Saturday, April 18, 2015

No, that’s not a reason to love Ricky Gervais

Ecorazzi is gleefully reporting on a “Twitter war” sparked by a tweet by Ricky Gervais targeting a trophy hunter. Trophy hunters (and hunters in general) are overwhelmingly male, and the majority of animal liberation activists are women (not that you’d know it from all of the attention paid to male voices or the misogynistic stunts of some organizations); but Gervais chose to “call out” a woman, Rebecca Francis.

He had to know that his tweet would lead to Francis being barraged with threats. The Ecorazzi writer, pleased that the conflict is bringing attention to wildlife-protection organizations, breezes right past this inevitable result - “It wasn’t long before some of his over 7.5 million followers started posting death threats to Francis saying she should be the one shot…” – without a word of objection. In some of the first responses to Gervais’ original tweet people call Francis an “ugly bitch” and a “massive cunt” and write “disgusting trash box I hope the rifle backfires and explodes in that cunt’s face,” eliciting no negative response from Gervais. (This isn’t especially surprising - not long ago, he came up with the hilarious idea to rename hunters “cunters.”)

I’m sure there are many reasons to like Gervais, including his commitment to animals and his humor (some of his tweets in this episode would be funny and useful in another context). But this isn’t one of them. We don’t advance the cause of compassion by riling up threatening, misogynistic mobs. Targeting and harassing others, leading them to fear for their safety, is what hunters do. Surely it should be obvious to vegans that this sport shaming is contrary to our values.

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