Jul 08 2014

Trouble

Published by at 3:39 am under "Activism"

I got into trouble today.

Without realizing it, I’ve somehow managed to become a corporate spokesperson for Evil (and by “Evil,” I mean “Monsanto”).

This image popped up in my Facebook feed today:

Evil! Evil! Evil!

Evil! Evil! Evil!

Let me be perfectly clear: I DO NOT LIKE MONSANTO.

Got that?  Maybe you better write that down.  Just to make sure. KEVIN DOES NOT LIKE MONSANTO.

I do not like Monsanto, I do not particularly like what they do, nor do I like how they operate.  The difference between me, and say, a large quantity of other Monsanto-haters, is that this list of grievances seemed a little “too perfect” in terms of casting them as evil, to me.

So, I made the mistake of fact-checking it.

Here’s what I found out:

  1. Saccharin (not “saccharine,” which is an adjective that “Saccharin” -the noun- derives its name from) was first developed in 1878 at Johns Hopkins University. Patents were filed for it in 1884. Monsanto was founded in 1901.
  2. Apartame was originally discovered in 1965, by a scientist working for Searle. Searle merged with Monsanto 20 years later, in 1985.
  3. PCBs were originally synthesized in 1881 by German scientists. Again, Monsanto wasn’t founded until 1901. They did, however, begin manufacturing PCBs in 1929.
  4. DDT was first synthesized in 1874. Monsanto (along with a number of other companies) manufactured it starting in either the 40s or 50s, however it was banned in 1972. Oh yeah.  Monsanto was founded in 1901.
  5. Monsanto manufactured Agent Orange (as did Dow, and others). I cannot find any documentation that Monsanto created it, or its constituent compounds (2,4,5-Tricholorphenoxyacetic acid and 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid).
  6. Bovine Growth Hormone is created in the pituitary glands of cows. Synthetic bovine growth hormone was patented by Genentech. They licensed out the patent to Monsanto, Eli Lilly, and others for manufacture.
  7. Glyphosate, aka “Roundup,” yes. That’s all Monsanto.

If we go wide with our definition of “creator of” to include “manufacturer of,” then, yeah, sure. But there are a lot of other players here.

I made the mistake of suggesting that if one wanted to call Monsanto out on their shit, then perhaps it might be a good idea to make sure that it’s actually Monsanto’s shit. Seems obvious to me…

Hulk Smash!

Hulk Smash!

Boy, was I wrong.

Never let facts get in the way of a good story.

At first, I was called out as being a defender of Monsanto.

Maybe the facts aren’t 100% correct, but they’re close, and most ARE 100% correct…Not everything I post is going to be 100% correct. but I figure defending the inaccuracies will take the impact away from the point I’m trying to make.

Okay, no. I actually made it pretty specifically clear in my fact-checking response excerpted above that I (what?) DO NOT LIKE MONSANTO (you wrote that down, right?)

I managed to smooth things out with this person, but was later surprised to see that a few others had taken issue with me. Several others (including the original poster) eventually agreed that it’s a little hard to be a critic of something if one’s own information is flawed. Others wanted to continue the lynching.

I have no love for Monsanto.  But I also have no love for mob rule, Facebook Activism, or the Internet Outrage Machine. It took me 10 minutes to fact-check this.

If activists can’t even get their stories straight, why should I (or anyone else) believe them when they say their causes are important? When did fact-checking become akin to aiding and abetting “the enemy”?

This isn’t even a “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard, nor is it a “preponderance of evidence” standard. This is an “I’m angry and need to lash out at someone/something standard – facts be damned!”

And when you act from that place, it never ends well.

And, honestly, no matter how noble your cause, I cannot take you seriously, nor can I be a part of your judge-jury-exectutioner style of justice – no matter how much I DO NOT LIKE MONSANTO.

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3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Trouble”

  1. Sethon 08 Jul 2014 at 4:49 am

    Kevin, thanks for posting this. We seriously need to get beyond the emotionally saturated dichotomies and retain our (human) abilities for (potential) freedom in our thinking. The question is, I think, about how we can cultivate moral sensibilities and judgement through the strengthening of our thinking capacity, and it’s integration with (not subservience to) our soul life. Good for you for trying to enact that distinction on your own way.

  2. Sethon 08 Jul 2014 at 4:51 am

    Kevin, thanks for posting this. We seriously need to get beyond the emotionally saturated dichotomies and retain our (human) abilities for (potential) freedom in our thinking. The question is, I think, about how we can cultivate moral sensibilities and judgement through the strengthening of our thinking capacity, and it’s integration with (not subservience to) our soul life. Good for you for trying to enact that distinction on your own way.

    -Seth

  3. Sethon 08 Jul 2014 at 4:53 am

    Sorry, don’t know why that went in twice. Double emphasis!!

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