Thursday, June 26, 2008

Morally offensive...

A drunk captain.

A poorly designed ship.

A company that believed it was above the law.

All of these things came together to create one of the worst ecological disasters ever: the Exxon Valdez.

We all saw the images nearly two decades ago, the devastation that an oil company who couldn't be bothered, that used single-hulled freighters, that just didn't care - Exxon - we saw what they did. They were found guilty and told to pay $5 billion in punitive damages, a drop in a bucket for them, next to nothing for an oil company, and they fought it. Later, that amount was cut in half. Now, the Supreme Court - you know, the judicial body who is supposed to protect justice - lowered it to next to nothing. A mere $500 million. What is that? How does that compare to the kind of money Exxon (now, Exxon Mobile) makes? First quarter profits for these fiends was over $10 billion. They could have paid the original from the profits they make out of price gouging.

What does this mean?

Well, Exxon has gotten off scott free for one of the world's greatest ecological crimes in history. They don't have to pay much to the people they harmed. They don't have to pay anything for the environments they harmed. For all the dead and diseased, they pay nothing.

And we let that go. We give them that pass. We say it's okay to destroy the environment. We do this because we so desperately need our gasoline so we can drive our cars so we can also destroy the environment.

We are all complicit in crimes that go so far beyond our comprehensible scope that we can't even feel the guilt. Our children and their children will suffer. We'll be long dead and people will still suffer for our crimes. You can say that's blowing things out of proportion. You can say you do your best to cut pollution. You can placate your conscience with whatever lies you find necessary but when it comes to something as horrifying in scope and affect as the Exxon Valdez, we say there's no guilt. Nobody was really hurt. No damages need to be paid.

We deserve this.

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