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Cecil the lion mourners are really just phonies
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By Andrea Peyser
August 7, 2015

Cecil the lion mourners are really just phonies

We live in a nation of bloodthirsty hypocrites.

I admit that I share in the sense of revulsion that has gripped many of my fellow Americans, not all vegetarians, who cried out after news broke that dweeby 55-year-old Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer last month traveled to the African nation of Zimbabwe and murdered Cecil, a famous and beloved lion, in an illegal hunt.

“Is it that difficult for you to get an erection that you need to kill things?’’ late-night TV show host Jimmy Kimmel asked on air, tearing up theatrically — and playing the upsetting slaying of a 13-year-old lion for laughs. Actress Mia Farrow led the Internet equivalent of a pitchfork-and-torch charge by tweeting out (then deleting) the tooth man’s business address.

Palmer has soared to the top of the most-reviled humans list, a slot that, one would think, should be occupied by a human-child-killer rather than a lion-killer. But the king of the jungle benefits roaringly from a superior public-relations strategy. Now Palmer is the hunted, living in hiding, his practice closed. He’s forced to hire ex-cops to protect his Florida vacation house
from vandals who’ve spray-painted the words “LION Killer!’’ on the garage door and dumped pickled pigs’ feet in the driveway.

Do the severe punishments — probable financial ruin, effective exile from society, and Zimbabwean officials’ attempts to extradite him for criminal prosecution — fit the offense?

Sure — if you believe that all living beings, from furry critters to the despicable dentist — have the absolute right to live long and comfortable lives.

But how many of us eat meat, despite the well-documented animal-suffering in slaughterhouses? How many of us wear leather shoes, jackets and belts? How many of us have hunted deer? (Well, not me, but . . . )

Sanctimonious vegans aren’t off the hook. Because whether you live in an urban apartment or a suburban subdivision, you are responsible for driving living things from their natural habitats, essentially promoting the mass slaughter of wildlife.

In a column published in The New York Times, North Carolina doctoral student Goodwell Nzou, who grew up in a Zimbabwean village, wrote about the way lions wreak terror on entire populations by slaughtering livestock — and worse. Recently, he wrote, a lion mauled to death a 14-year-old boy as he slept in his family’s fields to shield crops from trampling by hippos, buffalo and elephants.

“Did Jimmy Kimmel choke up because Cecil was murdered or because he confused him with Simba from ‘The Lion King’?’’ Nzou wrote.

“And please, don’t offer me condolences about Cecil unless you’re also willing to offer me condolences for villagers killed or left hungry by his brethren, by political violence or by hunger.’’

Whether or not you buy claims that hunting encourages animal conservation — if for no other reason than the profitable business encourages locals to keep up the big-cat population to give folks something to kill — the practice is not always wrong. Yet I admit feeling sickened by the sight of pictures of Palmer caressing various animal corpses, looking like a cross between a
deranged Ernest Hemingway and Theodore Roosevelt,

I’m also grossed out by the sight of 2011 pictures of wealthy and spoiled Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, the adult sons of Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump, cuddling dead animals in Zimbabwe after engaging in presumably legal hunts. (The Donald insists he doesn’t hunt, but defended his sons’ hobby.)

In 2008, deadly moron Palmer pleaded guilty to making false statements to US Fish and Wildlife officials — lying when he claimed that he bagged a black bear in an area of Wisconsin for which he had obtained a hunting permit. He was fined nearly $3,000 and sentenced to a year’s probation,

Now he’s accused of paying $55,000 to two African guides to help him slay a well-known lion that was tracked by Oxford University researchers. He’s alleged, with professional hunter Theo Bronkhorst’s help, to have lured Cecil from his habitat with the carcass of an animal, then shooting and wounding the lion with a crossbow before tracking the creature for 40 hours and finishing him off with a gun.

Palmer has denied knowing that the killing was unlawful. (Charged in Zimbabwe with failing to prevent an illegal hunt, Bronkhorst claimed innocence and said the “frivolous’’ charge will lead to animal destruction.)

Before judging Palmer, Americans need to admit that we are every bit as responsible for animal suffering as he is. I loathe hunting.

But I hate phonies.

©2007-2024 Andrea Peyser and; No Reuse without permission.
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