The Dow-Chemical.com story
1. The honesty
On Dec. 3, 2002, the eighteenth anniversary of the Union Carbide (i.e. Dow) disaster at Bhopal, a press release (below) was sent out by Dow-Chemical.com, telling Dow's story more honestly than Dow ever does.
It explained why Dow (and Union Carbide) have always refused to take responsibility for the disaster, and have never seen fit to offer any more than $500 compensation per victim. Response was overwhelming.
2. The DMCA notice
On Dec. 4, after business hours and when nobody was on hand to deal with it, Verio shut down the entire Thing.net network, which hosts innumerable activist, artist, and other websites and bulletin boards (as well as Dow-Chemical.com). Verio did this in response to the DMCA notice that they had received the day before. (This has happened before.* Also see this article of what DMCA tends to mean for small ISPs like Thing.net.)
3. The little goof
Then, on Dec. 6, mysteriously, it suddenly turned out that Dow-Chemical.com belonged to Dow! (See Gandi.net whois results below.) How did this happen?
Well, when we registered Dow-Chemical.com with Gandi.net about two weeks ago, we thought it would be really funny if we put down James Parker as owner of the domain. (James Parker is the son of the Dow CEO, you see.) We even put down James Parker's real home address! Very funny, right?
Yes! Funny! And on Dec. 4, James Parker himself (with the help of a team of Dow lawyers) sent a xerox of his driver's license and a letter by FedEx to Gandi.net, saying, basically, "This domain belongs to me. See, that's my home address, too. Give it to me!" According to the rules of ICANN, Parker was correct, and Gandi.net had no legal choice but to hand it over.
Very creative work there, Jimmy!**
4. The censorship
Termination notice here.
Here are some articles about DowEthics.com, as well as two articles about the "fake" approach as used by large public-relations companies. See also this remarkable case for more on this subject. See also this and this.
For more glimpses of the real face of Dow, see here and here.
If you'd like to help make sure the real face of Dow remains visible, you can download the site and post it at the domain name of your choice! Please let us know when you do so. (See mirrors we've gotten so far!)
Here are some instructions about writing to Dow.
Oh, and need some Viagra? Visit DowChemicals.com! Thanks to the Dow Corporation for tolerating this use of its trademark.
Here is the Bhopal memorial press release, that told the Dow side of the Bhopal story more honestly than they cared to themselves. You can also see it at www.dowethics.com or on other Dow-Chemical mirrors, along with all the other original content.
December 3, 2002
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DOW ADDRESSES BHOPAL OUTRAGE, EXPLAINS POSITION
Company responds to activist concerns with concrete action points
In response to growing public outrage over its handling of the Bhopal disaster's legacy, Dow Chemical (http//www.dow-chemical.com) has issued a statement explaining why it is unable to more actively address the problem.
"We are being portrayed as a heartless giant which doesn't care about the 20,000 lives lost due to Bhopal over the years," said Dow President and CEO Michael D. Parker. "But this just isn't true. Many individuals within Dow feel tremendous sorrow about the Bhopal disaster, and many individuals within Dow would like the corporation to admit its responsibility, so that the public can then decide on the best course of action, as is appropriate in any democracy. "Unfortunately, we have responsibilities to our shareholders and our industry colleagues that make action on Bhopal impossible. And being clear about this has been a very big step."
On December 3, 1984, Union Carbide--now part of Dow--accidentally killed 5,000 residents of Bhopal, India, when its pesticide plant sprung a leak. It abandoned the plant without cleaning it up, and since then, an estimated 15,000 more people have died from complications, most resulting from chemicals released into the groundwater.
Although legal investigations have consistently pinpointed Union Carbide as culprit, both Union Carbide and Dow have had to publicly deny these findings. After the accident, Union Carbide compensated victims' families between US$300 and US$500 per victim. "We understand the anger and hurt," said Dow Spokesperson Bob Questra. "But Dow does not and cannot acknowledge responsibility. If we did, not only would we be required to expend many billions of dollars on cleanup and compensation--much worse, the public could then point to Dow as a precedent in other big cases. 'They took responsibility; why can't you?' Amoco, BP, Shell, and Exxon all have ongoing problems that would just get much worse. We are unable to set this precedent for ourselves and the industry, much as we would like to see the issue resolved in a humane and satisfying way."
Shareholders reacted to the Dow statement with enthusiasm. "I'm happy that Dow is being clear about its aims," said Panaline Boneril, who owns 10,000 shares, "because Bhopal is a recurrent problem that's clogging our value chain and ultimately keeping the share price from expressing its full potential. Although a real solution is not immediately possible because of Dow's commitments to the larger industry issues, there is new hope in management's exceptional new clarity on the matter."
"It's a slow process," said Questra. "We must learn bit by bit to meet this challenge head-on. For now, this means acknowledging that much as it pains us, our prime responsibilities are to the people who own Dow shares, and to the industry as a whole. We simply cannot do anything at this moment for the people of Bhopal."
Dow Chemical is a chemical products and services company devoted to bringing its customers a wide range of chemicals. It furnishes solutions for the agriculture, electronics, manufacturing, and oil and gas industries, including well-known products like Styrofoam, DDT, and Agent Orange, as well as lesser-known brands like Inspire, Retain, Eliminator, Quash, and Woodstalk. For more on the Bhopal catastrophe, please visit Dow at http//www.dow-chemical.com/.
# 30 #
whois Dow-Chemical.com at 13:19 GMT on Dec. 6:
... Domain Name: DOW-CHEMICAL.COM Registrar: GANDI Whois Server: whois.gandi.net Referral URL: http://www.gandi.net Name Server: RTMARK.COM Name Server: NS2.PLAGIARIST.ORG Updated Date: 04-dec-2002 >>> Last update of whois database: Fri, 6 Dec 2002 04:59:57 EST <<< ... % Date: 2002/12/06 14:24:54 domain: DOW-CHEMICAL.COM owner-address: The Dow Chemical Company owner-address: 2020 Dow Center owner-address: 48674 owner-address: Midland owner-address: Michigan owner-address: United States of America admin-c: LJ373-GANDI tech-c: ENN1-GANDI bill-c: LJ373-GANDI nserver: tnntdnsi1.dow.com 220.127.116.11 nserver: txntdnsi1.dow.com 18.104.22.168 nserver: mantdnsi1.dow.com 22.214.171.124 reg_created: 2002-11-18 11:00:40 expires: 2003-11-18 11:00:40 created: 2002-11-18 17:00:41 changed: 2002-12-06 14:18:44 person: Leanne Jankowiak nic-hdl: LJ373-GANDI address: The Dow Chemical Company address: 2020 Dow Center address: 48674 address: Midland address: Michigan address: United States of America phone: 989-636-0108 fax: 989-638-9405 e-mail: email@example.com person: EDS Network Naming and Addressing Management nic-hdl: ENN1-GANDI address: EDS address: 800 Tower Drive MS 4258 address: 48098 address: Troy address: Michigan address: United States of America phone: 248-265-5000 fax: 248-265-7832 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
*By the way, the same thing happened back in the Toywar, when eToys issued a DMCA to Verio, and Verio shut down the whole Thing.net network--but only for 3 hours. The WTO also issued a DMCA to Verio regarding GATT.org about a year ago, but Verio did nothing, and stated that the DMCA was not relevant to it, since it was not Verio that was the host, but merely the upstream provider. Score on the Verio esteem-meter: WTO 0; eToys 3 [hours network down]; Dow 16 [hours network down].
**It's really funny, but also really awful how
Dow, the son of Dow, and Verio
can just put sooooo much energy and creativity into making sure this little
image problem gets minimized, whereas they can't possibly be bothered to do
something about the basic problem they're faced with: DEAD PEOPLE. SICK PEOPLE.
By buying Union Carbide, Dow acquired Union Carbide's liability and responsibility, in a legal sense, and in a common-sense sense. And yet they absolutely refuse to accept it: "What we cannot and will not do... is accept responsibility for the Bhopal accident." (www.dow.com/dow_news/corporate/2002/20021128a.htm)
Dow is using every trick in the books to squeak by--just like it did with our "son of Dow" goof--and is letting Bhopal rot in the meantime.
The problem here isn't just one of principle: it also means that eighteen years later, the Bhopal site remains contaminated, and no one accepts the responsibility for cleaning it up. Dow would rather wipe an entire activist and artistic network right off the face of the internet, weasel their way into ownership of a critical website, etc., instead of just doing the right thing and dealing with Bhopal.
Angry at Dow? Want them to be more responsible--to have more of that "corporate responsibility" that's so trendy these days? Well, if you tell them that directly, you'll probably get a really complicated reply. Here is a translation into common English of that reply:
Dear Fellow Person,
Thank you very much for your thoughtful comments regarding responsibility. While we do understand your concern about responsibility, the concept is not so simple as many people think. To illustrate this, we would like to ask you a question. The question follows.
As a human person, to whom do you feel most responsible? Please number the following items in order of your feeling of responsibility towards them, as you experience said feeling:
( ) Your own self
( ) Your immediate human family
( ) Other humans of the human species
( ) Other animal creatures of the various animal species
( ) The moon
If you are a typical human person, you will have ordered this list in this order: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Another possibility is 2, 1, 3, 4, 5 or even 2, 1, 4, 3, 5.
It is extraordinarily unlikely that you will have placed, in this list, the fifth choice anywhere other than at the bottom. The moon? you exclaim. The moon? Are you insane? you exclaim, beside yourself and completely forgetting etiquette.
Yet by requesting Dow to feel responsibility for the deaths of 20,000 people, or the extensive suffering of 500,000 more, or whatever, you are asking that we feel for the moon. You are asking that we number this list something like 5, 4, 3, 2, 1!
Are you insane? Do you think that we are insane?
We are not! We are a global corporation of the corporate species. It is indeed true that we are persons, like you, at least under the U.S. Consitution. But we are as different from you, personwise, as the moon is different from a Bonobo monkey. You and we, we have different motives, ideas, aims, and feelings. It is arguable, in fact, whether what we have can even be called motives, ideas, aims, and feelings--that is how different you and we are!!!
A corporation, you see, is a "person" that is only concerned with wealth. It is defined as a "person" in order to benefit from legal protections, but its real charter is to pursue profit at any cost. What else could it possibly care about? Curing cancer? Saving the moon?
It is true that we corporations depend upon human life--but human life depends on the moon! If there were no moon, there would be no tides, and life on earth would be different. But this does not mean that humans feel responsible to the moon! This does not mean that corporations feel responsible towards humans!
If you want us to feel responsible towards anything other than ourselves, our families, and our co-species persons, MAKE US! For example, turn the WTO into a body that can regulate corporations at the behest of national governments acting on behalf of their citizens, rather than one that serves only to prevent governments from regulating corporations, as it is today.
Either that, or make it worth our while in a strictly financial sense.
Dow Chemical Corporation
If you still feel like writing to Dow, even knowing what they will mean when they reply, here are some e-mails: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, LNMo@dow.com, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or even email@example.com. You can also call (517)636-5663. More addresses here!
In India, you can call Ravi Muthukrishnan at Dow's headquarters in Chembur, Mumbai: 022 5245830 or 31. If you can't get him, ask for the public relations department or send a fax to 022 523 1407. Or pay them a visit at: Dow Chemical International P Ltd, Corporate Park Unit 1, V.N Purab Marg, Chembur, Mumbai. Or call Sudhir Shenoy of Dow India Systems P Ltd: 022 5175290 or 5175281, or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, there's the Dow "ethics line" (seriously). "For callers in North America, the telephone number is 1-800-803-6862. Callers from outside North America must first dial a country-specific AT&T; Direct Access Number before dialing 800-803-6862. A listing of the international access numbers is available here. Alternatively, you can call the Office of Global Ethics and Compliance directly at +1-989-636-2544. You may also send e-mail to email@example.com."
You can of course also hear us (the relatively good guys) rant and rave by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.