Gorillas, Hyenas and…Oh My!

“When masturbation’s lost its fun” ~Greenday

This contemplative essay was supposed to be about me. I called my daughter, Aviva, who upon being asked recently what my good qualities were, reeled off more than I needed—to the point I said to her, “oh go on now, now you’re just blowing smoke up my ass”, we both laughed, anyway—I asked her what my bad qualities were and she struggled with this for some many minutes. I’d like to think it’s because I’m just so genuinely wonderful that this query would indeed be damned near impossible for anyone, not just because she was terrified of the repercussions. At any rate here they are, in no particular order:

1)   I make excuses for anything if I’m supposed to do something and don’t feel like it.

2)   I’m self indulgent

3)   I’m argumentative

4)   I can’t have a conversation without turning it into something about Jews—I’m a  “jewversationist” ~Aviva

It’s at this time, I will point out that because she couldn’t even come up with 5 bad qualities I’m guilty of. I decided I’m not going to do this contemplative essay about me, I mean, if you ask someone a favor and they can’t even help you  out… besides I was in the mood to write something else anyway… It’s not my fault I’m damned near perfect…And you’ll notice I brought up nothing about Jews either directly or indirectly. The fact that it’s mentioned at all is merely because… Oh well what does she know…? If I were argumentative, I would take the time to point out all the facts, and the flaws to any given discussion and the perpetrator of said discussion, attack from all angles, not because it’s fun, but because—just because…

No doubt, by now everyone has heard about the horrible incident at the Cincinnati Zoo where this baby fell into the gorilla enclosure and was dragged and tossed, by an overly protective gorilla. The video footage is horrifying—so much so that I could not watch it in its entirety. The gorilla was shot and killed, in what was clearly a volatile situation, that needed the quickest and best decision to be made. The first few seconds of the video footage, where the baby is yanked and tossed violently is unspeakably scary. The subsequent outpouring of vicious hatred and condemnation, was, if not as visually horrific to the naked eye,  a leveling of the playing field in horror nonetheless.  Let’s be honest, the faux outrage is just nonsense. These “people” who are so ready to vilify and hang this parent, are hungry piranhas, whipping themselves into a feeding frenzy.

A couple of comments I read on that old reliable bastion of goodwill—FaceBook, read as follows. “Without offering any presumptuous expert input, considering what humans do to this world versus what animals do for/in this world, if having to choose between human and animal life, always choose the animal,” and “People do drugs. Some people should never be parents.” I ask, where the hell is love, compassion and it takes a village?

Here’s a couple of quick thoughts to ask yourself. How many parents drink as opposed to taking medication or smoking pot for medicinal reasons? If you’re so concerned about the life of a gorilla over the life of an innocent baby, why don’t you eat babies, instead of cows, pigs, chickens etc…?) Lobsters are boiled alive and often torn limb from limb before being boiled. Cows are horribly mistreated.



How many times did we bounce around in a back seat with no seatbelts? Run after a ball into traffic? Convince your mother we were fine to go swimming sooner than the hourlong wait after eating? Not see the shark?

Circa 1971, we’re driving along, when we realize some lunatic is shouting at us from another car. We try to get away to no avail. At a stoplight he again ambushes us, pointing out that my 3 year old brother is hanging precariously out of the back window.  Not much after that, he pulled another stunt at the Grand Canyon.  He’s still here, with the precariously hanging… My oldest—Aviva, at 2 made a dash into traffic at the corner of Elm and Church streets, New Haven. My older son at 2 wandered off at a flea market– in the blink of an eye. The worst scare ever– time is irrelevant– it was either 25 minutes or an eternity. My youngest kid, when he was under 2, figured out how to unlock childproof locks and went wandering down the driveway and down the street in his diaper. My mother, who was watching him at the time, was none the wiser. A neighbor brought him back. She had just checked on him and he’d been sleeping. My younger daughter, Jazzy, scrupulously saved her mishegoss for her teen years–bless her heart. My sister almost drowned as a baby in our pool– right in front of everyone. She took off her floatation device and jumped in the pool. We’re all here, none the worse for wear. By the grace of G-d.

Friends of my parents weren’t so lucky. They had a 3  year old boy and a one year old daughter. They had gone all out on making the baby’s room beautiful. They put her to bed in her crib. And sometime later they go to check on her and she’d somehow managed to grab hold of the curtain strings and strangled herself. Another set of parents lost their son when he at 3 years of age, fell out a window.

No matter how I wanted to blame my mother– I couldn’t.  There’s just some things, no matter how you try to be prepared, to be on the ball, to be able to be Mr/Ms all around perfect, eyes on the prize 100% of the time, there will be that time you drop the ball. Hopefully no one experiences tragedy during that time. It’s a sequence of events… The reason we get so enraged, is because, we’re all human– prone to that infliction of being fumbling, bumbling mistake makers. And it’s terrifying. This time you get to breath a sigh of relief. Your kids are alright.

Now, before you get so outraged that you start accusing me of not caring about animals and start throwing both shade and hexes my way consider this.

I prefer animals to most people. I always jump for joy when I hear of a killer whale killing a trainer. When that idiot was mauled savagely by the tiger, I thought– finally vindication, a fine comeuppance indeed! You want to go live with bears in the wild? Get dead. Who cares? But, this is different. 

Let’s say, for the sake of beloved argument, this woman, this parent- this “mom” doesn’t deserve anything but vehement vilification, beatings and maybe just maybe, she’s too stupid to live, let alone parent anything with higher sentient value than that of a pet rock– maybe we agree she deserves to die. But, we’re dealing with the proclivities of time. So, let’s be reasonable, her death can’t be arranged for a swap out in timely fashion. Maybe we agree, she deserved to watch her baby– be torn limb from limb. Make no mistake and have no doubt, that was what was happening. Is that what we’re saying, when we say opt for the animal?

Let’s all agree, she’s the lowest of the low– so stupid she deserved to watch her baby be torn limb from limb and then for good measure we could throw her in a pit and poke her with sticks and throw things at her until she dies. Let’s all agree.

And then let’s ask the question, does the baby deserve to die or is that just the unfortunate fallout for having such a horrible mother. Maybe we agree he should die. Shit happens, when you have the bad taste in opting for stupid mothers. And then, since we agree the baby should die. We must ask the next logical question, does he deserve to die a horrible and painful death–being torn limb from limb? Or maybe we just shoot him, instantly killing him, thereby saving him from a painful death and the savagery of life with a stupid, undeserving parent. And will all the hyenas in the zoo and elsewhere, have momentarily quenched their gnawing, cackling blood thirst for such sport?

We need to ask ourselves, what is our motivation here? Why are we vilifying this mother—this woman, sending her to hell with no parole, in our all too quickly constructed court of public opinion? Why aren’t we reaching out to her, reassuring her, offering up kindness, offering her help, offering her love? Are we part of a system that promotes a denigration and dismissal of the woman—the mother? Professor Phyllis Chesler, a long time feminist advocate, writes in the first two of a series on the subject of how mothers are castigated in the US court system. Far from the myth about how women fare far better than men do in courts, she shines the light on the abject horror and mistreatment women are subjected to.



Before you jump to negate these findings, I’d like to point out, at about the same time, a parent—a father left his baby in a hot car. The baby died. And the media, instead of coming to the conclusion of condemnation, were beating each other down to give this guy the benefit of the doubt, by asking all sorts of questions. What were the circumstances? Where was the mother? Are the parents getting a divorce? Is there a history of instability? Mental issues? All good questions, but no steadfast condemnation. Interesting.

Are we operators of free will or are we merely pawns in someone else’s calamitous agenda? Do we get to manifest our own destinies or are we just extras, currying favor from feebly manufactured G-ds, in a Game of Thrones episode?

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