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How outrage over Cecil the lion killing misses the point

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Frida Ghitis: Outrage over Cecil trophy kill went viral, spawned outrage backlash from those who say moral compass is skewed

What about human suffering in Zimbabwe, Syria, among refugees?

Editor’s Note: Frida Ghitis is a world affairs columnist for the Miami Herald and World Politics Review and a former CNN producer and correspondent. Follow her @FridaGhitis. The opinions expressed in this commentary are hers.

CNN —  

Of all the stories you heard in the news in the past few days, which one moved you the most? Which outraged you, brought you to tears, led you to action? Which did you talk about with your friends, post on Facebook, discuss on Twitter? If the answer is the killing of Cecil the lion, you are in lots of company.

Frida Ghitis
Frida Ghitis

By now, it seems, most people agree that the killing, apparently for fun, of the majestic lion by a Minnesota dentist visiting Zimbabwe was a perplexing act of pointless cruelty and cowardice. It spawned millions of posts on Facebook and Twitter – a kind of outrage tsunami.

Cecil, who was apparently well-known and loved in the natural park where he lived in Zimbabwe, died in a most unnatural way, lured from his home and slaughtered. (The dentist, now perhaps fearing for his life, has apparently gone into hiding.)

The intensity of the backlash over the trophy killing has triggered a counter-backlash. Why, some are now asking, do people care so much about the death of a lion when so many human beings are suffering and dying? The surge of sorrow for a dead lion, they say, when compared to the relative quiet about other wrongs, reveals a moral flaw in our humanity, a defect in our moral compass.