” signs on his dental practice, and making it so he has to go into hiding is wrong. The phrase ‘two wrongs don’t make a right” is both trite and apropos. He’s a dick, there is no doubt of that in my mind from his previous behavior in his “hunting” practices and his life, but his family shouldn’t have to worry about someone killing him. Don’t forget, what happens to Palmer essentially happens to his family as well. Given that his dental practice is likely kaput from all of this (I know I wouldn’t want him as my dentist), that plus whatever punishment the Zimbabwe authorities dish out is vengeance enough.
Addendum: some fucker just killed Cecil’s brother, Jericho, who was watching over Cecil’s cubs. What protection the cubs and their mother had with Jericho is now gone so they’re outlook is now pretty bleak. I hope the Zimbabwean government goes after THAT poacher as enthusiastically as they’re going after Palmer.