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February 7, 2023

"Climate Homicide: Prosecuting Big Oil For Climate Deaths"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new article now available via SSRN authored by David Arkush and Donald Braman. Here is its abstract:

Prosecutors regularly bring homicide charges against individuals and corporations whose reckless or negligent acts or omissions cause unintentional deaths, as well as those whose misdemeanors or felonies cause unintentional deaths. Fossil fuel companies learned decades ago that what they produced, marketed, and sold would generate “globally catastrophic” climate change.  Rather than alert the public and curtail their operations, they worked to deceive the public about these harms and to prevent regulation of their lethal conduct.  They funded efforts to call sound science into doubt and to confuse their shareholders, consumers, and regulators.  And they poured money into political campaigns to elect or install judges, legislators, and executive officials hostile to any litigation, regulation, or competition that might limit their profits.  Today, the climate change that they forecast has already killed thousands of people in the United States, and it is expected to become increasingly lethal for the foreseeable future.

Given the extreme lethality of the conduct and the awareness of the catastrophic risk on the part of fossil fuel companies, should they be charged with homicide?  Could they be convicted?  In answering these questions, this Article makes several contributions to our understanding of criminal law and the role it could play in combating crimes committed at a massive scale.  It describes the doctrinal and social predicates of homicide prosecutions where corporate conduct endangers much or all of the public.  It also identifies important advantages of homicide prosecutions relative to civil and regulatory remedies, and it details how and why prosecution for homicide may be the most effective legal remedy available in cases like this.  Finally, it argues that, if our criminal legal system cannot focus more intently on climate crimes — and soon — we may leave future generations with significantly less for the law to protect.

February 7, 2023 at 09:31 AM | Permalink


This article underscores what I meant in my previous post about what crimes America chooses to sensationalize. These oil companies will not be prosecuted nor will the 'law-and-order' crowd of politicians utter a word of contempt towards them. These people are their associates and the ones who fund their campaigns.

The very same logic applies as it relates to the Sackler family and how not a single person in this family was criminally prosecuted for their role in the opioid epidemic. They made billions of dollars from this drug and we never saw a single raid, not one person in handcuffs, no large-scale criminal forfeiture nor a phone tapped.

Can you imagine the uproar of the "when-it-is-convenient-for-us-we-are-law-and-order" politicians if the Sackler family were the Jenkins family or if the big oil companies were owned by a Lamont Jones or a Ricky Davis? All we would hear about is how dreadful these people were and how the full weight of the law should be used against them.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: the hypocrisy is there 'if' you want to see it.

Posted by: Eric A. Hicks | Feb 7, 2023 10:19:56 AM

What utter nonsense. First, I’d like to know a single such “murder” that we can attribute to oil companies BRD.

Even if you could, I’d point out that the lack of fossil fuels would create a catastrophic wave of death around the world.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Feb 7, 2023 1:26:45 PM

Eric A. Hicks --

"The very same logic applies as it relates to the Sackler family and how not a single person in this family was criminally prosecuted for their role in the opioid epidemic."

I take it then that we are in agreement that drug prohibition should remain in place? That's good, since a number of commenters (and Doug) would legalize drugs.

I have my doubts that the gist of your comment will draw a lot of support, however, as the modern wail seems to be that way too much behavior has been criminalized.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 7, 2023 1:30:34 PM


I am not surprised at all that those comments would be deemed 'utter nonsense' to you. Anything that does not comport with your 'myth of America' is very likely to be so classified.

What I know is that if all of those committed and knowledgeable prosecutors could effectively use the RICO law, with all of its intricacies, as a means to dismantle crime in the inner-city, I have no doubt whatsoever that those same committed prosecutors could build a case against big oil companies for murder using similar tools.

The 'only' reason we will never know whether the offense of murder could be proven against any of these companies BRD is that they will never face these charges. Of that, I am 100% sure.

Posted by: Eric A. Hicks | Feb 7, 2023 3:01:05 PM

Eric A. Hicks,

Care to tell me what my “myth of America,” is?

Care to name a single person “murdered” BRD by fossil fuel companies and their contribution to global warming?

Do you use fossil fuels in your life at all? Aren’t you also guilty of murder as you know the global warming damage created by them and use them anyway?

Should “clean energy” providers be charged with environmental crimes for the deaths of thousands of birds, many being endangered species?

Should “clean energy” providers be charged with slavery and murder knowing that the raw materials and components for their products are produced by slave labor with many of them dying?

Should “clean energy” providers face the same charges as fossil fuel companies because the mining and production of their products are also disastrous to the environment, including CO2 emissions?

Automobile companies tout the safety of their cars knowing that many will die driving them. Are they also guilty of murder?

I look forward to your responses. BTW, unless you include nuclear, anywhere near a 100% clean energy grid is impossible.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Feb 7, 2023 4:22:13 PM


I think you know what your vision is of the 'myth of America.' These lines don't afford me the ample space to describe that myth. What I will say is that I, for one, have no problem with your stance of pro-punishment and anti-crime. Those stances are laudable. But as I have said before, it is hard for me to take those stances completely serious when history---as it relates to present conditions---is overlooked. It's very easy to highlight conditions in Chicago, Baltimore, DC and other inner-cities without seriously scrutinizing the country that produced those places. It's not a Democrat or Republican problem---it's an American problem. So I ask you this:

How many murders who have open committed First Degree murder have openly avoided prosecution or have otherwise been allowed to come into court and utter an apology for the killing (an insincere one at that!!!) and that's the end of the matter--no punishment or consequences at all.

How many robbers have been allowed illegally take money or property and then openly avoided prosecution or otherwise have been allowed to utter an apology robbery (an insincere one at that!!!) and that's the end of the matter--no punishment or consequences at all.

How many terrorist have been allowed to commit terroristic acts that have induced fear and/or taken the lives of many and have then openly avoided prosecution or otherwise have been allowed to utter an apology for the act of terroism (an insincere one at that!!!) and that's the end of the matter--no punishment or consequences at all.

How many extortionist have been allowed to gain property or currency through the threat or actual use of force and have then openly avoided prosecution or otherwise have been allowed to utter an apology (an insincere one at that!!!) for taking the property through the threat or actual use of force) and that's the end of the matter--no punishment or consequences at all.

How many rapist have been allowed to force a person into nonconsensual sex through threats or the actual use of force and then openly avoid prosecution or otherwise have been allowed to utter an apology (an insincere one at that!!!) for committing the act of nonconsensual sex through threats or the actual use of force and that's the end of the matter--no punishment or consequences at all.

What I think is that in any of these scenarios, you strike me as a very decent and upright man so you would have an extreme objection to any of these instances occurring without any real consequences of the offender. I'm sure you would want to know what has happened to the victims of these crimes or the familial trauma induced by these crimes?

Posted by: Eric A. Hicks | Feb 8, 2023 8:17:06 AM

Eric, Joe Biden just said that we are going to need oil for another decade . . . . are all those who provide it criminals?

Posted by: federalist | Feb 8, 2023 9:00:00 AM

That's not what I said and that has never been my position.

Posted by: Eric A. Hicks | Feb 8, 2023 10:40:23 AM

Do we need more prosecution?
I always wondered why those who sell alcohol aren't prosecuted when there is an alcohol related death. That would employ another army.
Ok - it's snarky.

Posted by: beth curtis | Feb 8, 2023 1:10:37 PM


You say it is not a “Republican or Democrat problem,” yet all of those cities you mention have been run by almost exclusively Democrat mayors, city councils, and governors. NYC was a rathole, became a beautiful and mostly peaceful city under Giuliani, and then went back to being a rathole. That has nothing to do with administrations previous and after Rudy?

What part of California is the Republican’s fault?

Policy matters.

I have no trouble scrutinizing the past, stating that injustices that have been done, etc. I just don’t believe that going back to 1619 does anyone, least of all minorities, any good. Victimhood gives an excuse to not succeed. It’s 2023 and admiring the problems of the past needs to be replaced with moving forward. Any decent therapist would tell you that about your own life. Why is that a myth?

As far as your questions, the answer should be zero. Your point, other than to avoid my questions?

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Feb 8, 2023 4:30:53 PM


I have told you before, I don't play the partisan game of Democrat versus Republican. They are both the same side of the coin. I could easily blame Kay Ivey, Mike DeWine, Mike Dunleavy, Bill Lee, Mike Parson, Greg Abbott for the crime rates in some of the cities in their states. But I refuse to play the blame game. The problems are much more endemic than a political party. Again, it's a United States of America problem.

Your answer to my questions underscores my point. You said that the answer to my questions 'should' be 'zero.' My point is that the United States is guilty of each one of these crimes (and far more) as it relates to the African-American and the Native American populations and these crimes have been committed with impunity and with zero accountability. If you are not willing to tolerate these crimes committed by individuals, why do you tolerate them when they have been committed by a country? That's perplexing.

As you said, policy matters. I am not for victimhood. It's not about that. I am about accountability. We cannot continue to preach the need for accountability when there has never been any accountability on a national level regarding the crimes committed by this country at its inception which played a fundamental role in allowing it to become the power that it presently is. There should be impactful policies in place to address these crimes and how they have impacted these groups. Two sayings come to mind while on this topic. The first one goes, "[t]o accept one’s past – one’s history – is not the same thing as drowning in it; it is learning how to use it. An invented past can never be used; it cracks and crumbles under the pressures of life like clay in a season of drought.” The second saying goes, “not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” We have never faced our past honestly and until we do, we will continue to relive these cycles because we are not taking wholesome measures to address the entirety of the problem. Our history in America is our strength, not our weakness. All Americans can accept our shared history without anyone playing the game of victimhood or White Grievance versus Black Grievance. It does no one any good at this point and there is a path forward if we truly want it.

Don't tell me that America has done this or is not capable of doing this. When these crimes were transpiring against these respective groups, we made our way through those times without mass incarceration so I won't accept that as the only solution to crime as it relates to the present. Yes, the laws need to be enforced and those who choose crime, must face consequences. I accept that. But again, we must come to a common understanding of exactly what happened in this country and use that as a guiding light to solving the problems at present that extend beyond crime.

Posted by: Eric A. Hicks | Feb 9, 2023 8:19:49 AM


Group punishment is both unconstitutional and immoral. If you can find a slaveholder, put him on trial and punish him criminally and civilly. There are no actual slaves, although I would pay someone like George Takei money as he was a direct and living victim of the government.

My family came from Poland in the early 1900’s, a country that wasn’t even involved in the slave trade and long after abolishment here. Poland has been repeatedly raped by the Germans, Russians, even the Ottomans and Mongols. Where is my paper?

Will African nations be included in this “accountability,” as they played an equal part in slavery? Will Indian nations be exchanging money as they held other tribal peoples’ as slaves and sometimes committed cannibalism? Do I have to even get into the Aztecs?

This can go on forever. Where does it end?

Every race/people has been victims and victimizers. I can’t keep score.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Feb 9, 2023 3:30:04 PM

I’m also still waiting for a name of someone “murdered” by fossil fuel companies.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Feb 9, 2023 4:20:54 PM


In the spirit of being a good sport, I will answer your question before I type another word: No, I cannot name a person 'murdered' by fossil fuel companies. I could not do this any more than I could walk down the street and see a group of young Black males and automatically assume that they are a gang and that they  have murdered someone. There could be scenarios that implicate these big oil or this group in a crime. This is why investigations matter and what the U.S. is willing to use its resources to investigate matters. 

As for the initial part of my comments, I must thank you as well for being a good sport within our conversations. So, once again, thank you. 
Your comments about groups exploiting others is true. Where we part ways---as we often do, is that you will struggle to name me another group who has essentially built a country through its labor? And not just any country---we are speaking of the United States of America. That does not diminish what the Poles endured through their treatment by the Germans, Russians, Ottomans and Mongols. But you name me a country that they built they their labor was essential in building? You name me how many Poles were 'owned' for centuries by other human beings?
 When your family, and the many others who departed from different parts of the world, left their respective countries they could have chosen any place on this planet. They didn't. They chose the United States of America because the brutalization, exploitation and subjugation of a group of people was one of the primary factors in making this country one of the richest (quite quickly I might add) and most dynamic countries in the world. 

For the sake of our emotional well-being, I will spare you the gory details and slavery and elaborate on the systemic terrorism, brutalization, oppression and subjugation that took place 'after' the Civil War, well into the 20th Century and continues up to present day. You don't understand (another flaw in U.S. history) how many small towns/counties/safe-spaces and other places that Black folks have tried to establish only to escape the terrorism, subjugation, oppression and unmitigated hate only to have their attempts at self-improvement (without any assistance from the government) eradicated by a culture that told them they were not supposed to aim higher in an effort to elevate themselves and future generations. The more famous example of Tulsa has recently been studied but these instances are innumerable on the American landscape. This compilation represents but a few examples: 
1866: New Orleans massacre of 1866
1866: Memphis, Tennessee, 
1868: Pulaski Riot
1868: St. Bernard Parish massacre, St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, 
1868: Opelousas massacre, Opelousas, Louisiana, 
1868: Camilla massacre, Camilla, Georgia, 
1870: Eutaw massacre, Eutaw, Alabama, 
1870: Laurens, South Carolina
1870: New York City Orange Riot
1871: Second New York City Orange Riot
1871: Meridian race riot of 1871, Meridian, Mississippi, 
1873: Colfax massacre, 
1874: Vicksburg, Mississippi
1874: New Orleans, Louisiana (Battle of Liberty Place)
1874: Coushatta massacre, Coushatta, Louisiana,
1875: Yazoo City, Mississippi
1875: Clinton, Mississippi
1876: Hamburg Massacre
1876: Ellenton riot, Ellenton, South Carolina
1889: Forrest City, AR – 1889 Forrest City riot
1891: New Orleans, LA – March 14, 1891 New Orleans lynchings
1898: North Carolina – Wilmington Insurrection of 1898 
1898: Lake City, SC – Lynching of Frazier B. Baker and Julia Baker
1898: Greenwood County, SC – Phoenix election riot
1900: New Orleans, LA – Robert Charles riots
1900: Manhattan, NY – Tenderloin race riot
1904: Springfield, OH – Springfield race riot of 1904
1906: Springfield, OH – Springfield race riot of 1906
1906: Atlanta, GA – Atlanta Massacre of 1906 
1906: Brownsville, TX – Brownsville affair
1907: Onancock, VA
1907: San Francisco, CA and Bellingham, WA 
1908: Springfield, IL – Springfield race riot of 1908
1909: Omaha, NE – Greek Town riot
1910: Nationwide – Johnson–Jeffries riots (anti-black riots following the heavyweight championship victory of Jack Johnson against Jim Jeffries)
1910: Slocum, TX – Slocum massacre
1917: East St. Louis, IL – East St. Louis riots
1917: Chester, PA – 1917 Chester race riot
1917: Philadelphia, PA
1917: El Paso, TX – 
1917 Bath riots1917: Houston, TX – Houston riot
1919: Red Summer
.....Washington, D.C.
.....Chicago race riot of 1919
.....Omaha race riot of 1919
.....Charleston riot of 1919
.....Longview race riot
.....Knoxville riot of 1919
Elaine Race Riot1920
Ocoee, FL – Ocoee Massacre1921:
Tulsa, OK – Tulsa race massacre1921:
Springfield, OH – Springfield race riot of 1921
Rosewood, FL – Rosewood massacre1927
Harlem riot of 1935
1943: Detroit, MI – Detroit race riot
1943: Beaumont, TX – Beaumont race riot of 1943
1943: New York, NY – Harlem riot of 1943
1943: Los Angeles, CA – Zoot Suit Riots 
1944: Agana, Guam – Agana race riot1946: Airport Homes race riots (series) Airport Homes race riots
1946: Columbia, TN – Columbia race riot of 1946
1949: Cortlandt Manor, NY – Peekskill riots 
1951: Cicero, IL – Cicero race riot

There is a terroristic pattern of tearing down that which African Americans have tried to build for their own preservation that occurred after slavery was abolished of which this country has remained silent. I haven't even began to mention the convict lease system, the totality of Jim Crow, the exclusion of African Americans from the GI Bill, redlining, housing covenants, discriminatory appraisals, rampant voter intimidation, large scale seizures of Black land/property. Again, this list could easily continue. Behind these occurrences are trauma. There are real families and real stories that have been passed down through recent generations associated with events. This is why I constantly stated that if one ever wanted to get another valid perspective on the United States, try talking to some of the 90+ year old Black men and women and relive the horrors of what their eyes have seen. These people are not victims nor have they ever proclaimed to be such. They endured 'despite' systems that either outright sanctioned or remained deliberately silent throughout their dehumanization, oppression, brutalization, exploitation and subjugation. And notwithstanding the sheer beauty and will to succeed 'notwithstanding' exhibited time and again by these beautiful, the country does not acknowledge their existence nor the existence of those who instilled in them the necessary ingredients to persevere and to succeed 'notwithstanding.' These people provide the country with a vision that they should not be ashamed of. Rather, what they have endured is something that must be told and embraced because it is not an African American story, it's an American story.  

And while I remain sympathetic to those outside the borders of the United States who have been subjugated, brutalized, exploited and oppressed, my concern is here. You ask, where does it end? How about it ends where it started. For one, many (if not most or all) Black folks would be satisfied with a true and documented account of exactly what has happened in the United States instead of this paltry version of history that we are continuously fed. The African countries can settle their disputes with Europe on their own accord. The same for the Aztecs and others. Perhaps, if the United States government ever develops the backbone to truly hold itself accountable in a meaningful way, it would provide a guideline for others to follow. 
Do I know what that accountability will embody, no. I don't think anyone knows that answer. But this country has the tools to figure it out and get it right. We no doubt live in a great country. Its greatness is still being written as I type these words. It is this greatness that gives me so much faith that one day as a nation we will get it 'right' and our history---and more important, how we choose to respond to it, will be something that we can coalesce around as opposed to being something so divisive. 

Posted by: Eric A. Hicks | Feb 10, 2023 7:54:47 AM

Your post is a huge bowl of cold oatmeal.

“ In the spirit of being a good sport, I will answer your question before I type another word: No, I cannot name a person 'murdered' by fossil fuel companies.”

Then there is no way you can justify, legally nor morally, charging fossil fuel companies for murder.

This country was not built by African Americans any more than the Chinese, Italians, or Irish. In fact, the south was a third world country within the greater United States. Slavery is not a good economic model. They are an ugly part of the history here, of course. However, nothing you write looks to the future, choosing instead to admire the problem. The Romans had slavery. The Egyptians and most of the Middle East. African tribes freely gave up fellow Africans to the slave market. There is still widespread slavery there, in addition to North Korea and China.

You don’t know much about the history of Poland if you are unaware of them being slaves. Even if I stick only to last century, a higher percentage of Poles were killed in WWII than any other country. 1.5 million were sent to Siberian work camps. Close to 2.5 million were sent West to German work camps or died in the ovens next to the Jews. Again, that’s just last century. 95% of Warsaw was destroyed. Where is Poland’s money? You don’t believe the current Polish experience is shaped by fascism and 50 years of communist rule? Generations of people were lost.

You know this comeuppance is unworkable. It’s why you put the bar in a place that ONLY African-Americans are somehow deserving.

You also say that this country has somehow ignored the history. Say what? 350,000 northerners died to free them. US Grant, who did as much for AA than Lincoln, went down and kicked more ass after the war. Tens of thousands marched, and some died, in the Civil Rights period. None of that rights the wrong, but to claim we haven’t confronted the past is risible.

Your theory is nonsense anyway. African-Americans were much better off in almost every metric in say, the 1960’s. Was the system less racist then?

You say: “Do I know what that accountability will embody, no. I don't think anyone knows that answer. But this country has the tools to figure it out and get it right.”

And therein lies the plan. Of course you have no idea what accountability will embody. Why? Because if you set the bar and the nation meets it, it will be difficult to move it. By leaving it vague, it will never be “enough” and you can always ask for more.

I don’t owe anyone a damn thing and no one owes me a damn thing.

Your position is almost racist, frankly. That African-Americans are not capable of success without the white man’s help.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Feb 10, 2023 6:23:47 PM

Eric A. Hicks --

My experience in life, which at this point is a lot, is that people who think of themselves as victims fare poorly and are unhappy, while those who think of themselves as in charge of their own fate fare better and are happier.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 10, 2023 10:23:49 PM


Therein lies the huge divide of America. There is your history and there is my history as passed on from generations orally from those who experienced those realities first-hand. I notice that you not once mentioned all of the incidents of State-sanctioned mob violence that occurred 'after' slavery (well into the 20th century) where African-Americans were terrorized wherever they settled and tried to establish themselves. You don't mention the redlining, convict lease system, the rampant voter intimidation, the discriminatory effects of the GI Bill, the discriminatory appraisals, the racial dynamics of the tax code, the arbitrary land seizures, etc. The list goes on and on. These are not footnotes in history, they are American history, whether we choose to acknowledge them or not. 

That we both view the country through such a different lens is a reflection of the tragedy of America---history should be something that galvanizes the country. American history will never be something around which the country can coalesce because it has been mired in obscurity, half-truths and deliberate misrepresentations. For you to say that African Americans did not build this country only illustrates the profundity of our divide. 

.....How much money did slavery generate for the United States? $42 Trillion. The racial wealth gap begins with slavery itself, which was a huge wealth generator for White Americans. The economic value of the 4 million slaves in 1860 was, on average, $1,000 per person, or about $4 billion total. - Bloomberg News

.....Twelve Southern states had per capita wealth above $800 while there were no Northern states so wealthy. Even should all the slaves be counted as potential wealth-holders, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and South Carolina would remain as the nation's wealthiest states. - Abbeville Institute Press

.....The 1860 census data show that the median wealth of the richest 1% of Southerners was more than three times higher than for the richest 1% of Northerners. - Vox EU CEPR

.....In 1860 the South was richer than any country in Europe except England, and it had achieved a level of wealth unmatched by Italy or Spain until the eve of World War II. The southern economy generated enormous wealth and was critical to the economic growth of the entire United States. - Digital History

We will continue to view who built this country through different lens. It's about so much more than what happened during slavery and that people don't see that---that the country has never explained that---is very disconcerting. It is a topic that I don't intend to expend my energy trying to explain. Our bridge is too far and the divides and material omissions run far too deep. You cannot mention what US Grant did without also acknowleding how Rutherford B. Hayes undermined the efforts of Reconstruction with the Compromise of 1877. It is those kinds of material omissions that give an incomplete view of history and I also guess that I should take TarlsQtr's view of history rather than the likes of Eric Foner. I think I'd rather hedge my bets on the latter.  

Nevertheless, African Ameicans don't wallow in self-pity waiting to be saved. We were instrumental in our 'own' freedom during the Civil War. If our history here shows nothing else, it should be what is possisble to the determined will and mind in the face of the most terrifying odds and how a people managed to achieve an unassailable and monumental dignity despite centuries of State-sanctioned terror. There is power in the adage that " [i]f you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.” Fortunately, we have had the elders to teach us history because the America has done a piss poor job of it.

You're right, you owe no one anything and vice versa. I never said that. But neither I, nor future generations, will relent on what must be done as far as accountability and what that must look like. If you have a problem with that, I doubt anything I say at this point will change that. And if you feel that highlighting a country's history of shortcomings, material misrepresentations and the need for accountability makes me racist, I'm saddened that your definition of racism is that distorted. For now, I will enjoy my breakfast of 'cold oatmeal.' 

I continue to believe that you're a good sport. We don't disagree on everything. We just have some very fundamental disagreements. 

Posted by: Eric A. Hicks | Feb 11, 2023 11:37:38 AM


You have this completely backwards.

I don’t push back on the history of America at all. I make no excuses for the past and have no problem admitting that it has shaped the present.

The point is, now what?

This is the chasm between us and the point where you come up with nothing but cold oatmeal.

You say that you are not blaming me. Great! How do you justify me giving up what I worked hard for?

What’s your plan? You still haven’t given a solution, instead merely admiring the problem.

There are two broad solutions, one having a happy ending and the other generational misery.

1. Teach personal agency.
2. Teach victimhood and that failure is always at the hands of others.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Feb 11, 2023 1:34:14 PM

Eric A. Hicks --

It might seem that you are making the case for reparations. Are you in favor of that? How much for each black person? If you are not in favor of reparations, why not (given all that you have said on this thread)?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 11, 2023 2:31:23 PM

Bill Otis,

My apology for overlooking your prior message. For what's worth, in your prior message, I don't object to a word you said.

As for you more recent question, I am more in favor of the assemblage of a non-partisan commission to conduct a comprehensive study of the issue and make the appropriate recommendations. There should be no time constraints on this study nor any limit as to the resources needed for the study to be completed. The study should be expansive meaning beyond the issue of economics.

Once their study is complete and the recommendations have been made, we all must live with them whether we like them or not. If I had my wish, that is what I would want. No solution will please everyone but I think the non-partisan commission would be the best plan.

Posted by: Eric A. Hicks | Feb 11, 2023 3:34:00 PM

Eric A. Hicks --

Thanks for your answer. You seem to take a strong interest in this subject and also to have a lot of information about it, much more than the average person. Based on your present information, and understanding that it's not complete, do you favor reparations?

P.S. A commission of exactly the sort you describe was appointed in San Francisco and recently returned it recommendation. In a state that never had slavery, it recommended among other things (according to CNN, which I quote):

"...a one-time payment of $5 million to each eligible Black resident.... The committee also recommended that the city supplement the income of lower-income households to match the area’s median income for at least 250 years as a way to address the racial wealth cap in San Francisco. The area’s median income was $97,000 last year, according to the draft plan." Source: https://www.cnn.com/2023/01/19/us/san-francisco-reparations-proposal-reaj/index.html

Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 12, 2023 1:18:12 AM

Bill Otis,

Right now, I am in favor of whatever the non-partisan commission would recommend. I think reparations is such a loaded term. For example, the commission could study the issue for years and determine that there should be an overall of certain U.S. systems such as the tax code, the education, labor or banking systems and deem that no specific cash or economic benefits should be forthcoming. If that's what is recommended, I could live with that.

What I care for more than anything is the value of story-telling. There is a rich history---beyond that of slavery---that needs to be relayed and understood. To view it as simply a matter of slavery is far too narrow of an approach. To focus solely on slavery would be an injustice to us all. So much more happened beyond slavery that is at times tragic but that also makes America the great place that it is. The country and the world need to understand exactly what happened. I don't think that this history is a source of weakness, it should be understood as a source of pride. It symbolizes what happened and what is possible in the world's greatest democracy. It's not a story of defeat; rather, it is a story of how Americans---not just African-Americans but all Americans, coalesced around core values to uplift one another and defeat a scourge within our Democracy.

The situation requires expert analysis and people capable of removing the emotion from the subject. Passions run high when the subject is mentioned and I, for one, think that impacts a person's ability to make rational judgments.

As you noted, such a commission has been formed in San Francisco. Others have been established in High Point, NC; Asheville, NC; Illinois, St.Louis, Mo.; Greenbelt, MD.; and Kansas City, MO. There are discussions underway for such commissions in New York and St. Paul, Minn. There is also the reintroduction of S.40 which would establish the formulation of such a committee by the federal government.

Posted by: Eric A. Hicks | Feb 12, 2023 6:46:47 AM


I’m not sure why you believe this history is not being told. I’m almost 52, and even I was taught most of what you discuss.

Now there are some who will refuse to consider or even acknowledge it, but no “Blue Ribbon Commission” is going to defeat invincible ignorance.

It’s why I see your position as nothing but a money play.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Feb 12, 2023 11:44:04 PM


Well, you're entitled to your opinion. And FYI, I sincerely doubt that you were taught most (or even half) of what I discussed. If you were taught those things and could take some of the positions that you have, I need to drop to the ground right now in prayer for you because you are a more callous and bottomlessly cruel person than I could have ever imagined.

You nor anyone else will make me unhear the stories that have been passed down through generations by some of the most upstanding, regal and righteous people this country has ever produced. They were a humble and peaceful people who never asked the country for a dime despite all that was taken from them time and again. Their pride and self-respect---in the face of constant dehumaization---would not allow them to do such a thing. For that, I am proud to be a part of that fabric.

Most importantly, you nor anyone else can make me unsee what my eyes have seen. I have seen the beauty and malevolence of America---I've seen it through my eyes and the eyes of my elders.

There is something in truth that people who cling to narratives fear. What you call a 'money play,' I see as an age-old fear. It's a fear that one day the moral rhetoric that has been used for to justify centuries innumerable crimes committed with impunity will no longer hold sway. It makes me sad to even think of it. But I remain hopeful as I am reminded of a story relayed to me by an older Black civil rights marcher. He spoke of the 60s' and when he arrived for a march and was greeted by the young girl who came up to him and said, "n*****r go home." Decades later, this same man arrived for a protest and was greeted by a young white girl who came up to him, smiled and said, "no justice, no peace." 

Posted by: Eric A. Hicks | Feb 13, 2023 8:18:02 AM

“Callous and bottomlessly cruel person…”

You forgot “fascist” and “racist.”

And here we see the problem with progressive politics (yes, you are progressive whether you acknowledge it or not). One would think such phrases should be used for the KKK, Hitler, etc. But, no, you use such phrasing for someone on the internet who believes in teaching personal agency and doesn’t buy in to your unhelpful version of reparations.

It’s why those words no longer hold meaning.

And, yes, we were taught that. Did it cover every single race riot? Of course not. No class could. But it did cover them along with many other topics you mention.

But are you a part of that fabric? You say they (admirably) didn’t ask for a dime, yet here you are even though it was them who went through the riots, civil rights protests, etc.

Just who, exactly, is “justify(ing) centuries of innumerable crimes?” I sure don’t. Nor do I know a single person, white or otherwise, who is justifying those crimes. Disagreeing on how to solve the problems of today is not the same thing.

The black civil right marcher should make you hopeful. I’m happy for that. It’s also a sign of how incredibly far we have come. We have and are having a “moral reckoning” without reparations or having white people who had nothing to do with it self-flagellate.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Feb 13, 2023 6:14:32 PM


I do not believe you to be either racist or fascist. In fact, I would likely enjoy having a beer with you while we mulled over these things. It's never personal with me. Am I passionate about the subject---you bet. But I also have a love for humanity of all walks so our disagreements are nothing more than that---disagreements. No mater how our debates unfold or how contentious they may seem, always know that about me.

Posted by: Eric A. Hicks | Feb 14, 2023 9:07:27 AM

Eric A. Hicks --

To TarlsQtr: "I do not believe you to be either racist or fascist. In fact, I would likely enjoy having a beer with you while we mulled over these things."

You're going out on a limb there. I mean, the guy is just totally a right wing bozo. If you go to the men's room while your beer is on the table, he'll drink it before you get back.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 14, 2023 1:44:13 PM

Bill Otis,

That’s the best laugh I have had in weeks!! Thank you!!

Posted by: Eric A. Hicks | Feb 14, 2023 7:38:14 PM

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