If I were BP, or its executives, I'd probably be concerned about security issues for myself and my company and the broad sense of public outrage morphing into something tangibly unpleasant.
So they should and probably have hired a bunch of extra guards and instituted other protective measures. Have at it, BP. These days people can do crazy things when they're mad about the icky juxtaposition of yachting executives and environmental disasters that threaten livelihoods.
But my Libertarian instincts tell me that a private company like BP doesn't get to instruct a public, governmental agency to act in the private company's interests. There's something uncomfortably un-American about that.
This is what happened last week in Houma, Louisiana when Drew Wheelan from the American Birding Association was shooting an amateur video across from the BP/Deepwater Horizon response command building, according to a Mother Jones blog post by Mac McClelland.
Don't take Mother Jones' word for it, though, or mine. Watch the video, which is a kind of a caught-on-camera Lindsey Lohan-type revelatory moment.
Wheelan was standing on public property across from the BP building when a state police officer tried to "strongly suggest" that Wheelan should stop filming "because BP doesn't want people filming." The officer is off-camera but clearly heard.
Despite Wheelan reminding the officer that BP doesn't control what people do if they're not on company property, the policeman repeats his warning and does a warrant check on Wheelan. When the policeman makes his strong suggestion to stop the camera because of BP's shyness, then asks if that makes sense, Wheelan says, "It doesn't really at all."
Amen. What's Wheelan going to do? Throw large plastic bags of dead pelicans across the road?
The Mother Jones tale goes on to say that the same officer later stopped Wheelan when the birder was driving away, and had a BP security man with him. The private cop "interrogated Wheelan for 20 minutes" and "confiscated his Audubon volunteer badge." Those wild bird radicals....
The strange, 48 Hours duo let Wheelan go but tailed him for 20 miles.
Maybe they just should have tagged his leg.
Is BP putting extra money in the response fund to pay for Louisiana state police moonlighting for the company?
BP may be nervous, but so's the rest of the country. Let's at least pretend there's a public/private responsibility divide here.
Causes Phil Bronstein Supports
Good Ones; anything involving the possibility of redemption.