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


by Kathleen Stahowski  April 21, 2014

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.

26 thoughts on “A (trophy animal) picture is worth a thousand (angry, violent) words

  1. Beautifully stated…we need to channel all this energy towards her ignorance into knowledge of what she did …killing to kill for fun and taking a wild being’s precious life.
    It hurts to look at this photo …really hurts.
    Only humans kill for ego recreation.
    They have forgotten they too are an animal.

  2. Reblogged this on Ravens-Tree.com and commented:
    Disgusting, disgraceful, heinous crime. These people take the life of others without a second thought. Would they feel the same way about their own… I think NOT! A beautiful creature’s life ended, never to be seen gracing the wild again. And they wonder why those that care for the earth and it’s creatures are so angry. Stupid, ignorant and soulless people. AAAAAAGGGHHH!

  3. I liked this piece very much. I am sickened by the killing but the ranting that ends up with gender based hatred and insults is not productive or helpful on any level. It can devolve into its own horror. I want no part of that. It isn’t healthy and it doesn’t move anything forward.

  4. 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.

  5. The kind of responses elicited from angry frustrated individuals upon viewing photos such as the one just posted with the giraffe is understandable, however, it is counterproductive to what those of us who “get it” are trying to accomplish by briniging awareness to a practice that is inherently cruel, egocentric and violent. Violence begets violence – civil disobedience through words and actions has proven to be much more effective for progressing forward when addressing these types of issues. We have to influence the mindset of those who engage in the horrible pastime of trophy hunting – verbal abuse towards those who kill for fun and ego stroking from those of use who are sick and tired of these practices only fuels their twisted rationalizations for what they do.

  6. Couldn’t agree more. But I still am going to need a pitcher of margaritas to get past some of this stuff. Then when I sober up, I’ll continue with the activism.

  7. In a perfect world, people would not have such reactions to this vile behavior. They would behave calmly, rationally, and say that our differences can be worked out peacefully and without name-calling and other violent expressions of anger (with perhaps a verse of kumbaya afterwards). But, we all know that our world is about as far from perfect as we can get.

    Seeing these images does provoke a visceral response (come on, who could shoot a giraffe?) and instead of being a voice of reason, to see women emulating the questionable behavior of something traditionally male because they think they are doing it to make a statement about equality is distressing, or for selfish reasons, is distressing. I put no stock in some of these studes, because the next one will contradict it. I’d worry more If people didn’t have such visceral responses (but obviously you don’t want to get carried away). Women and others will recover from being called names; these poor animals are dead. It does no good to take the focus off a legitimate issue and turn it into another ‘-ism’ issue about humans and their endless problems.

    • One more thing: to think that people are not violent is to keep your head in the sand and not face reality – people wouldn’t enjoy grinning over dead animals, among our other violent qualities such as war, if we were not violent creatures to begin with.

    • “I’d worry more If people didn’t have such visceral responses (but obviously you don’t want to get carried away).” Excellent point! For anyone to not have a visceral response to a photo like that, they would have to be a hollow, emotionally dead psychopath. There are way too many of those types running around already. I think the woman who wrote this article had a visceral response to not only the photo, but also to the horribly violent images some people’s angry comments conjured up. Name calling is one thing, but depicting a perverted, sadistic death for someone fits the definition of carried away and serves no purpose. As some may have found out, I delete comments like that from this blog. Call me a word Nazi, but free speech does have a limit here.

  8. Jim,
    I’m happy you posted this needed message. I fear too often that the disparaging rant borne of outrage in response to the despicable killing of wildlife individuals from other species is all that is done by many advocates who have to bear witness to this unnecessary carnage. After their pain is diminished by responding to outrage in an outpouring of venom, less energy and perhaps motivation remains to do the work to end these worldviews and cultural beliefs of human dominion and disregard. Instead,let the anger and bearing witness be transformed into the years of advocacy and action needed to stop these human abominations.

    I can’t restrain myself in stating that killing by hunting (that I try to separate from the persons doing the harms and injustices as Gandhi and Dr. King taught us) is a self-important exercise of ego, immense cruelty, and disrespect coming from seeming empty hearts and minds at least in these matters. Yet, with that reserved but accurate statement, I’ve still a reservoir of empathy, compassion, and energy intact to continue advocacy. It’s not that I’m not wounded and outraged; it’s that I’ve witnessed what little good is gained by my past outbursts where I matched the yelling and invectives of my tormentor.I once was so close to an elephant “trainer’s” face that we exchanged spittle spray by and onto both of us. I broke my knowing that I should avoid becoming a mirror image of him. At that moment I voluntarily handed my power over to him. I cannot win a campaign if I become as empty as my temporary opponents. So, while I reel inside from these terrible acts I am required to bear witness to, a power seeps deeper into me for the longer work ahead. It powers me to write this, in fact.

      • @ idalupine: Not quite sure what you meant by that, but neither was I. I am an animal rights activist, as well as vegan. I’m simply saying that the pace of manifestations is directly proportional to the amount of love BEHIND your intentions; and it goes both ways. “HATE It has caused a lot of problems in this World, but it has not solved one yet.”- Maya Angelou

        5150 WitchyWoman

  9. I agree with the sentiments of idalupine and Will Anderson mostly, even though those of us within our extreme frustration can show anger towards the “zombies” that have committed these horrific acts of violence, we do need to remain civil when ever possible. But, I do not believe our vented anger is not a “mirror” or compared to the monsters violence. I look at it like this, Our anger and violent outburst are coming from self defense of the innocent, and from years of oppression to stay quiet about this minority group of people that are sociopathic, ego driven killers with no sensibilities, only apathy, big difference to me, between us and them, big! But still, lowering our sensibilities to vent at these people does no good,they don’t hear us, no matter how vile we get, their societal conditioning that has left them with a apathetic mental condition, prevents them from being able to understand how horrible their actions are, so we can only spend our energies, letting law makers know that we are not going to accept this behavior of humans towards animals any longer, that it is not only horror and abuse to the animals, but abuse to the humans that care.

  10. While I agree that needless vulgarisms and continual use of the “F” word do little for the cause, it irks me no end when anyone tries to shift focus from what is the apotheosis of atrocious behavior (like shooting giraffes for fun!) to allegations of misogyny or racism or cultural imperialism or some other form of recently-proscribed, politically-incorrect behavior; detracting from needed focus on the profound in service of the frivolous. The worst that comes from the latter is that some person, probably deservedly, suffers a “psychic wound” or a loss of self-esteem. The former has more concrete effects: the shattering of flesh and bone and the needless death of an innocent creature that has done nothing to deserve the suffering inflicted upon it.

    I guess in today’s overly-sensitive times, Holocaust survivors who complain about
    “those murderous Nazi bastards” who decimated their village would be chastised for their intolerance and use of pejorative language, and be advised to re-phrase it to “those ethically-challenged, right-wing gentlemen” who gassed our relatives. And forgive me for not buying into the nonsense that if we all just make-nice and not lower ourselves to level of the murderous bastards out there who are killing wild animals as a recreational pursuit, we somehow can claim the moral high ground. Just the opposite of what one commenter said, this IS (or should be) a war, a war between the forces of good and evil. And only the incurably naïve believe any war is won by making nice to the enemy.

    • Agree! This is War, casualties are the innocent animals, we did not start this war, the animals did not start this war, but we have been “diplomatic” in their name and for their benefit way too long..and where are we?, how’s that working for us?

    • While I wouldn’t say I’d never try to meet in the middle for the sake of animal welfare (and I have been pleasantly surprised by those with opposing views to mine), and can tolerate subsistence hunting – I have no use for trophy hunting, generally do not respect the people who trophy hunt, and don’t care what people say about them them. If they get a good, well-deserved lambasting on Facebook etc. by people venting their shock and anger at them, it’s the least we can do, I think!!!

      For the most part, I think that is all it is. As usual with a political agenda, the author takes extreme examples and implies they are the norm. I don’t know what her point is, because she freely admits that male hunters are the object of much scorn also. Women need to get special treatment? Not at all IMO. I’m not misogynistic – but misanthropic, an equal opportunity hater of killers! Preliminary studies are not convincing.

  11. OMG! Point taken…..I myself have been guilty of this type of verbal violence, never knowing exactly HOW to express the total horror I feel looking at these photos. You’ve triggered my memory to a Physics Law (of Attraction?) that (I think) applies to basically everything: “Like Attracts Like”. Thanks for the lesson!

  12. No I think is Opposites Attract and Likes Repel. This article is questionable. She says she never reads these things, but just testing the waters, so how did she find out about them? BS I’m not a member of Facebook, Twitter, can’t stand them, don’t have a smart phone and only a basic computer; I am a Neo-Luddite so I usually don’t see them except for when they are on news blogs. But it sure doesn’t break my heart. The author can be assured that those who complain are also working hard for change.

    • @ idalupine: It is ” Like Attracts Like”. Though argued recently, I believe it stands. If we have a desire, but the DOMINANT belief or thoughts are of lack, we get lack. This is an appearance of opposites, but is actually like attracting like…your INTENTION. This is a Magickal lesson, that I think is Universally applicable. What’s in your heart of hearts?

      5150 WitchyWoman

    • Will Anderson’s beautifully articulate point is EXTREMELY ACCURATE, fellow animal lovers and advocates! “…Let the anger and bearing witness be transformed…” “…Yet, with that reserved but accurate statement, I’ve still a reservoir of empathy, compassion, and energy intact to continue advocacy…” Absolutely what I’ve been saying, his statement being much more educated than my own. People, it isn’t “making nice” to rise above the anger and hate we feel for the animals! Do you not think it sparks a “domino effect” of HATRED, responding to hate WITH hate? Our Universe vibrates this back to us, whether you know Physics OR Metaphysics (“beyond Physics”). Thank you!

      5150 WitchyWoman

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s