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Viral video: Heartless killing of a defenseless wombat, or cherished native ritual?

 
You may have seen the viral video to come out of South Australia this week, which shows an off-duty cop named Waylon Johncock stoning a terrorized, defenseless wombat to death while he’s urged on by his pal filming, ‘Hit it! Hit it!”

Outrage over the footage resulted in 300,000 Australians signing an online petition demanding that Johncock be fired and charged, but he’s still on normal duty while South Australian police conduct their investigation.

And what are Johncock’s normal duties? He’s a community liaison officer, helping to promote understanding about the local aboriginal population, which he himself is a product of.

Aboriginal leaders seem split, however, on whether Johncock’s horrendous killing of the wombat was traditional behavior that’s protected by the Native Title Act of 1993, which allows tribal communities to retain their customs, including hunting for food.

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“It’s easy for people to sit back and judge people. This has been part of our culture and the way we’ve gone about it for thousands of years. For the people of the west coast of South Australia, the wombat is a big part of their diet and they’ll get wombat any way they can,” said one elder, named Jack Johncock. But another, Major Summer, said it was wrong for the off-duty cop to show no respect for the animal. “We didn’t hunt like that. We still don’t hunt like that,” he said.

We’re very supportive of the rights of native peoples, and of course we’re very cognizant of the way they’ve been mistreated in the past. But even native peoples must see how horrendous this act was, how this animal was so terrorized and for no reason — afterwards, Johncock and his buddy left the animal by the side of the road. They weren’t hunting for food.

What do you think? Does Waylon Johncock, who was a local Australian Rules football star before he became a gladhanding cop, deserve to be fired and perhaps even charged criminally? Or does he get a pass because of his aboriginal upbringing? Let us know your thoughts.

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