A little moral outrage is a dangerous thing. So learned a certain dentist from Minnesota with a penchant for trophy hunting this week when he faced the wrath of the Internet hive mind for killing a now famous Zimbabwean lion named Cecil.
He received death threats, hate mail and Mia Farrow – that guardian of Hollywood righteousness – tweeted the dentist’s U.S. street address to her followers.
Whether Dr. Walter Palmer survives the week in gun-crazed America aside, (the likelihood of him being killed by a cop for say a routine traffic violation is rather low) one thing has become clear in the last few days: outraged – let’s face it – predominantly Anglo-American online hive minds are a force to be reckoned with.
But the outrage over the killing of Cecil the lion begs the question: where is the outrage over the suffering and murder of innocent humans?
[T]he English-speaking hive mind fetishizes the death of a single animal while ignoring the plight of millions of people.
Now I admit to being as Disneyfied as the rest of my generation – I grew up with the Lion King – not to mention Born Free, Out of Africa and Gorillas in the Mist – films that celebrated white colonial culture and its moral superiority when it came to animal rights.
But why is it that with all the knowledge about moral outrages perpetrated against humans at our googlable command, the English-speaking hive mind fetishizes the death of a single animal while ignoring the plight of millions of people?
Have we entered a neo-Victorian age where sentimentality towards animals trumps concern about say rampant child prostitution (big now and then) or even issues like genocide?
Worthy of compassion
Refugees as cockroaches
Why is it that so many are capable of compassion towards poor Cecil and hatred of the dentist while remaining so dispassionate about so many other burning issues?
Hadani Ditmars is the author of Dancing in the No Fly Zone and is working on a new book about ancient sites in Iraq. She has been reporting from the Middle East for two decades and is also a singer and musician.