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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/1/10

Corporations Wanted Personhood: Supreme Court Gave it to Them. Treat BP/Corps Like People Who Commit Crimes

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Message Mark Karlin
From BuzzFlash

Let's start taking the Supreme Court's January 5-4 endorsement of the concept of "corporate personhood" as the legally binding concept the court ruling confers (although the concept has been around since a spurious Supreme Court "ruling" in the late 1800s), which means the executives of BP should be treated as persons subject to criminal investigation, indictment, prosecution and jail.

The disaster that BP has unleashed in its frenzy of greed to cut costs, sacrifice lives for profit, and drill in depths beyond their ability to rectify blowouts of catastrophic proportions cries out for prosecution under "corporate personhood." People wouldn't be protected from prosecution in such a case, so why should BP only get the advantages of the legal rights of "corporate personhood," but not be subject to the legal sanctions that we as Americans would be subject to?

The fact is that there is no reasonable excuse for letting them off to continue their ruinous rampage in the Gulf except that "they are too big to be prosecuted." Reminds of you some other corporations, such as Wall Street?

Any BuzzFlash reader knows that we have praised and promoted Thom Hartmann's prescient (and now updated) "Unequal Protection: How Corporations Became 'People' -- And You Can Fight Back." That is because Hartmann long ago foresaw the danger of "corporate personhood," which is just a legal trick to allow corporations all the benefits of individuals, with few of the legal responsibilities to act in a manner required by law and civilized norms of behavior.

Instead of tyrannical empires like ancient Rome, we now have corporations like BP who hire expensive public relations firms to greenwash their images, buy off politicians and regulators in D.C., and keep a President of the United States so scared he acts like he's afraid of being arrested himself if he holds BP accountable.

Here is what Thom's publishers have to say about the ominous warning about "corporate personhood" in "Unequal Protection":

Unequal taxes, unequal accountability for crime, unequal influence, unequal control of the media, unequal access to natural resources--corporations have gained these privileges and more by exploiting their legal status as persons and by winning special protections that enable them to avoid the responsibilities that come with these rights. How did something so illogical and unjust become the law of the land? Is there a way for American citizens to recover democracy of, by, and for the people? Thom Hartmann takes on these difficult questions and tells a startling story that will forever change your understanding of American history.

Americans have been struggling with the role of corporations since before the birth of the republic. Hartmann uncovers evidence that the Boston Tea Party was actually a protest against actions of the East India Company--the world's first modern corporation--making it the great-great-granddaddy of today's World Trade Organization protests. But eventually the corporations won. Hartmann tells the astonishing story of how an offhand comment by a Supreme Court justice led to the Fourteenth Amendment--originally passed to grant basic rights to freed slaves--becoming the justification for changing the status of corporations from "artificial persons" with limited rights to persons entitled to the same rights granted to human beings.

Unequal Protection details the deeply destructive results. Corporations now enjoy extraordinary privileges that make them virtually independent kingdoms. This new feudalism is not what our founders intended. Hartmann proposes specific legal remedies that could truly save the world from political, economic, and ecological disaster. It's time for "we, the people" to take back our lives.

The American Revolution was in rebellion against the predatory, oppressive, onerous rule of a monarchy. It's time to start thinking about a revolution of the concealed rule of corprorate governance, which is as deadly to democracy as carbon dioxide.

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Mark Karlin is founder, editor and publisher of, a website providing headlines, news and commentary to over five million people a month. He is a gun control activist with a focus on Illinois.
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