Saudi Arabia and Ethical Oil Group Go Head to Head Over Ads

Tue, 2011-09-20 14:23Emma Pullman
Emma Pullman's picture

Saudi Arabia and Ethical Oil Group Go Head to Head Over Ads

The controversial Ethical Oil adswhich enjoyed an exclusive run on the Oprah Winfrey Network at the end of August, have earned a new enemy: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The tar sands industry ad campaign, which criticizes our reliance on oil imports from Saudi Arabia due to its poor human rights record, tells viewers that choosing between women’s rights and tar sands expansion is “a choice we must make”. 

The ads argue instead that intensifying tar sands production will actually help liberate women from oppressive petrocracies like Saudi Arabia. They also imply that we must support the controversial Keystone XL pipeline because it will decrease our reliance on “conflict oil”. 

According to the ads, “We bankrolled a state that doesn’t allow women to drive, doesn't allow them to leave their homes or work without their male guardian’s permission and a state where a woman’s testimony only accounts for half of a man’s”. 

A female voice pleads to the viewer, “Why are we paying their bills and funding their oppression?”

The ad has angered Saudi Arabia, who in response sent a cease and desist letter to Telecaster Services from the Television Bureau of Canada, demanding approval for the ads be withdrawn. 

Ethicaloil.org is now using the cease and desist letter as a public relations stunt. According to the industry group’s spokesman, former Tory communications director Alykhan Velshi, “We caught this foreign dictatorship trying to undermine freedom of the press here in Canada and trying to export its own contempt for democracy, its own contempt for freedom of the press here in Canada”. 

Velshi has even used the plea to get the ad on Canadian television. As of Monday, Sun Media (A.K.A. Fox News North) will air the ads on its network. Ethical oil cheerleader and Conservative operative Ezra Levant is an anchor for the network and the registrant of the ethicaloil.org website.

Velshi has also alerted Foreign Minister John Baird (whom Velshi worked for as a Director of Parliamentary Affairs) and Dean Allison of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade about the incident, calling for an investigation into a “foreign dictatorship trying to censor what Canadians can and cannot see on their televisions”. 

Levant and Velshi have used the lawsuit to shore support for their ads, which are at their very core misleading. Yes, Saudi Arabia abuses women's rights. But the link that the ads are trying to force  — that expanding tar sands production will somehow liberate Saudi women — does not hold up to scrutiny. The ads present incorrect information & use alarmism to catch people in a false choice.

As I wrote earlier, tar sands expansion won’t hurt Saudi oil imports: the Keystone XL pipeline was created to keep Gulf coast refineries at capacity, not to reduce reliance on foreign oil. The United States and Canada combined hold less than 5 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, so increasing output from the tar sands won't substantially decrease our reliance on foreign oil, and it won't reduce the world's demand for Saudi Arabia's crude.

These diversionary tactics are, however, distracting us from having the long-overdue conversation about the environmental and human impact of tar sands expansion on downstream and First Nations communities, and about the need to rapidly pursue a clean energy future. 

If the goal here really is to hurt Saudi sheiks for their treatment of women, we should support a transition from dirty fossil fuels to renewable energy. 

But instead we see a circus act by Velshi, who has challenged the Saudi ambassador to a debate – “moderated by a woman” – to settle, “which one is the bigger asshat”.

Who’s your money on?

Comments

http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/44037/britons-question-global-warming-more-than-americans-and-canadians/

Here is a poll about global warming belief in Canada, the US and Britain. Britain is rapidly becoming a denialist nation while Canada has the highest proportion of believers at 52%.

The interesting aspect of this is the politics as in Canada we have 4 parties that compete for the 52% of climate change believers with one being somewhat indifferent and naturally in first past the post the indifferent political party will form government.

In Britain all the major political parties are believers in AGW and as a result this is imbeded in policy with no denialist choice for voters. Even though belief is the lowest in britain their currently is no denialist choice on the ballot.

In the US with their division of government powers the politicans are much more receptive to public opinion as a result global warming has a rocky road up and down each month.

Overall it looks like denialism is growing by leaps and bounds in these three nations.


 

What relevance does this have to the OP Ralph?

 

This type of advertising regarding ethical oil just shows how powerful and widespread the denialist machine has become. Everyday they trot out another scientist who denounces global warming as a scam or they invent some clever way to promote fossil fuel use. Is their no justice in the world? Will we all eventually succumb to the seductive lure of the denial machine? 

“Will we all eventually succumb to the seductive lure of the denial machine?”

No, only the slow witted & easily conned will. :)

 

Here is an idea. Let us run a poll on whether you are the real Ralph Nader, or not as the case may be.

Would such a poll have any validity?

Would such a poll say anything about science? The answer to this one is no, just the same as the polls that you cite. Besides, polls depend very much upon the questions and their phrasing.

A bit early for April 1 RalphNader..

But I thought you people were all about “consensus”?

So much for that, I guess.

I take it you’re trying to rehabilitate the word denialism and make it positive or at least neutral. if so, that seems very ambitious.

Just a heads-up that your “proven oil reserves” link is broken due to a typo. It’s written as:

http://www.eia.gov/international/reserves.html” \t “_blank

Remove the stuff at the end that I’ve bolded, and then it will be correct.

 

Levant wraps himself in a custodial cloak of free speech when he slanders another nation. Where was Levant when Talon Books was being sued by Barrick Gold mining company? Or when Greenpeace or Adbusters were censured by all the major television networks when they tried to run ads? Not a peep out of the Great Defender of Free Speech then.

Lying Levant’s act is getting old.

“Or when Greenpeace or Adbusters were censured by all the major television networks when they tried to run ads? Not a peep out of the Great Defender of Free Speech then.”

I fail to see how refusal to broadcast the opinions of lunatic fringe groups curtails their right to free speech.  Right to free speech does not imply a right to a free printing press.

In any case, no appeal for government intervention was made by private broadcasters to shut up Greenpeace or the antisemitic Adbusters.  They can spew their nonsense all they want – but private companies aren’t obligated to broadcast it.

On the other hand, the Saudis are demanding the Canadian government directly intervene to censor the opinions of Canadian citizens, which is quite a different matter.

You seem a little confused on the concepts.

If you fail to see how censoring groups based on their political beliefs curtails free speech then it is you who seems confused. Free speech means being able to read or hear speech with the same access for and to everyone, not free speech for some while others are relegated to little more than pamphleteering.

Whether a private company or a government does the censoring makes no difference.

Greenpeace and Adbusters are hardly  “fringe lunatic groups”. How you came to the bizarre conclusion that Adbusters is antisemitic is beyond me.

But not surprisingly you missed the point: Levant, the lawyer, paints himself as an arch defender of freedom of speech (in the general sense). What he does of course is defend only his free speech.

“Free speech means being able to read or hear speech with the same access for and to everyone, not free speech for some while others are relegated to little more than pamphleteering.”

No, that’s not what the right to free speech entails at all.  Your right to free speech doesn’t give you a right to to have use my printing press.

And Lord knows, those poor, oppressed Saudis could never afford their own printing press.  No wonder they need the Canadian government to shut down any Canadian citizen who dares to speak against them.  Hey, that stuff flies in Saudi Arabia.  Why not sharia law in Canada?

“Whether a private company or a government does the censoring makes no difference.”

Yes, actually it does.  Your right to free speech doesn’t supersede my right to private property.

“How you came to the bizarre conclusion that Adbusters is antisemitic is beyond me.”

This was a very well known controversy.  A 2004 issue of Adbusters featured an article by publisher Kalle Lasn which was an annotated list of suspected “neocons” who are Jews.  But I guess that’s just “free speech”, eh?

http://www.barbarakay.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=308

And if you want to start crying crocodile tears about censorship, Desmogblog.com is probably the most ironic place to do it.

 

“No, that’s not what the right to free speech entails at all.  Your right to free speech doesn’t give you a right to to have use my printing press.”

Um..yes it does. Your argument is based on an arbitrary legal sense of entitlement claiming absolute sovereignty over a supposedly private domain (and I wasn’t talking about printing presses, but about broadcasting, of which the airwaves are considered public, not private). You’re argument is essentially no different from those of shop or hotel owners in Alabama or Atlanta refusing to serve blacks circa 1920-1964. That practice was ultimately ruled unconstitutional.

“And Lord knows, those poor, oppressed Saudis could never afford their own printing press.  No wonder they need the Canadian government to shut down any Canadian citizen who dares to speak against them.  Hey, that stuff flies in Saudi Arabia.  Why not sharia law in Canada?”

Nice red herring. I’m not defending Saudi Arabia in their attempt to silence Levant.

“Yes, actually it does.  Your right to free speech doesn’t supersede my right to private property.”

Yes, it actually does. (see above). The childish refrain of “It’s my [fill in the blank] and I’ll sell or serve who I want to” is just a bullying tactic. Even leaving out the legality of it, there is no ethical principle on which to defend denial of access to public airwaves based on political beliefs, a far more serious kind of exclusion with more wider ranging implications than racial discrimination I would argue. 

“This was a very well known controversy.  A 2004 issue of Adbusters featured an article by publisher Kalle Lasn which was an annotated list of suspected “neocons” who are Jews.  But I guess that’s just “free speech”, eh?”

Yes, I’m aware of the article and its attendant much-ado-about-nothing, which is why your claim of antisemitism is so bizarre. It was a critical piece on Israeli policy which attempted to out neocons who promoted said policy by linking them to their Jewish (or perceived Jewish) heritage. Interestingly, Naomi Klein (a Jew) defended the article. What’s even more interesting is that the Canadian Jewish Congress lobbied to have the magazine censored, ultimately convincing Shoppers Drug Mart to pull it from their shelves.

So much for the sanctity of private domain, eh? And this was a matter involving an actual printing press, no less. Where was Ezra, our fearless defender of free speech and everything private property on that issue?  Oh the irony!

“And if you want to start crying crocodile tears about censorship, Desmogblog.com is probably the most ironic place to do it”.

Who’s crying crocodile tears? I’m calling Levant out for his hypocrisy and being a publicity whore. I’m against censorship in any form, including on this site. I don’t want climate deniers banned. Where better to draw attention to censorship than on a website which practices it?



 

“I paid for this microphone” - Ronald Reagan

The public airways argument is a slippery slope. It ends up in a place where Al Gore has to give Lord Monckton equal time on his broadcast and at his speeches and desmog has to give Anthony Watts posting rights.

The question should be who owns the signal. There are plenty of opportunities for everyone in the age of the Internet to self broadcast.

And slippery slope arguments are usually (not always) invalid. It does not end up in the scenario you concocted. It does not have to be arranged that way where a specific program has to give time to all, as long as all have the same access.

You raise a good point about the internet though. It has certainly muted the ability for monopolistic gatekeepers to deny others access. The internet is still, however, narrowcasting rather than broadcasting. But that is slowly changing as the big corporate media networks lose listeners and viewers to the web.

Hilariously, it seems Desmogblog has censored my response to your comment, above.

Sorry, I can’t be bothered to re-type it.  In fact, calling attention to Desmogblog’s propensity for censorship speaks volumes more about them than my original comment.

How does the saying go?

As a rule, the left want to make conservatives shut up,
whereas conservatives want the left to keep talking.

Case in point.

That was probably the comment where you made a libellous smear against an individual, David S. Shame on you.

No one is obliged to allow lies and libel to remain in comments to their blogs.

Socialism blurs and diminishes the concept of private property. It all belongs to the state ultimately and we all belong to the state. That’s where socialism goes.

The UK gives the tar sands a vote of confidence by opening a new consulate in Calgary that will focus on investment. Climate concerns are brushed aside.

Global warming or Cooling the Alberta Oilsands will be exploited to their full potential. Their simply is too much to be gained by exploiting a natural resources so valuable and in a democratic nation like Canada.

Twenty years from now Fort Mcmurray will house a population of 250,000 people no amount of PR Spin can deny this reality.

 

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