Monday 27 April 2015


Ricky Gervais is angry. No, scratch that, he’s really-really angry, outraged even and his outrage is getting a lot of exposure via social media and the press, where each new, if not too imaginative insult, is billed as a noble response to the treatment of animals by evil trophy hunters. But is the way he has gone about venting his outrage responsible, or simply recklessly self-indulgent and perhaps even an abuse of the power afforded him by his celebrity?

Ricky Gervais is not vegan per se, but he does demand that the meat he consumes is prepared so's not to resemble meat. He's also a self-proclaimed animal rights crusader, who cannot abide the killing of any of God’s creatures and that’s OK. It’s his life and he lives it in a society that upholds his right of free speech. What he does not have a right to do is promulgate hate speech among people he doesn't know and whose responses to his immoderate tirades he cannot possibly know, much less control.

Gervais is a 'celebrity' with a celebrity’s following, in his case numbering around 10-million souls on Facebook and Twitter alone and no-doubt among them there will be the usual assortment of unbalanced people eager to please the object of their obsessive adoration we've come to associate with "star stalkers". Like it or not, with mass adoration comes responsibility. While he may not be able to control the actions of his fans, he can exercise a little cautious restraint when exercising his right to free speech, thus helping to ensure he does not give the unbalanced reason to believe they can please him by committing unbalanced acts of devotion. 

Gervais has shown no such restraint. In fact he has made it his mission to launch every conceivable pejorative aimed at diminishing the hunters' humanity and worth, stopping just short of directing his minions to take lives for his cause. He has referred to trophy hunters as evil scum, psychopaths, sick murderers etc., he has labelled them worthless and in general striven to marginalise them as the equivalent of 21st century lepers, and all of it intended to diminish the humanity of those whose activities he despises. 

His Facebook page even carries an image depicting a young woman – huntress Rebecca Francis – blood-spattered, with an arrow through her chest in retaliation for Francis posing with a trophy giraffe she took in Africa.

The comments left by Gervais' followers beneath the image are all in the same predictable vein e.g. Rebecca Francis should be killed in retaliation for taking the life of a beautiful/majestic/innocent/glorious/noble creature and all claim they cannot understand what motivates a human being to enjoy hunting and taking the life of beautiful animals for fun.

Gervais' original Tweet, which started the world-wide hate campaign against Rebecca Francis and other female hunters, asks the question, "What must've happened to you in your life to make you want to kill a beautiful animal & then lie next to it smiling?" While the inference is clearly that Gervais cannot understand what might drive a person to take pleasure in the death of an animal, he and his followers certainly appear to understand what motivates a person to derive pleasure from the hunting and death of anyone who disappoints them. Not only has Rebecca Francis received personal death threats, numerous threats have also been made against the lives of her loved-ones in "let’s see how you like it" style.

To be fair, expressing a desire to see someone die a painful death in retaliation for hunting a giraffe is not the same as hunting an animal for its trophy value. The trophy hunter is not driven by hatred for his quarry and while he will certainly wish it dead, he does not do so because the quarry has displeased him in some way. The hunter will not contrive imaginatively cruel death scenarios for his quarry, involving long and elaborate tortures as so many of Gervais' followers have described via social media to satisfy their lust for Rebecca Francis’ blood and to gain the favour of their patron. 

That said, both the trophy hunter and Gervais' minions do share something in common. They will both cry “yes!” when their respective quarries are killed and they will each derive a sense of personal satisfaction, one from the death of a beautiful animal, the other from the death of a human being, which the latter hopes will be a deliciously lingering and painful affair. 

The community takes a dim view of extremists recruiting vulnerable people to Jihad against western culture, but I wonder who will be held accountable when someone eager to please a celebrity preaching Jihad against trophy hunters, plants a bomb under a young woman’s home and blows her family to smithereens, perhaps taking out an innocent passerby or two in the process. I suppose as long as no innocent animals (or guilty ones) are killed, the media will report it in passing and those responsible will be able to get down to the business of creating imaginative celebratory memes and perhaps even a t-shirt slogan or two. I’m quite certain Gervais will be unrepentant. 

Forgetting for a moment the possible impact of Twitter-frenzies on individuals and their families, what of the pressure Gervais, his fans and supporters among the media are placing on countries that permit trophy hunting? Does Gervais outline a plan for the sustainable management of Africa’s threatened and endangered wildlife, beyond the simplistic “leave the animals alone, they were there first” approach?

In September 2000, as a direct result of pressure brought to bear by the international animal rights community and their media supporters, Botswana ended regulated lion trophy hunting. Animal rights activists and the international media whooped and hollered at this win for the noble king of beasts and roundly congratulating themselves on a job well done, but there was a down side, one that wasn't broadly reported.

Lion habitat in Botswana, which accounts for about 20% of the country, is divided into two distinct areas. There is the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR), a pristine wilderness of 52,800 square kilometres (the second largest national park in the world) and a second area of 55,100 square kilometres, which is home to some 36,000 people and numerous cattle farms. As a direct result of the successful campaign to end commercial lion hunting, all the lions in this second area are now dead and the number of lions living in the protected CKGR is rapidly dwindling too. The simplistic, self-indulgent feel-good win for the animal advocates and their media allies has all but wiped lions from the face of the map in Botswana.

When tightly regulated trophy hunting was permitted, the thousands of people who are forced to eke out a marginal living shoulder to shoulder with lions and sundry other wild and not always Disney-lovable creatures, had a stake in tolerating their regular incursions into human territory because farmers received a portion of the trophy fees paid by wealthy American and European trophy hunters. When trophy hunting ceased in 2000 this supplementary income also ceased, but lion incursions did not. The government of Botswana was too impoverished to reimburse farmers and other stock owners for their losses, instead issuing permits allowing local people to shoot lions as nuisance animals.

As I’m sure you can imagine, it wasn't long at all before every single lion that once roamed the area outside the CKGR was shot, but it didn't end there. Lions are highly territorial and the extermination of lions in areas outside the CKGR left empty territories, which lions within the reserve rushed to fill. These formerly protected lions are now also shot for the threat they pose to people and livestock. The result is a critical lion crisis in Botswana and a cascade effect of negatives resulting from the cessation of trophy hunting.

We’ll never hear about it in the media of course. Hastening the annihilation of a nation’s lion population is not something the media or the more simplistic conservation agencies like take credit for. They will stand proudly on their achievement of ending commercial lion hunting in Botswana, even unto the last lonely roar. After all, it’s the principle of the thing, surely?

The solution to growing animal/human conflict is simple, just get rid of some humans. It’s not like they’re rare and anyway, the animals were there first. It’s their land!  Of course going vegan wouldn't hurt either. These sentiments can be found on Gervais' Facebook page and on a thousand others his legions have invaded to share their simplistic philosophies and messages of hate. But solutions, real solutions, workable, practical solutions that benefit wildlife and humans alike in the long-term are not something they seem willing or able to share. Instead they share the one thing this planet needs even more desperately than an Eden filled with the Lord’s creatures all romping safe and free – they share hate, a seemingly inexhaustible abundance of hate. 

But why direct all this venom at trophy hunters anyway? Trophy hunters engaging in government regulated game hunts account for a tiny fraction of all wildlife killed in Africa each year. The poacher is the true and totally mercenary enemy of efforts to preserve endangered African species, so why not focus on them? The answer is simple and it comes down to something Gervais understands only too well – audience response. 

Poachers conduct their activities covertly. Their activities contribute nothing whatsoever either to wildlife management processes or the economic circumstances of impoverished locals. Their activities are illegal, thus they do not identify themselves on Facebook or other social media and what the anti-hunter craves more than anything else is an audience. Where’s the personal satisfaction in calling poachers evil, mercenary, murdering, psychopaths who make a buck from indiscriminately shooting or poisoning glorious, innocent, majestic (etc) creatures and leaving their flesh to rot in discrete locations, if the bad guys won’t set themselves up like ducks in the social media shooting gallery so the anti-hunters can deliver their tirades?

Like all haters, persecutors and bigots, what those who seek out trophy hunters want more than anything else is a response. They want to see the fruits of their labours and unlike poachers, trophy hunters can be found on social media with relative ease and they will defend themselves against abuse, thus affording the haters a bit of ‘sport’ in pursuit of their human quarry. The fact the anti-hunters don’t even believe their own venomous spiels about the nature of trophy hunters is also surely evident in their social media activities. 

If trophy hunters really are "murdering psychopathic scum, devoid of empathy, who rejoice in cruelty" etc., etc., one is forced to ask what sane person would seek out said murdering psychopathic scum to abuse them on Facebook? After all, simply clicking on a profile picture will tell said gun-toting psychopath where you live, who your partner is, what your children look like and what everyone in the household’s daily routine is. 

The truth is such people have no faith whatsoever in their diagnosis of the various mental ailments they claim drive the trophy hunter. They are simply the puerile slurs of angry hateful people. Of course if I am wrong in that assessment may I humbly observe that such people are themselves irresponsible self-indulgent scumbags whose depraved indifference to child endangerment displays a complete dearth of empathy for their children given the world of pain their parents' immoderate social media rants could potentially deliver on their families, should they someday find their mark. 

There are so many aspects of Gervais' ongoing activities that are contempt-worthy it's hard for the moderate rational mind to list them either in total or in order of magnitude. There is, however, one standout example that, to me, sums-up Gervais' penchant for tasteless self-indulgent ridicule and it lies in the Tweet that precipitated the Twitter-Frenzy of hatred and threats that Rebecca Francis was subjected to soon after and since.

"What must've happened to you in your life to make you want to kill a beautiful animal & then lie next to it smiling?", Tweeted Ricky Gervais on April 13, resulting in more than 48,000 re-Tweets of the same query. The inference is clear; Rebecca Francis is a damaged young woman, perhaps due to some form of sexual or equally damaging abuse experienced as a child.  Well I have a question of my own in response.

Given you are the very personification or all that we should aspire to in terms of empathy and compassion, Ricky, and given you are a celebrity with abundant resources and the sort of star profile that opens almost any door, what efforts did you make to look up Rebecca’s number with a view to giving her a call to offer the support, guidance and mentoring she may need to recover from her abuse and thus reform her wicked trophy hunting ways? Or did you just massage your hate-gland with more than usual vigour and peel-off a self-gratifying shot at the unsuspecting damaged girl?

Anyway, I’ll get outaya way now.... 

Declaration: I am an omnivore and though not a trophy hunter, I am nonetheless a hunter. Hunting for trophies does not float my boat. I don’t personally relate to the attraction of hanging trophy heads on a wall, but nor can I claim to hunt because I have to. Supermarkets abound in my community and when I take a deer or a goat, along with its flesh I harvest antler, hide and sinew for craft purposes. Other predators don’t fashion their quarry’s hide and antlers into leather products or tools, leaving these by-products of the kill to decompose in the environment, so no doubt the vegan purist will consider these items ‘trophies’ of a sort. 

Would I shoot a member of the charismatic species, an elephant or a giraffe? Not simply to tick it off a list of species I've hunted, no. However, if I was advised that an animal had been scientifically earmarked for culling as part of a legitimate, expertly managed breeding program, if I knew the meat the kill yields would not be wasted and if for some unlikely reason I happened to be the only person in earshot who knew his way around firearms, I would shoot an elephant, a giraffe or even something that wasn't Disney cute, without undue remorse. If someone wanted to take home the non-consumable parts of the animal, while their taste in ornamentation may not appeal to me personally, I’d have no particular objection.

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  1. I wonder if Ricky knows, or even cares how many animals die just so he can enjoy his idyllic bowl of vegan tofu.....

    Virtually all food consumed in modern society comes from farms. To farm your food requires the land be cleared of all non wanted species, almost universally resulting in their death. In the case of Rickys picture with him lying next to what seems to be a bowl of tofu soup - tofu comes from soy, often grown on farms in places like indonesia and south east asia. to farm their soy, they clear large swaths of rainforrest, directly killing (or displacing only to die slowly through habitat and food source loss) many species including endangered ones such as orangutans.... so in that picture, he is really posing next to a bowl of orangutan soup - Enjoy killing orangutans Ricky?

  2. I wonder where he thinks his leather shoes, belt and luxury car seats come from?. He is an activist when it suits him. Anyway, what's his "claim to fame" anyway?.Get some pork on your fork Rick...............or is it Dick.....

  3. You nailed it.
    Ricky must be a recent vegan convert then? In the UK Telegraph from 07 Nov 2005 he says in an interview
    "It’s not for moralistic or health reasons, it’s because I’m squeamish. If I eat fish, it has to be a fillet, it has to look like it didn’t use to have a face. I’m a hypocrite. I want someone to kill my chicken humanely, I want it to have had a good life and to have not known what was coming, and then I want it to be cut into chunks and disguised in a sauce. "

    A bit like what happened to the giraffe. Good life & free then *bang* on the BBQ. Nothing like the caged chicken he probably just ate.

    So I guess the selfie thing is his biggest problem. Damn those cavemen putting pictures up on their walls all those years ago. They statred a trend. Someone should go & wipe them all off the face of the earth.

  4. I made one too, keep up the good work, Erik.

  5. I think Ricky and his followers massage more than just there hate glands.


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