「Ｒｅｓｔ Ｉｎ Ｐｅａｃｅ， Ｍｙ Ｄｅａｒｅｓｔ Ｆｒｉｅｎｄ．」
Do you remember where you were when it happened? I do. I was in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I was at this little restaurant called Bubba's and I was surrounded by my closest friends. I remember that it was a Friday, the air was wet and colder than it usually was, at least for that time of the season. I was having the time of life. I mean that. I know it is an overused saying, but that’s the truth. I was enjoying an amazing meal with my three closest friends, friends that I just don’t get to see as often I truly want to. And it was in the midst of this perfect meeting, this perfect meal, this perfect moment, that we found out what had happened 615 miles away.
A gorilla had been shot and killed with a single bullet. That gorilla, a 17 year-old, male, 400lb (200kg), silverback western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) named “Harambe” after the song “Harambe” from Rita Marley’s 1988 album Harambe (Working Together For Freedom), passed away at approx. 4:00pm EST on May 28th, 2016 . We must take a moment here to give due diligence and respect to Alpharita Constantia "Rita" Marley OD (née Anderson), a singer and the widow of Bob Marley, the internationally known Jamaican reggae singer. After her husband’s death from cancer, Rita Marley continued to produce music, including her liked-but-not-loved title track, “Harambe”, a Swahili word meaning “pull together”. She choose that word because it is a powerful word, a good word. Harambe is a rallying cry for many Africans, a banner under which even Rita Marley found herself, especially as she has devoted her post-musician life to forming of non-profit organizations to help fight hunger and poverty in some of the poorest areas of the African continent. It is ironic in so many ways that harambe, the good word, a word meaning “pulling together” has returned in the zeitgeist of today’s online culture as a result of an animal being shot and killed.
Notice my word choice. I used the word “kill”, I will use that word over and over until you truly grasp what I am saying. You see often others using another word to describe this act of taking Harambe’s life; on the internet, they call it “murder”. What is a murder? What is a killing? What is the power and authority of words that underlines and undertones so many of our daily interactions? To put it plainly, murder is very different from killing. Going through countless dictionaries, encyclopedias, and academic articles, both contemporary and historical, I see murder being routinely defined as, and I must paraphrase here because I’m not going to copy/paste a thousand different definitions, “a human taking another human’s life without the authority to do so”. That might seem like a commonsense definition but let’s just look at some of the nuances here, shall we? There has to be two different people involved, the murderer and the murdered, and they both have to be human. When the LORD smote Judah and Tamar’s first born son, Er, was it murder (Genesis 38:7)? No, because God is no human, except for when He is, so ∴, even if God were a human (and not, at the same time, and more) and smote Er, He had been given the authority to do so by Himself, being the, of course, holy king of the religion which Er had been under. Just like many executioners are given the permission and jurisdiction to take another human’s life by the various courts of the world. That is not murder, that is simply homicide. Murder is intrinsically tied to jurisprudence and can only exist within a realm of law. But, I must regress, what is a killing?
A killing is the ending of a life before it would normally occur. It exists outside of law and it exists outside of just humans. A tree falls on a squirrel and kills it. A college student throws a turtle off a balcony and kills it. A grandmother runs over her cheating husband and kills him. Oh, I forgot to mention that all murders are killings but not all killings are murders. It is sort of one of those all-squares-are-rectangles-but-not-all-rectangles-are-squares type of thing. See, what I’m trying to get at here is that when anyone tries to say that Harambe was murdered by the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, or the person who actually shot him, or the little boy who fell into his enclosure, or the mother of the little boy who, maybe indirectly, let her son fall into the gorilla enclosure, that is just factually incorrect. They are fabricating fiction out of very real and very serious things, we are talking about grave and serious crimes, murder is not to be taken lightly or taken out of place lightly. It is an injustice and an affront to every murder victim, down to the very first one, Abel (Genesis 4:1–16).
Harambe was not murdered because Harambe is incapable of being murdered, but he was killed and that is still a tragedy. I am not expert of primates, I couldn’t pass a Frye or Daubert test (much less the Federal Rules of Evidence Rule 702). I am a lay person and I witnessed this tragedy unfold, like countless others across the nation and the backlash was typical. It was completely typical. Liberal opinions strained accountability and punishment, conservative opinions strained it was necessary and the best course of action. It was all painfully uninspiring, droll, and all-too-commonplace of a controversy that everyone could get in on and rage about, and as we all know, the number one element that makes someone share an article on social media is blind, unconstrained, and pitiful rage.
It was so easily controversial that everyone cared so much that they all just died. Just kidding, it went through the 24-hour new cycle like recycled pork product and came out the other side as this bizarre, horrific monster that people just stopped wanting to touch or even talk about. It was as if all those television waves had made the entire event (and yes I do use the word event because at this point it had become a meta-arguement about arguing and had nothing to do with a dead gorilla (and what the heck even happened to the kid, is he ok?)) almost seem radioactive, killing everything around it in a slow, painful, mutagenic death.
So now what? Well, the event was just doing to die, like a tumor cut off from its delicious and nutritious blood supply. That was until it, somehow, became the victim of the Thursday Effect. What is the Thursday Effect (TE)? The term, coined specifically for this article, is a reference to The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare, a 1908 novel by G. K. Chesterton. This story is one of a policeman who infiltrates an anarchist terrorist organization and manages to move up the ranks by being way more anarchistic than everyone else. In the end, the policeman finds himself rising to the titular rank of “Thursday” and part of the elite seven-member group that leads the entire organization (named after days of the week). Once there, he discovers that the all but one of the other members of the week are also policemen, or at least agents trying to stop anarchy. Their constant struggle to infiltrate and move up the leadership ladder inevitably caused exacerbation of the problem they had hoped to have pacified. As they constantly pushed boundaries, so did their companions just to keep up; they fought fire with fire and poisonous snakes. They made things worse by simply exaggerating and masquerading as the thing they were trying so hard to fight against. This is TE, and it became central to the ever-evolving Harambe event because people kept pushing the envelope.
As I mentioned before, the event fell out of the news cycle but extremists kept vying for justice for Harambe, and even more people kept making fun of the extremists. It was a vicious cycle as both sides mocked and mimicked each other, each trying to push their own agendas. Lines blurred until the alchemy of the internet birthed gold. The World Wide Web, an infernal crucible, a boiling, melting cauldron in which mimetic ideals are either forged or engulfed, birthed to us, “#DicksOutForHarambe”. A statement that hit every possible sweetspot to become a self-perpetuating anathema that launched that dead gorilla back to the top of popular thought.
It was funny and induced rage because of how finally showed just how ridiculous every side of the debate was. It was the perfect example of the Satire Effect (SE). Just as Stephen Colbert, on his show, The Colbert Report, employs SE to ridicule both liberals and conservatives, he also gains the support of both sides as well. Studies have shown that people on both sides of the spectrum enjoy his satire because the liberals see the humor in Colbert’s aping of conservative news pundits while the conservatives enjoy the humor of Colbert’s character laying into liberal points of view. It is fun for the whole family. #DicksOutForHarambe is also fun for the whole family. Both liberal and conservative points of view on the subject can enjoy the mockery of either side. Liberals look at it and say, “Look at what those conservative monsters have done to make fun of a precious gift from Mother Nature”. Conservatives look at it completely differently and remark, “Look at those leftwing fruits, showing their genitalia for an animal.” It makes both sides laugh, but it also induces just enough rage to make them hit that share button.
Not to mention that gorilla dicks are also only about two inches (five centimeters) when fully erect, not to mention equally tiny gonads. This is due to their intense mate-guarding behavior, they invest more developmental energy in defending a group of mates, instead of finding lots of them, so their genitals, over several generations, have evolved to be small, developmentally energy-efficient, and compact. This is in stark contrast to other closely-related mammals, such as the common chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), who have evolutionarily devoted more energy into mate-searching and so their genitals are quite large, especially when comparing their body size to that of a western lowland gorilla, such as Harambe.
In the end, this shirt commemorates the entirety of Harambe, his death, and all of our opinions on the subject. Not only is it tribute, satire, and rage-inducing, it is also pretty aesthetically pleasing and people will constantly come up to you and ask you what the Japanese characters mean. To which you may simply reply, “It’s very broken grammar and it essentially says ‘Dicks out for Harambe.’”