Like many, I was appalled at the cruel death of Cecil the lion and my first reaction was to get in touch with Guido and put out a contract on the smiling dentist who appears to have lured a half-tame lion to a lingering death.
But Guido was already booked up (so many bad guys, so little time) and I contented myself with signing a petition or two and watching the internet villagers gather with their torches and their calls for retribution.
Once the dentist was thoroughly threatened, doxxed (his personal info published on-line -- the same thing those bakers got in trouble for doing to the lesbian couple) and his office forced to close (at least for the moment,) there came a second wave -- a flurry of posts taking people to task for getting all upset over one lion when there were so many elephants/rhinos/wolves/(fill in the blank) being hunted for trophies.
"And what about the pigs and chickens and cows and wooly lambs?" the vegans chimed in. "Don't their lives matter too?"
"And all the aborted babies!"
"And Sandra Bland!"
"And Black lives!"
"And children dying from hunger -- 30,000 daily!"
"And the Marines in Chattanooga!" (This post forgot the sailor but I haven't.)
"And all the people suffering in Sudan! What about them?"
Good questions. I've been pondering on this as I deal with transforming garden produce into food for now and later.
One answer is that people just naturally like some animals better than others. Big animals -"charismatic megafauna" as THIS ARTICLE calls them. You wouldn't get this kind of uproar over one spotted owl. Or one rare toad.
The answer I arrived at before reading the article was that, unlike so many of the other causes, this had a specific face -- well, two specific faces. The majestic lion (who had a name as well) and the smug, smiling, rich-guy dentist. Suddenly we villagers had a focus for our anger.
It's hard to find one person to blame for world hunger, trophy hunting in general, or any of the other above-mentioned cases (except, perhaps, that of Sandra Bland -- and Chattanooga -- but that shooter is dead.) Here it's easy -- the wealthy, entitled American who has a history of bending/breaking laws to secure his "trophies." What's not to hate?
"And," the mob shouts, "he needs to be brought to justice. If he escapes the courts, we'll make his life hell."
I really want to see justice done. I hope the whole truth of this incident comes out and that, if he is guilty, the wealthy American can't buy his way out. I hope that the massive outcry leads other trophy hunters to consider changing from guns to cameras. (Yes, I know about the monetary contribution of game hunting to poor economies and to conservation programs. Camera safaris do the same thing.)
But I find the mob justice of the internet a little scary. Particularly when the mob is composed of nice people. Particularly when I find myself reaching for a pitchfork.
It reminds me of a kids' soccer game many years ago. I was sitting beside a friend who, I happened to know, attended Quaker services. And who was quite anti-gun.
But when one of the players on the other team had the ball, my sweet friend was shouting at our boys, "Kill him! Kill him!"
No answers here . . . just observations.