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Cecil the Lion

Cecil the Lion

It’s enough to be upset, without drawing comparisons.

To put it mildly, the internet is in an uproar over the killing in Zimbabwe of Cecil the Lion by a dentist from Minnesota on safari.

Cecil was a beautiful animal.

I understand that trophy hunting, when done legally, helps support local conservation efforts and local communities in Africa. It may seem counter-intuitive, but the funds generated make it in the economic interest of the local population not to hunt the animals themselves — which is the real threat to endangered animal populations. It also supports the local economy.

But in this case, Cecil was lured out of a nature preserve for the kill. And it seems hard to understand what good could come from killing such a magnificant example of the species.

What is not good, in my mind, is trying to score points by noting how the mainstream media has paid more attention to Cecil than to the aborted babies in the Planned Parenthood scandal. One has nothing to do with the other, and in a perverse way, it almost draws a moral equivalency to argue that the abortion scandal should have received more coverage because of coverage of Cecil.

Moral comparisons of bad things often are dangerous, e.g., which was worse, the Holocaust or Slavery? “Both” is the correct answer.

So when it comes to Cecil, I’m upset. I’ll leave it at that.

[Featured image via Jimmy Kimmel Live]


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In a sane world killing human babies because they’re an inconvenience, or to harvest their organs, and killing animals merely for the fun of it would be unacceptable.

filiusdextris | July 29, 2015 at 10:34 am

Is fighting to save a baby’s life merely “scoring points” for you? People who are using unborn babies for political capital should be ashamed of themselves, but this fight is altogether on a different level. The ends can never justify the means, but this analogy is one of neutral means to expose the hypocrisy of the left, making it a teachable moment for some. No one should decry the analogy.

Sorry Prof, but the jarring thing isn’t that people are making Cecil the lion higher on their list of priorities than the murder of untold millions of defenseless innocents, their dismemberment and their sale to the burgeoning dead baby pieces parts market. People love cats, hate dentists from Minnesota, and are ambivalent about the fate of black babies. What is jarring is that, when our media is presented with the most salacious of imaginable footage documenting a horrific and inhumane crime, they deliberately avoid the cry of every craven fiber of their being to publish such salacious footage and chose instead to post cat videos. How powerful, the bias required to act against their own interest in this way? How sad that you are distracted by it.

This is what you get from Bambi-fying lions and dehumanizing humans.

    Immolate in reply to Ragspierre. | July 29, 2015 at 11:24 am

    It may be a stretch referring to the dentist as “human”. I have no problem with him blasting Simba to smithereens, but he’s a dentist. That’s almost as bad as a lawyer.

    alaskabob in reply to Ragspierre. | July 29, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    Well said. Also, should “Cecil” have become the dominant male in the pride in the usual way then he would have killed the cubs from the previous male he displaced. No one mourns them. As there are no pictures. Even with that Stalin was correct that to the populace the death of one person is a tragedy but the death of millions is just a statistic.

    gasper in reply to Ragspierre. | July 29, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    Agreed. I’m a bit more concerned about what Cecile (Richards) has done that what was done to Cecil. We should be good stewards, but the hypocrisy and disgustful priorities of these people is too much.

Freddie Sykes | July 29, 2015 at 11:27 am

There should be no connection but sometimes the pro-abortion crowd makes one even to the point of defending infanticide:

In 1993, ethicist Peter Singer shocked many Americans by suggesting that no newborn should be considered a person until 30 days after birth and that the attending physician should kill some disabled babies on the spot. Five years later, his appointment as Decamp Professor of Bio-Ethics at Princeton University ignited a firestorm of controversy, though his ideas about abortion and infanticide were hardly new. In 1979 he wrote, “Human babies are not born self-aware, or capable of grasping that they exist over time. They are not persons”; therefore, “the life of a newborn is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog, or a chimpanzee.”

    tom swift in reply to Freddie Sykes. | July 29, 2015 at 11:45 am

    The point at which a person becomes a real legal “person” is arbitrary, and not all cultures choose the same point. The highest age I’ve ever heard of which someone could reach before being regarded as a real “person” was about age six. Up to that age, a child wasn’t a person; parents could decide to just throw it out, for any reason or no reason at all.

    That six year age was in one of Asia’s large collection of (to us) somewhat odd cultures filled with (to us) somewhat odd customs, and several centuries ago. There may be examples which considered even greater ages to mark the transition to personhood; I’m not a serious student of anthropology and can’t say.

    Here in the modern West the only points we usually consider are conception, fetal viability, or birth. But those certainly don’t exhaust the arbitrary options.

      n.n in reply to tom swift. | July 29, 2015 at 1:54 pm

      conception, fetal viability, or birth

      Of these three points, only conception (i.e. source) represents an immutable — but poorly visible — phase in human evolution. The latter two are variable, where the second is correlated with medical skill and technology, and the last is ideally correlated with a natural threshold.

Sammy Finkelman | July 29, 2015 at 11:33 am

The dentist is probably telling the truth when he says he didn’t know this was a famous, quasi-zoo, very unique looking lion, and that he trusted his guides, because otherwise he would have tried to cover it up. The guides, of course, just found for him the easiest lion they could.

They might have been lying to him, too. about whether his $55,000 permit to kill a lion covered that lion, too.

    tom swift in reply to Sammy Finkelman. | July 29, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    The guides, of course, just found for him the easiest lion they could.

    Were that the case, he’d hardly need the guides at all. He’d just kill the first one he came across.

    The professional guide is there specifically to ensure that the right animal is hunted and killed, and killed in a legal and humane way. “Humane” in this context means not being wounded by a hunter with inadequate skills or weaponry and left to crawl around for a while.

      Sammy Finkelman in reply to tom swift. | July 29, 2015 at 7:15 pm

      There may not be so many lions to find.

      His guides are the ones who know the country.

      They are the ones to blame and prosecute, but this is Zimbabwe under Mugabe.

      This would not have happened in Botswana.

It’s an animal. Animals do not have rights. They are things, just like rocks or trees. There’s nothing wrong with killing them, no matter how beautful you may find them, any more than there is something wrong with destroying a beautiful painting that you own, or that nobody owns.

    tom swift in reply to Milhouse. | July 29, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    Animals do not have rights.

    That doesn’t mean that they’re not protected by law.

      forksdad in reply to tom swift. | July 30, 2015 at 8:59 pm

      Is it legal or illegal to lure an animal out of a preserve? Are their legal methods and illegal methods (calls, scents vs baiting etc)?

      If it is illegal to lure an animal out of a preserve who actually lured it?

      My guess is that once the animal is outside the magic line he’s fair game. If not Zimbabwe should look into prosecuting the guides.

    Barry in reply to Milhouse. | July 29, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    Darn millhouse, I’m in agreement again.

    Immolate in reply to Milhouse. | July 29, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    They don’t have inherent rights, but that doesn’t relieve us of the duty to use our humanity in dealing with living creatures who can suffer and feel pain. Especially the tasty ones.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to Milhouse. | July 29, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    Animals may be property of humans who do have rights. Go out in the country and shoot a few dairy or beef cattle or a few horses and see what happens to your right to kill any animal. Kill your neighbor’s dog and see what happens. Poach a moose in Alaska and see what happens.

      Milhouse in reply to Henry Hawkins. | July 29, 2015 at 2:10 pm

      Irrelevant. Cecil was not anybody’s property.

        Sammy Finkelman in reply to Milhouse. | July 29, 2015 at 7:19 pm

        Wasn’t he owned (or at least protected) by the government?

        Or did the guides find a loophole? (the loophole being luring him out of the park.)

        Anyway, that lion was not expected to be at risk of being killed.

          Milhouse in reply to Sammy Finkelman. | July 30, 2015 at 2:44 am

          No, it was not owned by the government. It was protected so long as it stayed in the park. Once it left the park it was on its own. Why it left is irrelevant.

          And what difference could it possibly make whether anyone expected it to be at risk?

          forksdad in reply to Sammy Finkelman. | July 30, 2015 at 9:05 pm

          Wow so much misunderstanding in one comment. Expecting to be killed? He’s a lion a male lion. Nature red in tooth and claw and all that?

          Maybe Zimbabwe should use some of their vast government resources to feed the lions if they cannot find prey, give them medical attention when they try to kill each other and stop the males from killing their rivals’ cubs.

          Would that make you feel better?

      Ragspierre in reply to Henry Hawkins. | July 29, 2015 at 3:28 pm

      That actually raises a great point, Hawkins.

      IFFFFF you really want to preserve lions and their genetic viability, make private ownership legal.

      In my novel (that nobody reads) of a few decades ago, I have a rhino breeder in this rebel nation, who does more to maintain rhino genetics than all the do-gooders ever created.

      His operation is attacked by radical animal rights freaks who destroy all the collected semen and eggs. Naturally…

Professor Jacobson, this LTE was in the Providence Journal this morning.

Posted Jul. 29, 2015 at 2:01 AM

I was thunderstruck by the awful irony.

I read the good news that “Charlestown’s barrier beach sand trail reopened to vehicles now that piping plover chicks can fly” (July 23), while at the same time hearing the discomforting national reports about Planned Parenthood discussing the prized body parts of unborn babies.

So, is that the point at which we’ve arrived as a culture? That we protect birdies and dismember babies?


Thomas Tobin


The writer is bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Providence

    MikeE in reply to RITaxpayer. | July 29, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    Dear Bishop Tobin,

    Yes, that is the point we have arrived at in our culture. What is more, we have been at that point for a couple of generations now.

“Lion!” is the new “Squirrel!”.

What gets me is that many of those who are in a tizzy about a 13 year old lion being killed are happy to call for the death of the hunter and professional hunter. Talk about moral equivalency is then ok, as they are fine with killing a hunter but not the hunted so to compare their call for blood by showing their ambivalence to the daily river of blood provided by abortion is a valid point. The idea that Cecil, specifically, was lured by bait is false, a lion was lured by bait and the ph may or may not have been able to determine if it was Cecil or not. Poor choice on the ph’s part but death worthy for both the ph and hunter I think not.

I don’t understand why people feel strongly about this story. It seems like American society is now outraged in principle against killing lions. I guess Teddy Roosevelt couldn’t be president today.

Weird how this story has gotten so big. People wigging out over the killing of a lion. Seems a bit much. Granted, the killing was senseless (but aren’t many killings senseless, including humans?).

    Daiwa in reply to heyjoojoo. | July 29, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    Forget PP, this is getting a far bigger reaction out of the left than Kate Steinle’s murder. Speeks volumes.

    forksdad in reply to heyjoojoo. | July 30, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    No more senseless than going for an afternoon ride, painting a picture, playing football, or whatever other recreational pastime that you have.

    Hunting a legal, traditional, probably instinctive human behavior but not senseless.

Our society is populated with pussies.

Some thoughts about “living beings” from a reliable ancient text:

“Nephesh (נֶפֶש) is a Biblical Hebrew word which occurs in the Hebrew Bible. The word refers to the tangible aspects of life, and human beings and higher animals are both described as having a nephesh. The Hebrew term [נפש is literally “living being”, although it is commonly rendered as soul in English translations.”

“The word nephesh occurs 754 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. The first four times nephesh is used in the Bible, it is used exclusively to describe animals: Gen 1:20 (sea life), Gen 1:21 (sea life), Gen 1:24 (land creatures), Gen 1:30 (birds and land creatures). At Gen 2:7 nephesh is used as description of man.”

    Midwest Rhino in reply to jennifer a johnson. | July 30, 2015 at 10:52 am

    Good point. Some would say that only man has the potential for body, soul AND spirit life. Adam was MADE (not created, since soul/breath life already existed) a living soul, but was CREATED in the image of God, who is (eternal and pure) Holy Spirit.

    “In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die” … Adam disobeyed and “ate” of the tree of knowledge, and he “died” spiritually in that very day, and was kicked out of the garden, lost his spiritual internal wi-fi. He was still a living soul.

    I like man as responsible to “dress and keep” the earth, be responsible for its care as the higher power. Atheist commies treat humans like animals, and the “natural man” gets too enamored with “animal spirits” with rights equal to ours. Private reserves (gardens of Eden) seem like the best place to preserve lions and us white rhinos. 🙂

Here’s another lil’ wrinkle…

All this bleeding heart anthropomorphizing of animals is a unique phenomenon of our time and Western affluence.

It is a function of liberal racism and neo-colonializm, like Barracula going to Africa and lecturing (mau-mauing) national leaders about gay rights.

African countries (along with Asian nations) can and will manage their own affairs, including their animal populations, according to their own lights.

As this one did.

Lady Penguin | July 29, 2015 at 12:59 pm

I agree with you Professor Jacobson. I’m outraged by both. Have been for years about abortion, and as a registered nurse know much more about fetal life, development, and death than the average person. And as an animal lover – and one who understands hunting (to avoid overpopulation and starvation) – I’m outraged by the luring and slaughter (including suffering for almost 2 days–because of an arrow)of a great creature of nature.

This so-called dentist had a history of previous ethical hunting issues, I don’t a believe what he is saying…

That said, we ought to be able to feel concern, grief and anger over any unjustified slaughter…

PS I feel the same way about PETA, lefties who rake in millions and kill over 90% of the cats and dogs they supposedly rescued.

I wonder if a tenth of the people crying outrage over this had given any thought to Cecil the Lion in the last five years. I know which way I’d bet.

From AP this morning:

According to U.S. court records, Palmer pleaded guilty in 2008 to making false statements to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about a black bear he fatally shot in western Wisconsin. Palmer had a permit to hunt but shot the animal outside the authorized zone in 2006, then tried to pass it off as being killed elsewhere, according to court documents. He was given one year probation and fined nearly $3,000.

Minnesota Board of Dentistry . . . records show that Palmer was the subject of a sexual harassment complaint settled in 2006, with Palmer admitting no wrongdoing and agreeing to pay a former receptionist more than $127,000.

    Daiwa in reply to rambler5. | July 29, 2015 at 7:02 pm

    Typical AP. Don’t like what somebody does, get digging for irrelevant dirt, see if his life can be destroyed before any facts can prevent it.

dorsaighost | July 29, 2015 at 1:49 pm

see the difference between you and liberals is that you are upset by both things and they are only upset by Cecil … nobody is saying they are the same just pointing out the obvious GLARING difference in priorities … because shooting Cecil and chopping up babies are not even close to being the same thing … one is 10 times worse …

There must be video games around where you can kill virtual lions and not the real lions just for the sport of it. How about a game called “Hemingway Does Africa”.

And, maybe they can create video games for BDS boycotters so they relieve their unresolved anger and bigotry. The video game could even let them unwittingly boycott themselves at a more difficult level.

    Sure sounds great but it won’t help with stalking and tracking skills. You need to really get into the field to learn those. My grandfather taught me to hunt and track when I was a boy. He was good enough to scan a treeline and tell you where the bucks would be resting in the day.

    You can’t learn that through an xbox. And the next video game that gets me a sweet lion trophy, or venison, or elk, or whatever will be the first.

Conservation, not equivalence, is a valuable principle.

The juxtaposition of reactions offers a meaningful education.

Gremlin1974 | July 29, 2015 at 2:56 pm

What I still don’t understand and no one has explained is how did they connect the killing of this lion to this hunt. The lions remains weren’t found until days later and the GPS collar was left with the remains?

I have hunted in Zimbabwe and a couple of other African countries for Safari. I used to date a girl of White Rhodesian descent and her family invited me to go with them, which of course I did.

What is sounds like to me is that the hunting company hasn’t paid up their bribes recently. I mean we are talking about a country who’s PM was reelected with 100% of the vote last time. Also the wildlife official who is leading this charge is a pretty shady character himself.

Seems to me it wasn’t all that long ago that the word for a hunter who killed a lion was “Hero.”

This post, which just came out today, has 42 comments at the time of this comment.

The post on the release of the third PP video, featuring the gruesome footage of a vivisectioned baby, has 18 comments.

Even here, we are consumed by cat videos.

African countries require hunters to hire guides when hunting and they also collect trophy fees. This provides them with an economic incentive to preserve their wildlife without it most of the animals that make Afican game unique would be extinct.

This guy was hunting adjacent to a park but outside so complaints about luring are bogus.

My only concern is about using a bow to take a lion. I guess it is legal and bows are capable of killing a lion. The hunter must hav made a poor shot.

The way I see this, is that there would have not been a word printed, television or radio airwaves, and internet pixels wasted on this nothing burger of a story, if groups like PETA, World Wildlife Fund etc had not made such a huge deal of it. This is just a smokescreen to coverup their true agenda. That is making sure animals have more rights than humans and to appease the anti-hunting fanatics that are pushing to have hunting banned world-wide.

I personally don’t give a crap about cecil. not my job to enforce the laws of other countries.
unless its wood for guitars of course then we get to say importing something is illegal even when the source country says its legal.

I see the MSM shrewdly inserting their anti-gun, anti-hunting agenda into the story by headlining it as “American Dentist Paid $50,000 to Kill Cecil the Lion.” This is not so. An American hunter paid money to kill a lion, not Cecil specifically. This is one of the subtle ways the MSM works, while claiming to be “unbiased.”

What’s more jarring to me, while this whole Planned Parenthood expose is happening, is seeing people ooh and aah over two ultrasounds I’ve seen making the rounds, one of a baby dolphin inside his mama and one of a baby elephant inside his.

These are often the same caring, compassionate pro-choice Lefties who continue to insist that abortion is merely “a removal of unwanted tissue”.

A baby dolphin in utero is a baby dolphin. Adorbs! A baby elephant in utero is a baby elephant. Adorbs! Oh, how we love them! A baby human in utero… is an unwanted growth, like a wart or a cyst or something, but definitely nothing like a real baby human.

These people are either deeply ignorant of science and biology; deeply in denial about what abortion really is; or deeply and deliberately dishonest. And that does bother me.

Humphrey's Executor | July 29, 2015 at 5:47 pm

The Zebra and Gazelle world have a different point of view on this incident.

I’d put a lion head on the wall to go with my other trophies. But the price is a bit steep for me, doesn’t include airfare, customs bribes, dipping and shipping and other costs.
Friend went on a plains game safari, cost for the hunt was $5k, total cost with the above ended up over $12k.

And is there a hidden agenda at work here? Lot of these “outrages” happen when the left gets going on some particular vendetta.

Without the hunters dollars those “special” animals probably would be long gone. Pretty sure no here would want a couple prides living around their kids and towns. And neither do the African’s. The monies from the hunt put the value on keeping the animals alive for the future for those villages.
Anyway, shamelessly stolen from another site, interesting contrast of the view and comments:

I don’t recall social media ever being this upset from any of the atrocities committed by ISIS. I’m pretty sure Jimmy Kimmel never cried on air over any either.

ISIS burns 45 people alive – 17k shares, 294 comments

ISIS beheads women for witchcraft – 5.6K shares, 296 comments

ISIS burns woman alive – 11k shares, 1227 comments

ISIS behead and shoot 30 Ethiopian Christians – 35k shares, 1109 comments

Published 08:26 EST, 28 July 2015:
Cecil the lion killed – 115k shares, 6429 comments

About 30 million cows, 110 million pigs, 270 million turkeys, and 9 billion chickens in the USA every year say:

“so what”.

And just like that, the noting of hypocrisy disappears.

SmokeVanThorn | July 30, 2015 at 1:08 pm

I respect you, Professor, but you should have taken a while to get over being “upset” before you wrote this piece.

I now hear US Fish and Wildlife wants to talk to the dentist. Where is their jurisdiction with regards to something that clearly happened in Zimbabwe? Overreach much?

But in this case, Cecil was lured out of a nature preserve for the kill –

Personally I’d like to see some proof that the dentist was party to the luring of the lion before I join the witch hunt calling for his arrest & hanging. Whether one likes it or not big game hunting is legal. You have to wonder if people would have been this tweaked if the next lion in line had killed Cecil.

    walker in reply to katiejane. | July 31, 2015 at 12:01 am

    And what if he was party to the luring? So what? Since when is that illegal?

      Phillep Harding in reply to walker. | July 31, 2015 at 12:59 pm

      Well, that depends on what the local laws are. Sort of like the legality of baiting varies by state, and sometimes game regulatory unit inside a state.

People forget the widespread poaching on Zimbabwe’s game preserves since Mugabe forced white owners out of the country about 15 years ago. And more recently, for a little perspective:

Phillep Harding | July 30, 2015 at 9:35 pm

Cecil enjoyed being around humans?

I enjoy being around animals. Especially the ones that taste good.

How happy would people be if Cecil had decided to expand his diet? Assuming he had not already. Africa is hardly the sort of place where missing persons get a high priority.

The lion was a living creature not engaged in harming any human.

    You do know that lions eat people, frequently in places like this?

    How do you know this lion was not a mankiller?

    Are you a strict vegetarian? If not, you’re a killer for certain, and even if you are you still likely kill animals. Own any leather products, fur, etc.

I read somewhere that he shot the lion with a bow. Then it took two days to hunt the lion down and finally kill it.