GoDaddy CEO Elephant Hunt Doesn't Deserve Backlash

Linda Sharps

Until now, GoDaddy has probably been best known for the buzz generated by its racy Super Bowl ads. Thanks to GoDaddy's CEO Bob Parsons, however, the Internet domain hosting company has made front page news the last couple days ... and the press definitely hasn't been positive.

On Thursday, a video of Parsons shooting an elephant in Zimbabwe went viral after thousands of viewers became outraged over the footage. In the video, Parsons first shows the damage elephants caused by trampling a farmer’s sorghum field, then Parsons is seen shooting and killing one of the elephants. The clip ends with dozens of villagers picking off the elephant’s meat.

You can see the video for yourself here, although I'll warn you that it's quite graphic. In the last 20 hours, there's been a lot of backlash over the video, led primarily by PETA and other animals' rights groups—but in my opinion, neither Bob Parsons nor GoDaddy deserves the bad press.

No, I don't hate elephants. Let me explain.

Whether or not you agree with the idea that there is such a thing as a "problem elephant," the truth is that in Africa and Asia, farmers' crops are being damaged by these animals. As the WWF writes on their website:

While many people in the West regard elephants with affection and admiration, the animals often inspire fear and anger in those who share their land. [...] Small farmers -- often desperately poor and already economically and nutritionally vulnerable, forced by circumstances to encroach into elephant habitat -- can lose their entire livelihood overnight from an elephant raid.

Wildlife authorities in Kenya alone shoot between 50 and 120 elephants every year.

What Parsons did isn't something I would ever, ever want to do, because the idea of killing an elephant is personally repugnant to me. But I can't make a first world judgement of a third world situation.

Who are we, really, to sit back in our comfortable houses filled with food, and decide that because we think elephants are cool, this CEO is a reprehensible person for doing something the locals fully supported him doing? Even if we believe there are more humane ways of dealing with elephants encroaching on farmland, do we really get to decide what's morally correct?

(I still think he's a douchebag for any number of other reasons, including glorifying the hunt under the guise of performing a charitable duty, and choosing to set a scene of hungry villagers ripping apart a dead elephant to AC/DC's "Hells Bells.")

While I don't agree GoDaddy deserves to be boycotted over this, for the many folks who are upset enough by the video to take their hosting business elsewhere, I will point out that GoDaddy competitor is offering to transfer domains from GoDaddy at a steep discount. Not only that, but NameCheap will donate $1 for every transfer to Save the Elephants. NameCheap’s offer is good until 11:59 p.m. EST on April 1, and the coupon code for the offer is BYEBYEGD (bye bye GoDaddy).

What do you think about GoDaddy's PR mess? 

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