What's Driving the Outrage Over Cecil the Lion?

Federal regulators are now saying they will investigate the shooting of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe. From the gravity of the rhetoric, you’d think they were responding to a political assassination.


Many observers have noted the vast disparity in concern over Cecil’s death as opposed to concern over issues of human rights. Perhaps the most obvious comparison is the ongoing controversy over Planned Parenthood selling baby parts for profit.

It’s hard to believe that all this outrage is really about Cecil the Lion. Emotional responses emerge from preconceived values which make up our worldview. What kind of worldview leads one to rend their robes over the shooting of a lion?

It’s one thing to express some concern and support legal repercussions for poaching, if the hunt was indeed illegal. It’s quite another to take the time to picket the hunter’s business office, litter the premises with signs and stuffed animals, and — in some cases — level death threats. What kind of worldview gets someone that worked up?

A superficial look at the situation reveals much. Walter Palmer, the accused hunter, is a wealthy heterosexual white male who utilizes the fruit of his labor to exert dominance over nature — with guns. In that way, he is the personification of everything the so-called progressive movement hates. The revelation that he took a beloved lion from Zimbabwe provides a pretext for destroying him, which is the literal goal of many protestors.

For argument’s sake, let’s assume the absolute worst about Palmer. Let’s assume that he made the premeditated decision to engage in an illegal hunt, and poached a known research animal. Even if that’s true, there remains a cap on the amount of concern that situation should arouse. He didn’t kill a person. Yet he’s being treated worse than if he had. Actual murderers don’t get the kind of censure that Palmer has endured in recent hours.


It seems clear that Palmer has become a symbol of [fill in the blank] privilege. As such, he must be destroyed in protest of such privilege. Something tells me we wouldn’t be talking about this story but for the fact that it involves a man of Palmer’s status. It’s about him and the class of people he represents, not the lion.

Cecil the Lion: Idol for a Child-Killing Culture


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