Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Just stick to emotions and you'll go far...

So this last week a story broke of an undercover video revealing that Planned Parenthood is indeed the home of horrific abortion mill butchers who callously deal in a baby chop shop of blood and money.

Then a second video emerged, of an old biddy joking about buying Lamborghini's with the profits from organs.  And then yet another video came out, this one with pie plates full of baby body parts.

Disgusting, reprehensible and enough to send shockwaves across the country and make even the most ardent pro-choice people take a second look at the industry of "reproductive health".

There is so much to absorb with this story - one of the biggest things that gets to me is the fact that this company has fought against the right of women to use ultra-sound technology to make an informed decision and then turns around and uses that same technology to manipulate and extract a fetus so that it's most financially valuable organs can remain intact.

It's an utterly abhorrent story.  This is it  - now we have to wake up and pay attention, right?


As almost as if right on cue, here comes Cecil the lion.  Look, bright shiny thing over here!

Yes, yes, we all know that Planned Parenthood is doling out the parts of butchered babies for cash - BUT LOOK AT THAT LION!  LOOK AT THE UTTER BARBARITY.  DEAD LION PEOPLE!

Let's track down the hunter and DESTROY HIS LIFE.

Now this story is the lead on the New York Times.  Now this story is running everywhere, all the time.


Look, I am not, nor have I ever been a fan of trophy hunting.  But let me back up and give some info on where I am coming from before I bring down the hammer of truth.

I was a camera operator for two seasons on ESPN's American Hunter, and in my time there I learned a lot about hunting and hunters.  The first thing I discovered was that hunters are the largest group of supporters of wildlife conservation.  By a lot.

The show promoted this fact and thankfully it also promoted the sustenance type of hunting, every episode always concluded with a cooking segment on the game that had been brought down.

But inevitably I crossed paths with hunters who enjoyed killing animals for the sheer sport of it, and in turn collecting parts to add to their decor.

I can't say that I found much to admire about this passion - and I still find it mostly reprehensible.  Mostly.

The one redeeming thing about this activity, I learned a few years later when I traveled to Africa to shoot (as a camera operator) for a wildlife show, is that trophy hunting was and presumably still is, the number one source of income for the preservation of animals in southern Africa.

Simply put - a single trophy hunt by a lone hunter can yield more money that an entire photographic Safari camp full of tourists can pull down in a month or even longer.

This inescapable economic fact, and the naked truth that wildlife would simply not exist in most parts of Africa were it not for trophy hunters -  falls on deaf ears now more than ever in the age of outrage.

This particular Cecil hunt it seems, was shady and full of shenanigans - the trophy hunters I encountered would be appalled to know that a collared research animal was brought down after being baited out of a national park.  This is not how things normally go down by any means, but I am not surprised it happened in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe, under the ruthless dictator Mugabe, has an 80% unemployment rate, a poverty rate of at least that much and suffers under a ruthless and systematic campaign of human rights violations.  It's government is entirely corrupt - and I find it a bit absurd how now, that the story has gone viral, government officials are righteously clamoring for the dentist to return to face poaching charges.

Despite Zimbabwe's problems, it is my understanding that trophy hunting there is usually legal and above board, and the killing and the collecting of parts to display later, goes on not only there but throughout sub-saharan Africa at large, all the time.

And as revolting as I find it on a personal level, having been in awe in the presence of wild lions, tigers and bears, in my life - I also am grateful in the end that trophy hunting does happen, so that the revenue it generates can mostly go to the preservation and protection of the animals that otherwise would quickly meet extinction.

In short - no money, no animals.  Period.

A guide I worked with in Kruger put it succinctly - I'm paraphrasing - 'If an animal cannot generate revenue, it will not exist.'

Anyone who has spent any significant amount of time in Africa, not just as a tourist but working for months at a time as I have - will understand this plain truth.  Poverty is not as it is in the United States - where most people who deal with it are not actually in it, but rather trying to temper it within a political arena of ideas that often end up exacerbating it.

Poverty in Africa is a very real, direct and often violent threat to existence for the people who are in it, which unlike the US, is the majority of the population.  Without tourism, and very importantly without exorbitant trophy fees, the beast that is real poverty threatens to overrun and consume the people who live in the shadow of it's specter.

But by all means, carry on with the outrage from your laptop.  Call for violence.  Print out this man's home address.  Actually track down this dentist and string him up, as PETA has demanded.

That way you don't have to think about stories of any real significance or consequence or bother dealing with real evil.

Babies can go right on being butchered, and in the end big and rare animals will still be killed and butchered as well so that Kruger national park and other amazing places can continue to exist.

But which slaughtering is more abhorrent, and which should be getting the most attention from the media and from your social media feed?

Oh yeah, the animals of course.  BECAUSE LOOK AT THAT LION OH MY GOD!!!!!

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