Sunday, July 18, 2010

BP: Wanted for Murder?

The BP oil disaster goes on, and so too does the consequential mass killing of animals caught up in this. It is to be hoped that the lawsuit against BP by Defenders of Wildlife and the Southern Environmental Law Center will be successful. They are taking the suit on the basis that the Endangered Species Act prohibits the harming of endangered animals. And, clearly, BP’s actions have harmed many.

While the suit is inherently bound by current law, I would like to suggest that on the ethical level, BP may perhaps be guilty of murder. While current law does not recognize an animal as a person (and therefore does not recognize the killing of animals as murder), the day may not be too far off when it does. In 2008, for example, a Spanish parliamentary committee agreed that the rights of life and freedom should be extended to great apes. More recently, and more directly related to the Gulf disaster, in January of this year a team of scientists declared that dolphins are second in intelligence only to humans and have called for them to be treated as “non-human persons.” Dolphins and other whales are now known to have a cognitive sense of themselves as individuals, to have complex social structures and culture — they can teach each other new innovations and skills — and, importantly, to have the capacity of language. The time has come for us to realize that we don’t have the right to slaughter creatures such as the dolphin simply because we are “people” and they are “animals.”

Let’s not forget that this disaster resulted first in the deaths of 11 crewmen, in the initial BP-leased Transocean oil rig explosion. It remains to be seen whether BP will ultimately even be held responsible for their deaths in any way. So the idea that they might legally be considered murderers for the deaths of the countless dolphins, sea turtles, sea birds, and other animals that are dying due to the pollution of their environment is far-fetched at this point in time. But when, for example, the Love Canal disaster unfolded, the responsible companies (Hooker Chemical and Occidental Petroleum) were eventually sued by the EPA and also settled numerous residents’ lawsuits. Certainly something like this will have to happen in the case of this BP Gulf oil disaster (prosecutions, hopefully). And perhaps, sometime in the foreseeable future, we will also come to view this situation for what it really is.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Begnal in London’s Poetry Library

My poem “Silver Ghosts” is Poem of the Week at the site of Britain’s Poetry Library/Southbank Centre in London. That poem and two others are archived in the Poetry Library (“free access site to the full-text digital library of 20th and 21st century UK poetry magazines from the Poetry Library collection”) with the journal Iota. The poem is linked right on their homepage through Sunday. It can also be accessed directly here. Check it out....

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Blue Canary 17

Blue Canary 17, possibly the last issue of the Blue Canary, is out now. It is a tribute issue to James Liddy, the great Irish and Milwaukeean poet who died in late 2008. Editor Jeff Becker explains, partly humorously, that he published this issue for the fun of proving James wrong (James had told him, “When I’m gone, there won’t be any more Blue Canarys”). The front cover features a photo of Liddy (very similar to the one shown here) on Kilpatrick Strand, Co. Wexford, 1996. The back cover has one of him a child, circa 1944, and there are a couple other interesting photos in there as well. But of course it is the poetry and the prose reminiscences that make this essential for anyone who knew Liddy or who has read his work. The editor has arranged these pieces quite interestingly, I see, so that there seems to a progression or a linking of themes throughout the issue. For example, a poem by Liddy himself notes that “Jesus’s commands bring up the question: seduction and conversion merge” — and then several pages later in the magazine there is a cartoon by Bill Meyer depicting Jesus and James in bed together in heaven, post-coitus (yes, really). Fr. Ronald Crewe’s religiously-minded piece notes that Liddy, though a Catholic, “was not perfect,” and then immediately following is Paul Vogel’s portrait of Liddy’s less-than-perfect side (which I will only say is hilarious reading). It is editorial acumen like this that makes this Blue Canary so good. If it were merely a drab, respectful encomium, then it would really not do Liddy justice. (None of which is to say that any one contribution undermines the other, as Liddy was a multi-faceted person, as most of us are.) The journal, like James himself, will be missed. To obtain a copy, I recommend contacting Woodland Pattern Bookstore in Milwaukee.