04 June 2016

Peter Thiel's America

There are a lot of people out there who support Peter Thiel using his billions to harass Gawker through the legal process because they and its founder and CEO Nick Denton are bad people who practice shallow gossip journalism.

Well, this sort of action most often cuts against ordinary citizens who choose to raise their voices against the powerful as is shown in the case of the $30,000,000.00 lawsuit against activists in Uniontown, Alabam who have the temerity to object to Green Group Holdings and Howling Coyote's poisoning their water by dumping of millions of pounds of toxic coal ash there:
We all should have the right to clean air and clean water.

Would you agree with that sentence? Would you say it yourself? It seems uncontroversial — something kids might be taught in school. Something any of us might say without blinking an eye. Unless, that is, you happened to say it in Uniontown, Alabama — an overwhelmingly Black and poor rural town in the heart of the South’s Black Belt. In Uniontown, it turns out that having the audacity to fight for your fundamental human rights — for instance, by saying the exact sentence above — can get you sued for $30 million in federal court by companies seeking to silence their critics.


Fighting for justice in Uniontown means opposing the trains that roll into town carrying hazardous coal ash from 33 states to deposit it at the Arrowhead landfill — a dump bewilderingly located in a residential neighborhood, near wetlands, within this spacious county full of rolling fields and open space. It means worrying about the safety of that coal ash — the very same coal ash that catastrophically leaked out of a Tennessee facility in 2008 and destroyed the surrounding environment before it was hurriedly redirected to Uniontown.


In the lawsuit, Green Group and Howling Coyote claim that by advocating against hazardous waste in their town, Esther, Ben, Mary, and Ellis have engaged in “defamation” that’s harmed them to the tune of a cool $30 million. But the only harm evident in this lawsuit is the gripping terror that average citizens — not scientists or paid policy wonks — feel after being sued for millions for speaking their truth in order to protect their community. Fortunately, the First Amendment protects a person’s right to do precisely what Esther, Ben, Mary, and Ellis have so bravely done.

Think again about that sentence: We all should have the right to clean air and clean water. Would you say it if you knew a powerful corporation would sue you for (more than) everything you’ve got? No one should have to make that choice.

The law in this case may focus on the First Amendment, but the story of Esther, Ben, Mary, and Ellis is one about racial justice. In Uniontown, racial justice means environmental justice. And the road to justice starts with voices calling out injustice. The ACLU is representing [6] Esther, Ben, Mary, and Ellis to make sure their voices are not silenced.
This is exactly the same thing that Peter Thiel is doing.

The only difference is that these companies are not attempting to claim that this is some sort of act of philanthropy, as the PayPal founder does.

These are all SLAPP suits, and they are all profoundly corrupting and profoundly evil.


Post a Comment