To Mock a Killing Bird

CecilComedian Jimmy Kimmel choked back tears in a four-minute rant about Cecil the Zimbabwean lion and its killer, a dentist from Minnesota.

“I’m not against hunting,” he explained, saying it’s ok to kill animals when it’s for food, to control population, or “part of your culture.” But in this case, he had no mercy for the “evil dentist” who has apparently gone into hiding, after receiving death threats. Yes, to the delight of lots of people, Dr Walter Palmer, the lion hunter has now become a chicken that has disappeared from the surface of the earth. To rub salt into the wound, Kimmel insulted him further by asking “Is it that difficult for you to get an erection that you need to kill things?”

What the fuck?! Nowadays, everyone wants to talk like Donald Trump.

Before I go further, let me first state my points:

First, like deep sea fishing, hunting is a legitimate, legal sport in many parts of the world. I have fished for marlin in Mexico. My father and uncles used to hunt for flying foxes and wild boar in Singapore and Malaysia. Members of the Royal Family in the UK were hunting foxes even before the Romans arrived. Hunting was officially a royal sport, and to an extent shooting still is, with many Kings and Queens being involved in hunting and shooting, including King Edward VII, King George V (who on December 18th 1913 shot over a thousand pheasants out of a total bag of 3937), King George VI and the present day Prince Philip.

Try calling them cowards or barbarians. Yes, try sending them death threats. Now, don’t get me wrong – I am not condoning random, wanton killing of fish and animals outside legal parameters and merely for fun. There is no justification for such acts. In the same vein, I too, believe that tobacco and alcohol consumption is potentially harmful, but tobacco products and liquor are not illegal and I don’t go around threatening to kill tobacco users or those who imbibe in alcoholic products. You with me so far?

The fact of the matter is that ironically, many scientists contend that hunting has so far proven to be one of the most successful ways of contributing to the economy of some impoverished countries, as well as a most effective method of conserving wildlife. About 20 African nations allow it and permits are issued to hunters to hunt for animals past their breeding age.

Rosie Cooney, a zoologist who is the chairwoman of The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialists Group recently said that there are only two places on earth where wildlife at a large scale has actually increased in the 20th century, and one of them is Africa. According to her, “both of these models of conservation were built around hunting.”

Vernon Booth, a Zimbabwe-based ecologist who has worked in wildlife management for 30 years in Africa said that “even though hunting may seem un-palatable to a lot of people around the world, it is actually very, very necessary.”

I admit that the subject is complex and the issues are multifarious, but the positives of legalized, legitimate hunting far outweighs the negatives caused by the many endangered species of animals that are being killed by local residents for meat and skin on a daily basis.

Second, the dentist’s private life is his private life. You don’t heap scorn on him for whatever pastime he chooses to pursue in his own free time, even if it’s something like big-game hunting. So what if he plays with Barbie dolls or collects Coca-Cola bottle caps or weave his armpit hair? It’s nobody’s business what he does in private as long as it is not against the law. I mean, if he goes around knifing old ladies, then we should simply liquidate him, take him out. Nobody pillories you when you say your hobby is helping yourself to little bottles of shampoo from hotel rooms, right?

Thirdly, my stand is that it is ABSOLUTELY WRONG and utterly immoral and disgusting in every sense of the word for the dentist’s guides to lure the lion from a wildlife preserve for him to shoot. (Apparently this was done without the dentist’s knowledge or approval.) When I heard about that, I was so incensed with rage, I felt like taking a gun to shoot those guides!

Now that we got that out of the way, let me share some of my other thoughts about this whole episode.

It has been reported that since the tragic slaying of the lion last month, thousands of people have been killed in Syria, mostly by the regime’s war planes. Indeed, talking about Syria, nearly a quarter million Syrians have died and millions displaced but it seems that the world would rather mourn a lion.

Why indeed do people care so much about the death of a lion when so many human beings are suffering and dying? Doesn’t the outpouring of sorrow for a dead lion, when compared to the relative silence about other wrongs, reveals a moral flaw in our humanity, a defect in our moral compass?

Look no further than Zimbabwe, home of Cecil.

CNN says that the country is a showcase of misrule by a president who has held power for 28 years, destroying the country’s economic base and spurring the kind of hopelessness, hunger and poverty that, among other things, leads to the poaching of wild animals.

The fact of the matter is that in Zimbabwe, much of the population is destitute, its wildlife is devastated.

Elsewhere, 30,000 children die from hunger daily but do we care about their plight? Or about the millions of suffering refugees created by war and terror – the highest numbers since World War II – or about the 9 million people (3 million of them children!) who die of hunger-related causes every year or the 800 million who go to bed hungry each night?

What is more appalling? The death of one lion, the behavior of the self-righteous sanctimonious lynch mob who issues death threats to hunters, the toxic jealousy of those losers who despise the wealthy who can afford to spend tens of thousands of dollars to go on hunting safaris and deep sea fishing trips, or our turning a blind eye to the millions who live below the poverty line and are dying of starvation each day?

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