In defence of gorillas

Karla Simon

When I saw the ‘gorilla’ cover on the September 2011 issue of Alliance, I congratulated Caroline Hartnell on it. I liked the tongue-in-cheek allusion to the size of the Gates Foundation. I teach the law of not-for-profit organizations and one book I use has a chart showing the assets of the large US foundations. Certainly the Gates Foundation is huge compared to the others.

Thus I was sorry to see Gerry Salole’s letter in the December 2011 issue which took Caroline to task for the cover. While it was saved by his final allusion to ‘monkeying around’, such an approach to something intended to be humorous is unnecessary. As a loyal Alliance editorial board member, I am writing this letter to defend the cover and other ‘aesthetics of the magazine’ – as well as gorillas.

Surely noting the size of the Gates Foundation does not detract in any way from the wonderful work it does. I am in awe of the programmes, including the one in China, with which I am most familiar.

But as to the use of a gorilla on the cover, let me enlighten Gerry about gorillas. Far from being the ‘haughty beast’ to which he refers, gorillas are said by Wikipedia to be the primate species closest to humans after chimpanzees and bonobos. They are large, quiet, gentle apes living in Africa. Although frequently portrayed as aggressive, dangerous killers, gorillas are shy, peaceful vegetarians. They live in troops (similar to networks, I would say) and engage in compassionate behaviour, much like the Gates Foundation. So, perhaps the allusion is valid, after all.

Except for one thing: because of massive loss of habitat, these majestic primates are in great danger of becoming extinct. So maybe the Gates Foundation could begin a project to save gorillas – I for one would be grateful.

And I am not monkeying around either.

Karla Simon
Professor of Law, Columbus School of Law, Catholic University of America

Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Next Letter to read

Guerrillas or gorillas?

Gerry Salole