Social media is absolutely crazed with blogs, articles, comments, opinions, pictures and more than a smidge of vigilantism over the killing of Cecil in Zimbabwe.
There is not a single human with internet access who is unaware of what happened and the fall out from Dr. Palmer’s “sport” of choice or his decision to break numerous laws, across several countries, all so he could have a trophy (most serial killers keep trophies…just sayin’).
I have absolutely no sympathy for Dr. Palmer. Make the choice, own the result. Dr. Palmer is now the animal being hunted; because yes, the internet hunts, and it is unforgiving.
With the exception of the occasional comment about the benefits of controlled trophy hunting to protect endangered species (at best, an oxymoron – at worst, I don’t have the words…), there is global outrage – a global call to action. The internet hunts. It is unforgiving. It wants results.
Aside from the fact that I am an animal activist – aside from the fact that I am horrified, disgusted and sickened by Dr. Palmer and the murder of Cecil, I am also fascinated. I am fascinated because it is about justice. And…
“J” is for Justice.
More specifically, it is for “Social Justice”.
For what I believe is the first time; social media has created a platform for a cause, a case, a situation that brings the entire world together in a common opinion. The 9/11 attacks did not do this. The atrocities that happen every day in our own neighborhoods do not do this. The execution of Cecil has done this.
It is empowering. It is scary.
I do not condone vigilantism. Ever. Even when the idea is really appealing.
I hope Cecil will be a catalyst of change in how we protect those who cannot protect themselves.
The symbolism is staggering.
The hunter has become the hunted (good luck with that Dr. Palmer).
Cecil was lured away from his protected space and butchered. Not so different from predators who lure children away from their protected space and brutalize them.
Just as Dr. Palmer had a choice and made the wrong one, we, as a worldwide community, have a choice.
We can choose to consider this an isolated incident of lawlessness and brutality. We can choose to focus solely on Dr. Palmer as the predator and mete out vigilante justice. We can choose to ignore the bigger implications and opportunity presented to us in our zeal to make Dr. Palmer pay.
Or, we can choose the platform of global collaboration this horrific act has presented to us. We can choose to see the symbolism of Cecil…a sentient being we promised to protect; a being who had no voice in determining his fate. We can work together to make sure that no being can be butchered for sport or brutalized right under our noses.
We are screaming from the rooftops (and our keyboards). We are collectively shouting for justice. All I ask is that as the fervor dissipates about this particular set of crimes, we do not quiet our voices and turn them instead toward the bigger questions. Let us embrace the haunting words of Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala Yousafai – a 17 year old child…
“I raise my voice not so I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard.”
It is all a lesson and I am still learning.