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We are not PETA members. Some of us wear leather, some of us eat meat, and some of us have gone all-green. This is not about elephants, or about narcissistic twits with elephant-sized egos.

It's about how journalism continually fails to ask the right questions and confuses press releases with fact-finding.

And how we all end up gulled as a result. (And if you bought into the misdirection, and you think Parsons is the Lone Gunman valiantly standing up to PETA, consider yourself an OG cyber-chump.)

Go Daddy CEO Bob Parsons: Africa Elephant Hunt Video 'Nothing to Be Ashamed Of'

Animal Rights Advocates May Be Outraged, but Parsons Tells ABC Radio His Hunt Solved a Problem

By Susanna Kim and Michael S. James
Published April 02, 2011, by ABC News
At least these "reporters" had the good grace to file this in the "Money" section.

Go Daddy CEO Bob Parsons has a message for those outraged by a four-minute video of an elephant hunt in Zimbabwe on his Go Daddy video site.

"I think if you had all the facts and you knew exactly what was going on and the difference it makes in these people's lives there," he told ABC News Radio, "you'd feel completely different."

Parsons has said he participated in the hunt because the elephants were a nuisance destroying crops the local population depended upon for sustenance and even threatening the lives of villagers.

Zimbabwe ruler Robert Mugabe has been more than threatening lives—he's been destroying them. Why didn't Parsons hunt Mugabe down instead?

Therefore, his hunt solved two problems, he suggested.

"First they have their crops," he told ABC News Radio, "and they get to eat the elephant."

For how long? From The Guardian: "In a shockingly sinister act of vengeance, Zimbabwe's dictator is orchestrating a slow death by starvation for millions of his opponents."

Parsons always has welcomed buzz and controversy around his racy Super Bowl commercials. But backlash against his recent video could damage his company's place as the number-one Internet domain name company.

This week, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said it will close its account with Go Daddy and is encouraging other account holders to do the same.

When was the last time a PETA "boycott" was anything more than a joke? Parsons is using PETA as a stage magician uses misdirection. Did Mugabe call up Parsons and ask him to fly over and take care of the "problem elephant"? Who declared that elephant a "problem"?

"We're encouraging anyone who has a domain business with Go Daddy to cut ties," said Ashley Gonzalez, a PETA spokeswoman. "He's obviously not feeling remorseful, but if his customer base speaks up, maybe he'll listen to that message."

Gonzalez said that although the elephants are not endangered, they are "majestic animals that have complex emotions and family bonds."

"It's just horrible for him to post a video of him shooting this animal," Gonzalez said.

Parsons has defended the hunt in the media. He said that a local farmer asked him to hunt the elephants that were destroying crops on his farm and leading to growing hunger in the area.

So who is this "farmer," Mr. Parsons? How did he contact you? Does the Zimbabwe GoDaddy website have your home phone as the contact number? And did that farmer try the CEOs of Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo before calling GoDaddy for help with this "problem elephant"?

"Each year I go to Zimbabwe and hunt problem elephant. It's one of the most beneficial and rewarding things I do," he wrote in his description of the video, posted March 14.

So ... who benefits? And who exactly is rewarded?

He added that critics misunderstood his intent in posting the video.

"It's certainly nothing to be ashamed of," he told ABC News Radio. "And I think it just should be recorded, for nothing else, for people to see what goes on over there."

If he's not ashamed ... why has he edited the original video to a version that doesn't make him out as the Great White Hunter? Or was that just "good business"?

Go Daddy CEO Bob Parsons on Critics: 'All Talk and No Walk'

Parsons said there is a persistent problem in that part of Zimbabwe, where elephants trample farmers' crops in an area that is already short of food.

"In Zimbabwe, the people there are incredibly impoverished," Parsons told Mashable. "They treasure an empty plastic water bottle. It's heart-wrenching to watch. ... These people are all subsistence farmers, and if they don't have a good harvest, they starve. That's it -- there's no support, there's no welfare, and if they starve, they will die."

PETA's Gonzalez said Parsons' response was not a solution to the bigger problem of the destruction of elephant habitats in Zimbabwe, leading them to find food elsewhere.

Parsons was seeking to alleviate poverty in Zimbabwe? What billionaire couldn't do that? Speaking of billionaires, so could Mugabe, who found the funds to send troops to help rulers "stabilize" the Congo between 1998 and 2003. Mugabe was rewarded in stable currency. Inflation in Zimbabwe is the worst on the planet. Mugabe's reign of terror has rendered his own country's currency worthless, so he sells whatever he "owns"—from "elephant hunting rights" to human beings—for that hard currency he covets above all else.

"As humans move around the world, there will be wildlife conflicts. But there are humane, non-lethal ways to deal with those conflicts," Gonzalez said. "What Bob Parsons did is not a solution. It's a very short-term fix. If you look at the video, he's gloating. He's sitting on the elephant with a big smile on his face. It's a heartless act."

Parsons suggested such outrage showed a lack of understanding of the problem.

"The people making all these suggestions, there's none of them willing to step up and do anything," he told ABC News Radio. "I mean, they're all talk and no walk.

"This is not the kind that you see on Disney," he added. "I mean, these are not gentle creatures. I mean, these are wild animals."

Go Daddy, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., says it manages half the websites in the country and has 2,950 employees. The company aired its seventh Super Bowl commercial in February, featuring IndyCar driver Danica Patrick, fitness coach Jillian Michaels and a computer-edited television actress Joan Rivers.

After his 2006 "safari" in Zimbabwe, Parsons posted to his blog, "Actually there's a lot right with [Zimbabwe]. I'm not going to argue the pros and cons of the current government. Quite frankly it doesn't concern me—and that wasn't why I was there." Why has no one asked him what the "pros" of the Mugabe government are? And if Mugabe doesn't concern him, how can the plight of those living under his dictatorship bother him either?

The video Parsons posted following that November 2006 trip to Zimbabwe has been deleted. But a post to Parsons blog gives us some idea what the content included. One commenter writes, "When you ... joke about Zimbabwe women for your sexual release—I want [to] punch you. ... Your exact words were: 'And who knows, I may go bump with a fat woman tonight!'"

A Go Daddy competitor, Namecheap, is inviting attention to the elephant controversy and has launched a promotion in which you can transfer your account for $4.99. Namecheap added that it will donate $1 to Save the Elephants.

We have no doubt Namecheap has the best of intentions, but ... "Save the Elephants"? They're being played by GoDaddy, and if you don't know what that means, go back to the top of this page and start over.

Not one journalist asked about any of the above. Are there any investigative journalists left? (Except for those covering celebritiues, of course.) What, does Mugabe have Parsons on speed-dial so he can ask him to hop over and take care of a "problem elephant" for him? Are they so stupid (or don't care about Africans in general) that they cannot follow the money? Mugabe will do anything for hard currency. Upscale mercenary Simon Mann was hired to lead a military coup in Equatorial Guinea ... a tiny nation with enormous oil (ocean extraction) wealth. When his crew touched down in Zimbabwe, they were all detained. Equatorial Guinea demanded the extradition of Simon Mann. Mugabe refused ... until they "sold" him a huge amount of oil. (Actually, gave him the oil, as they accepted "payment" in Zimbabwean currency.) Mann was then extradited, and sentenced to 34 years. Of course, he served only a couple while (financial) negotiations were going on, and then returned to England. As always, in Africa (natural resources) money "fixes" anything or everything. It may take some time for the humans responsible for the "Blood Diamonds" butchery to ever be introduced to "justice." Idi Amin never was, because he was a good pal of the Saudis. And we have our own "oily" reasons for that friendship. Just like every other grotesque human-rights violation in Africa, if we want justice, we have to wait for the movie to come out first.

This is not about Lone Gunman Parsons "standing up" to PETA. It is not about elephants, or even about hunger—it is (in our First Amendment-protected opinion) about bought-and-paid-for self-promotion via dealings between a multi-billionaire and the world's worst monster.

"Go Daddy CEO Bob Parsons: Africa Elephant Hunt Video 'Nothing to Be Ashamed Of' " © Copyright 2011 ABC News




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