July 11, 2014

Blurred lines, part 2: You and me, baby, we ain't nothing but mammals

(Two weeks ago, I posted an article titled "Blurred Lines," about the eroding of the male-female "binary" and the clash of biblical and secular worldviews. That article was originally posted at Faith Beyond Belief, and contained two parallel arguments. I removed the second argument for brevity and relevance. Had I known what last week would bring, I could have kept the whole article intact and just changed the news stories at the beginning.)

Last week, Texas teenager Kendall Jones was the target of an Internet lynching after photos of herself with African big-game animals, which she had shot, went viral. For her part, Ms. Jones claims that some of the animals were tranquilized for the purposes of research or veterinary treatment, and that the ones she killed either provided food for the locals or aided conservation. For my part, I believe her (on that last point, specifically—as far as I'm concerned, the others require no defense): coming from Northern Ontario where hunting and fishing are popular pastimes, in my experience the most devoted conservationists are hunters. Ducks Unlimited, for example, is dedicated to preserving waterfowl habitats. It was founded by, and primarily supported by, hunters: not merely because they want to preserve their hobby, but they also love nature and want to protect it. Conserving wetlands ensures not only a good supply of ducks to shoot, but has the side benefit of protecting other species that live there as well.

Nonetheless, hordes of easily angered Internet slacktivists descended upon Ms. Jones, demanding (successfully) that Facebook remove the pictures from her page—though a "Kill Kendall Jones" fan page was allowed to exist for a few days longer. Some folks have started online petitions to have her banned from hunting in South Africa or Tanzania, even though her kind of hunting is legal and generates revenue. The usual death threats were issued via Twitter, and one liberal douchebag is even offering $100,000 for nude pictures of her. Mike Dickinson's apparent rationale is that "hunting" nudie pics of Ms. Jones is the moral equivalent of her hunting animals. (The Web site of this alleged, self-proclaimed Congressional candidate is currently disabled. I wonder why?)

You may also remember the story from earlier this year, of the Copenhagen zoo that euthanized a giraffe and fed its remains to their lions. The incident was a PR disaster for the zoo, as well as generating significant anger from animal-rights groups. Mind you, the latter seemed unconcerned about the right of lions, carnivorous hunters by nature, to feast on scrumptious giraffe.

Commenting on the Kendall Jones situation, blogger Matt Walsh recently commented:

It's funny that, of all the filth and depravity online, it takes an image of a dead zebra to really rile people up.

Even more peculiar: a million babies are killed every year in this country, yet that has never sparked this level of popular outrage. . . .

Many of the liberal blogs having a meltdown over Kendall Jones are the same ones that spent a week hailing Emily Letts, who filmed her own abortion. "What kind of monster smiles after killing something?" they say about the woman posing with a tranquilized rhino, but not about the woman giggling while an abortionist executes her baby.

[Read Just Pretend This Dead Lion Is a Human Baby, and Then You Won't Be So Upset]

The outrage against Jones was endemic, and prominently featured words such as "majestic" and "beautiful" in reference to the animals she (sometimes) wasted. Perhaps if more people described their unborn children as "majestic," fewer people would be so enthusiastic about killing them.

Both the blurring of the distinction between man and woman, as I discussed in June, and the blurring of man and animal, highlight a clash between biblical and secular worldviews about categories God established at creation. Just as he created male distinct from female, he also created humankind distinct from the animals. He finished his creation with man, on the sixth day. This above all separates man from the rest of creation: "[I]n the image of God he created him" (Genesis 1:27). Nothing else is made in the image of God.

A major implication of Darwinism, if it is true, is that the difference between humans and animals is merely one of degree. However, there is no moral difference. As Ingrid Newkirk, founder and president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) once remarked, "a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy."

Of course, the animal-rights people don't really believe that. They protested when zookeepers gave the lions euthanized giraffe, but they don't protest when lions in their natural habitat help themselves to a giraffe. In a comical attempt to promote vegetarianism, PETA tried to rename fish "sea kittens." On the other hand, they don't encourage bears to become vegetarians and stop eating fish. In 2009, a pet chimpanzee named Travis attacked a woman, tearing off and eating her face and hands. We can imagine the outrage from the animal-rights people if the woman ate the chimpanzee's face. Why? Because we know there is a difference. We treat other creatures humanely because we're human, and built into the origin of our species is a mandate to care for the other ones (Gen. 2:15). We can expect no such treatment from the bears and chimps. Asserting that an animal has rights doesn't elevate the animal. It only debases man and turns animals into an object of worship and an avenue of rebellion against the Creator of both (Romans 1:21-23). Just as we need to acknowledge the "binaries" between man and woman, we need also to acknowledge the ones between man and beast. Both are God's doing. Both are "very good" (Gen. 1:31).

So, sorry—there is a significant categorical and moral difference between human beings and animals. One is made in the image of God, and the rest are a gift of God for our use (Genesis 9:3). As long as recreational hunting is balanced by an effort to protect species from extinction and preserve their habitats, I have no moral qualms about big-game hunters—even pretty blonde hunters from Texas. You're going to have to do better than this to rile me up.