Our fury is not in defense of this one lion. It is against a man and a culture that believe killing gorgeous, sentient animals, not for food or to end a danger but to behead them for trophies and let their carcasses rot in the sun, is not grotesque. Walter Palmer, the Minnesota cosmetic dentist who paid almost $55,000 to kill a lion in Zimbabwe, is so deluded about his fetishistic killing of big game that he fails to see why people are upset about for-profit big game hunting.

Palmer and two guides used a carcass to lure Cecil, a beloved 17-year-old male who had been tracked for years as part of an Oxford University study, out of a preserve where he was protected. Then, they killed him. And after word of the kill went viral this week, Palmer apologized, and now he is in hiding. "To my knowledge everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted. I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and is part of a study until the end of the hunt," he said.

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Wildlife lovers worldwide knew of Cecil but many outraged and nauseated Americans had never heard of the spectacular big cat.

Matt DaviesCartoon: Circles of life

The dentist, however, is a noted killer of big game. He was convicted of a felony in 2008 for his involvement in the poaching of a black bear in Wisconsin. He's a member of the trophy-hunting organization Safari Club, and his profile on that club's website lists 43 kills.

Thanks to "The Wizard of Oz," the cowardly lion is a well-known figure in our culture, beloved because he actually is quite courageous in the end, though he believes himself to lack bravery. Palmer, the cowardly lion hunter, seems to be pretty much the opposite. He and those like him believe themselves to be macho hunters because they lack the heart, brain and courage to see the truth.