Dear Dr Palmer and Dear critics….

The photo above is not Cecil, the lion. I took that photo in 2008 in the Central Kgalagari Game Reserve in Botswana while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I shot them only with my camera.

Dear Dr Palmer,

You could perhaps find a better outlet for your wealth than killing animals under questionable circumstances. There are a lot of charities doing great work out there. There are lots of sports that do not involve blood shed. Try photography. I do not believe, however, this says anything about your ability as a dentist.

Yours,
Monica

Dear Palmer Critics,

I haven’t eaten meat in five years (see my post on vegetarianism); I don’t buy leather in longer. I am a pacifist. I am generally not a fan of hunting because it involves an animal that was once alive becoming dead. I know a lot of hunters who are VERY respectful of animals (I am not convinced Dr Palmer is one of these), but I still am not a fan. I use peppermint oil rather than mousetraps. I lived for over three years not far from Zimbabwe in the neighboring country of Botswana. It is a beautiful part of the world that touched me.

Therefore what I am going to say is going to seem incongruous, but as my blog tries to be one of spreading happiness, I am going to point some things out to all of the critics to cause some pause and self-reflection. Though Dr Palmer is not without blood on his hands, I am a little surprised by the hypocrisy I am seeing in his public hanging.

Dr Palmer claims that he was hunting legally. The government of Zimbabwe allows hunting. It regulates and allows a certain number of animals to be legally hunted. Let me be clear, I would happily stand in protest of this law, but it is currently a legal practice. Tourists, usually white, rich men, such as Dr Palmer, pay to travel to these countries, pay a big fee to said country, apparently $50 K in his case, (which does not guarantee a kill) and prove their manhood. There are arguments and justifications for these practices, one of which is that Zimbabwe is a poor country and money brought in from tourists, is theoretically positive. (Botswana does not allow trophy hunting and has a booming tourist industry.) Poaching is a HUGE problem in the area. Corruption is a huge problem with Zimbabwe ranking 163 of 174 countries in 2012. Maybe he is lying and he knew the lion was protected (he has a track record of this, apparently), or maybe he was mislead. He is accused of a crime, shouldn’t we let the courts decide?

If the men mislead him, it was a financial decision. You know why people in the service industry LOVE Americans? They tip. Safari drivers, directors, camp cooks, everyone else can expect a piece of gratitude from the happy tourist, and that is fantastic; American tourists dollars can have a very positive impact. You know what makes a hunter happy? Not spending $50K to not get a trophy. His guides went above and beyond and probably broke the law for their client. Maybe they had done it before and bribed authorities or just didn’t get caught; and they were likely rewarded handsomely by the happy hunter. This time it was different. The system and the industry is flawed. Dr Palmer may not be kind to animals, but that does not necessarily make a him a criminal.

Someone posted on FB: “Dear Government of The USA… if a national of Zimbabwe came to America, hunted and killed a national animal say an american bald eagle for sport…. What would you do…. ? Or better what would the reaction be of the powers that be??? Would a ‘ I regret I did it ‘ suffice…

Of course not. Bald Eagles aren’t allowed to be hunted at all, but the US does allow hunting and perhaps even tourist hunting. It’s not the same thing. Hunting lions is currently a LEGAL activity in Zimbabwe. If we don’t like that, the laws need to be changed, and then there would be no grey area as there is now. That is up to the government of Zim to decide, not the court of Twitter.

What I am baffled by is the people who are boycotting him, sending him hate mail etc. PETA has taken a very strong stand. As they should. They also do this for ALL animals–not just the cute ones, the pretty ones, the protected ones.

I have no data on it, but I would be willing to bet that across America there are other doctors and dentists, among others, who trophy hunt. They may even have photos and heads hanging up in their offices….probably came down in a hurry last week. Would it be different if they trophy hunted deer or bear or moose or salmon? Explain it to me please? Who decides the ranking on how precious life is?

I saw some comment on Twitter where some woman was saying she was afraid to go to him as a dentist because he might kill her. Really? That’s the slipper slope? Kill a lion today, kill a root canal patient tomorrow?

I want to ask something. All you people who are destroying this man have you 1.) Never killed an animal?  2.) Never hunted anything? 3.) Never done anything else that may be perceived as bad by someone else? So you are all vegans and don’t wear leather? Is that right? Oh, no, cows are different? How?

I am NOT defending Palmer. I am, however, saying that the public is hypocritical. Cecil was gorgeous. You know who else are gorgeous? The lions stuck in zoos and in the circus. Have all the residents of his town in Minnesota also banned the circus and the zoo?

And I want to ask something else, when you go to a dentist, doctor, hair dresser, lawyer,  tax accountant….really anything….do you ask about their past times? Are there other hobbies that are unpalatable? What about other hunting? Will all the people boycotting his practice check to see if their future dentist is a hunter? What about if they look at porn? Or smoke weed? Or bet on dog fights? Or import illegal exotic birds or plants? Or go to Amsterdam to visit the ladies of the night? Or read Hemingway? There are so many unsavory practices and hobbies, and I’ll bet his critics have a few. Is someone developing a questionnaire to take to our dentist on our first appointment to make sure they live up to our same high moral standard?

With social media, all of our ills become public. If he had shot ANOTHER lion, and it was 100% legal, would the outcry be as much? Why not? It would still be a dead lion.

I want to repeat that I am not defending Palmer, but everyone else is not being very kind. I am not a Christian, but the saying about those who are without sin casting the first stone comes to mind. Instead of slamming him. Look at the food you eat, the clothes you wear and ask yourself if your hands are free from blood. People who support the circus and eat mass-produced meat and don’t spay or neuter their pet don’t see their crime, but whether one of a few rhinos or one of a few thousand lions or one of a million stray dogs or one of a billion lab rats, all life is precious….including Dr Palmer’s.

If he deserves to lose his livelihood and his life’s work and his practice on account of killing an animal, I think a lot of other people are going to be taking down all the heads on their walls and photos in their frames. Maybe this outrage will put a stop to this barbaric practice, but how is Dr Palmer any worse than any man who came before him? And what about the real criminals? The poachers?

Quit making this man the whipping boy since thousands have paved the way before him, and instead work to stop the entire practice. Use your energy and donate. Donating to prevent this might make you happy. Spewing hatred all over the internet is just hate upon blood and that is toxic and unhappy.

That being said, raising awareness is vital, and this act has brought attention to it, but it was going on before Palmer and it wil continue after. Take a moment, breathe and channel your energy where it needs to go. At the end of the day, he is just a sucessful man who needs, like the rest of us, to try to find happiness. You don’t agree with his path? Don’t follow it, but be careful about putting yourself above him, it hurts to fall from a height and you could be next.

Don’t feel special Dr Palmer. The public will have someone else to rake over the coals in a few days. If you are the vindictive sort, you can wish it on one of your naysayers. If not, perhaps you will use this as a platform to do good. Spend another $50K on a donation.

Live and let live. Be happy.

Yours,

Monica

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