Wednesday 26 October 2016

Poor Harambe, we'll never see his like again

Published 05/06/2016 | 02:30

A boy brings flowers to put beside a statue of a gorilla outside the Gorilla World exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden following the shooting of Harambe
A boy brings flowers to put beside a statue of a gorilla outside the Gorilla World exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden following the shooting of Harambe

So, farewell Harambe, it seemed we never really knew you at all.

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Harambe, the most famous Western lowland silverback gorilla of recent times, celebrated his 17th birthday in Cincinnati Zoo last Friday. A day later he was shot by the same keepers who had, 24 hours earlier, made him a birthday cake. A solemn candlelight vigil has been held outside his enclosure ever since the 'murder' and it's believed there will be a memorial service outside the zoo this evening.

OK, am I the only person who laughs when they read that?

Whether it's Cecil the Lion or Harambe the Silverback, it has become impossible to witness a story involving unfortunate animals without some people - idiots is the technical term, I believe - suddenly taking extreme umbrage and thinking that they are somehow part of the story.

What we know now is pretty simple, if undeniably tragic and stupid - a family visits the zoo, a kid falls into a gorilla enclosure whereupon the zoo owners decide a dead gorilla is bad PR, but not as bad as images of a dismembered child being tossed around like a rag doll.

Let's get something out of the way first - yes, the zoo should have shot Harambe. No, he shouldn't have been there in the first place.

I know people in the zoo trade love animals and can make a case that they are helping with conservation and education. But those arguments are becoming increasingly weather-beaten and hard to sustain.

There will come a time, probably within the next generation, when people look back on such establishments with bafflement and no little contempt. Whether it's lions and gorillas in zoos, or killer whales forced to do stupid tricks in places like SeaWorld, the idea of keeping sentient, intelligent creatures caged in captivity is shameful.

But let's get back to the fun stuff; the mad people who immediately took to social media to express their outrage.

The first example of industrial-strength silliness came from the usual useless idiots and race hucksters of the Black Lives Matter movement who were quick to argue that the gorilla was only shot to protect a 'white' kid.

When it emerged that four-year-old Isaiah Dickerson was actually black, and his parents now face possible child endangerment charges, they simply changed tack and said criticism of the family was racist.

In fact, every special interest group and identity-based movement seems to have hopped on poor old Harambe's plight - all the better to further their own demented agendas.

The reaction was never really about an unfortunate gorilla who didn't deserve to die but who put his captors in an impossible position.

Instead, it seemed to quickly morph into one of the ugliest and definitely the dumbest argument about race in America we have seen for some time.

For example, much was made of the fact that he was a 17-year-old male shot by The Man. Thankfully, this claim has been repeated by mostly black commentators, because one can only imagine the response if a white pundit had drawn a link between a gorilla and a young black man.

When the sound and the fury caused by this incident dies down, and the mob runs off in chase of their next target, there will still be animals forced to exist in lives of cramped servitude. So forget about drawing human parallels for Harambe - his death should, if anything, merely serve to remind us that zoos are rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

And for that, at least, we should be grateful.

#PrayforHarambe indeed.

You have  the right  to ­remain ­silent...

Something happened in the EU this week but, like things relating to the EU, you probably ignored it. Which is, of course, exactly what they wanted.

On Thursday, the non-elected members of the all powerful European Commission announced their latest act of totalitarianism — new rules to “combat illegal online hate speech”.

Without punters knowing anything about this latest attempt at censorship by stealth, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube were among the companies which cooked up the new rules in secret.

It’s bad enough having elected Irish politicians trying to force their idiotic ideas on the rest of the population. But when it’s an unelected and unaccountable bunch of civil servants in Brussels deciding what people can and cannot say on Twitter, then we’re rapidly approaching scary territory.

What is online hate speech exactly?

After all, we now live in a culture so utterly devoid of common sense that unkind words are considered an act of violence and it should come as no surprise that numerous gay rights groups were also involved in drafting the new rules — but all in the name of tolerance, of course.

The problem with this land-grab of our own rights is that even the Commission accepts that: “(hate speech) does not necessarily manifest itself through the expression of hatred or of emotions.”

So, effectively, hate speech is in the eye of the beholder. Cranks and nutters will use the rules to simply shut down opposition until we reach the stage where everyone has complained about everyone else and social media becomes a digital desert.

Actually, that might not be such a bad idea...


Things may have changed utterly in this country over the last few years but the spirit of The Skibbereen Eagle is, at least, alive and well.

That paper ran a legendary editorial in 1914 which harrumphed: “We give this solemn warning to Kaiser Wilhelm: The Skibbereen Eagle has its eye on you.”

As history has shown, the Kaiser didn’t pay enough attention to the Skib Eagle and the war went ahead as scheduled.

I was reminded of that infamous editorial during the week when watching Richie Boy Barrett do his little dance of indignation at the idea of Donald Trump becoming US President.

As Irish politicians from both sides of the aisle lined up to reassure their voters that they all think Trump is a terrible fella altogether (sure, he’s worse than Hitler, Ted), there was something both glaring and oddly quaint about their posturing.

For starters, if Trump was to run against Hillary in an Irish election tomorrow, he’d probably win. The increasingly hapless Clinton may be a media darling in this country, but most people can see through her. Trump may be hated by the bien pensants, but he speaks to his constituency with an honesty that Irish politicians must find absolutely terrifying.

They should try it sometime.

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