Open Letter to Poacher Apologist, Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune

The national outcry over Cecil the lion’s brutal and tragic poaching by Walter J. Palmer of Eden Prairie, MN is roaring strong. Most news articles and comments I’ve read have been in support of Cecil and drafting of stronger legislation to prevent the egocentric, elitist “sport” of trophy hunting, especially where it concerns endangered animals. Amongst worldwide grief, outrage, and the coming together of people who may otherwise share nothing at all in common, I have occasionally had the misfortune of encountering poaching apologists. But none have been so blatant as Dennis Anderson, an “outdoors columnist” for my very own local rag, the Star Tribune.

Following five paragraphs of fluff in which he appears more interested in regaling readers with his sub par purple prose than in saying anything at all of substance, he locks and loads, and then shoots to kill.

Before I proceed, I want to make perfectly clear that I am not anti-hunting. Hunting has it’s place, but this is not about responsible, legal and ethical hunting. This is about poaching and trophy hunting, which is an entirely different kettle of fish. The following is my response:

Save for perhaps a handful of people, no one knows exactly what occurred that night — and it was a night — in Zimbabwe when Walter J. Palmer of Eden Prairie loosed an arrow from his compound bow (not a crossbow) at the lion that turned out to be the aforementioned Cecil.

And, frankly, save for hunters who have found themselves in similar situations and are curious about the details, no one really cares what actually happened.

For the perpetually agitated, facts only muddy the waters. — Dennis Anderson, Star Stribune

Your flippant dismissal of the global outrage over Cecil’s death reeks of the same sociopathic tendencies exhibited by Walter J. Palmer. It might also be interpreted as mouthwatering irony and projection, given your following arguments that have no basis in relevant facts and serve only to muddy the waters. Sound familiar?

What is known is that Minnesota archers who hunt in the evening, and who shoot a deer, often don’t pursue that animal until morning, for fear it might be pushed into the distance and never found.

Non sequitur. Even if this is true, it has no bearing on what is legal or even common practice in Zimbabwe. And deer in Minnesota are nowhere near being endangered. You’re just muddying the waters.

Furthermore, your very own rag reported in 2012 that night hunting of deer is not legal in Minnesota, and according to the 2015 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook, that has not changed to date. Yes, I know you said “evening”, but you are disingenuously trying to imply something altogether different in an attempt to equate what deer hunters in Minnesota do with how poachers in Zimbabwe operate. As an “outdoors columnist” since roughly 1980 according to your bio, I would expect you to know better. So either you suck at what you do, or you are a shameless liar.

Additionally, I grew up in the country in prime deer hunting territory and have known many deer hunters in my day. Every single one that I have spoken to has stressed the importance of making a “good, clean, kill shot” and would never dream of injuring a deer, leaving it to suffer overnight and tracking it the next day, for a variety of reasons — first and foremost, because it’s irresponsible, unethical and cruel. But, of course, being the Walter J. Palmer and poacher apologist that you are, your priorities aren’t nearly the same, are they?

Chris Collins, an avid bow hunter from Virginia said the following which echos every other dear hunter I have ever known:

If you don’t have the intent to eat what you hunt, don’t kill it. If you are hunting, you have to be absolutely positive that you are about to make a good kill shot,” Collins said. “What [Walter J. Palmer] does is a poor reflection on hunting.
Column: Cecil the Lion’s killer deals terrible blow to true hunters — Lee Tolliver

But you’re not really talking about responsible and ethical hunting in this piece, but rather advocating for the right of humans to kill endangered animals to stroke their own egos.

Vis-à-vis Palmer, countless reports have said that he shot his lion at night — which is legal in Zimbabwe and the way most lions are hunted there — and that his party tracked the animal for 40 hours before dispatching it with a gun.

Again, non sequitur serving only to muddy the waters. Even if shooting lions at night is legal and common in Zimbabwe, Zimbabwean officials have deemed the hunt illegal for various other reasons. You’ll forgive me, I’m sure, if I defer to them on the laws of their own land.

Another problem with the above quoted remark is that it’s a complete straw man. I have read countless news articles and pored through thousands if not tens of thousands of reader comments, and from what I’ve seen, literally no one has argued that the hunt was illegal or even unethical just because it started at night. But why deal in actual facts when you can spin irrelevant half truths to muddy the waters? Your perpetual agitation is showing.

Those countless reports, I am told by someone who knows, are wrong.

Someone who knows? And we should just take your unsubstantiated word for it after you have thoroughly discredited yourself? Not on your life, mister! Because despite your arrogant claim that anyone who doesn’t see things your way has no use for facts, you certainly are perpetuating more than one man’s share of complete and utter bullshit.

Other than that, we have, so far, only Palmer’s statement that he was unaware that anything untoward about the hunt was transpiring or had transpired.

And you accept Palmer’s statement at face value, while rejecting out of hand all facts and information that you find inconvenient. Are you even able to grasp how severely this discredits you, or do you simply think so little of your readers that you assume they won’t grasp this glaring contradiction?

More to the point, we have far more than Palmer’s statement, and I think you know it (assuming you read your own paper). Firstly, if Palmer was unaware that the hunt was illegal, then why, upon discovering Cecil was fitted with a GPS collar, did he not stop in his tracks and report the incident to the appropriate authorities? Instead, he allowed himself to become complicit in the attempted destruction of the GPS collar — which is NOT legal — and proceeded to behead and skin Cecil and then quietly leave the country before he could be made to answer to Zimbabwean authorities. Not exactly the actions of an innocent or even misguided victim. And certainly not the actions of someone who, as Palmer claims, pursues hunting “responsibly and legally”. In fact, Palmer himself said that he didn’t know it was illegal “until the end of the hunt” when they discovered Cecil’s GPS collar. This means that he did know it was illegal before beheading and skinning Cecil, and then leaving his corpse to rot. Responsible and legal my ass!

Regardless, for some people, the fact that the lion was killed outside a national park where otherwise it was safe only adds to the perceived injustice of the hunt.

Unfortunately, left out of this reporting — if perspective is important — is that the “park’’ in question is about one-sixth the size of Minnesota, or roughly the size of the state’s Arrowhead region, from Virginia to International Falls over to Lake Superior.

And your point is, what exactly? Oh, I know! Your point is to further muddy the waters to distract from the actual relevant facts. Again. The size of the park is completely irrelevant to the fact that it is a protected area. And to further put things in their proper perspective — if that is even minimally important to you — Cecil was not just killed outside a national park. He was baited and lured out of the national park, a practice deemed unethical by the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe. Also left out of your own reporting, is that this was not Palmer’s first offense. Again, from your very own Star Tribune (Seriously, do you even read your own paper?):

Palmer pleaded guilty to federal charges in 2008 related to the poaching of a black bear in Wisconsin two years earlier. Palmer and others transported the bear, which was killed 40 miles outside of a legal hunting zone, to a registration station inside the legal area. Palmer was sentenced to one year of probation and fined nearly $3,000.

Palmer is a serial poacher, and that is what you are defending and advocating for.

Your segment entitled, If things were reversed…, is so much whataboutery that it is not even worthy of addressing point by point.

But this:

What’s the chance that reporters from Zimbabwe, half a world away, report this story — and the intentions, motivations and agendas of its many characters, Rogers and the landowner included — accurately?

The implication here seems to be that we should not trust even our own media (including your Star Tribune) because it is relying on information received from “half a world away”. Simultaneously, and with shameless irony, you want to be taken at face value while admittedly refusing to acknowledge the undisputed and even proven facts because some anonymous (and perhaps imaginary) person “who knows” told you that the “countless reports” of what happened “are wrong”. And let’s not forget your lie error regarding Minnesota deer hunting.

Are you seriously suggesting that, in this day and age, facts and information cannot be accurately reported and shared globally and in real time? As a career columnist, I would expect you to know much better than that. Or perhaps that’s exactly where your own perpetual agitation stems from — journalists of your generation are no longer the only gig in town. Alternatively, the above quoted remark could be nothing more or less than a bunch of crypto-racism, passive-aggressively suggesting, “Don’t trust the Africans!

In either case, I feel compelled to congratulate you on creating a smoke screen, a false dilemma, moving the goalposts and poisoning the well in one blanket accusation poorly disguised as a question. In all my years on the internet, I have yet to see even the most skilled internet trolls pull that off. Need I explain what that says about you?

More on “perpetual agitation”: Your entire screed reads like that of someone who has become perpetually agitated by the fact that his preferred medium as a journalist is rapidly becoming obsolete; someone who is desperately clinging to the good ol’ days when journalists remained virtually unchecked by the public, had fewer options and little choice but to accept what was being spoon-fed to them by their local news outlets. Your own failure to adapt to this new and constantly evolving Information Age seems to have made you bitter and resentful of the fact that technology now allows us to fact check hacks, and we are no longer at the mercy of “journalists” like you who prefer to tell readers what to think instead of maintaining the slightest hint of journalistic integrity, ethics, or even decorum. Yes, it is time for you to abandon your perpetual agitation and join the rest of us in this wonderful and amazing 21st century. Failing that, can you at least pretend to have enough self-awareness or common courtesy to stop projecting your own issues of impotence onto the rest of world?

You owe your readers and the general public an apology, Dennis Anderson!

One response to “Open Letter to Poacher Apologist, Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune

  • Lottie Knight

    Note to Dennis Anderson: I have tried repeatedly to post a comment under the above linked article. Despite registering an account and responding to email verification, I am still unable to comment. When you allow me to comment on yours, I will allow you to comment on mine.


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