Just as the Cecil the Lion kerfluffle began to disperse (as Republicans try to recruit a dentist to shoot Donald Trump), frequent Ethics Alarms commenter Ing scored a Comment of the Day on my follow-up post about in-your-face giraffe-killer Sabrina Sabatelli, who intentionally mocked the Cecil mourners.
I designated her a fick, someone who publicly revels in their unethical conduct. Ing demurs, and employs the three Niggardly Principles to make his argument. I’ll be back briefly at the end; in the meantime, I’ll add the Niggardly Principle definitions to his commentary so you don’t have to follow the link back and forth.
Here is Ing’s Comment of the Day on the post, Sabrina Corgatelli, Fick:
This woman is not a Fick, or even a Fickatelli. (Great combo, though; I picture someone who thinks he’s the Fonz but is really just a stupid dick.)
What’s really happening here is an “ick” factor and a violation of the Niggardly Principles.
Shooting a giraffe has the ick factor (or is it the awww… factor?) of destroying a harmless, gentle giant of an animal — the African version of Bambi — but it isn’t per se unethical. Her hunt, if it followed the principles of wildlife conservation, was probably beneficial for everyone involved, including giraffes as a whole, and there’s a very high likelihood that it was the quickest and least painful death a giraffe in the wild is likely to get.
Whether this woman’s hunt was ethical or not depends mostly on how it was done, and without any knowledge of the circumstances, we’re in no position to judge.
This whole Evil Trophy Hunters Killing Entire Species of Cuddly Animals For Fun brouhaha is Niggardly Principle all the way.
The First Niggardly Principle:
[“No one should be criticized or penalized because someone takes racial, ethnic, religious or other offense at their conduct or speech due to the ignorance, bias or misunderstanding by the offended party.”]
People who don’t understand why so many other people are driven to hunt, and who have absolutely no idea how today’s African safari and trophy hunting actually works, are assuming that a single highly publicized incident of sketchy behavior is the norm. (How frequently does it happen? I don’t know; I do know that there are sound, sustainable economic and ecological principles behind managed trophy hunting, and I believe that in most of Africa, that’s the norm.) Almost all of the outrage, honest though it may be, stems from ignorance and misunderstanding.
The Second Niggardly Principle:
[“When an individual or group can accomplish its legitimate objectives without engaging in speech or conduct that will offend individuals whose basis for the supposed offense is emotional, mistaken or ignorant, but is not malicious and is based on well-established impulses of human nature, it is unethical to intentionally engage in such speech or conduct.”]
This woman’s behavior so thoroughly exemplifies why this principle is necessary that calling it the “full Corgatelli” may be in order. She went out of her way to aggravate people who were already upset, and seems to have enjoyed it. Even if those who are upset are wrong or foolish (maybe even more so), the only thing this kind of bitchiness can do is exacerbate the problem and hurt people.
The Third Niggardly Principle:
[“When, however, suppressing speech and conduct based on an individual’s or a group’s sincere claim that such speech or conduct is offensive, however understandable and reasonable this claim may be, creates or threatens to create a powerful precedent that will undermine freedom of speech, expression or political opinion elsewhere, calls to suppress the speech or conduct must be opposed and rejected.”]
Does this rise to the level of endangering “society, culture, individual rights and personal freedoms”? Maybe. The public overreaction to the death of Cecil the Friendly Lion (fueled in part by the unhelpful counter-reactions of people like Corgatelli) is going to harm the very animals people like to think they’re protecting. Carefully managed trophy hunting actually *protects* several endangered species and their habitat; it’s within the realm of possibility that an endangered species or two could go extinct if this anti-hunting mania goes far enough. And a culture where rules are changed and punishments issued based solely on who is angry right now or which hashtag is trending is one that only sociopaths could enjoy. Nobody should go full Corgatelli, but I think a lot of people need a metaphorical slap to the face on this one.
A couple points:
- How is shooting a living animal that isn’t, say, a rampaging, rabid Kodiak bear, “beneficial for everyone involved”?
- If shooting a healthy giraffe is “the quickest and least painful death a giraffe in the wild is likely to get,” why not shoot all of them, and all lions, leopards and elephants too?
- The fact that African animals have all diminished since the advent of big game hunters last century raises the rebuttable presumption that this theory isn’t working.
- This is essentially a “it’s ethical if you do the right thing for unethical reasons.” It’s consequentialism. Look at that woman’s attitude in the photo, smug expression, and her words, and tell me she shot the giraffe out out of love for the environment.
- I don’t think the First Niggardly Principle applies to Sabrina Corgatelli at all, and it would only apply to the dentist if Cecil was an old lion who was legally shot, and he wasn’t. For the First Niggardly Principle to apply, Corgatelli would be getting criticized for just shooting the giraffe, not for posing like a mad narcissist with the dead creature’s neck draped around her and sending out mocking social media posts. Not understanding ” why so many other people are driven to hunt” isn’t the issue. Objecting to someone intentionally poking her finger an inch deep into the eyes of strangers is.
- Agreed: she’s the ultimate Second Niggardly Principle violator.
- If you were the supporter of the death penalty, would you still have a legitimate objection to a warden posing with a post-execution corpse and a big grin on his face?