LARSON: I Don’t Give a Flying Crap About Cecil

by Neal Larson

So, “June” has called into my radio show now twice in the past several days. A wonderfully sweet and caring aging woman, June was caught up in the drama of Cecil the Lion, the cubs, Jericho, and that evil Satanic doctor from Minnesota. (He’s so evil, I bet he eats trans-fats.) In a moment of self-aware clarity, just as CecilMania reached its peak, it hit me: I honestly didn’t care. Not one single bit. I didn’t even have an ounce of token, feigned, self-indulgent concern for that one single measly lion. Had I been there, I would have helped skin him. I would have eaten a Cecil sandwich. Cecil stew. Could you make a nice crock-pot lion sausage dip out of Cecil? I would have eaten it on Ritz crackers. I don’t think prior to CecilMania I would have been inclined to eat lion. But now, can’t lie, I’m a little curious.

I suppose my defiance has its roots in my observation of mass irrationality. I actually like lions. I’m no fan of trophy hunting. But I’m an even more passionate anti-fan of idiocy, formulaic outrage, and people who simply don’t take the time to think, or to calibrate their moral compasses which currently elevate safari creatures above just about everything that might actually have an impact on our lives.

I grew up on a farm. Animals die all the time. I’ve been in the wilderness. Animals die all the time. I’ve been to the zoo and Yellowstone and the animal shelter and animals die — all the time. I’ve heard different estimates about the decline in the lion population in the last couple of weeks. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 150,000 lions has diminished to around 20,000 in recent decades. A 130,000 lion decline is alarming. But where was the Facebook outrage during the first 129,999? The one lion we’ve named and a given a narrative is the one that matters? Don’t take this the wrong way, but that’s just stupid, childish, and immature. Do we always live in the world of cartoons? Have we asked ourselves if Cecil and Mufasa and Aslan are cousins?

The decline in the lion population has been no secret. Let’s say you read this story: “An un-named hunter shot a random lion in Zimbabwe, and there might have been a hunting violation.” That’s essentially the story. But doesn’t EVERY lion have a dramatic storyline? And wouldn’t EVERY lion have a name if we gave him one? And wouldn’t EVERY person who tried to do that be a moron?

That’s really the heart of the outrage. Here’s the story we crafted: “Cecil, the gallant, dark-maned noble lion, father of three darling cubs — Simba, Leo, and Moonracer — defends his precious children against other preying Lions in the pride. Because of this clear and present danger to the little cubbies, Cecil must take these three with him when he volunteers at the homeless shelter, and teaches other young cubs about the evils of global warming, right before he goes to yoga. But it wasn’t really the other lions that Cecil needed to worry about. {Ominous music here} Unbeknownst to Cecil, an affluent, white, American doctor, weapons in tow, was flying in a Boeing 747 over the Atlantic Ocean, with every intention of rocking Cecil’s whole world, with a single fatal arrow to the heart.” Blah, blah, freakin’ blah.

Snookered. Sucked in. Tricked. Deceived. I’m not sure how many descriptors I could throw out portraying the mass outrage over Cecil. All I know, is that the outrage has been disproportionate. Yet again, perhaps buried deep into our psyche we somehow need to get outraged over something we can explain, something “safe.” Maybe my theory is bunk. I’m no psychiatrist (even though I play one in my newspaper column.) I have a hunch that people — including good and sensitive people like June — are turning away from the darkest and scariest developments on this planet for a very good reason. Fighting the Planned Parenthood abortion Nazis is too taxing. Resisting rapidly growing Islamic terror groups, too daunting. But conditioned by decades of fictional media that have personified the animal kingdom, creating a defacto “animal equality” movement, the lion killing story is easy to comprehend. It opens a spigot, releasing a deluge of pent-up angst caused by much deeper problems.

Cecil’s death was no more an outrage than any other animal death. Cecil didn’t even know his own name was Cecil, for crying out loud. In the end, he was just another lion looking for his next meal.

Neal Larson of Idaho Falls is a conservative talk show host on KID Newsradio 590am and 92.1fm, and also at www.590kid.com. “The Neal Larson Show” can be heard weekday mornings from 8:00 to 10:00. His email address is neal@590kid.com.