Why Are Some So Outraged at Cecil the Lion’s Death?

VINCE O'SULLIVAN / FLICKR
VINCE O’SULLIVAN / FLICKR

Even though the story of Dr. Walter J. Palmer and Cecil the Lion was an unusual one—a Minnesota dentist who illegally lured, tortured, and killed a famous lion in Zimbabwe— it was easy to predict how people would react:

 

1. Palmer would become a public enemy, criticized and declared evil. He would have to hide.

2. His news would be read in comparison to the other social justice stories in our feeds. So, those expressing outrage over the lion’s death would get shamed for caring more about the slain animal than the unborn or Sandra Bland.

I knew the first because I’ve been around the Internet long enough. People’s lives and careers have been trampled by tweets, shares, and likes for “less” than illegally shooting a beloved lion. And I knew the second because I’ve been around Christians long enough.

From the time as a kid I began applying Scripture about justice to protecting animals to my current outspoken advocacy for pit bulls, I’ve heard people try to redirect my outrage. Why do I care more about homeless dogs than homeless people? Why do I care more about overcrowded animal shelters than overpopulated orphanages? Why am I more at ease sharing the “good news” about pit bulls than I am about Jesus?

Drained of my defensiveness, I’ve stopped responding with a resolute, “I don’t!” and started asking, “Why would you think that?” I’d pose the same question to those who think outrage over a lion’s slaughter means we don’t care about unborn children and selling baby parts or about police brutality and the suicide of Sandra Bland. This isn’t an either/or situation.

That the tale of Cecil the Lion and the Cowardly Dentist has grabbed us—with its clear villain, its undeserving victim, its sinister plots, its global connections, its cover-ups, and its rising and twisting plotlines—isn’t something we should apologize for. Or hush up.

 

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SOURCE: Christianity Today
Caryn Rivadeneira