Blog Entry Ruins Outdoorsman’s Career

Filed as News on February 24, 2007 9:51 pm

For those not interested in hunting or the ongoing debate around the Second Amendment in the United States (the right to bear arms), you may have missed a blogging related tidbit that surfaced about a week ago.

The story is detailed in a write up at the Washington Post, but it looks like career outdoorsman and hunter Jim Zumbo recently opined in a February 16th blog entry about the utility of assault rifles in the sport of hunting and the lack thereof – and called them weapons for terrorists.

As hunters, we don’t need to be lumped into the group of people who terrorize the world with them. . . . I’ll go so far as to call them ‘terrorist’ rifles.

This resulted in a blog swarm and backlash the likes of which has been rarely seen in the Tech community short of an expensive and much criticized new console being released by Sony.

Long story short: Mr. Zumbo, who has spent his career writing about the outdoors and hunting, was once the editor of a prominent hunting magazine, the beneficiary of lucrative sponsorship from gun companies, and who has traveled extensively with the NRA to discuss the rights of gun owners has now found himself shut out.

He has resigned from his writing post.  He has lost his sponsorships.  And the NRA has disengaged all professional communications with the man.  Which doesn’t say anything about the blogospheric outcry the post has caused.

Even after some profilic apolgizing.

Without wading into the debate too much, this whole event is a clear example of the power — and risks — of blogging.  Business bloggers (and those who blog under their real names) need to heed close attention, and use this as a parable for their own blogging activities: 

In some communities, there are some things that are simply un-mentionable and when uttered — unforgivable.   And sadly, once you’ve posted something once, it lives forever in the memories of bloggers, and Google’s cache. 

Mr. Zumbo’s original blog has been taken down, but copies of his post can be found in multiple areas such as this blog.  TailRank has a good listing of the conversations around the Zumbo fiasco.

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  1. By standard mischief posted on February 24, 2007 at 11:36 pm
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    His apology actualy made things worse. his apology was basiclly “Oh, people actually use those “ugly things” to hunt with? Well in that case, I suppose that they are OK.”

    What Zumbo didn’t get was that the second amendment isn’t about hunting. It seems that there’s a groundswell of people who think differently.

    “On Friday evening, a gunwriter who was apparently tired of his 42-year career put his word processor in his mouth and pulled the trigger.” -Tam

  2. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on February 25, 2007 at 6:15 am
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    Well, that’s what you get for shooting your mouth off.

    Ouch, sorry, but someone had to say it. ;-)

    The reality is that we live in a “dangerous” society today where where what we say and what we blog carries weight, and that weight can be a big stick. The problem is that the rest of the crowd is also carrying big sticks.

    Excellent point, Tony, and I’m so glad you brought this up. No matter what the issue, we have to be very careful about our words.

    Not long ago, someone who works for a popular social networking company got personal and shot off his mouth on a personal blog about his work, “thinking” he was on his own time and freedom of speech protected his right to say what he wanted off work. He was a little surprised to find himself “laid off” not long after. It took a while to track the reason to his blog comment. Seems he’d forgot the fine lines in his job contract about being a good representative of the company even when off hours.

    There was talk of taking this to court but I doubt it went very far. We should be seeing more of this as our personal life and blogging life crosses.

    So sad.

  3. By Duncan posted on February 25, 2007 at 7:49 am
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    Isn’t it sad that a man who speaks the truth can be treated this way? Even more sad is that he’s now got no where to go because the left can’t stand hunting at all. This world needs more people like Jim Zumbo, not less.

  4. By Paloma Cruz posted on February 26, 2007 at 6:58 am
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    We have to be careful with what we say, write, express, etc. It seems that I’ve spent years being cautious about what words are attached to my name. The moment I took my first position as spokesperson I lost my personal opinions, or at least it feels like that. I know that I stopped giving my personal opinions for attribution.

    In college I was a fairly active student, politically. I have always had strong beliefs, and have been very vocal in my defense of them. But not recently.

    Now I have to be careful that my personal beliefs do not come back and haunt my clients. And I try, hard, to make sure that the things I say and do as part of my professional life don’t haunt me. It’s a fine line.

    It’s unfortunate, but what we say can come back and bite us.