An elephant we’ll never forget (The GoDaddy scandal)


If you’re just now coming out from under a rock, you may be interested in knowing that the CEO of GoDaddy, a domain name and web hosting company, is in some hot water. After posting a video where he was shown shooting at and posing atop a dead African elephant, news of his repugnant antics spread like wild fire across the Internet, popping up on the Business Insider, Mashable, Vegansaurus! and The New York Times, among other places.

The problem is Bob Parsons should have been on everyone’s radar a long time ago, and he should have received the scuzzy CEO award from PETA much earlier as well. Shooting an elephant in the dark is not the only reason Parsons should be criticized. In fact, given my ignorance of the situation in that part of Zimbabwe, where he was hunting, this lone incident may be the least of our concerns, making GoDaddy a real NoDaddy.

What is he selling?

Ironically enough, I would say GoDaddy’s ads are up there with PETA as the most degrading to women. Honestly, it takes a unique individual to decide that men joking about women’s breast sizes is the best way to sell a domain registration service. In a world where sex can be used to sell everything from jeans to dishwashers, it would seem that something as boring as web hosting and domains would be a safe bet for tech speak and the promise of cheap prices. In the world of Bob Parsons, and the one you too can inhabit if you register with GoDaddy (Domains, Websites & Everything in between!), you can demean, humiliate and objectify gorgeous women (or get one for free as a signing bonus). The last I checked, this was not the kind of world the majority of people wanted to live in, but yet GoDaddy remains an incredibly popular service provider. So, why is it that so many of us are just now complaining about Mr. Parsons?

Superhero syndrome

So, maybe old Bob just has a problem with how he relates to women? Maybe he’s done plenty of good things for other people, who just happen to not be women, right? In fact, if you take Bob’s word for it, this whole event is being taken out of context, and he’s actually doing a great deed for an impoverished nation.

“What it takes is someone like me to go into the field at night, find a bull elephant and kill it. Then the rest of the herd will leave the field for good.”

– Bob Parsons, New York Times interview

That’s right, Bob Parsons is superman with a big gun (probably the biggest gun on the block if you ask him).

There are so many underlying issues with this part of the problem that I’m not even sure I can tackle them all, and I’m very confident in the fact that I am in no way qualified to do so. The short, simplified version of it is that Bob Parsons suffers from the same sort of ideal that so many other people have in terms of Africa (which is usually spoken of in these cases as one monolithic entity, rather than 47 distinct countries), and the ways in which they can help. He may honestly believe that flying in to shoot an elephant or so, and then leaving a few GoDaddy hats behind, makes him some sort of modern day “African Santa Claus.” Of course, plenty of people fall for this comforting delusion when it comes to a continent that many of us know little about. Spending a weekend hunting elephants is not going to solve the problems of a village, and neither is spending your summer vacation working to “save those poor children” in an under-developed country. Both of these measures only camouflage the structural foundations of poverty. If Bob Parsons was truly worried about the plight of a village in Zimbabwe, and not just interested in the adrenaline rush of shooting an endangered animal in the dark, there are many, many ways he could have spent his money and his time to provide a more long-term solution. At this point, Bob Parsons is a part of the problem, not the solution.

The (pink) elephant

So, I’m hoping by now you’re already looking into the steps necessary to switch your domain, but I request that you also take the time to consider why it is that you’re only doing it now. There are plenty of options out there for domain hosting, so why were you with GoDaddy?

Whether or not you believe that your dollars make a difference, choosing where you spend them should be as informed a choice as you can make it. To me, making those choices based on whether or not the CEO is getting his rocks off by shooting elephants is just as important as whether or not he uses women’s bodies to sell his services. Sadly, one just makes for a more sensational story than the other.

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