As I thought about this post, I knew one thing was for certain… I would piss off both the Left and the Right. Knowing that, I asked myself if there was a way to handle this topic without the vitriol that goes with provocative news stories, and ultimately decided it was best just to hit it head on. So here’s the deal. Last week, a tagged and protected lion (Cecil) was baited off a protected reserve in Zimbabwe and killed by an American dentist who paid $50,000 for the alleged chartered hunt. In other news, and seemingly unrelated, a series of undercover videos surfaced showing that Planned Parenthood was selling aborted fetal tissue. Both of these events fueled passionate responses, though the Pro-Life side was even more outraged given the press coverage of “a single animal” over “countless murdered babies.”
Here is what I can’t understand. Does anyone think either of these stories are new information? Sure, the Planned Parenthood videos featured a doctor discussing organs while eating a salad and drinking wine. And the lion in question had a cute name, along with a family of cubs. But do people honestly believe that hunting big game is illegal, or that aborted fetal tissue hasn’t been used in research for decades? Was this really a revelation? Just in case it was, here are some facts. In this century alone, an average of 600 lions have been hunted and killed each year according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Over 1,000 African elephants per year. Endangered species aren’t even immune. Last year, a Texan purchased a permit to hunt a black rhino in Namibia for $350,000. There are less than 5,000 of these animals left on the planet, and a permit was legally sold to Corey Knowlton who proudly did the deed.
Back to Planned Parenthood, fetal tissue in research isn’t new either. In 1954, the Nobel Prize was awarded to 3 scientists who used fetal tissue to develop the polio vaccine. This is a vaccine that changed the world by eradicating a disease that had people hiding in their homes. I get that no one wants to see how the sausage is made, but is it really new information that human tissue is used in research? In 2014, the National Institutes of Health spent $76,000,000 on fetal tissue for research. This is public information. No one needed to go undercover to get a video of a possible transaction. It is also important to note that the prices being discussed in this video were $100 or less per specimen, nowhere near the six figure plus amounts of a black market kidney… more in line with what it takes to cover processing fees.
All of this begs the important question, and the entire purpose of this post. Why does a provocative narrative on established facts suddenly propel a story into headlines? Are people that fucking stupid, or maybe that fucking smart? Research has shown us that anonymity or distance enables people to commit acts beyond anything they would be capable of without these protections. The Stanley Milgram experiment in the early 60s showed how everyday people would be willing to torture subjects that they could not see. The original hypothesis was that it was authority that drove these participants to comply. Further studies demonstrated that when participants can see the subjects being tortured, or even just given their name, compliance to demands requiring pain or torture went way down. In other words, 600 lions hunted each year doesn’t resonate with anyone. A fan favorite named Cecil, with cute little cubs, being hunted by a wealthy midwestern dentist, now that is barbaric. The same goes for the fetal tissue.
The truth is that humans have an incredible sense of care and protection for those they identify with. But when you substitute a name, face, or story with a number, it just doesn’t cut through the clutter of media put in front of the average person. We are inundated everyday with stories of murders, rape, and a host of other atrocities. Without a hook or a headline, no one has the bandwidth to give it any notice. The result is that entire populations acts like simpletons and puppets when one clever marketer spins a story in just the right light. Look at what Hitler did to make an entire country of otherwise good people turn into an efficient genocidal machine. Given the right combination of culture, context and provocation, we are just one really cleverly narrated story away from another global conflict.
As Americans (along with many other Western nations), we tend to fear Islamic extremism, North Korea, a nuclear Iran, and a myriad of other foreign powers. When in truth, we might want to look in the mirror and evaluate the potential energy that is brewing inside our own borders. Let that process for a moment. Less than a month ago, Donald Trump called Mexicans drug dealers and rapists… today he is leading the GOP polls. Yes, Donald Fucking Trump is the Republican front runner. While I understand this is the equivalent of being the tallest midget, it is still deeply concerning that a guy who believes we just bomb countries and build a giant fence around our border is leading in any poll. So what is my point in all of this? The way I see it, we have three choices. We could become one of the mindless drones and drive the agenda of the story tellers, we could point out the objective facts behind the stories and help educate our population, or we can start writing our own stories. I, for one, have already started my next story. It goes a little something like this…
New research has revealed that depositing money into the firstname.lastname@example.org PayPal account will result in large accruals of karma. This karma can then be converted into currency by depositing more money into aforementioned PayPal account. Duration of time to achieve results may vary. In order to expedite this, make multiple donations of larger dollar amounts to increase turnaround time. In other news, 44 people were murdered in the US today.by