Last week it was almost impossible to escape pictures of Cecil the Lion King and the Minnesota dentist who killed him. The dentist received death threats and had to go into hiding. The story was indeed sad. The lion was lured out of the sanctuary and shot with a bow in the middle of the night… and then suffered for 40 hours before he was finally shot dead.
The “hunter” defends his actions, saying he thought what he was doing was legal. The reality is, what he was doing was neither legal nor hunting. It was killing for fun and he used it to try and impress a girl - apparently he failed. It was the lion equivalent of hunting fish in a barrel. I don’t hunt, and I think people who kill great animals for “sport” are probably a bit off kilter. Nonetheless, limited “sport” hunting, as repugnant as it is, can actually help save endangered species. (more) That was not the case with Cecil however.
During the same week, unless you were listening to, watching or reading conservative media, you might have missed much of the Planned Parenthood news where officials were caught on tape discussing the sale of fetus parts. Many in the conservative media rightly decried the lopsided coverage of the death of a lion vs. the death of hundreds of thousands or millions of babies. Indeed, many who expressed angst with the death of Cecil were branded hypocrites because they eat meat or wear leather.
That is a false and disingenuous assertion. Most Americans eat meat, and as Sean Hannity rightly pointed out, they outsource the murder of cows, chickens and turkeys to others. The acceptance of and participation in an economic machine that puts food on one’s table is not the equivalent of condoning the unlawful killing of a protected member of an endangered species. It is possible to logically eat meat from animals killed in a slaughterhouse and still decry the murder of Cecil.
As for decrying the lack of a similar outcry on the Planned Parenthood story, the issue is not a matter of the public reacting… rather it is a matter of the mainstream media simply burying the story. Americans react to a wide variety of media stimuli. The problem is, the media they react to is usually TMZ, the New York Times, Cosmo, MSNBC and the rest of the liberal cabal that have zero interest in covering anything that showcases the dark side of abortion. Indeed, in 2013 the networks gave Wendy "Abortion Barbie" Davis three times the coverage as they did the murderer Kermit Gosnell.
That’s the problem… it’s not that Americans care more about lions than babies. It’s that babies (at least unborn ones) don’t have a media savvy presence that pulls on the heartstrings from before we can read or walk. In addition, there’s something working against unborn babies that seems almost counter intuitive. In his brilliant standup show “Dress to Kill” Eddie Izzard talks about the scale of murder. When the numbers are relatively small, three, eight, a dozen, we can viscerally connect with them because they are real, they are tangible, they are numbers we can get our heads around. When a tyrant like Pol Pot or Hitler Stalin kills millions or tens of millions we have a hard time humanizing it because the sheer numbers overwhelm our ability to comprehend or connect. So too with abortion. The hundreds of thousands of babies aborted each year, maybe 30 million since Roe v. Wade, make the entire issue almost beyond comprehension. Combine that with the sterile outpatient nature of the “procedure” and the arguments that it’s just a bunch of cells and it’s difficult to connect with people’s hearts… and like it or not, that’s what animates issues.
Although many want to conflate what Planned Parenthood is doing and the larger abortion issue in general, they are two different things. For instance, I find myself conflicted about abortion. While I have no problem with the morning after pill, I’m certain that at 5 months in it’s a baby… My conflict comes from whether the line of demarcation is 4 months or 3 months or wherever it is, I'm not sure, but I’m certainly in favor of erring on the side of earlier. That being said, the Planned Parenthood videos have brought a welcome voice to an issue that has languished for years because no one ever talked about it.
Most Americans get that… but President Obama and most Democrat politicians don’t. (Even 79% of ProChoice supporters recognize that!) But because the issue is typically couched in clinical terms or in terms of woman’s choice… few respond the way that we have seen respond to Cecil’s death. If the goal is to outlaw this barbaric practice, to close the marketplace for baby limbs and organs, to stop the murder of innocents, then the effort must be to connect voters with the babies… and not with the grotesque images that so often cause people to turn their heads in horror. Yes, while the images are horrible, the “procedure” itself is horrible too, but if such images so repulse voters that they disengage from the issue and grow angry at the messenger, that’s counterproductive.
If we are interested in stopping this inhuman practice, we have to figure out how to make a five month old fetus human… to other humans. Make it cute, adorable and cuddly, but most of all connect him or her with the heartstrings of the average American so that they understand that when politicians or progressives talk about a “procedure” they aren’t talking about Petri dishes and slides, they are talking about ending a life of a baby that is every bit as cute as the Lion King.