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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Stick to your guns, Mr Wightman

When I was abroad recently, I watched the hotel TV, like you do. The same big story got repeated over and over again, like it does. Do you know what BBC World News thought was the most important story on Earth?

Cecil the lion (peace be upon him). The BBC had a reporter with the crowd outside the house of that American dentist who broke the world’s heart. “Nothing has been seen of Mr Palmer,” smirked the reporter, “which isn’t surprising considering what some people here are saying they are going to do to him.” Then the camera panned to the house for a good long look at it so that anyone else wanting to kill the man would know where to go. I always wondered what it would take for the BBC to see the merits of vigilante justice.

Not to be outdone by the Yanks, now Britain has its own Walter Palmer. Not to be outdone by the Beeb, the Daily Mail is at the head of the mob.

Former GREEN PARTY councillor revealed as a big game hunter who poses for trophy photos with his kills – and defends shooting Cecil the Lion

A former Green Party councillor has defended his hobby – as a big game hunter.
Defiant Ben Wightman, 27, has proudly posted trophy photos of himself next to a series of animals he has shot in South Africa.
The controversial images – on his publicly-open Facebook page – show a grinning Wightman, rifle in hand, crouched beside a host of dead animals, including two antelopes, a bloodied warthog*, an ostrich, buffalo and a zebra.

Wow, a Green Party apex predator. I like it. The Daily Mail commenters don’t. “The comments below have not been moderated”, it says. You can tell. The Mail would not deprive its readers of the manly pleasures of making death threats to people they’d never heard of ten minutes ago. But doesn’t this blockhead know the script? He’s not backing down:

‘I am a firm believer that one of the best ways of management and conservation is with a rifle.
‘We are taking out old, lame or unfit animals that are causing problems for local farmers.’

*Note to the Samizdata elves. A warthog is practically a hippo. I’ve waited years to use this category.

37 comments to Stick to your guns, Mr Wightman

  • Nicholas (Rule Yourselves!) Gray

    If a wild animal has a name, then it shouldn’t be shot. Them’s the rules! Nobody cares about animals that haven’t made a name for themselves, or about animals with gangsta names, but who would want to harm anyone with a cute name like Cecil? Only a brute with no soul!

  • mike

    “We are taking out old, lame or unfit animals that are causing problems for local farmers.”

    I don’t know anything about hunting, so I could be quite wrong, but I would have thought that you’d want young, fit animals as quarry rather than the old and lame. I gather that there are people in Washington State who hunt Elk with bows, and even a few nutters who go after Kodiak bears in Alaska. But is the killing of a specifically lame animal really a sport, or is it just an unfortunate chore that must be carried out from time to time?

  • Nicholas (Rule Yourselves!) Gray

    When my first comment comes out of moderation, Alisa, you’ll see I’ve answered that nameless zebra!

  • Julie near Chicago

    Yes, Alisa, there is that.

  • Environmentalism has morphed from a science into a faith. Facts no longer matter. Cost/benefit no longer matters.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Somebody is going to ask this question, so we might as well get it over with:
    why compare a wild pig to hippos, rather than to animals that we are more likely to find on our dinner plate?

  • why compare a wild pig to hippos, rather than to animals that we are more likely to find on our dinner plate?

    Because Samizdata does not have any category of ‘Pigs’, ‘Cows’, ‘Goats’ or ‘Steak-on-the-hoof’… but it does indeed have the category ‘Hippos’… it is what appears if a negligent Samizdata contributor forgets to attach a category to their article, but clearly Natalie actually craved to use it ‘for real’ (sorta) 😉

  • CaptDMO

    “Then the camera panned to the house for a good long look at it so that anyone else wanting to kill the man would know where to go.”
    Remember this when the next “critical thinker” states “But…but.. nobody NEEDS a high capacity magazine for those “scary looking” rifles .

  • bobby b

    I strolled with a friend over to one of the big anti-dentist protests back when they were happening. (His office is right up the road.)

    We walked around throughout the crowd, pointing to various people – reporters too! – counting aloud as we did.

    “Ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen . . . ”

    Fifteen was a reporter. He asked what we were doing.

    I told him we were counting people with leather belts or shoes or hats. Told him Elsie the Cow was a LOT more lovable than Cecil the Predator. Told him he’d never find a UTube vid of a cow eating someone alive.

    Man, you woulda thought I had called his mother bad names.

  • Watchman

    bobby b,

    Just ‘cos they don’t eat don’t mean them cows ain’t out to get you…

  • I don’t know anything about hunting, so I could be quite wrong, but I would have thought that you’d want young, fit animals as quarry rather than the old and lame.

    The reason the hunter is quite correct is simple: young fit animals can and do hunt quarry such as antelope or zebras… their ‘natural’ quarry. Old slow or injured animals cannot, and thus go after easier quarry such as domestic cattle (or indeed humans).

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Watchman, Yup. Hunters all say that an angry herbivore is meaner than a carnivore. Them there hippos, for instance.

  • mike


    I understood that perfectly well. I was thinking more about the fun and challenge of hunting, i.e. surely it would be more fun to hunt a young and fit animal than an old and lame one. If I am right about that, then it seems a bit odd to have hunters only going after the old and lame.

  • mike

    Forgot to add… unless of course they are hunting in order to manage the population, rather than purely for fun or are compelled to do so.

  • AKM

    mike, surely the answer is that are hunting both to manage the population AND for fun and the challenge. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    I’ve taken to pointing out to horrified huggers that Cecil would kill and eat their children, given the chance. And that if they lived in Africa – as many do – he might have that chance.

  • Laird

    Although I’m pleased for Natalie that she finally got to intentionally use the category “Hippo”, it should be pointed out that (superficial similarity of appearances notwithstanding) the warthog is not actually related to the hippo. Nice try, though; points for the effort.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Perfectly true, Laird. Everbody Knows™ that a Warthog is an exceptionally sturdy and useful aircraft. *sniff*

  • Snorri Godhi

    With a nod to Julie, i’d like to point out to Laird that warthogs and hippos are both even-toed ungulates. So are cows, which also came up in this thread; and so are cape buffaloes, another pretty vicious* African herbivore. I used to know this stuff, but today i had to look up wikipedia to refresh my memory.

    WRT Natalie’s link, this sort of stats, in Africa, is not very reliable: i also found claims that crocs kill more people than hippos do. They are within the same order of magnitude, though, while mosquitoes are worse by several orders of magnitude.

    *Though i met a friendly cape buffalo, a 1yo bull already bigger than a lion, at the zoo in Antwerp.

  • Eric Tavenner

    mike, sick, weak and lame are relative. A lion that is considered so when compared to a healthy lion is still a fast, tough, very dangerous opponent compared to a human.

  • bobby b

    ” . . . I would have thought that you’d want young, fit animals as quarry rather than the old and lame.”


    Personally, I’d be watching for blind lions, multiple-amputee lions, lions with severe depression, lions with degenerative neurological disorders . . . .

    (Me with a great rifle) < (healthy lion).

    (Me with a great rifle) + (healthy lion) = (well-fed healthy lion).


  • Runcie Balspune

    a Warthog is an exceptionally sturdy and useful aircraft

    Whereas the Hippo was “sluggish” and never made it beyond the prototype.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Runcie, thanks for the link. Very interesting — I would love to slip the surly bonds in a biplane.

    I see it specifies that the max speed of the Hippo was 115 mph (at 10,000′). Noticing this made me curious to see how it stacks up against the Cessna 152, the trainer which conveyed me to the Magic Portal: A VFR SEL private-pilot’s license.

    (And a sweet craft she was, too. Sigh…blasted acrophobia…!)

    Whence this:

    *** ALERT *** ALERT *** ALERT ***

    Even in something as non-political as the specs of a civilian trainer aircraft, perhaps — as others have suggested — we ought not to place total faith in the expertise of the Great Foot. (Although after all, the personal is the political. Everything is therefore political, except maybe for things you never heard of. I digress.)

    I make this statement because, according to the Oracle at


    the little darling went into production in 1977 and was discontinued in 1985.

    Admittedly I still have my socks on, but I seem to remember earning my license at the Purdue University Airport in 1970, the year before we decamped back to Chicago. Didn’t 1972 occur before 1977? Perhaps that last marble has escaped and changed the course (and the rules of combination) of the Natural Numbers??

    Or perhaps the aircraft littering the FBO’s tarmac at the time were phantom Cessna 152s, the illusions of a poor girl’s dream.

    *** ENDALL *** ENDALL *** ENDALL ***

  • bobby b

    Sure it wasn’t a 150? Looked very similar, specced very similar, lots of them out there.

  • Julie near Chicago

    One little teensy difference, bobby. The 150 was a tail-dragger. The 152 was a tri-gear (short for (“tricycle gear”–one in the front, one on each side. Just like a tricycle). Besides, I assure you any pilot-in-training would be informed as to where his feet are.

  • Laird

    Sorry, Snorri*, but according to that fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia, the common warthog (Phacochoerus africanus) is a member of the pig family, whereas the hippo (Hippopotamus amphibious) is unrelated. “Despite their physical resemblance to pigs and other terrestrial even-toed ungulates, their [hippos’] closest living relatives are cetaceans (whales, porpoises, etc.).” So apparently they’re not ungulates at all. No points for you.

    * That has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

  • Nicholas (Rule Yourselves!) Gray

    Does this mean that a hogwart is a wart shaped like a hog? Oh, the shame! What sort of Academy would choose such a name?

  • AKM

    “What sort of Academy would choose such a name?”

    A magical one? However the name probably comes from the plant: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Croton_capitatus

  • bobby b

    Julie: My memory is that the 120’s and 140’s were taildraggers, while the 150 and 152 were tri-geared.

    Of course, starting an assertion with “my memory is” is somewhat akin to starting one out with “once upon a time.” Might be entertaining, but possibly as factual as an Oliver Stone movie. Those neurons get so little exercise anymore.

    (I represented a couple of the run-off insurers for Cessna long ago. I can expound for hours on the greater responsiveness and landing stability of tri-wheeled designs. Some of it might even be true!)

  • Julie near Chicago

    bobby, maybe we should get together and see which of us has some marbles left. Lord knows I lost the last of mine aeons ago.

    I went looking for proof that my memory hadn’t completely failed, and the truth is that the other sources I found back up you and the Foot of All Knowledge.

    I still don’t believe it, of course. I know dam well I flew the blasted 152! And I know ditto that the FBO had a few 150 taildraggers sitting on the pad.

    But maybe, I suppose, it’s theoretically possible, that … what I know … just ain’t so …. 🙁

    I wonder whatever became of my logbook. I suppose it’s up in the Royal Raccoon Resort and Flophouse, a.k.a. my attic. 🙁 🙁 🙁

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    A warthog isn’t a hippopotamus? No, this cannot be! Wait a minute, “an ostrich, buffalo and a zebra”… A zebra is practically a horse. Hippo means horse. So zebras are really hippos. Phew.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Laird: well…we are all related, because we are all mammals.
    That hippos are closer to whales than to cattle, warthogs, and other hogs, has been discovered after i took my zoology exam. (That was one of the most thrilling exams i ever took, btw, but it’s too long a story.)
    But it doesn’t matter, because zero is an even number, so whales are indeed even-toed ungulates!

    Horses and zebras otoh are odd-toed ungulates, closer to rhinos than to hippos. Is there a rhino category on Samizdata?

  • Laird

    Snorri, we’re also related to potatoes because we’re all terrestrial carbon-based life forms. It’s the proximity of that relationship which matters here, and the taxonomic proximity of warthogs to hippos is remote.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    It’s a little known fact that the taxonomic proximity fuse was one of the inventions that defeated the hippos in World War II. Still, let us not hate. Remember, even toed ungulates have mothers.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Natalie! Another fine mind buried in the *e-e-eww!” delights of punnaciousness, or perhaps I should say double-entendricity…. Outstanding! 🙂 😉

    Laird, thereby proving that the characterization “couch potato” is perfectly sensible biologically for use in referring to certain humans. (Of course it goes without saying for French fries that have somehow migrated behind the cushions.)

    As is the title “Mr. Potato-Head.”

    We thank you for bringing this to our attention.

  • Paul Marks

    No doubt I could make an argument that this is yet another manifestation of leftism.

    But I am not in the mood.

    It is all barking mad – lots and lots of people are potty.