Lion Lives Matter: The limits of outrage

C. Matthew Hawkins

The media is abuzz with outrage over the killing of Cecil the Lion by a wealthy American dentist. A friend of mine, Jamilia Bey, raised the question of what would happen if people said the same thing about the killing of Cecil that they said about the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, Amadou Diallo, Eric Garner, Micheal Brown, Tamir Rice, John Crawford, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Sean Bell, Walter Scott, Jordan Davis, Kimani Gray, Samuel DuBose, Kendric McDade, and many others?

It would look something like this:

“That lion wasn’t a saint, you know…”

“Hey, nobody ever shot ME with a crossbow and a gun, so you know he must have been up to no good.”

“I saw the video and the photos but it’s hard to say what really happened…”

“I wasn’t there. It’s hard to say what that lion was doing under the cover of darkness.”

“I saw a video where that lion was giving the hunter attitude…”

“The hunter said that Cecil got angrier and angrier as the hunter was shooting at him so of course the hunter had to kill him.”

“The hunter said that Cecil morphed into a demon before the hunter’s very eyes.”

“Those lion punks always get away.”

“Oh please, you’re going to criticize the hunter for standing his ground?”

“The hunter got out of his jeep, with crossbow and rifle, and stalked Cecil across the savanna because he feared for his life and he needed to stand his ground against the lion.”

“Oh sure, blame the hunter, but what about lion-on-lion violence?”

“Now everyone is talking about ‘lion lives matter,’ which is lionist because they should be saying ‘all lives matter.'”

“What kind of a name is ‘Cecil’ anyway? Why do lions always give their cubs such strange names?”

C. Matthew Hawkins taught community economic development at the University of Pittsburgh and American history at Carlow University in Pittsburgh. He will soon be attending St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore as a theologian from the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese.

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