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Walter Palmer hunter dilemma: Has the internet gone too far in punishing him?

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Walter Palmer hunter dilemma
Why has the internet gone after one Minnesota dentist with venom and has it gone too far? Pictured Dr Walter James Palmer

Since the outing of Walter Palmer as the Minnesota dentist who hunted down Zimbabwe lion Cecil, the internet has in a massive avalanche come to judge the once obscure hunter as pariah status.

Yet despite the vulgarity and duplicitous nature of the hunting industry, few questions have been raised as to whether Palmer necessarily deserves the hostility that has since led to the man (temporarily) closing his dental practice, issuing an apology and going into hiding.

Told the hunter in a statement on Tuesday: I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt,’

‘I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.’

Whilst indicating he will cooperate if approached by anyone regarding the investigation, the dentist has insisted to date no one has actively come looking for him.

Zimbabwe demands Walter Palmer’s extradition: Goes into hiding

Walter Palmer: I panicked when I discovered Cecil’s collar and hid it in a tree

Tammy Brevik: ‘Walter Palmer sexually harassed me.’

Gutless: Mia Farrow tweets Walter Palmer’s address

Cecil the lion hunting dilemma: Is the Zimbabwe government to blame?

Cecil the Lion poachers free on bail: ‘We did nothing illegal’

Walter Palmer hires public relations firm: ‘It’s not my fault’

Walter Palmer protesters lock off dentist office: ‘You are a coward and killer’

Walter Palmer extradition: Will he be charged with poaching?

Walter Palmer sexual harassment suit: ‘I paid $127K fine’

Walter Palmer dentist: ‘I regret killing Cecil but it’s not my fault’

Walter Palmer Cecil lion hunter on the run. Closes dentist as internet explodes

NSFW: Walter Palmer Minnesota dentist hunting photos.

Walter Palmer, dentist bribed gamekeepers to kill Cecil iconic lion

While most have condemned the hunter, some have actually defended him, with But Tichenor, a board member of California Houndsmen for Conservation in an interview with the Guardian saying he believed Palmer had a legitimate hunting permit but ‘appeared to have been led astray by the guides.’

Adding: ‘He looks more a victim than a conspirator. I can see how it would be possible to think you’re on a legitimate hunt and then get into this mess.’

The likelihood of being caught for killing Cecil, who wore a GPS collar, suggested blunder, not intent, he said.

Nevertheless the vitriol against the hunter, who on the surface may have been simply engendering a course of action to manufacture a hunt (in this instance luring a defenseless animal out of its habitat and prodding it into habitat where Palmer could ‘legally’ shoot the animal), Americans in general have found Palmer to be guilty of moral ineptitude, never mind the yet to be determined legal nature of the hunt itself in a court of law or for that matter whether hunting fees actually amounted to just a bribe?

Responded Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, echoing the sentiments of many of what counts for ethical treatment of wild animals and standards of fair play: ‘I’m just so disgusted with that man,’

‘Shoot any lion but lure a lion like that out of the preserve and shoot him, how could anybody think that’s sport? Just appalling.’

Yet despite the ongoing browbeating of Palmer, it might pay to ask if the vitriol against the hunter has gone overboard, courtesy of the capacity of the internet and social media board to go into a feeding frenzy and one way mantra, along with the media who has taken the hunter’s actions as a raison for arms against all that is supposedly unfair and wrong in the world. Which of course Dr Walter James Palmer has conveniently found himself being the token bogeyman for.

Reflects Aaron Balick, a psychotherapist and author of The Psychodynamics of Social Networking via time:

‘Venting online is an easy, and anonymous, way to feel good about yourself,’

‘It’s so easy to be abusive online because it is just a matter of a few clicks on a keyboard and the “enter” key. An individual gets to get the bad feeling off their chest without considering that there is another human being, somewhere, on the other side of that tweet,’

‘This also happens on a group level where the shamed person online is made a scapegoat and the braying masses, however ultimately destructive, get to feel good about themselves.’

Reflected one user on the web: ‘I don’t believe in killing an animal that you’re not going to eat.. i try and eat vegetarian.. but people are more concerned with hunting down a dentist than tpp, monsanto dark act, selling of body parts by planned parenthood, crimes by politicians.. sheeple are so easy to manipulate.distract..’

Which elicited the following response from this author: ‘….because it’s easier to go after an individual than an entity that is part of the cultural dialectic and well financed to continue currying political favors and legal overtures to its benefit….. and i think people intuitively know that, which is part of the frustration and overzealous reaction to Walter Palmer’

Responded Jon Ronson, a journalist who has written extensively on online shamingin a recent TEDtalk:

‘The great thing about social media was that it gave a voice to voiceless people. But we are now creating a surveillance society where the smartest way to survive is to go back to being voiceless.’

And then there was this comment below on the web which may underlie the great majority of netizen’s anger at one rich dentist who dared use money to behave with legal impunity and with disregard to moral ethics that many in America blithely subscribe to:

The Core of The Thinking

“I have a lot of money, so I do whatever I please, whenever I feel like it.”

Rationalizations, moral badminton, blaming the wiley natives…they all boil down to wealthy folks’ clear understanding that money buys everything.

It ain’t new. Sale of ‘indulgences’ is as old as the concept of payment for goods and services. Pay with an ox, pay with a keyboard tap, it’s the same.

The only thing that might touch this dentist would be a loss of patients, which is to say, money.

And given the reach of social media, that may very well happen.

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  • john smiith

    Ok firstly its called the Hippocratic Oath, secondly the line do no harm doesn’t actually appear in that oath its a common misconception, and thirdly the Hippocratic oath applies to patients. To qualify as a patient you have to be human thats why vets dont take the Hippocratic oath and take a Veterinarian Oath.
    By no means do I support this behavior even as a hunter myself I believe hunting should only be done for food or necessity but dont you think that attacking Palmers livelihood and indirectly damaging the lives of his wife, kids, employees taking things slightly too far?

  • Patrish Dehler

    Court documents show Walter Palmer has a felony record over the hunting of black bear in Wisconsin (2006). Minnesota Board of Dentistry, stated the dentist was also the subject of a sexual harassment complaint settled in 2006. He admitting no wrongdoing and agreed to pay a former receptionist more than $127,000. You may want to rethink the type of person you wish to defend.

  • Graeme Simpson

    None so blind !

  • Graeme Simpson

    ALL members of the ADA must take a Do No Harm Oath, not only does he make a mockery of that but the lengths he’s gone to & the documented lying this guy has been caught out with should be ringing alarm bells everywhere YET we have people sticking up for this guys character, what character, I honestly think he must not have a penis because the amount of making up for he’s doing is overboard for a guy with even an inch or two.
    I have NO sympathy for this gutless prick whatsoever, he is a liar who has NO moral compass or sense of living in a society, he obviously feels he answers to no-one & will do whatever he wants, well others have now decided what they want to do & it’s all bad for Mr cowardly dentist, you make me sick along with the pond scum that support you, you are only outnumbered a billion to one.

  • Karm

    Imo, this could be the “drop that makes the bucket overflow”… Maybe, just maybe hunters out there will get it that this planet can’t take it anymore, they’re not Gods and they don’t care about the so called “balance” they claim helping. We simply don’t believe you anymore, hunters are only blood thirsty heartless killers. It costs a lot to hunt, just stop trying to feed us obvious lies about hunger and conservation.

  • Karm

    The lion had a very very visible collar and he tried to take it off, couldn’t do it … took his head off instead! So, sry but HE KNEW.!!! The worst part, if there is one, is that the lion suffered for 40 hours with an arrow in him before the fatal shot!

  • Cornell Kimball

    I don’t have any proof yet that Walter Palmer himself can be held to any blame. Please, someone, prove that Dr. Palmer had knowledge of the illegal parts of this. It is said a car had a piece of bait tied to it, and someone was driving the car with the bait behind it at about 40 mi/hr (65 km/hr) to lure Cecil to go outside of the Park. Well, who drive that car? And did Walter Palmer have any knowledge of that?
    I’m not saying “Hey, killing this lion was A-Okay”, but please people, let’s get the FACTS before we start accusing individuals.
    Also, to the Man Down the Hall, I’m not a hunter myself, but hunting is hunting, and I don’t have a problem with trophy hunting any more than I have a problem with people hunting for food.

  • themandownthehall

    It’s not shooting Cecil. It’s the trophy hunting period. Who cares that he didn’t realize the lion was loved and part of a study? He lured a lion out of a preserve and shot it. Regardless of if he shot Alex the Lion or shot Scar it’s disgraceful and inhumane. I’m a hunter. I don’t have a problem with hunters that bag a deer for the meat or help cull the herd of predators in Alaska to keep balance. That’s fine. This is not that. This is a man who had to get a trophy and leaves the body to rot. He’s the worst of the worst and is getting everything he deserves (aside from the death threats, come on people).