Last week a lion was shot and killed by a man on safari. It wasn’t the first lion to die that way, but this one had a name. There was a global outrage: the man who fired the fatal shot was outed on social media, his picture was shared worldwide plastered with vitriolic comments and suggestions for what should be done to men like him. People shared and reshared emotive pictures of lions captioned with ‘R.I.P’ and ‘Justice for Cecil’.
Enough already. I get it – trophy hunting is abhorrent. You won’t find me disagreeing with that. But let me tell you what really sickens me. It’s this:
In February this year a vulnerable young man with DS and Autism died, probably as a result of the mistreatment and neglect he suffered at a residential placement. Where was the outrage? Where were the news reports? Where were the people sharing his image on social media, calling for justice and the punishment of those responsible?
No, I didn’t see them either. I stumbled across the story almost by accident, and only then because I also have a son with DS.
This young man had a name. He had a loving family, who are still looking for the answers, and the justice he, and they, deserve.
He is not the first young person to have died in these circumstances. And he won’t be the last – until we start to show the same compassion for our fellow human beings as we do for attractive animals; until we speak up for defenceless and voiceless people in the way we do for other living creatures.
How many of you who shared the story of the lion would have shared the story of the young man if you had seen it, and expressed such outrage?
So, if you’ll pardon my French, f*** ‘Je suis Cecil’.
And all those like him.