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Internet vigilantes and the dentist

Somewhere in Africa, a famous lion was killed by a now infamous dentist with a bow and arrow.  Everywhere else in the world, people are upset. Very upset.

Based on the merits of the case as presented by the internet, the lion was hunted illegally. But I don’t want to talk in depth today about the very convoluted human attitude to animals, or debate the degree of badness we might ascribe to what the aforementioned dentist did. Rather, I want to comment briefly on the public reaction to the aforementioned (still alleged) crime.

Killing is wrong. Kill him!!

We’re all familiar with the concepts of troll on the internet. We’re also familiar with cyber-bullies, and the general phenomenon of being a dislikeable virtual-person. So how come, when somebody does something that is not-nice, do people who would otherwise look down on anti-social behaviour on the internet become so anti-social themselves?

I popped over to #WalterPalmer on Twitter, but only found what I expected to see. Some reasonable voices, of course, expressing their dismay at the death of the celebrity lion. Also, “I hope Walter Palmer takes a crossbow to the face” and “Someone please poach Walter Palmer”. Delightful. A number of posts even doxxed him. That is, they published his personal contact details, home and professional. Hopefully they only wanted people to phone and harass him and not actually murder him, but who knows?

Also – one of my personal favourite ironies – how come do so many people express their disagreement with threats of death (or rape, or violence) – as if murder (or rape, or violence) is the lesser evil?

Take the moral high ground

For the sake of stating an opinion, I dislike what the dentist did. It was probably illegal, and I have a low opinion of sports hunting. But, if reasonable people are to teach their children how to navigate the digital age in a way more civilised than has been done to date, then we need to set the bar by being more civilised ourselves in the face of things we don’t like.

If killing a lion is cruel, and being fat is unhealthy, then why is it okay to call for the flaying of a lion hunter but cruel to bully a fat person? FYI – both are uncool. Of course, some people take no issue with either, and I hope they burn in hell forever. /DeliberateIronyDisclaimer

Have and express an opinion, by all means, but steer away from violent public diatribes aimed at the people who share an opinion contrary to your own. Don’t share content with violent fantasies about people you don’t like. If you must vent about such people (as I do, from time to time), keep it to the people close to you, who might understand that you are only venting and not truly (I hope) wishing for the colourfully violent death of a fellow human being.

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Ignorant 2 August 2015, 11:21 am

    Social Media and the Internet do allow anyone to express their opinions freely. Newspapers, Magazines etc. are probably edited to some extend to make the opinions expressed less offensive. And time and again there is proof of obnoxious, cruel, unfair and wrong and; off course fair reasonable expression of opinion.
    Zimbabwe now has 1 lion less (I believe there was another one today) and there is uproar worldwide. The president who (I could be wrong) is probably directly or indirectly responsible for the loss of other life forms in Zimbabwe is flying around the world as leader of the African Union and nobody seems to give a damn.
    But luckily our Minister of Communications or whatever was in China to evaluate a system on how such issues could be addressed and censored.
    A bit off your point but in the same ballpark.

    • Chris 2 August 2015, 8:37 pm

      I don’t see the problem with being upset about Cecil, nor do I think expressing outrage at Cecil’s death is unwarranted or unneeded. Being upset about Cecil does not preclude being upset about Robert Mugabe or anything else.
      But there is absolutely some weirdness about what the world gets upset about, and by how much.

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