A (trophy animal) picture is worth a thousand (angry, violent) words



From Huffington Post; click image for article & original photo credit

Kathleen Stachowski    Other Nations

One woman (sporting a Safari Club International cap), one gun, one dead giraffe. One pump-my-ego photo posted and then shared hundreds of times on animal rights Facebook pages, generating thousands of sad or angry comments.

Many–distressingly many–of the responses to these vile, celebratory trophy photos are vile and violent themselves. When the killer is a woman, the comments can also be terribly misogynistic: “Stupid brainless b*tch!” “This fat ugly b*tch should be shot!” “Shoot this b*tch!” 

Another woman, another gun, another dead giraffe. Another ain’t-I-somethin’-special photo–this time, she’s grinning from atop her trophy’s body. Thousands of Facebook shares and more than 14,000 comments: “I hope someone puts a bullet in her head the weak pathetic b*tch!” “…the dirty tramp!” “Hope she dies by gang giraffe rape!” Other comments included epithets so vulgar and repugnant that I won’t even hint at them with missing letters.

What’s going on here? I mean, I get it: I’m as revolted by the gratuitous killing of animals as anyone, and I, too, struggle with feelings of contempt for these conscienceless, ego-driven killers. But responding to violence with still more violence–even if it’s just rhetorical–proves only that animal advocates can sink to a shamefully base level themselves. As for responding to speciesism with sexism–I’m at a loss. Yes, I’ve seen the comments that call into question the manhood of male trophy hunters, comments suggesting that their big, powerful guns are stand-ins for their own minuscule personal endowment. But I’m aghast at the misogynist, verbal violence directed toward women: gang giraffe rape?!? OMG.

I don’t fault the animal rights Facebook pages dedicated to posting trophy photos–they graphically remind us that callous indifference to animals is a strong, wide current running through our ocean of humanity; that people with enough money and little enough conscience are eager to lay waste to the lives of sentient others–aided and abetted by safari and hunt providers pursuing their own trophy–the cash cow. Pages like Stop Trophy Hunting Now! and Animal Shame (and probably many more) remind us that we have so much work to do combatting speciesism, and inspire us to get a move on because animals are dying.

But other than considerable Facebook traffic and abundant ill will vigorously expressed in feeding frenzies of anger, what is gained by the commentary of outrage? Preliminary research offers some indication:

One study assessed whether individuals felt calmer or angrier after ranting on an Internet site, and whether people who frequent rant-sites are more likely to have problems related to anger. The second study evaluated how people reacted emotionally to reading and writing rants online—whether they became more or less happy or angry.

“The two studies seem to indicate that both reading and writing on rant-sites tend to be unhealthy practices, suggesting persons with maladaptive expression styles”… ~from Science Daily

It appears that not much of value is gained–neither for animals nor our own emotional well-being.

I don’t typically peruse these commentary threads–they’re too distressing and life’s too short. But as a relative Facebook newbie (just over six months–late to the party again!) who just recently stumbled upon these two trophy photos via Facebook, I’m discovering the depth of malice that members of my own species are willing to express toward others. I find that I actually don’t know how to end this post because I don’t know where to go with sentiments like, “Hope she dies by giraffe gang rape!”

But here’s what I hope: I hope for more than an onslaught of online words from the multiple thousands who express their public sorrow at an animal’s death or spew their anger at the killer. I hope these many animal defenders are also acting constructively for animals–no matter how small or large those actions might be. Imagine the difference we could make! From simply speaking up for justice when the opportunity arises to going vegan–and everything in between–actions speak so much louder than words, no matter how vehemently those words are delivered.

Speciesism will be vanquished not by impassioned quips posted to photos, but by passionate acts of conscience and courage.



18 Responses

  1. I haven’t actually written “rants” like the ones you’ve shared here but I certainly understand them. If your involved in animal advocacy of any kind, you’re likely to see pictures like this and read stories like this constantly. I know that I often feel that I can’t possibly handle knowing about one more animal abuse case. At the same time I feel that’s it’s my duty to read about them all. They deserve to have their lives and deaths acknowledged and grieved. And yet, there’s no place to put the anger that I feel. I understand the lashing out. It may not be healthy in the long term but sometimes it just needs to be released. I realize that there are other options and I also understand why people make such comments.

  2. I totally agree with you. I, blog about animal welfare issues, and I have been dismayed to discover that some of those who also care about the welfare of animals are every bit as vile and hateful as those they claim to “fight against.” And that’s it in a nutshell, isn’t it? A war.

    But this is not a war. This is a journey to discover a way to live in peace and harmony with all living things. I wish more of the human species could grasp such a concept.

  3. I do not agree at all, these useless people that have no business being alive, deserve every single insult any of us can muster. When a human is killed at the hands of a criminal, nobody complains and rightly so that anger is expressed, so why is it different when a defenseless animal is hunted down and butchered for someone’s useless ego?

  4. maria rosmini, well said. i agree with you one hundred percent.

  5. Reblogged this on Exposing the Big Game and commented:
    I understand and agree with much of what this article is saying, but as hunters are fond of reminding us, don’t judge us all because of the acts (or words) of a few “bad eggs.” I too am disgusted by some of the comments from a few passionate folks who are reacting to acts of animal cruelty. Apparently some of them haven’t heard of setting examples. At the same time, though, I’m continually amazed by some of the intelligent, spot on points that people make. The vile comments just diminish the impact of profound comments, making us all sound like a bunch of hypocritical wackos by association.

  6. I wish the animals that are tortured, suffer and die felt like this was ” a journey to discover a way to live in peace and harmony”. Sounds like some people have their heads in the clouds. Take a look around you at reality. It is a war.

  7. When you fight, no one wins, ESPECIALLY the animals.

  8. I’ve seen a LOT of facebook posts directed at animal abusers that make me ashamed.

  9. just curious gary dinardo, why are you ashamed of the comments made on facebook about animal abusers?

  10. Let’s start a war, war against those maggots who feel a rise on their ego by framing a pic with a dead animal, specially after killing it.

  11. Good post. Nice Blog.
    Check out. This video is getting Viral. Watch this incredible video.

  12. Is the photo real? What reason is there to be proud of killing a giraffe? And having a picture taken to “show off”. Just wrong. I do agree that sometimes people get carried away with their reactions, but have you ever read the comments from the opposite view? They are downright scary.

  13. That is just wrong, I can’t believe some people are capable and actually proud of doing that to those innocent animals. They should be ashamed of themselves.

  14. Totally soul crushing. But why would one add to the ill with preposterous, hateful, idle threats? I suppose if we really wanted to shake the offenders up the photo thread would remain totally silent. Then they’d really have to worry about what was up. Seriously… Venting and ranting abusive hate-speech does no one any good. Still… What a tragic waste of life. 😥

  15. I don’t agree with high-dollar Safari trophy hunting — insofar as it’s not something I have any desire to do myself. But, at least I’ve taken the time and trouble to learn about and understand it — and how it plays into African conservation.
    Which is apparently more than most who rant and rave about it have done. As my Grandmother used to say — at least bother to learn about something, before you spout off about it.

  16. You’re missing the point Hal. I don’t matter what it’s about. They are killing a living being that has feelings, desires, and a right to a life lived in the way that animal was created to live.

  17. […] these women though, god knows, the blowhard pig sticker has rolled out that welcome mat herself. I’ve been dismayed by animal defenders who gather in online feeding frenzies to hurl violent and sometimes misogynist […]

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