American, Delta, United and Air Canada to stop shipping big game trophies

Unless you have been completely disconnected from social media or the news in recent weeks, you are aware of the latest national meltdown over an issue of limited importance to the lives of most people, that being the killing of Cecil the Lion. Over this past week, in the ensuing uproar, we have seen that American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and Air Canada will no longer transport big-game trophies on flights. In general, I try to avoid controversial issues on Debrian Travels - I have published political blogs in the past and I want to avoid the confrontation that comes with that on my travel blog. But the response of these airlines to this overhyped "crisis," has pushed my buttons to where I feel a counterpoint should be offered.

Let me first say, I am not a hunter but I am not morally opposed to hunting. I like a good cut of venison as much as the next guy but, I am with comedian Ron White on not hunting: "It’s really early in the morning, it’s really cold outside...I don’t want to go."

I don't get the mindset of killing an animal for the sake of killing: [Hunter hiding in the brush, usually whispering to the camera] "That's a beautiful elk....let's kill it!" That being said, I understand there are some benefits of hunting for game population control. That's why hunting is regulated. The way I look at it is, if it is done legally, then knock yourself out. It't not my place to tell you what you can and can't do unless you are hunting a creature I own or you are on my land.

With all the competing news reports and social media posts, I am not clear if Cecil was killed illegally and the hunter was aware or not aware of this fact. Frankly, I have not spent any time looking into it because, in the grand scheme of things, it's not a big deal to my life or the lives of most people. And that is precisely where my frustration lies. This is such a minuscule issue, something that doesn't touch on the quality of life of basically everyone in America, and certainly not an issue that is going to cause anything more than a trivial number of people to boycott an airline because they might transport a carcass in the hold. So why do airlines (and businesses in general) go out of their way to take sides on a political issue where there are legitimate perspectives on both sides? Air Canada admits they don't even fly to Africa and that "historically the shipment of such trophies has been extremely rare."

Perhaps that is the point: there is little to no revenue to be lost by banning transport of these trophies. At the same time, while there may be a very loud but tiny number of people who might actually boycott the airline, there is mostly no one that will do likewise if the companies do not initiate a ban. From the airlines' perspective, there is little risk for a tiny upside. But it does not change the fact that it gets old for businesses to continually cave to activist groups, typically on the left, whose volume is vastly disproportionate to their size and significance.

Fortunately, not all companies are implementing such a ban. UPS is refusing to "bow to controversy," saying through a spokesperson:

“There are many items shipped in international commerce that may spark controversy,” UPS public relations director Susan Rosenberg wrote in an e-mail. “The views on what is appropriate for shipment are as varied as the audiences that hold these views.”
— UPS Spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg (via Washington Post)

UPS's position is exactly my position: don't insert yourself in the issue. Let that discussion be done in other arenas.