There’s a bit of a furore going on in the animal activist world (yes – I am an animal activist) right now about that dentist, Walter James Palmer, who arranged to have the beloved Zimbabwean lion, Cecil, lured out of his protected environment, and then shot him with a bow and arrow. Unfortunately our good dentist is a crappy shot, so he only wounded poor Cecil who had to be tracked and finished off with a gun forty hours later. Now the knock on effect is that all of Cecil’s cubs will be killed by the lion who takes his place in the pride, so blood and pain all around all because some small tooled little tool prefers moving targets.
In one way it’s great that people are upset enough about this to rant loudly on their blogs. In another way it’s quite sad. Cecil had a good life, apart from the last forty hours. The life of the chicken who supplied the egg that went into the activist’s breakfast pancake was infinitely worse from birth to death than Cecil’s, and that’s a thing that we choose not to consider. Not to mention the millions of newly born male chicks that get thrown alive into meat grinders every day to support the egg industry. That chicken was no less intelligent or sentient than Cecil, but because chickens can be bred by the billions and are considered “food” animals, that’s ok. If we don’t want to eat it we are appalled by the killing of it. If we do want to eat it, any old abuse is just fine and dandy. There is no killing that is also humane. It is what it is, and shouting about the killing of certain animals while condoning the killing of others seems wrong to me.
I feel no more outrage at the killing of Cecil than I do at the death of baby cows turned into veal for the milk industry. Why is it considered alright, and even cool, to rage and rant at the death of rhinos and elephants when the daily violent lives and deaths of multiple billions of little souls destined for plates around the world slips beneath our notice? They have no value. Attempting to show that they really do have value incites rage. That’s why we hate the vegans. We freak out when hunters adorn their walls with the dead heads of deer, but we’re quite happy to snuggle down in winter under our goose down quilts. We don’t consider the pain ridden source of our feather dusters as we hum and clean our mantels who generally end up as handbags to be proud of, but we rage when we see people dining on dogs in the East. What is the difference between the life of a sheep and a dog?
Our modern lives are all about pain. We inflict it on ourselves, each other, but mostly on anything that can’t escape our hungry clutches, and we vociferously hate it when anyone points this out to us. It would be much kinder if those who mourn the death of Cecil chose to focus on the death of the pig who provided their breakfast bacon – that little guy had a much crappier life and death. So forget about Cecil. He got off lightly considering the rest of the awful things we cause to happen to other creatures every second of every day, while choosing to ignore. I’d much rather be a free living lion finally killed by a hunter than a cow. Shouting about Cecil while munching your poached egg makes no sense to me. This is the life we have chosen, and it’s best lived cloaked in silence so we can eat guilt free.