I started noticing “Cecil the Lion” trending on Facebook and Twitter at some point yesterday afternoon. By the evening, it was the most popular topic on social media, and stories about the lion were popping up on all of the national news sites.
Before I took the time to investigate, I tried to imagine if there could be any valid reason for a wild cat to become the biggest news item in the world. On a day when another undercover video revealed Planned Parenthood dismembering murdered children for profit, I strained to think if there might be some justification for ignoring the harvesting of human beings in favor of obsessing over a large feline in Africa.
I thought maybe the lion had cured cancer, or sprouted wings and flown into space, or stood on its hind legs and recited the Gettysburg Address. Surely, these developments would vindicate the disproportionate amount of attention it was receiving. But I quickly found out that the lion, from Zimbabwe, had done no such thing. Apparently, all it did was die.
Of course, lots of people died yesterday too, especially in Zimbabwe. Across the planet, human travesties continued to unfold – Christians were slaughtered in the Middle East, political prisoners were tortured and executed in North Korea and Iran, Americans fell prey to crime and violence spilling over our southern border, and about 3,000 human children were butchered in abortion clinics, some of which were then dissected and sold on the black market – but this one unfortunate beast in a forest 9,000 miles away trumped all of these. Human victims would have to wait yet another day to be noticed by our culture. Their plight just couldn’t compete with a cute, fuzzy mammal.
Poor Cecil, as I’m sure you heard, was ”murdered” by an American dentist named Walter Palmer. The dentist traveled there and paid some $55,000 for the privilege to hunt and kill the king of the jungle. It turns out that the hunt might not have been legal. He says he thought he was acting within the law, and that he didn’t know Cecil was a beloved animal celebrity in Africa. His pleads of ignorance may or may not be true, but they are called into question by the fact that he’s been convicted of poaching before.