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July 31, 2015

A Tale of Two Cecil(e)s


"One death is a tragedy. A million deaths is just a statistic."
- attributed to Joseph Stalin 

Two PR nightmares have been filling my Facebook newsfeed over the past month. One concerning Cecil, a Lion, who was killed in a hunting expedition in Zimbabwe by an American dentist, and the other concerning Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, whose organization was exposed for negotiating  prices for the human parts it sells from the over 300,000 abortions it performs per year.

The dentist at the center of the lion controversy, one Walter Palmer, expressed ignorance that what he was doing may have been illegal, as he claims he was merely following the advice of his guides. The guides face charges in Zimbabwe and are out on bail, while Palmer hired a PR firm to handle the fallout. 

At the time of this writing, three undercover videos have been released concerning the practices of Planned Parenthood (with 9 allegedly left to go if they are not suppressed by the courts). The latest shows people involved in this illegal practice discussing how they can get the lawyers to make it appear legal.

Having followed many in the PR industry who ordinarily do not hesitate to jump at the opportunity to use PR crises as a "learning opportunity," I was saddened and disgusted that I've seen more outrage from the marketing professionals on behalf of Cecil the Lion, a massive, striking and admittedly impressive predator of the wild than of those innocents who did nothing to deserve being torn limb from limb—and have their parts sold at higher prices so that the medical director at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, Dr. Mary Gatter, can get a Lamborghini.

I have a hard time getting worked up about Cecil the Lion. I am a conservationist and believe the just laws to protect wildlife should be followed. But the wild is a rough place. By definition it is uncivilized. Animals are killed all the time. Cecil the Lion probably killed quite a few in his day, as well, and I don't see anybody up in arms about Jimmy the Gazelle or Zachary the Zebra that he probably ate. It appears someone may have broken those conservation laws, and that should be addressed—especially to find out if this is a systematic problem (like sex trafficking) or an isolated incident. But I'm not getting worked up over a lion. Sorry.

On the other hand, everything that has been released so far—and the effort to suppress the evidence on behalf of Planned Parenthood—suggests that this is a systematic problem that starts at the very top, known by everyone with intent and effect to cover it up and demonize those who exposed them.

But to my marketing friends—and the mainstream media running interference, Cecil the Lion deserves ink. And the people who exposed Planned Parenthood—for selling body parts illegally or advising underage girls how to conceal statutory rape and obtain abortions without the consent of their parents— are extremists that should be shunned and rebuked.

Why? God only knows, but I suspect it's because they identify with Democrats, who support keeping the practice legal. After all, we are motivated to be consistent in our actions. Maybe they've had abortions themselves or know people who have, and they believe that their friendships and love cannot countenance being outraged by Planned Parenthood. Maybe they really don't believe there is anything wrong with Planned Parenthood's behavior.

If a profession could have a soul, I wonder when we sold ours. - Cam Beck


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