Rising far above the competition of cruel dictators, mass murderers, government sanctioned torturers, ISIS, Boko Haram, cop killers, killer cops and all the other evildoers running amuck even as this is being typed is Dr. Walter Palmer, a general dental practitioner from Minneapolis.
Palmer's crime is that he went to Africa and killed a lion named Cecil. Cecil was a popular lion. He had a human name, which many lions don't, and a distinguished mane. He wore a stylish radio color. Apart from that, there was little to distinguish him from other male lions, who generally let their females feed them, sleep up to twenty hours a day and are really only keenly interested in fighting with other males and then killing their cubs afterwards. Most of them have ancestors who dined on Christians.
That's all true, I hear you saying. But there are plenty of human males like that, and while they may not be the most well-regarded members of the population, nobody advocates doing away with them, unless they actually carry out the offspring-killing bit, or do in fact eat Christians.
Plenty of people are advocating killing Dr. Palmer, however, including many people who otherwise regard themselves, and are regarded by their friends, as sweet, kind, loving and generous. His Facebook page filled up with death threats. Already over 100,000 people have signed a White House petition to have him extradited back to Zimbabwe, where the killing took place.
And Zimbabwe wants him. They are seeking that extradition. Nobody who has ever been served papers really enjoys the process, but when you suspect that crisp knock on the door is from someone who wants to haul you back to Zimbabwe for some bush justice, you're damn straight you don't answer.
Why are lions so much more popular than dentists? Make no mistake about it, they are. Otherwise, there would currently be a Broadway hit called "The Dentist King," a medieval hero remembered as "Richard the Endodontist-Hearted," and a beloved classic movie featuring a character known as "The Cowardly Dentist."
You never hear people singing "In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the maxillofacial surgeon sleeps tonight," because it doesn't scan and nobody cares.
Nobody likes going to see the dentist, but going to see the lions is regarded as a general good time, because we usually do it at the zoo and cram ourselves full of overpriced junk food while we're doing it.
The question is, why are huge predatory cats that kill mercilessly only when they can't steal food from other animals or snack on a rotting corpse generally regarded as more benevolent than dentists? It's true that lions don't kill people very often, but then, neither do dentists.
The answer is that while people don't often feel they are being preyed on by lions, they often feel that they are being preyed on by dentists, as anyone who has ever had to pay cash for a root canal can attest. "It's going to cost WHAT?" they splutter, spitting the contents of the little sucky tube all over their dental bibs.
And when the dentist replies with something in four figures, they have to repress a strong urge to spring on him from ambush and sink their fangs into his neck. Only the fact that they have such bad teeth no doubt keeps some of them from doing so.
It's a PR problem, as so many things are. Dentists of America, Dr. Palmer is paying for your sins as well as his own. You owe him.
And you can pay him back by letting him hide in your tool shed.