Monday, February 02, 2009

Corporate Psychopaths and Sociopaths: The Peanut Butter Killer

Corporate Psychopaths and Sociopaths: The Peanut Butter Killer
psychopath
psy·cho·path (sī'kə-pāth')n. A person with an antisocial personality disorder, especially one manifested in perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior.
sociopath [(soh-see-uh-path, soh-shee-uh-path)]
Someone whose social behavior is extremely abnormal. Sociopaths are interested only in their personal needs and desires, without concern for the effects of their behavior on others. (Compare psychopath.)
(Both definitions from Dictionary.com)

The headlines have been everywhere. There is a massive recall of peanut butter and peanut butter products underway, courtesy of a salmonella outbreak from a peanut butter plant in Georgia. When I was at the store last night my receipt had a huge list of things on it that have been recalled.

More than 500 people have been made sick. Eight have died. But it gets worse. This same company has knowingly shipped products contaminated with salmonella over the past eighteen months. Let me repeat that: this company has knowingly shipped contaminated products, resulting in multiple deaths and illnesses. (Sources: NPR, the AP, etc.)

Let’s change things for a moment. Let’s assume that a single person was responsible for all this. What would the headlines say then? Not ‘peanut recall widens’ or ‘FDA investigation expands’. No, they would read something along the lines of: “Police Hunt for Peanut Butter Killer”. This person would be labeled a psychopath or sociopath, and rightly so. He or she would be charged with murder, or at least manslaughter.

But what will happen to this company? A fine, possibly some lawsuits. Then they will probably declare bankruptcy (to get around the fine and lawsuits) and be right back to manufacturing in a few months. A few people will lose their jobs. But that will be about it.

Does this make sense to anyone? It certainly does not make sense to me. Corporations are legally considered to be persons. They have all the rights of people. But none of the responsibilities. A person kills another person, and we scream “murder!”. But a corporation kills someone, and it is a ‘regrettable accident’. And yet, in this case as in many others, the incident was not an accident at all. It was a direct result of actions knowingly taken. The results could be foreseen. The corporation and its managers simply did not care. What is the definition of a psychopath again? A sociopath? I should think that if we could morph these companies into actual people we would quickly lock them all away.

This has got to STOP. We can not keep granting personhood to non-entities. This is what caused the Exxon Valdez spill, this is what caused the coal ash spill in Tennessee, and this is what killed 8 people. Other factions of our culture are also complicit, yes, but if these companies did not have personhood they could be held accountable. And they need to be.

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6 Comments:

Anonymous Monkeyfister said...

The most awesomest part of all...

Listening to NPR news tonight, they did an update on the situation that ended with this priceless line:

"The company denies any wrongdoing."

Yeah. Psychopathic.

Nice site! Keep up the great posting!


--mf

2/06/2009 4:43 PM  
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1/16/2010 1:39 PM  
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2/27/2010 2:51 AM  
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3/25/2010 7:17 PM  
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3/28/2010 6:26 AM  

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