ExxonMobil Defends Lies About Climate Change by Calling it ‘Free Speech’

Corporations (which are people, don’t ya know?) sure love to flaunt their free speech rights. First, the Supreme Court granted corporations the right to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns. If that weren’t bad enough, now companies are claiming “free speech” to justify decades of climate change lies. Unbelievable!

Last summer, we learned that ExxonMobil had a firm understanding of the damage that burning oil was doing to the planet before the rest of the world had even heard of global warming in 1981. Rather than acting to help the environment, ExxonMobil made a plan to cover up this information, even putting millions behind anti-science propaganda efforts.

Though super unconscionable, at the time, it didn’t seem like what ExxonMobil did was illegal. Delightfully, however, both New York and the U.S. Virgin Islands have subpoenaed ExxonMobil to discover just what the company knew and what they did to obscure the truth.

Desperate, ExxonMobil actually countersued on the Virgin Islands’s subpoena alleging that the attorney general was attempting to squash the company’s free speech rights. According to ExxonMobil, it has the right to voice an opinion on the “ongoing public deliberations about climate change” under the First Amendment.

It’s an interesting argument. Heck, the First Amendment even protects a politician’s right to lie in a campaign ad, so ExxonMobil must be in the clear to make up its own findings on climate change, right?

Actually, ExxonMobil might be wrong on that. As The Nation points out, what ExxonMobil is labeling free speech might actually be racketeering. Because the corporation conducted extensive studies, then knowingly presented opposing information to its investors, it could be on the hook for some major cases of fraud.

Rightwing America has predictably sided with ExxonMobil on this subject. Conservatives love corporations, big oil and farfetched notions that climate change is a myth. Listen to some pundits, and you’ll hear that ExxonMobil is the real victim in a liberal plot to “criminalize skepticism.”

As we’ve seen previously, ExxonMobil loves to fight in court. In fact, there’s no fine too small for ExxonMobil to contest it legally. You’d think a company that makes $32 billion a year would be willing to occasionally pay an insignificant portion of that as restitution for some of the environmental disasters the company causes, but you’d think incorrectly.

Given that the fines for these potential fraud cases could cripple or even bankrupt ExxonMobil, we have every reason to believe that the company will put its full might beyond the cases. New York and other potential plaintiffs should have a strong case, but if anyone’s legal team can wriggle out of this predicament, it’s ExxonMobil’s, unfortunately.

ExxonMobil, you are the WORST. How’s that for some free speech?

Photo credit: Thinkstock

105 comments

W. C
W. C4 months ago

Thanks for the information.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallusabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Marty Price
Marty Price1 years ago

It's Called Free Speech Because Anything They Say Is Worthless!

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Neville B.
Neville B1 years ago

Dear Marie W. - brilliantly put!

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Marie W.
Marie W1 years ago

Shouting "FIRE" is a crowded theatre is no free speech- neither are lies.

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suzie c.
suzie c1 years ago

Oh

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suzie c.
suzie c1 years ago

Oh

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Ricky T.
Ricky T1 years ago

Same weak apologist rants that racists come out with when moaning about immigration etc, as cover...

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld1 years ago

Neville,
That is part of the problem. Many people on both sides have already made up their mind, and nothing can change that. There are those who deny mankind's contributions, and those who deny mother nature's. Some claim that the recent events will accelerate towards catastrophe, others that they will be curtailed. Some claim that the changes will have negative impacts, other positive. We must keep an open mind to the latest scientific revelations, apart from the political arena.

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Neville B.
Neville B1 years ago

Dear Rachel L., Bless! - but please don't! I already get more than the cap of 25 green stars a day (as surely do all non-newbies?), and while I'm not ungrateful, it's a bind
removing the 'you can't send a green star to X because you did so within the hour' message' while returning stars - especially when I'm half-way down the page before it comes up, and have to go back and re-do them all again (even though I've found a quick way of removing them/scrolling down a page, which is by pressing the space-bar - works on Ubuntu with Firefox anyway; don't know about Windows or other browsers).

I don't care that much about Credits anymore, since Care2 is rapidly going down hill, and can't be trusted to behave professionally or responsibly (e.g., see below, plus they deleted a post on a 'Don't tweet this' article, which may have mildly criticised the author), and have lost members millions of credits : (

Anyway, your comment is thanks enough : )

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