Sharing the hate

Look, I loathe killing for sport with a white hot passion. Loving killing is bizarre to me. I do eat meat, but I don’t revel in killing, and I can’t imagine doing so. Guns are abhorrent.

And yet, I am deeply uneasy about the hate storm that surrounds the killing of Cecil the lion. Not because I don’t believe that what the dentist did was foul and disgusting. I believe that with my whole heart. But I worry about these hate storms. They are so easily triggered on the net. We leap into them with such vigour. Whether it’s a horrible sexist comment by a scientist, a racist comment by a PR person, or a photo of a killing, we are really keen to stick the boot in to people who we believe have transgressed.

I can understand the temptation – and I have tweeted and facebooked myself about things I believe are wrong and abhorrent (I’m looking at YOU Tony Abbott). It feels good to serve up some righteous indignation from time to time. But a while ago I began a conscious effort to comment less on the bad stuff (“Dear motorist, the bike lane is for BIKES, not for cars who wish to undertake the traffic. You nearly undertook me!”) and more on the positive, because I was concerned that my online presence was beginning to tarnish the world. To be a drain on our collective psyche, rather than an upwards force.

And hate storms are not just a small tarnish, they are eating away at our collective character like the most toxic of corrosive substances. They whip us up into a frenzy of negativity, of hatred, and of anger, and they achieve… what? Will this online frenzy stop people hunting and killing? I doubt it. Will it, in fact, polarise the two camps even further into hate-fuelled, vitriol spitting opposing lines with nothing but contempt for each other? Quite possibly.

And in the end, all that negative energy has to come out somewhere. The more we focus on our rage, the angrier our every day behaviour becomes, the less tolerant we are, and the less inclined to look behind the headline and find out whether there is actually any depth to the story.

We have got so keen to leap into the hateful fray that we rarely pause to find out the full story, to listen to the opposing view, and to consider whether the headlines might be wrong. The media loves a good hate storm, and feeds on it with gleeful abandon. It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine them firing one up just to beef up a slow news day. And once it’s going, and hate storm is impossible to stop. The fallout remains as a glowing, radioactive footprint that will haunt that person for the rest of their lives. And while some may seem to deserve it, many don’t, and we are neither judge nor jury, and rarely in possession of all of the facts.

Of course we need to continue to call our politicians to account, and fight injustice wherever it occurs, but hate storms don’t seem to be about that. They seem to me to be more lynch mob than force for change. By all means campaign for an end to hunting. But there’s rarely a positive outcome from a public lynching.

So next time you are tempted to join the feeding frenzy, why not post a question instead? Try to clarify the issues rather than nuking from orbit and asking questions never. Or better still, don’t feed it at all. Take a deep breath and focus on the positive. You’ll be happier for it, I promise.

PS Since I wrote this I’ve been seeing a lot of calls for “justice for Cecil”. It’s too late for justice for Cecil. But we can stop it happening again, by campaigning for change. Which is different to campaigning for vengeance.


7 thoughts on “Sharing the hate

  1. Not to distract us all from the main theme of the post, which I tend to agree with, but how do you in fact deal with your displeasure of killing and your carnivorous tendencies?

    I have said that if I had to kill me own meal, I’d turn vegetarian, yet I know that may be harder for you given some of your dietary requirements, but for me, it is still a point of hypocrisy which I struggle with quite badly.

    1. lindamciver

      Good question! It does bother me, no doubt about it. I am conflicted. I, too, would struggle to kill my own dinner (except for snow peas, they have it coming, little bastards!). Fructose friendly, gluten free and vegetarian would be incredibly difficult, but I don’t know if it’s impossible. I’m not entirely sure I’d be vegetarian if I didn’t have those restrictions – I really do like meat. So I compromise by making sure most of my meat is organic, which in Aus at least has humane restrictions on treatment of the animals.

      1. That is kind of the part I struggle with, that last bit.

        The compromise. Organic meat, humane treatment.
        It’s still then resulting in the death of an animal for me to eat it.

        Imagine if we said the same to little Johnny (the boy, not the snow pea).
        “Hey, you are a beautiful child, I’m going to love you and treat you well, and kill you gently in order to eat you.”. Now sure, Frank the Lamb isn’t going to understand the same sentence, but you are still going to kill him before he’s ready to die, if indeed any animal can feel ready to die.

        As Frank is lead into the pen to be slaughtered, if he was of sound mind, he might think, “But Linda, think of all the good times we’ve had. Why are you doing this?”.

        Of course, I am projecting human emotions onto Frank, but I think the significance is that we are making their death better for our sake, not theirs, because you know, it’s still killing them to eat them.

      2. Kev

        FF, GF, Vege is possible :-) How do you feel about fish? FF, GF, Vegan – good luck with that one. It’s hard though. There’s only so much teriyake salmon or tuna & rice that one can watch before asking whether, surely, a steak would not go down well :-)

  2. Andrew

    Realistically, it’s pumpkins that are a struggle to kill for dinner…

    As for poor tasty Frank, I think his humane death is arguably better for him than an inhumane death. Admittedly, it is still going to be the worst day of his life by a fair margin.

  3. Joe

    Linda i entirely agree with the point of your article.

    While there is and always will be a gap between “legal” and “ethical”, and a gap between “legal” and “mores”… it’s not up to the masses to lynch someone whose actions are legal. If we don’t like that someone can legally hunt and kill an animal, we should lobby those responsible for making the law. If someone has committed a crime they should be punished under the agreed dictates of the law, not *additionally* have their toenails removed and their livelihood and ability to exist within society stripped away above and beyond the agreed punishments.

    I may disagree with some of what’s “acceptable” in our society… but then, it wouldn’t be possible to have a society where everyone agrees with everything. To be part of society must fundamentally include accepting that society overall accepts things that I disagree with.

    1. lindamciver

      Nicely put, Joe! I’m now seeing petitions demanding “justice for cecil”. It’s too late for justice for cecil, but we can make sure it doesn’t happen again. Not by lynching Cecil’s killer, but by changing the law.

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