When I was in 6th grade, Katie O’Haren told everyone I was a lesbian. I had not yet kissed a boy, didn’t wear make-up and was taller than most of the boys: that was all of the proof she needed. I was sure she was wrong, the posters in my bedroom of Matt Dillon, Simon LeBon and C.Thomas Howell told me so.
But, the rumor spread, the way rumors did back then: a whisper in the locker room or at the lunch table. And then, it was over. Another piece of gossip took its place.
I now have a 6th grader. (Holy shit, that came out of nowhere). And what happened this week with Cecil the lion, makes me fear for my children and all of their peers. My fears, have nothing to do with the killing of this creature. My fears are wrapped up in our world’s response.
I am not condoning the cold blooded and heartless torture and beheading of one of the world’s most majestic creatures. I too was outraged, sickened and angry. But, then I saw the world’s response: death threats to him, to his family. Are we any better than him, any less violent?
I do believe there are social and economic consequences of being an asshole. Our government did not take this Lion murdering Dentist’s business away, the court of public opinion did…with the help of Yelp, of course.
I cannot help but relate the intensity of the Cecil situation, back to my own life. If I were in 6th grade today and Katie O’Haren went on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Jimmy Kimmel and Snap Chat to tell the world I was a Lesbian, would I shrug it off, the way I did in 1985? I knew then the rumor could only travel as fast as our lunchroom configuration would allow.
Today, I fear, a rumor or even a careless act, feels much more permanent to a teenager, much less forgettable. It can’t be a coincidence that teenage suicide is on the rise as our immediate pictures, foibles and snapshots circulate at lightning speed.
We may as well throw out our court system. People are tried and convicted on the internet within moments of something happening. Is all of the info we are getting at such a rapid pace accurate? Sometimes it takes time to suss out the details. As we know there are at least 3 sides to every story and sometimes even video lies. (Instant replay taught me that)
I feel like we are getting dangerously close to hangings in the town square. Our mob mentality is based on our own morality, but believe me, lynch mobs though out history have always thought morality was on their side.
I mourn for that lion. But I mourn for that man and his family too. His life is over, as he knows it. The court of public opinion has spoken. Justice is swift: off with his head.