Competitive Outrage

My outrage is more legit than your outrage!

I haven’t commented on the outrage of the week, the killing of Zimbabwe’s “most beloved lion,” Cecil, by a big game hunting dentist from Minnesota named Walter Palmer.

By the time I was aware of the Cecil killing, the internet outrage was far more than anything I could come up with, so I passed even tweeting about it. Besides, the only thing I could think of to say that I hadn’t seen before was how white the dentist’s teeth were — obviously, a Photoshop job.

The competitive nature of internet outrage is fascinating.

My recent post about the Confederate flag could certainly be categorized in the competitive outrage genre. And I’ve been holding off on a review of Go Set a Watchman because, after reading it, I haven’t been able to care enough about the book to conjure up the competitive outrage it deserves.

Rather than attempt to explain what I mean by competitive, I’ve decided I can’t come close to the essay, “My Outrage is Better Than Your Outrage,” by James Hamblin at

He does it so much better. Quote:

“The Internet launders outrage and returns it to us as validation, in the form of likes and stars and hearts. The greatest return comes from a strong and superior point of view, on high moral ground. And there is, fortunately and unfortunately, always higher moral ground. Even when a dentist kills an adorable lion, and everyone is upset about it, there’s better outrage ground to be won.

“The most widely accepted hierarchy of outrage seems to be (note: I’ve added rearranged Hamblin’s following list into a graphic hierarchy):

*************End of all life due to uninhabitable planet
***********Systematic killing of humans
*********Systematic oppression/torture of people
******Systematic killing of animals
****Multiple animals killed
**Single animal killed
Single animal injured

“To say that there’s a more important issue in the world is always true, except in the case of climate change ending all life, both human and animal. So it’s meaningless, even if it’s fun, to go around one-upping people’s outrage. Try it. Someone will express legitimate concern over something, and all you have to do is say there are more important things to be concerned about.

“All you have to do is use the phrase “spare me” and then say something about global warming. You can literally write, “My outrage is more legit than your outrage! Ahhh!”

Read the entire essay here.