New Year's Resolutions: Big Oil or Big Lies? You decide...
But what if this year’s announcement of hoped-for improvement was instead met with immediate derision? Or ridicule? Or pre-emptive accusations of hypocrisy, followed by pompous declarations that not only won’t you succeed at your intended improvements but that you never wanted to succeed at them in the first place? And then what if they called you an inveterate liar and a dirty fraud who kills and eats children and old people and that the only way you would ever make the world a better place is if you would just throw up and die? I can tell you, the only ball falling on New Years Eve would be mine, as dreams of fresh-start optimism would quickly turn dark, replaced by draining fears of failure and contemplations of suicide by excessive spinach dip consumption. The loss of hope is an awful thing.
So what the hell is with the Rainforest Action Network and their chicken-hawk attack on Chevron’s list of priorities for the New Year?
Recently, oil and gas behemoth Chevron put down a few resolutions regarding themselves and the road ahead. Naturally, they did it in the form of an ad campaign called “We agree.” The ads themselves are not bad and appear to show a company trying (and apparently succeeding) at doing a few things better when it comes to some of the more commonly assumed crimes of oil juggernauts.
Their ad effort features commercials, a website and print ads all showcasing a series of statements about things most folks think oil companies should do. Things like supporting the communities they work in or putting their profits to good use or helping small businesses or fighting AIDS and so on. Chevron says they agree and then go on to state what they feel their company is doing in each of the cases to fulfill the aspiration they claim to support. I doubt they would run the ads if they thought they weren’t doing that great on the points highlighted but why should they? It is a PR campaign to be sure but a basically fair one on all counts. And if they are actually doing the things they claim then they should be applauded – and encouraged to continue. Maybe they’ll even do more. If they’re not, then it ought to be fairly easy to hold them to account. It would seem the Rainforest Action Network had other ideas.
Literally, day and date of Chevron’s official ad release, the RAN distributed its own series of ads, press releases and even a fake website lampooning Chevron’s claims of positive behavior and higher ideals. Now, I have no specific problem with the cynicism such an attack requires or even the general intent behind doing it but I do take issue with the method employed: The Rainforest Action Network falsified their ads and press releases to make them appear to be emanating from the headquarters of Chevron itself. Thanks to the help of a decidedly less-than-sincere artist (hired first by Chevron to install their ads) the RAN engaged in a particularly frightening bit of advertising espionage in undermining Chevron’s entire ad run. I read about it after the fact and still have trouble telling many of the ads apart. It’s devious to the nth degree.
I think what bugs me the most is that it was done with such smug impunity, that the RAN is somehow above the law because they alone see the evil the rest of us supposedly miss. More than anything, this kind of crude moral certainty and dismissive approach to lawful reality makes me question their assumption of the moral high ground when it comes to issue advocation. No, the RAN and their compatriots get to act like a group of spoiled twelve year-olds more interested in righteous rebellion than thoughtful, serious adults working for change. And don’t even get me started on the self-important twits over at Funny or Die, a group of pud-pulling, finger sniffers seemingly more interested in high-fiving each other for their one-note understanding of complicated issues vs. accomplishing anything truly positive in the world. Grow up you thumb-sucking losers.
Look, the last place in the world I want to be is defending some oil giant of dubious integrity. I have no idea if Chevron is the hateful ogre it (and everyone other oil co.) is routinely made out to be but I do know that most issues are rarely as cut and dried as some make them out to be. And I also know that outfits like the Rainforest Action Network are no more morally superior or any less corrupt than the targets they excitedly fillet. There is no doubt good and evil exist in this world but few issues (and even fewer people) are the sole repository of each.
So I guess my hope for the New Year coming down is that maybe, just once the hollering hectors of “I know better” can find it in their hearts to publicly admit when the opponent they pummel actually gets something right. It’s a long shot, I understand but you never know - a bit of forward momentum in the positivity lane might actually lead to an overall improvement in society as a whole. Probably not though, because where’s the fun in a full-throated rebellion that doesn’t sufficiently demonize the enemy? You can’t put reasoned discussions on T-shirts or chant rational thoughts at rallies. I’d probably quit marching too. Oh well, perhaps “Death to Big Oil” is just an easier approach after all. Not thinking always makes my brain hurt less.