As soon as I heard that the alleged shooter of the majestic lion named Cecil was an American and a small business owner, I knew there was gonna be trouble. If you follow me on any of my media channels, you know that I deal in the reputation management space from time to time. And these things always play out in a predictable manner.
It goes like this:
- An individual does something abysmal.
- That person doesn't apologize properly (or can't, because the incident in question is so truly horrible).
- The online community rallies to get justice.
Some might say: "Good! He deserves it!"
But is that really justice for Cecil?
I don't think so.
Here's the thing: The way things stand now, the issue hinges on paperwork. It's legal to bait a lion with a carcass, lure it out of a preserved park, blind it with a bright light, shoot it with an arrow and follow it for days until it dies. That shit is LEGAL....
.... as long as the hunters have the proper paperwork.
So this guy is facing, at best, a paperwork issue. Did he have the permits? Did he know he didn't have the permits? Was the hunt authorized? Was Cecil "approved" to be killed?
The pro-game hunters are discussing paperwork and logistics. That means the next guy could easily say: "Great! I have everything in order. Bring me a rhino!" (And yes, they're killing those, too, even though there are only 4 of them left on this entire planet.)
As long as we activists are discussing rights and emotions and feelings and the trophy, big-game hunters are discussing paperwork and permits, we will have a problem.
As long as we attack the hunter without the permit, we allow big-game trophy hunters with permits to kill endangered and/or protected animals.
Don't be distracted. If you want REAL justice, use this as a springboard for real change.
Follow this link and donate to programs that help to protect big cats in the wild. Any tiny bit of money you can donate will help. Follow this group to learn more about the plight of wild lions.
And, contact your elected officials. If lions and others like them can be considered protected species, killer dentists can be prosecuted for bringing their dead carcasses home as trophies. Don't know who your officials are? Go here.
Now, I know I can't stop the death threats and reputation attacks. People are mad, and they need to vent that anger. I understand.
But please. As Jimmy Kimmel so eloquently pointed out, we need to ensure that something comes of the death of Cecil. It needs to be more than a flash in the pan and an attack on an individual. It needs to be a sweeping, global movement.
Only then will we truly have #JusticeforCecil.