"We're very hopeful that this is the bear. It's basically the same size bear." —Cherokee National Forest spokeswoman Sharon Moore
What I'm trying to figure out is, what did the bear do wrong?
The bear was in the woods. That's where bears belong. The family was hiking in those woods, deep in Tennessee's Cherokee National Forest, 10 miles from the nearest highway. That's not exactly downtown Music City, USA.
They saw the bear. The bear saw them. They reportedly did what many Americans would do and reached for their camera. And the bear? Well, he did what clawed, fanged, 600-plus-pound carnivores have done throughout history: Reached for the A-1 and bellied up to the buffet.
For this, we kill him? Sure, for the family whose six-year-old daughter died, this was a tragic misfortune, a terribly unlucky day. But for a hungry bear hanging out in the woods, this was like winning the lunchtime lottery! It's like seeing the Ed McMahon Prize Wagon pull up in the driveway.
The locals demanded that the bear be hunted down and killed like a murdering fugitive. Oh, wait — did I see "THE bear?" Make that "A bear." As of this writing, the Forest Service doesn't even know if they killed the right bear. Hey, it's big, it's black, it killed a little white girl...
I don't know about you, but this is sounding more and more like a bad episode of In The Heat Of The Night.
The idiotic idea behind the idea of treating this bear like a criminal is the notion that an animal can commit a crime, that it can do something "bad." One of the Forest Service websites I read gave hints on how to behave around bears found in the wild and actually said that certain human behaviors would help bears "make the right decision."
Huh? Folks, they're bears. They don't make any moral decisions. They sleep. They breed. They eat. To you, a six-year-old is a precious child. To a bear, it's a walking appetizer.
The real reason we killed this bear is because locals were afraid this story would scare away the tourists. Another is the Disneyfication of our attitudes about animals. "Why would a bear ever hurt somebody? Don't they know they're supposed to be looking for hunnypots with Piglet and Christopher Robin? Bad bear! Bad bear!"
Bears don't eat people because they're bad. (Actually, bears don't eat people. Only about three people are killed by bears each year, a tiny fraction of the number killed by dog attacks). Bears eat people because we're both on the food chain and our rankings are still in dispute.
The "hug-a-bear" boneheads honestly believe animals are guided by some semblance of human morality. They really think that, if they were camping on the plains of Africa, Simba the lion wouldn't eat them because he's nice. No, it would be the villainous Scar who would attack them, while Simba and Nala snacked peacefully on canned tuna. Dolphin-free, of course.
Remember that dope Timothy Treadwell — Grizzly Man? The guy who spent years hanging out with the grizzlies in Alaska, singing to them and hugging them and shooting video of them? And then one day a grizzly finally noticed Tim was a self-propelled Slim Jim and ate him for lunch?
Treadwell's videos are filled with his comments insisting that the bears had some understanding of him that was similar to his human understanding of them. This was just nonsense. They never stopped being bears — at least, until the wildlife folks showed up in Alaska and shot them to death, too.
In my opinion, this was a classic case of no good deed going unpunished.
It won't come as a surprise that Mr. Treadwell was a left greenie type. If I could summarize the fundamental failing of the average American liberal in one phrase, it would be their inability to grasp the fact that not all of God's creatures are like them.
They can't grasp that we're at a war with religion-inspired terrorism because religion would never inspire them to violence. Why, religion is nice. Haven't you seen those cute Church of Latter-Day Saints commercials?
This week, my lefty friends were in denial over newly-translated documents showing the Iraqi military was recruiting suicide attackers for missions against "American Interests" in 2001. This makes no sense to them — what kind of idiot would Saddam have to be to align himself with the Islamists when he knew the US was after him? — so they assume it just can't be true.
But viewing Saddam or the Islamists through the prism of our rational, Western values is just as dumb as expecting a grizzly to grasp the concept of a sleepover. We are so fundamentally different that there is no accommodation. Somebody is going to get eaten.
Pretending they're not just makes it more likely the one who gets eaten is you.