Thursday, July 30, 2015

Reactions to my post from yesterday ("Why I am not a trophy hunter")

One subscriber wrote "Too much dentist/lion coverage and not enough African human tragedy coverage in my humble opinion." Point taken, but with news cycles what they are ...

Another forwarded a link to an article contrasting coverage the deaths of Cecil (a lion at the hands of a poaching hunter) and Sandra Bland (a black woman imprisoned for the slimmest of reasons). The article also mentions the shooting of a Sam Dubose, an unarmed black man, by a 25-year old white police officer.

In a Wednesday Twitter post, feminist and author Roxane Gay suggested a novel approach for how to draw attention to police violence in America — violence that has overwhelmingly impacted black men, women and children.

I'm personally going to start wearing a lion costume when I leave my house so if I get shot, people will care.

Well, people do care. There are just not enough hours in the day for everyone to translate each of their cares into action.

I suspect the motives for killing relatively rare animals to claim their heads as trophies are, in a sense, primordial. Such trophies probably served a social purpose some thousands of years ago when the weapons used were primitive spears and bows and arrows. Now the animals are rare and weapons far more sophisticated. Add to that the practice of baiting, illegal baiting in the case of luring Cecil from the protection of the Hwange park. On top of it all, the American dentist already had one lion in his collection of rare animals he killed. Why did he need one more?

So, yes, without apology, I joined with other bloggers and Facebook denizens in protest of the circumstances of Cecil's death. Trophy hunting is barbaric. As a species we need to get beyond this practice from our far distant past. Until we do so, we need to call out those serial killers of rare animals at every opportunity. (See the accompanying post today with comments by Congressman Raul Grijalva.)

But does this detract from the revulsion that motivates the protests of the human deaths? It does not and should not. Start with a soup of (sometimes implicit) racial bias and add to it police cultures and armaments; the result is predictable. So, yes, that needs to change. No more deaths of black people for trivial or fabricated offenses. We need to call out those persons responsible and get beyond this practice from our not so distant past.

Protesting and publicizing bad behaviors with horrible outcomes is a zero-sum game at the individual level. There are so many tragedies in the world that one person (or one blogger) cannot keep up with them all. Like others, I have to pick and choose my topics. But as a society, our reactions to those tragedies need not be played as zero-sum. We can correct those bad behaviors leading to wrongful deaths at the hands of those charged with law enforcement. And we can curb trophy hunting of rare species. So let's get on with it. No more Sandras. No more Sams. And no more Cecils.

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