Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Message to the American Public from the Ministry of Silly Talkings To

Newcastle University
Proudly Non-Glass Housing
Perfect for Throwing Brickbats
(Image from Wikipedia)

David Golding, Mike Goodfellow, Sharon Joyce, Sara Maioli, Elizabeth Oughton, Allen Parker, Marian Raley, Vincent Theobald-Vega, Gunther Uher, Bryan Vernon, and Jim White, members of the academic staff at Newcastle University (Newcastle upon Tyne, England), want every American to know something -- and they have felt strongly enough about their message to publish it in the International Herald Tribune (June 18, 2010) so that the entire world can read what they have to say:
The response of the American public and its political leaders to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico perfectly illustrates why people in glass houses should not throw stones.

BP and its corporate associates certainly deserve severe censure for their failure to provide adequate safeguards for their hazardous operations, and their behavior brings to mind the recent reckless folly of the banks. However, the resulting damage is hardly a drop in the ocean compared to the impact of America's contribution to global atmospheric pollution resulting from the combustion of fossil fuels.

At least BP has offered fulsome apologies, is compensating those affected, and is making strenuous efforts to prevent further damage. Has the United States accepted responsibility for the impacts of its energy profligacy on climate change? Has it committed itself to providing full restitution for the now well-documented misery which global warming is already inflicting on countless millions of the world's poor? Is it making urgent and determined efforts to de-carbonize its economy and life-style?

In each case, we think not. It really is in no position to throw stones.
Well said, esteemed British colleagues -- and I do feel in my bones the bonds of that collegial connection peculiar to those of us in the academic profession -- but allow me to translate your message for an American readership so that your meaning is plain to see:
Stupid, ignorant, loud, obnoxious, two-faced Americans! Shut up already about the BP oil spill! You do the same thing, only worse, so stop complaining and start apologizing! And clean up your mess, too, just like the BP is doing.
There. I hope that I've been of some assistance in your effort to correct American manners and morals.

Even though it is a bit like taking news to coal castle.

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At 5:55 AM, Blogger Brandon said...

Hmm...apparently you can throw stones if you live in glass house number 8 and are only half as bad per person as those in glass house number 2.

At 6:19 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Right. That's allowed. In fact, any criticism of the US is always allowed, but criticism of others by the US is not allowed.

It's only fair.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:51 PM, Blogger The Red Witch said...

I am surprised no one is mentioning the Exxon Valdez, which the damages for, is still (last I heard) being fought in the courts even though the spill was in 1989. Figured I would bring that up just to be evil. :-D

At 4:51 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Do a Google search, and you'll find it mentioned often -- especially in calculations of how much oil has been spilled, how much the spills differ, how much damage has been inflicted, how much time the clean-up will take, and so on with many other how-muchnesses . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:00 PM, Blogger The Red Witch said...

True but the sources that come up first on Google are sites like Wikipedia, which, lovely though it is, often does contain errors. I don't rely on their information.
Only problem with Exxon is they don't appear to have paid anything towards the clean up, preferring to spend their dollars fighting in court. Which is a shame.

At 9:40 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

That's why I consider Wikipedia a useful resource but a dreadful source. Check out its citations to track down the reputable sources . . . if any.

That's what I advise my students (and they sometimes even listen).

Jeffery Hodges

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