Honoring Cecil the Lion

Glen Hisey, the curator of the Pope and Young Records Programme which, by way of a brief description, documents the killing of big game, is quoted as having said the following: “…it’s a personal achievement to harvest any big-game animal with a bow and arrow. It is a way of honoring that animal for all time.”

I’ll give you a minute or two to take your anti-nausea medicine.

Welcome back. Now that your stomach has ceased turning over (or is turning over more slowly) can we just take a critical look at that statement, and maybe stop first at the word harvest? Are we supposed to equate the killing of a living animal for sport with the gathering of a few acres of wheat? For that matter, and because I don’t want to be a hypocrite, is it okay to harvest cattle and chickens? That can be an argument for another day, but I do understand that we can’t pick and choose one animal victim over another because one is majestic and the other is just another cow.

But if the euphemistic harvesting isn’t cynical enough, do we really honor something for all time by killing it? If so, we may have to reexamine the historic roles of James Earl Ray and Lee Harvey Oswald. Let’s include Charlie Manson and those cops on Staten Island and Ferguson, Missouri–these are all people who, contrary to what we believed, were apparently honoring their victims.

Look, if you want to hunt, hunt. If you feel a sense of achievement by using your superior mental ability to bring down an animal, go for it. If you want to claim that hunting animals is all tangled up with the history (and prehistory) of man, be my guest. But can you just do it legally? And can you just shut up about it instead of exalting it as some sort of sacred mission?

Walter Palmer, a Minnesota dentist, paid upwards of $50,000 to shoot and kill a lion in Zimbabwe. He probably did it illegally—he possibly didn’t know it was an illegal kill—he more than likely doesn’t care–and I’ll bet he’s right now planning his next harvesting expedition. I don’t like it, but I’m not going to lose my mind over it. The story is repulsive and horrific, but people are “harvesting” other people and “honoring them for all time” at a much more rapid rate. That should make us just as angry.

As for Walter Palmer, big-game killer from Minnesota, I can only hope that in this rapidly advancing technological world, someone invents the selfie-stick for the crossbow. And soon.

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Chuck Radda

I'm a former high school English teacher, currently a literacy volunteer and novelist. I invite your responses right here or to chuckradda@gmail.com. You can also follow me on Facebook and on Twitter—where I tweet annually at @chuckrad45.

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