This week's douchebag decree goes out to all of the douchebags who are responsible for the BP oil spill. Because there are so many filthy rich BP oil execs who have repeatedly displayed their lack of concern about how the spill is affecting the environment and its inhabitants, I've decided to honor a couple of them with this week's decree.
Image of Tony Hayward from NYDailyNews
Let's start with Tony Hayward, the Chief Executive of BP. A quick search finds all kind of douchey comments from Hayward, but I'll focus on a few gems. Let's go back to July of 2009 and take a look at a speech that Hayward gave at Stanford University Graduate School of Business:
According to Hayward, saving the world doesn't matter -- money does: "We had too many people that were working to save the world. We sort of lost track of the fact that our primary purpose in life is to create value for our shareholders." Those two sentences seem to sum up everything that's wrong with the world, but maybe that's just me.
Fast forward to the aftermath of the oil spill, and Hayward has been making a nonstop fool out of himself. His gross understatements about the effects of the oil spill have been appalling. I'm sure you remember him telling The Guardian: "The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume." Uh, seriously? And then he was reported saying, "There's no one who wants this thing over more than I do. I'd like my life back." This comment came across as nothing short of insensitive, seeing as how 11 men lost their lives in the oil spill, and the destruction to the environment doesn't seem to have an end in sight. Sure, Hayward apologized for the spill, but it took him almost two months, which is also pretty douchey in my book.
Image of Carl-Henric Svanberg from guardian.co.uk
Next up on our list of BP Douchebags is BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg, who really did it for himself when he announced yesterday that, like Obama, he also cares about "the small people":
Now, I realize that Svanberg is Swedish and may not have realized that the word "small" is one that is synonymous with "insignificant". But his comments did perpetuate the attitude that BP executives have continuously displayed over the past two months. And regardless of what he might claim that he meant to say, upon hearing his super douche remarks, I couldn't help but wonder, who exactly are these "small people" he speaks of caring about?
Perhaps he's referring to the jobless fishermen who volunteered to help with cleaning up the oil? Nope, BP doesn't seem to care about these men, who are primarily from communities of color. RaceWire exposed BP for the exploitative contracts they made volunteers sign:
BP's volunteer agreement also forbade workers from talking about the clean-up efforts without first getting approval from the company and demanded 30 days notice before anyone tried to bring legal action against the company. BP also tried to force volunteers to agree that if people were injured or boats or other equipment got damaged, the volunteers' own insurance, and not BP, would be responsible for covering all damages.
Maybe the "small people" he says that he cares about are the women who now have to worry about the effects this spill might have on their reproductive systems? If these are the "small people" he was referring to, BP's actions don't seem to be making that very clear. truthout exposes BP for their lack of response to health concerns:
Although the National Institutes of Health has stated clearly that the oil spill poses a potential threat to pregnant women and young children, very little attention has been given to this warning and there is no reference to it on the Deepwater Horizon Response web site.
While it seems very plausible that the ingredients in oil might pose a particular threat to children and women, BP isn't talking about it. They have yet to fully disclose all of the ingredients in the oil. And of course, research that is needed to find out if the oil will be especially harmful to pregnant women is not being funded. Sorry, Svanberg, but I'm not buying your "small people" talk.
With every great man-made catastrophe, communities of color and women bear the brunt. This spill has been yet another example, and we have the BP Douchebags to thank for it.