The ubiquitous video of a 450-pound gorilla whipping a 3-year-old boy through a moat at the Cincinnati Zoo, like a child playing with his new bath toy, sparked a popular uproar [“Our animal attractions,” Editorial, June 5].

Some of the dialogue following this incident has been useful: discussions over how to make exhibits safer for visitors, the welfare of captive animals like Harambe, and remorse over an impossible set of circumstances that led to the death of a rare and majestic animal.

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Some of the discourse has taken on a decidedly darker tone. The most disturbing chorus came from those calling for criminal prosecution of the young boy’s mother [“No charges for mom in zoo case,” News, June 7]. It might otherwise be easy to brush off these voices as those of overly emotional reactionaries or extremists within the animal rights movement. Yet these misguided calls for vengeance echoed a refrain that has become increasingly common in the aftermath of troubling events.

The proliferation of legal reality television shows since the pioneer days of “The People’s Court” have indoctrinated generations of Americans with the idea that if someone commits a wrong, you take them to court. One wonders whether those intrepid voices even considered the consequences of what they wished for.

Thomas Kenniff

Amagansett

Editor’s note: The writer is a criminal defense lawyer.