So we’re going to do “everything we can” to stop the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico AND clean everything up AND we’re going to make BP pay the bill. Thus says the President in his speech this evening.
But. . . and this “but” is the proverbial 800 pound gorilla lounging in the corner. . . nobody will go to jail.
Let’s put this in perspective. Suppose I go out driving around in my vehicle and get distracted for a moment and run over somebody and kill them. I wasn’t drunk, I had no intention of killing someone, but there they are, dead in the street. I will likely go to jail, for something along the lines of vehicular homicide.
Or suppose I throw a brick off a bridge, again with no intention to cause anyone harm, I just have an urge to throw a brick off a bridge and I don’t have good impulse control. But this brick hits a car, breaks the window, causes an accident, and kills people in the car. Sounds like “manslaughter” to me.
Can it really be true that a corporation can do what BP has done in the Gulf of Mexico — murdered its own employees, destroyed jobs, killed wildlife and fish, polluted the waters and etc. — and NOT be guilty of a crime?
Is it really legal to pour that much oil into the oceans and kill your own employees and destroy coastal economies? I guess so, that seems to be the case.
Considering how Oklahoma City gets legally irate when one blade of grass on my property grows a tenth of an inch longer than 12 inches, it’s amazing that the authorities have been so negligent in their codification of crimes in the modern era.
Or maybe its not negligence. Maybe it’s that our congress-critters know who signs the checks and funds their golden parachutes and makes big campaign contributions and takes them on nice trips and provides pretty teenage prostitutes to keep them warm at night.
They know there might be problems with all these nice perks if they decided to do something serious about corporate criminals.
Thus it comes to pass that for whatever the reason, we have the present situation, so let’s accept the apparent fact of modern life that BP has the right to kill its own employees, destroy the local economies of coastal regions in its drilling areas, kill umpteen amounts of wildlife and fish, and pollute hundreds of square miles of ocean, and not be legally guilty of a crime.
What about the laws regarding cruelty to animals? One count PER however many dead birds and marine wildlife.
What about the laws regarding littering? One count PER barrel of oil?
If I pour my used engine oil down a storm drain, I can be charged with a crime.
But nobody is talking about charging anyone with anything relating to the BP fiasco, which — more than anything else — seems to me to be something along the lines of economic and environmental terrorism. These days a person can be declared an “enemy combatant” with the stroke of a pen and sent without trial or hearing to Guantanamo and be kept indefinitely in prison. But we apparently can’t do anything to criminals like Tony Hayward or Carl Henric Svanberg, CEO and Chairman (respectively) of BP who are actually guilty of terrible crimes against people and nature.
So when you hear politicians like the President talk about how they are going to Solve This Problem . . . and then you see criminals like Tony Hayward and Carl Henric Svanberg walking around, free of criminal charges. . . well you know, wink wink, nudge nudge, that nobody in the corridors of power is actually willing to do something serious about this problem. They will talk it to death and after a while, something new will come up, distract our attention, and exactly as they did with the Exxon Valdez, all those promises will get flushed down the memory hole toilet.
Which leaves us grasping at the thin straw of hope that there is actually something that can be done about the leak before the ecology of the Gulf of Mexico and its coastal areas is completely destroyed. Because, the other 800 pound gorilla, is that this time there isn’t a technological fix, and they won’t be able to clean things up. That’s a terrifying thought, but thus far, that seems to be the likely end game.