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Open letter to the Governor of Idaho: “Do you feel lucky, Butch?”
For the last couple of days, I have been posting numerous comments on the Facebook page of Idaho State University about trophy hunter Sabrina Corgatelli. Like many others I am lobbying for the dismissal of this employee, who spends her free time killing wildlife in Africa and bragging about the slaughter of these animals.
I am just as enraged about the actions of American dentist Walter Palmer, who killed Cecil, the Lion, but somehow the circumstances surrounding Ms. Corgatelli’s behavior seem worse, compounded by the reaction of Idaho State University’s officials to her killing spree.
Sabrina Corgatelli works for a university – a state university no less – a place where young people come to learn about life, and love, and ethics. They arrive as teenagers, and leave university as adults. Much of what they will believe in for the rest of their lives is influenced by their experiences at school, and by the people they meet during those years away from home. The parents of these young people entrust the president of a university with their children’s lives, hearts, and minds.
At Idaho State University, these students suddenly find themselves in a rather peculiar situation. Not only engages one of the school’s staff members in activities, which many students consider highly unethical, the university seems completely gob-smacked and paralyzed by the sudden Social Media attack of its own students on the school. Ms. Corgatelli’s actions are “private” and “do not reflect” on the university, so say the school’s officials.
What should the students think of the university’s president, Arthur C. Vailas, who acts so clumsily when faced with such a worldwide public relations disaster for his school? His actions set an example for his staff and his students. Are these the leadership skills Idaho State University wants to teach its students? Halfway around the world, I am scratching my head in disbelief at how badly this public relations nightmare is being handled by the university.
Interestingly enough, the university’s phase of inactivity seems to be over. The students at Idaho State University have started to complain online that school officials are now deleting critical comments about the school on the university’s Facebook site. So now that they’re taking action…they’re killing free speech? Isn’t that a right guaranteed by the Constitution in your country? Other people complain about being blocked from commenting or replying to comments. Do these school officials really not know that you cannot silence the Internet?
I am particularly concerned about the potential for violence on the campus of Idaho State University. One of the other people who left a comment on the university’s Facebook page mentioned that students are allowed to carry licensed and concealed weapons on campus. I don’t know if that is indeed true, but in America many people carry weapons, even if they are not licensed. How many times have we all turned on the news, and learned about yet another shooting at a school or a university, a movie theater, or at a sports event? Americans, raised in a gun culture, have a tendency to vent their frustration in public – by killing other people. How many innocent people have died this way, and how many of those deaths could have been prevented?
Walter Palmer, the American dentist who killed Cecil, the Lion, recently had to go into hiding because he received so many death threats over the Internet. I am not one of the people who threatened him, and I am not threatening Ms. Corgatelli. As a writer, I fight with letters, and words, and sentences. Guns scare me. The closest I’ve ever been to a gun was when I stood in line behind a female police officer at a supermarket check-out, and suddenly noticed her (holstered and secured) gun. I almost dropped my groceries, so startled was I to find myself in the presence of a real-life gun. I do not condone violence, and ask everyone at Idaho State University to remain calm.
But I do recognize the potential for violence, and it’s easy to see that this situation could get out of hand very quickly. The students at Idaho State University are enraged about the actions of Sabrina Corgatelli, and quite a few of the students’ comments are somewhere along the line of “an eye for an eye.”
By now, the Governor of Idaho must be wondering what all this has to do with him. After all, this is an open letter to Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter. Here’s where you come into play, Governor:
Somebody has to take charge of this situation, and because university officials are handling this situation so badly, that “somebody” is you. By writing this open letter to you all the way from Vienna, Austria, I kindly ask you to concern yourself with this matter.
Imagine the worst-case scenario – what happens, if the situation at Idaho State University gets out of hand? A peaceful protest escalates into a shuffle, then a fight breaks out, someone slips, hits his head on the pavement, gets hurt or killed. Let’s not even think about licensed or unlicensed guns, because I find it just too painful to follow that train of thought to its bitter end. Do you think your political career would survive the death of a student or a staff member, if you knew about the potential for violence beforehand? You do know now – can you risk not getting involved?
In the movie “Dirty Harry”, Harry Callahan holds a gun to a bad guy’s head. Is the gun empty or not? Ask yourself, Callahan says, “Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”
Is the (hopefully metaphorical) gun at Idaho State University empty or not? Will everybody be lucky, or not? Is this situation on campus going to escalate, or not? Can the university risk not firing Sabrina Corgatelli, or not? Will everybody’s safety be endangered by her presence on campus, or not? Will the voters of Idaho blame you for not taking action, if someone gets hurt, or not?
Ask yourself this, Governor: “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, Butch?
Mag. Ingrid Haunold, MBA