The Big Think

July 29, 2015

Sometimes it’s easier to care about dead lions than dead people

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 5:46 pm

Natural Law holds that all people possess a conscience, therefore all people innately recognize the distinction between good and evil. We are naturally repulsed by evil and attracted to goodness. This is why every civilization has outlawed sins like murder and theft, and hailed virtues like charity and mercy. Of course, many civilizations have redefined murder so as to permit a convenient form of it, but still no society has ever come out and defended murder in principle.

No society can ever be explicitly nihilist. As in, no society can outwardly live by the philosophy that everything is meaningless and nothing matters. Individuals can try it, but like Nietzsche they’ll end up in a mental institution, babbling to themselves while eating their own excrement. Societies, though, have to at least pretend they believe in doing the right thing. A society must convince itself it hates evil and loves goodness. Even the Nazis rationalized that they were serving the greater good of mankind.

So when our culture decides to sit back and tolerate, or even revere and commend, perverse evils like abortion, pornography, the breakdown of the family, the persecution of Christians, etc., it begins to accumulate a kind of Outrage Reservoir. Deep down, we must feel like we oppose evil. We can’t laud the most insidious atrocities of our time, and then look in the mirror and face ourselves honestly. The righteous anger that should be poured out in response to these true horrors is bottled and contained, clogging up our souls like constipated bowels.

We search desperately for an acceptable target for our surplus of withheld scorn, and when we locate it, we unload like we just chugged a gallon of laxative. Suddenly, some guy who killed a lion in Zimbabwe receives all of the compiled disdain that should have been discharged on the abortionists and the pornographers and the persecutors. Our pent up rage and anger mixes with guilt and self-loathing, and together it creates this concentrated bile that drowns and destroys whatever tragic chump they throw before us to be devoured. It’s nothing personal against him, really. Walter Palmer is a sacrificial lamb. A punching bag, strung up and dangled in front of progressive America as a way for them to release their moral frustrations. He’s an object. A receptacle for their misdirected vengeance. It’s like self-flagellation, only minus the self. And next week they’ll be flagellating some other patsy, and nobody will even remember or care about poor old Walter Palmer.

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Sometimes it’s easier to care about dead lions than dead people

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