By now, I bet you’ve heard that Chief Oil & Gas has brought suit against a few landowners for $20,000,000. But, what does this mean TO YOU? Did you catch Chief’s comment that this lawsuit is more than punitive? It is meant “to deter… others like them from engaging in such conduct in the future.”
That “other” is you.
Maybe it’s not you today. But it will be you as soon as you have a confict with a gas company. You see, the landowners being sued were upset that a pipeline was going through their subdivision (which has a rule against pipelines). So, they made a fuss. This is America– so, that’s their right.
But not so fast. Exercising their right to free speech, on Facebook specifically, is exactly the reason why Chief is suing the families. Chief claims the families caused loss to Chief’s reputation. No doubt, the hubris of the oil and gas industry has yet to be fully understood– one simple question is begged by Chief’s lawsuit: Where is the empirical evidence that Cheif Oil & Gas has good reputation to preserve in the first place???
Just because a corporation says it has a good reputation does not mean it is true. In logic, this is called an ipse dixit statement– literally “he himself said it.” (You know, like the way God calls forth existence by his word– well, Chief’s trying to invent something just by saying so, too.) Just because a corporation says it is better than other corporations isn’t enough. They need empirical evidence to back-up their claim. Showing that they give money away to community charities isn’t enough, by the way.
Why? Because the reputation in question is one about environmental and public health and safety concern… there is no concern revolving around facades of false generosity. No dog is fooled by corporate “generosity”– and the humans are definitely catching on. So… what other data exists to support this baseline of an outstanding reputation?
No doubt, this story will be bobbing around in the blogosphere for quite some time. The strategy is well known, and we’ll see where it leads… does the industry “win” by targeting a few families and pushing them into bankruptcy? Can a corporation really claim that a few Facebook comments on a page with less than 4,000 fans truly cost $20million in damages?
I guess I never knew these corporations crumbled so easily. Maybe that reputation wasn’t as strong as they thought… hmmm… in that case, their claim actually debases their claim.
–“We had an outstanding reputation and those antifrackers ruined it!”
–“Really? If it was so strong, then why did it collapse under a few antifrackers’ Facebook comments?”