Corporate Personhood: Our law and order society punishes human Rapists and Plunderers
by Gary G. Kohls on 03 May 2011 0 Comment

What about Our Non-human Corporate Offenders?

Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person.” -- Anonymous


The infamous decision of the NeoConservative, pro-corporate, anti-democratic Supreme Court “Gang of Five” in their Citizens United decision has further strengthened the already powerful and over-privileged status of the corruptible multinational corporations that control most everything in the United States. The Gang of Five has made into law the absurd notion that corporations deserve the same rights as individual human citizens.


Oh, there was a brief bit of anger and outrage, quickly suppressed by the absence of media coverage over this monumental, democracy-threatening decision. What should have resulted in weeks of acts of massive civil disobedience was quickly drowned out of the public consciousness by the well-timed, mainstream media-orchestrated “tempest in a teapot” – the Japanese automaker Toyota’s recall of tens of thousands of accelerator pedals – most of which had never caused any serious accidents. The media coverage of Toyota outnumbered the Citizens United decision a thousand to one.


Crime and Punishment, Corporate Style


In view of this, here is a question that needs to be asked again and again:  

If corporations now have the official privileges of personhood, shouldn’t corporations also bear the same responsibilities and incur the same punishments for crimes committed?


It is important to understand that the allegiance of the corporation is to its shareholders, executives and management teams, and not to the people whose lives and health depend on the sustainability of the planet, the land, the water, the air and the food supplies.


Consider the prime example of the corporate exploitation of minerals in Northeast Minnesota. Most corporative executives and their stakeholders, especially of the extractive industries like mining, are not adversely affected by the theft of local resources, the extraction of wealth or the further destruction of already struggling local communities. The marketing propaganda from the mining industry is powerful and seductive. Vulnerable communities in boom-and-bust economies might be tempted to sign on, for thirty pieces of silver, to the agendas of entities that may become their future executioners. The temptation of the creation of a few temporary jobs (that will soon disappear when the resources are all used up) is powerful, leaving behind the scars for which the corporations will take little responsibility - and the people, especially the children, will be left behind with their previously pristine environment poisoned for generations to come.


The mess that is left behind will not be the corporation’s problem, no matter what is promised prior to the pull-out, the merger or the bankruptcy - whichever comes first. 


The common denominators linking human and corporate criminals


There are a number of common denominators that link human criminals and corporate criminals (like Union Carbide, WalMart, Dow, Monsanto, Merck, Nestle, Enron, British Petroleum, Halliburton, Deepwater Horizen etc, etc). For one, the corporations, and their lobbyists, are just as afraid of facing the music as were Henry Kissinger, Bernie Madoff, Ken Lay and the multitude of others of their ilk, and they will use any means necessary to acquit themselves of their criminal activity. Similarly, none of them will admit their guilt and none of them seem to have shown any genuine remorse for the human suffering their actions have caused.


Corporations meet the definition of antisocial personality disordered entities


There is a personality disorder label in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel (DSM, the recipe book and billing manual for psychiatrists and other healthcare providers) that describes entities (that are often pathological liars) and are deceitful, impulsive, aggressive, reckless, irresponsible, immoral, unethical and conscienceless. These individuals are fully capable of committing crimes and, when they do, try to evade the law, refuse to admit blame for their actions, refuse to accept responsibility, try to plea bargain to minimize punishment when they finally get caught and then show no remorse if or when they are convicted.


The disorder is called “antisocial personality disorder” (diagnostic code # 301.7), which is essentially synonymous with “psychopathic personality disorder”, widely acknowledged to be virtually incurable. Serial killers or rapists qualify for this diagnosis, and perhaps the serial Ponzi scheme operators and other investment bilkers that are all over Wall Street should be also, even if they did not physically or sexually wound their victims.


We are talking about criminal disorders in otherwise sane but very cunning individuals. These disordered persons (as do their sociopathic corporate counterparts) seem to be incapable of experiencing feelings of guilt, and therefore never really even try to change.


What should be the punishment for sociopathic corporations when they lie, cheat, advertise falsely, act unethically, commit crimes or rape the environment?


By and large, most criminally-minded sociopaths have to be locked away to protect society. So another set of questions needs to be asked: “what needs to be done with sociopathic corporations when they lie, cheat, commit crimes or otherwise act unethically?”


Given the 2010 Citizens United ruling, shouldn’t corporate “persons” be treated like their human sociopathic counterparts? Shouldn’t they be punished with whatever is the equivalent of long prison sentences, confiscation of property, fines, reparations to their victims or even capital punishment? (I hasten to add that I am against capital punishment for individuals, but corporations are not human, don’t bleed and don’t cry out in pain). I firmly believe that the threat of capital punishment for corporations, contrary to the data on capital punishment for humans, would prevent big businesses from committing crimes.


What should be done with corporate rapists and plunderers?


What about the crime of rape? Rape has several definitions, including the following ones that are in my dictionary: 1) Any violent seizure or hostile action against a weaker opponent; 2) to rob or plunder; 3) the act of seizing and carrying off by force; and the common one most people think of, 4) the crime of having forcible sexual intercourse without consent. 


What should be done with corporate robbers and plunderers who rape the land? What should be their punishment? And what about the mass murder, often to extinction, of the earth and its inhabitants who have every right to co-exist?


What about the known lethal poisons that thousands of chemical companies wantonly and knowingly discharge into the water, air, soil and then into the bodies and brains of unsuspecting consumers?


What about the mineral companies that blow the tops off mountains in Appalachia to extract ore more “cost-effectively” and then who turn around and claim innocence when the living things downstream die off from the toxic sludge that slides into previously pristine streams that once provided safe drinking water for people, irrigation water for farming and a healthy natural environment for fish and wildlife?


Shouldn’t those corporate rapists and plunderers be stopped before they strike again? Shouldn’t they be arrested, tried and punished just like the human predators that all civilized people fear and loathe?


Shouldn’t corporate predators be treated the same as human ones? Shouldn’t pathological liars, whether they have huge advertising budgets or not, be disbelieved forever? And shouldn’t we be suspicious of corporate behemoths like Merck, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Glaxo, et al for their attempts to poison us with their synthetic drugs?


And shouldn’t some of the most dangerous synthetic chemicals so cavalierly marketed by BigPharma, that kill 100,000 people per year in United States hospitals, be recalled just like Toyota’s occasionally dangerous accelerator pedals? Shouldn’t the corporate drug suppliers and sellers of potentially lethal substances be exposed and stopped just like the street corner pushers of illicit drugs that kill far less people than the legal ones? What about the corporate pushers of the cocaine-like drug called Ritalin and the amphetamine drug Adderall, dispensed so cavalierly to little children whose brains haven’t been hard-wired yet?


What about those companies and executives that are addicted to their ill-gotten gains, their prestige, their privilege, their corporate jets, their multiple vacation homes and their excessive quarterly bonuses? Shouldn’t there be interventions planned for them just as occur for some of society’s drug addicts, who are also unwittingly on the road to ruin and damnation?


The answer, in a fair society, should be yes to all these questions, no matter how often the smiley-faced, well-dressed corporate spokespersons, in their damage-control role, claim that their companies are “responsible citizens” that can be trusted to regulate themselves (LOL!). Should antidemocratic, authoritarian corporations be considered “guilty until proven innocent”?


It is a fact that corporations are paper document entities and NOT actual people! Corporations are authoritarian entities; they are not democracies. Perhaps the best approach for society in dealing with their inanimate corporations is to, rather than applying the standard democratic constitutional guarantees for human persons (one of which is being considered innocent until proven guilty), we should instead consider treating the most ruthless and inhumane corporations as being guilty until they are proven innocent.


I like that notion. Who knows how many lives would be saved if that were done? I have often advised many of my patients who had been psychologically traumatized in childhood by cruel or punitive parent figures to withhold respect for them until they have truly earned it and therefore deserve to be honored (this is, of course, contrary to the biblical commandment to unconditionally honor one’s parents, even, presumably, sadistic ones).


At the very least, I say don’t honor, respect, trust or believe any authority figure that has lied or tried to deceive, defraud or seduce (sexually or otherwise). Similarly, perhaps we should not trust, nor do business with, any entity that hasn’t first been proven innocent and trustworthy. And that should include corporations and governing bodies as well as human authority figures. Staying outside the sphere of influence of a conscienceless sociopath is the proper thing to do, even if the entity (including family members) is charming or well advertised.


That is why the tactic of boycotting deceptive corporations who are trying to “get away with murder” has been successfully used in the past. Corporations hate it when the nonviolent tactic of boycott is used, but in our largely brainwashed, “advertised-into-submission” victimhood, it seems that only small numbers of people recognize that they are being victimized. Too many of our fellow citizens seem to be unaware, apathetic or too distracted to realize that they are being chumped.


The concept of corporate personhood has massively benefited Big Businesses in the US at the expense of us “untermenschen” (a term used by right-wing Hitler-era Germans synonymous with “subhuman”, which was widely applied to early 20th century Jews, Slavs, aliens, blacks, socialists, homosexuals, gypsies and the physically or mentally deformed). Multinational corporations have been increasingly in control of the White House and the US Congress. Both political parties are guilty of being seduced by corporate campaign money (aka, bribes) and therefore under the control of obscenely wealthy corporations or their billionaire owners for many decades.


And now the third branch of the federal government, a majority of the Supreme Court justices, has obviously been bought off and the Citizens United ruling has moved American democracy far too close to corporate totalitarianism.


By exercising the privileges of corporate personhood while simultaneously refusing to accept the responsibilities, corporations are exhibiting classic sociopathic behavior. Because of their seemingly insatiable greed, their dog-eat-dog competitiveness, their demand for never-ending “growth” and their need for perpetually rising share prices, corporations are risking the future of the planet – all for their own economic gain. The corporate tactic of ruthless exploitation of non-renewable resources, including arable land, drinkable water, breathable air and energy resources, is unsustainable. The motto of the guilty multinationals seems to be: “grab what you can steal, don’t get caught, use your raft of cunning shyster lawyers to get you off the hook when you are accused and then “let the devil take the hindmost.”


We all know that most powerful corporations are rarely punished for their crimes. Most are considered “too big to fail” and therefore can’t be brought to justice for their unethical behaviors. Wrist slaps are the norm, especially when corporate offenders are actually brought before conservative judges. If there are significant consequences for reckless business practices, the company will often just move its headquarters elsewhere, leaving the messes they left behind to be cleaned up by somebody else, just as one would expect of a pathologically self-centered sociopath.


The outrageous action of the US Supreme Court, granting corporations the privileges, but not the responsibilities of personhood, might be the final nail in the coffin of our mortally wounded constitutional democracy. However, despite the fact that corporate personhood is now the law of the land, it may not be too late for us untermenschen to insist that the criminal activities of the transnational corporations be punished as severely and as justly as human criminals. 


We need to exercise our ethical duty to preserve and defend the US Constitution, not to mention the planet, from all enemies, foreign or domestic, human or corporate, judicial, executive or legislative. We need to protect the finite resources of our dying planet and the universal human rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The future of your children and mine depend on it.


Please consider joining the effort to impeach the five most pro-corporate Supreme Court justices by accessing the following website: And then demand that Congress act quickly to pass legislation to reverse the damage done by Citizens United.

Dr. Kohls, MD, is involved in peace, nonviolence and justice advocacy and resists fascism, corporatism, militarism, racism and other movements that are anti-democratic

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