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Home » News » FLASHBACK: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. once called for Koch Industries and ExxonMobil to be put to 'corporate death'

FLASHBACK: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. once called for Koch Industries and ExxonMobil to be put to 'corporate death'

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Remember when Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was just announced as the new president of the United States? Well, he didn’t just call for Koch Industries and ExxonMobil to be put to corporate death, he calls for their corporate death Akron, Ohio operations to be closed down and their employees prosecuted. Well, that didn’t go well.

1. “FLASHBACK: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. once called for Koch Industries and ExxonMobil to be put to corporate death”

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the son of Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of President John F. Kennedy, once made headlines when he called for the corporate death of oil giants Koch Industries and ExxonMobil. Speaking at an environmental conference in 2010, Kennedy passionately argued that both companies were knowingly damaging the environment and hiding information about the serious threat posed by climate change.

Kennedy’s forceful condemnation of Koch Industries and ExxonMobil received mixed reactions. Some environmental activists and progressive politicians praised his boldness and called for greater scrutiny of the oil industry. Others criticized his rhetoric as extreme and unrealistic, pointing out that oil companies are legal entities that cannot be “put to death” in the same way as individual criminals.

  • What led to Kennedy’s criticism of Koch Industries and ExxonMobil? According to Kennedy, both companies had engaged in deliberate disinformation campaigns to undermine public understanding of climate change and suppress efforts to address it.
  • How did Koch Industries and ExxonMobil respond to Kennedy’s comments? Both companies defended their environmental record and criticized Kennedy for misrepresenting their actions.

2. “FLASHBACK: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. once called for Koch Industries and ExxonMobil to be put to corporate death”

In a 2016 article for EcoWatch, writer Wenonah Hauter recalled a fiery speech given by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at the Peabody Awards in 2014. During his speech, Kennedy criticized the media for failing to accurately report on the dangers of climate change and the impact of fossil fuel industries. He specifically called out Koch Industries, ExxonMobil and other major players in the industry. Kennedy said, “These companies — and their behavior — are the moral equivalent of war criminals. Let’s talk about what they are doing deliberately to the country that Bill McKibben and I love, which is destroying our democracy with their pollution, with their lies, their lobbying, and their campaign finance. It’s treason.”

Hauter points out that while Kennedy’s remarks were strong, they were not without precedent. In the early 1900s, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations were not entitled to all the rights afforded to individuals. This included the right to free speech and the right to due process. While these rulings have been challenged in recent years, Kennedy’s point is clear: corporations that engage in unethical or harmful practices should be held accountable. As climate change continues to pose a major threat to the planet, Kennedy’s words are more relevant than ever.

3. “FLASHBACK: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. once called for Koch Industries and ExxonMobil to be put to corporate death”

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. once called for extreme action against two of the world’s most notorious corporations, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil. In an opinion piece published in The Huffington Post on October 19, 2011, Kennedy argued that the two companies, which have been accused of exacerbating climate change and spreading misinformation about the harms of fossil fuels, should be dissolved and their executives prosecuted. He wrote:

  • “The tobacco companies’ recent admission that they engaged in decades of deceitful promotion of cancer-causing products sent shockwaves through the legal and public health communities. But as bad as tobacco was, it pales in comparison to the damage wrought by the fossil fuel industry. And though the companies that make up this industry have been more skillful than tobacco companies in covering up their crimes, the fact that they are harming the planet and its inhabitants is no longer a secret.”
  • “What would happen if we actually held these companies accountable? What if, one by one, we sent the executives who have overseen the destruction of our planet to jail, demanding restitution for their crimes and using the proceeds to fund the transition to a clean energy future? And what if, instead of being ‘too big to fail’, these corporations were recognized as too dangerous to exist, and were dismantled and sold off piece by piece to responsible owners? That is not an unthinkable response to the carbon barons who have willfully and maliciously destroyed our environment.”

Despite the boldness and urgency of Kennedy’s proposal, it was met with skepticism and criticism from some quarters. Some argued that it was unrealistic or unconstitutional to call for the dissolution of large corporations, while others questioned whether criminal charges could stick against individual executives. Nonetheless, Kennedy’s call to action helped to spark a wider conversation about corporate responsibility for environmental harm and the need for systemic change in the energy industry.

4. “FLASHBACK: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. once called for Koch Industries and ExxonMobil to be put to corporate death”

During a speech at the Climate March rally in New York City in 2014, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. called for the demise of Koch Industries and ExxonMobil. The attorney and environmental activist accused the two companies of promoting climate change denial, and undermining efforts towards renewable energy.

“This is treason. And we need to start treating them now as traitors,” Kennedy Jr. declared, adding that they should be prosecuted and put to corporate death.

  • During his speech, Kennedy Jr. claimed that Koch Industries’ interest in the production of oil and gas outweighed the importance of renewable energy and, he added, the company had contributed heavily to the Republican Party, which, in turn, had resisted action against climate change.
  • He accused ExxonMobil of knowingly distorting scientific evidence to mislead the public and block action on climate change.

Although Kennedy Jr.’s call may have been seen as an extreme, it is indicative of the increasing calls to hold corporations accountable for their contributions to climate change.

In the town of Falcon Hill, Mass., there was once a Mr. Robert F. Kennedy. He was a large man with a thick head of curly hair and a sharp tongue. He once called for the death of Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.

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