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The infamous decision of the NeoConservative, pro-corporate, anti-democratic members of the Supreme Court in their 2010 "Citizens United" decision granted personhood to corporations. The ruling, which allows unlimited and anonymous funding of political campaigns by inanimate paper corporations, has further emboldened the already too-powerful, greedy and easily corruptible multinationals and their conservative political lapdogs to tighten control, via their campaign contributions (aka "investments or bribes"), over both centrist and right-wing lawmakers and Republican governors in both state and national legislatures. It is estimated that big corporations, through their lavish use of campaign money bribery, control the vast majority of our "elected" national leaders, both Republican and Democrat.

The five Supreme Court justices that decided the 5-4 decision in favor of corporate personhood, made legal the absurd notion that non-human American corporations deserve the same constitutional rights as flesh and blood humans.

At the time of the decision, I recall being horrified, not just at the decision, but at the lack of outrage at this clearly outrageous Constitution-crippling decision. The objections that were expressed by the small number of progressive commentators that were allowed media time, was quickly shouted down by the talking heads and the right-wing politicians that appeared 24-7 on the corporate-controlled media.

And what should have elicited massive civil disobedience was quickly drowned out of the public consciousness by the orchestrated buzz about Toyota's recall of accelerator pedals - most of which had never caused any serious accidents, much less deaths. The massive media coverage of Toyota successfully drowned-out the Citizens United decision by a thousand to one margin.

Crime and Punishment, Corporate Style

And nobody asked this question:

If corporations now have the privileges of personhood, shouldn't they also bear the same responsibilities and incur the same punishments for crimes committed by human criminals?

Corporate CEOs admit that the primary goal of their corporation is to make money and that its only allegiance is to its profit-seeking shareholders, executives and management teams. Its allegiance is never to the nation or even to the consumers of its products. Corporations exist by paper charters that are granted to them by the nation-state. But as much as their often-deceptive advertising tries to make us think otherwise, the corporation's responsibility is not to humanity, the sustainability of the earth or the health of the state.

Cunning teams of corporate lawyers routinely think up deceptive defenses for the criminal activities of their employers and usually are able to keep a lid on media coverage of the lawsuits that do make it to court. Settlements out of court, with gag rules to the plaintiffs, are quite common when the corporations think it will lose the case, so the corporation can claim to have never lost a case in court and the facts of the case and the details of the settlement can be buried.

Criminal corporations have everything to do with poisoning the earth and being major players in global warming but they have very little to do with the healing of the planet, except for the occasional meaningless green-washing proclamations. Mainly they are concerned with killing the competition, exploiting the earth's resources, next quarter's financial report and how Wall Street values its share price.

Many multinational corporations meet the definition of antisocial personality disordered entities (aka psychopaths)

There is a personality disorder listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association (the DSM is the recipe book and billing manual for psychiatrists and other healthcare providers). That disorder, well described in the must-see Canadian documentary entitled The Corporation, describes humans that are deceitful, impulsive, aggressive, cruel, cunning, reckless, risk-taking, thoughtless, irresponsible, immoral, unethical and conscienceless. These individuals frequently commit crimes, lie about it when they do and then try to evade the law when found out. If they are indicted, they try to implicate others, try to plea bargain down their punishment and then show no remorse for their deeds when convicted.

The disorder is called "antisocial personality disorder" (DSM-IV diagnostic code # 301.7), which is essentially synonymous with what is known as "psychopathic personality disorder". It is widely felt to be incurable. Serial killers, violent gang members, torturers, child abusers and serial rapists typically qualify for the diagnosis.

DSM 301.7 is often applied to charismatic manipulators who are sane but very cunning individuals (personality disorders are not regarded as classical mental illnesses). Criminal psychopaths (as are their sociopathic corporate counterparts) seem to be incapable of having the human feelings of shame or guilt, and they never really try to change (Ex: the widely-imitated Gordon Gekko of Wall Street infamy).

Corporate wealth extraction is big business

The reality of corporate exploitation and abuse is all around us. We of the "lower 99" are having whatever remaining wealth we have extracted from us. The fleecing of the 99% by corporate psychopathic pickpockets is being done in plain sight.

There are many examples of this wealth extraction, including the planned obsolescence that is built into many manufactured goods that induces duped consumers to throw away the first version of a perfectly good product when the next more expensive, more seductive second and third-generation versions hit the market. Other examples of wealth extraction include exorbitant cell phone fees that charge both the caller and the called; high fees for internet and the seemingly addictive cable TV; expensive, nutritionally worthless and even toxic chemically-flavored "food"; usurious credit card fees, pay-day lending fees, home mortgage fees and banking fees; the high costs of insurance, gasoline, travel, entertainment, prescription drugs; etc, etc. We are truly being fleeced.

We of the 99% are being gradually being manipulated into an impoverished state by the crafty upper 1% who are in the wealth-extracting businesses. But, thanks to the Occupy Wall Street movement, some of the culprits are being exposed. The widening gap between the rich and those that have been made poor by the rich is finally being recognized. Therefore, hopefully, we should be better able to identify our oppressors, the predatory lenders, the hanging judges, the destroyers of the US Constitution, the planners of police state tactics or martial law and others who might also turn out to be among our future executioners.

Human and corporate criminals: the common denominators

There are a number of common denominators that are characteristic of both human criminals and this very short list of a few of our corporate exploiters: Union Carbide, WalMart, Dow Chemical, Monsanto, Pfizer, Merck, Lilly, Nestle, Enron, Exxon/Mobil, British Petroleum, Halliburton, Deepwater Horizon and their executives in the Forbes 400.

Psychopathic corporations is that they are just as afraid of having their criminal behavior exposed as are petty thieves, bigamists, gambling addicts or big-time criminals like Bernie Madoff, Ken Lay and un-indicted international war criminals like Henry Kissinger, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Karl Rove and the multitude of others of their ilk. Most criminal corporations will use any means necessary to acquit themselves of their crimes by cooking the books, shredding documents, bribing, lying, cheating, even hiring contract assassins to do their dirty work and, as a last resort, committing suicide to evade the gallows.

Another characteristic of psychopathic personalities is that they will not admit their guilt unless they are subpoenaed; and even then, for those in the upper 1% who can afford cunning corporate lawyers, they will plead the 5th Amendment and refuse to answer in court. And even when they are having their wrists slapped after being convicted of their crimes, they will never show any genuine remorse.

What should be the punishment for corporations when they commit crimes such as raping the environment?

By and large, most criminally-minded psychopathic individuals are incurable and have to be locked up to protect society. So another set of questions needs to be asked: "what needs to be done with psychopathic corporations when they lie, cheat, steal, commit crimes, rape the earth or otherwise act immorally and unethically?"

Shouldn't the 1% in the corporate world who qualify for the diagnosis be treated like their human psychopathic counterparts? Shouldn't they be punished with whatever is the equivalent of long prison sentences, confiscation of property, fines, reparations for their victims or even capital punishment? (I hasten to add that I am against the death penalty for human persons, but we all know that corporate entities aren't really human despite what the co-opted Supreme Court says, so I won't be attending any candle-light vigils if and when killer corporations are sentenced to death).

The outrageous action that gave corporations the privileges, but not the responsibilities of personhood, might be, along with the Patriot Acts and the Homeland Security Act, one of the final nails 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 the 99% to insist that the criminal activities of the transnational corporations be punished as severely and as justly as their human criminal counterparts.

We need to exercise our ethical duty to preserve and defend the US Constitution, as well as the planet, from all enemies, foreign and domestic, human or corporate, judicial, executive or legislative. We need to protect the finite resources of our planet before it dies, and we need to preserve our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness before corporations take more of them from us.

The futures of our children and grandchildren, and our poisoned planet, depend on it.

Dr. Gary Kohls is a founding member of Every Church A Peace Church ( and its local Duluth-area affiliate, The Community of the Third Way. He is an advocate for peace, justice and planetary sustainability and a believer in the power of nonviolent resistance to evil. Dr. Kohls is a member of Medical Professionals for 9/11 Truth, and he is a critic of fascism: corporatism, militarism, racism and economic oppression.