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Cecil the Lion, the Digital Lynch Mob Mentality, and Everything Wrong With Us

The killing of a lion in Zimbabwe by an American dentist has sparked an international outrage on social media, prompting some to set up online petitions calling for his extradition to the African country to face charges. Emotions are high and people are appalled by the incident.

I, for one, just find what happened to be horrendous and despicable. I cannot understand the entire ‘trophy hunting’ concept. But this was my stance way, way before Cecil the Lion was killed. Below is a snapshot of a post on my page dating nearly a year ago expressing just that.

My criticism of trophy hunting on 2014
My criticism of trophy hunting on 2014


My point is, I’m strictly against the hurting of these beasts and I voiced it before anyone even heard the name ‘Cecil’. And I still stand by what I said: If you hunt to eat, I’ll take a neutral stance and won’t go into all that controversial argument about whether it’s morally right or wrong to eat meat. I’ll leave that debate for maybe another day. However, if you kill JUST for the fun of killing, then you are narcissistic and in dire need of psychological evaluation, because I do not see how anyone with a grain of compassion in them can find pleasure in taking the life of any living thing just like that, out of spite, under the pretext of ‘sport’, not to mention there is nothing manly about pulling a trigger from a distance when even a 5-year-old can do that—“Son, just pull on this thing when that thing comes into view in this cross-hair here, okay?”

Bottom-line: trophy hunting should be banned. And those who hunt should be prosecuted to the fullest extent under the law. Especially, and most especially, when it comes to endangered species. This would serve two purposes: 1) it would make it very difficult for others to pursue the same ‘hobby’ in the future since there would have been a few examples set that would make them think twice, and 2) it would help protect endangered species more.

So, yeah, that’s my stance. Always was, always will be.

But with all that said, there’s something more sinister looming in my peripheral of perception when I think of the whole thing:

The lynch-mob-mentality reaction by some people.

I’m truly more disgusted by some of the things I’ve been reading since the whole incident was brought to light than the actual incident itself.

As much as I find what Palmer did to be morbid, the vitriol being exchanged on social media towards him, and at times his family, is even more sickening when I consider how fragile humanity is these days. From death threats to suggestions of burning down his house, to ‘feeding him’ to lions, to, to, to.

Seriously now? What have become of us? What have we been reduced to? It makes me wonder if people are even remotely aware of their own contradictions and bias towards their preached philosophies of righteousness. First of all, since when does one wrong make another wrong right? Is that now the new definition of justice in this era we live in?

Calling for the death of a human being in public pages for killing a lion is just mind-blowing and spine-chilling no matter how much you loved the lion. We all loved him and we are all sad, but come on…let’s not get so blinded by rage that we forget the basic principles of virtues and wisdom. There’s already so much darkness in this world—so those of us who truly care to make whatever little difference we could to lighten it up should exercise wisdom and caution with our words. I understand that some people might not mean what they say when sentiments are high, but still…calling for the death of a human being because he killed a lion contradicts our own philosophy of wisdom and justice. That’s wrong, brothers and sisters. Totally wrong. How can you justify one barbaric act with another barbaric act?

Can anyone of us truly say they know who Palmer is other than what we have been fed by the media? Does anyone of us know if he’s a good father/brother/uncle to someone? If he ever did charity work? If he ever fixed the cavities of a poor kid for free? How can we become so blinded with social-media-induced rage these days that we no longer are able to exercise simple wisdom and empathy?

Should Palmer be punished? Definitely. Big time. How? I don’t know. How about, say, 3 to 5 years imprisonment and a big fee? And then maybe some community work? Or lead an awareness campaign after he served his sentence to protect wildlife? I’m a fierce supporter of animals’ rights. But there are so many possibilities when it comes to taking justice for Cecil without us becoming monsters and calling for the death of a human being…

Yet despite the efforts of many people to point out these things, some folks are still hell-bent on preaching that death should be the fate of the dentist. Well, using that logic, I then pose the following:

How come then no one ever cared about the THOUSANDS of other lions, elephants, cheetahs, giraffes, rhinoceros, etc., being poached and killed before? Why is no one preaching death to Melissa Bachman?

v3-Melissa Bachman dead lion

Oh, you don’t know who she is? Google. You know, that’s what Google is there for: to research things, learn, follow the truth….NOT only to use when ‘hot stories’ hit. And pssst…while you’re at it, check out that she actually runs and operates a site that promotes hunting. At least the dentist doesn’t have one.

While we’re at it, should we burn all of Ernest Hemingway’s books, too?

Hemingway posing with a dead lion

Wait—what? You mean you didn’t KNOW that Hemingway was a trophy hunter, too?

No, wait, please—before you turn this into a  “Oh, it’s only the AMERICANS” and hit the Holier Than Thou button, how about maybe Prince Harry? Should we kill his royal ass, too?


Or how about the woman known as “The Sexy Hunter”?


She PROUDLY states she will never stop hunting. Too bad no “death threats” for her, huh?


I could go on and on and on, you know.

The question is… why only Palmer? Oh, I’ll tell you why:

Because we’ve become pawns on the board of social media, we’ve been stripped off our values, principles, and ability to think, and we’ve been made into tiny, little robots that conform to whatever the ‘next trend’ is. We’ve been conditioned to follow momentum and we spew venom according to how the media manipulates us without us even being aware of that. No critical-thinking. Blind rage and hate-speech is now the coolest thing after sliced bread. Just another episode of the latest in a long history of social media bandwagons for many to hop on.

Which reminds me, does anyone still remember what ALS stands for? Oh, right—that has long been forgotten. It’s no longer the “Ice Bucket Challenge” phase. The new trend now is issuing death threats against Palmer and his family. And in a few weeks, all of us loving keyboard warriors will have forgotten about beloved Cecil and we’ll be swept away by some new euphoria.

Please. Puh-fucking-lease. The hypocrisy is just too much!

We’re sentient beings, for crying out loud—how can we allow ourselves to lose empathy and become online savages? Words have weight, you know. They leave imprints in our hearts and souls for a long, long time. The guy is an asshole. A totally sick one at that. I do not disagree. And, like many, I wish upon him a strict punishment of sorts…but to wish him (or his family) death? Come on now. What if, due to our negligence of choosing our words carefully, someone who’s half-baked kept reading all of our comments online wishing death on Palmer and his family, and then this guy takes it upon himself to go be the “Internet Hero”, and the next thing you know….headlines have it “Palmer’s mother/father gunned down by a Facebook user”? How would that make us feel?

I sincerely am saddened when I read so much hate-filled words these days. Please, people—let’s not lose the basic fabric of humanity: empathy. We can still call for justice to be served for Cecil without losing focus and wisdom and understanding. It’s OK to be angry. It’s just not OK to be cruel!!!

Written by Ali B. Moe, founder of Enchanting Minds.