So, I don’t know if you caught this on yesterday’s evening news, but the divine Diane Wilson—an old friend of the Observer’s—has been doing her trouble-making best to hold Big Oil’s feet to the fire. Yesterday, she was arrested at the start of BP CEO Tony Hayward’s testimony before the House Committee of Energy and Commerce, mainly for shouting, “You ought to be charged with a crime!”
Here’s a great link to a Youtube video showing yesterday’s arrest:
AND Diane was also arrested last week, for “disrupting” the Senate Energy Committee, when Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the committee’s co-chair, blocked the Big Oil Bailout Prevention Act—a piece of legislation that would have “lifted the oil companies’ liability cap.” And by “disrupting,” I mean Wilson was arrested for pouring something that looked like oil on herself, and shouting, “We’re tired of the bailouts, and we are tired of being dumped on in the Gulf!”
And here’s a great link to a Youtube video showing that arrest:
For those of you who’re lucky enough to know Diane Wilson, her activism on this issue should come as no surprise. She’s sort of a South Texas version of Emma Goldman—bold and brave, with tremendous moral clarity. Diane’s a fourth-generation shrimper from the tiny town of Seadrift, Texas whose whole life was radicalized by her experience protesting Formosa Plastic. She went on to write a really excellent book about it—I mean, excellent because of the story it tells, and also excellent because of the way it’s written, which is sort of out-of-this-world gorgeous. The book’s called An Unreasonable Woman: A True Story of Shrimpers, Politicos, Polluters and the Fight for Seadrift, Texas, and it’s one of the most fabulous, thrilling things I’ve ever read. It’s an Erin Brockovich or Norma Rae for Texans, and you can buy it right here:
Anyway, I live in awe of ladies like Wilson, for whom activism is just an extension of self. You know, they see something that’s wrong, and so, they do something about it. They don’t seem to worry about how they look, or what other people will think of them, they just act according to their consciences. It’s just that simple for them.
Last year, I was talking to Diane, and I asked her where she found the courage to protest Formosa, and she just looked at me like I was a complete idiot, and said, “Well, what they were doing was wrong.”
And then I said, “But you went to JAIL. REAL JAIL. REAL TEXAS JAIL. And not just once, but several times. How’d you get that brave?”
And then she said, “Because what they were doing was wrong.”
Isn’t that amazing?
Anyway, I can’t wait to talk to Diane about all this when she gets out of jail, and rests up a bit. In the meantime, you might want to read this amazing op-ed she wrote a couple of weeks ago about the BP disaster—in which she argues that this spill is extraordinary because of its size and visibility, but that similarly toxic events occur in the Gulf all the time.
You can find her piece right here:
AND, here’s a protest letter you can sign, entitled “Protecting BP is Simply Wrong”: