February 22, 2016


   The weekend brought the beginning of a promotional book tour by the Mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the mass murderers (the other was Eric Harris) at Columbine High School 17 years ago (April 20, 1999).

   Most readers would agree, no one would willingly wish such horror on any parent, and with the years that have passed, one has to wonder, why a book now from the mother of one of the mass murderers.

   Mental health of mass murderers is almost always to blame, never that the parents were asleep at the wheel. The number of mass killings at schools, churches, religious affiliated places and other public places have grown far more frequent than they were in 1999. The recent kid in Texas suffering from "affulenza" was perhaps the most appalling and disgusting of all excuses.

   One has to ask Klebold's Mother, why now? In an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, Mrs Klebold apologized for the tragedy, an apology this many years later that can only be described as empty, if not a demonstration of being clueless. In the interview, one student (now 34 years old) left partially paralyzed by three bullets, said that he "prefers to forget the shooter's names and their families so he could  move on."

   So why a book now after 17 years? Where were the Klebolds and Harrises when their sons were growing into the monsters they became, acquiring the arsenal of weapons they amassed? Where were school officials? Just as in the Claire Davis case, none of the Columbine officials were held accountable for ignoring their actions at school.

   The world always hears the apology from families of mass murderers, but when the mass murderers are teenagers living at home, still in school, and apparently very well funded to be able to acquire such a massive number of weapons and ammunition, the parents should be held accountable for their failures, not allowed to apologize away the horrendous acts of children they raised.

   A book 17 years after the event and the proverbial promotional book to explain their conduct is totally unacceptable regardless of the stated "proceeds of book are going to charity and mental health research," in this writer's  opinion.

   Some years back an column appeared about unacceptable apologies and that column follows.


To say BP CEO Tony Hayward's apology for the Gulf oil disaster lacks sincerity might be the under statement of the century. Hayward's statement as the disaster began – "I want my life back" – showed a near-total lack of sensitivity par excellence for even the notoriously arrogant British.   

To add insult to injury, Representative Joe Barton, R-Texas, stepped up to the plate during Congressional hearings on Friday to apologize to BP CEO Tony Hayward.  Barton described the proceedings this way: 

"I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong is subject to some sort of political pressure that is – again in my words, amounts to a shakedown."  "So I apologize." 

What followed can only be described as rage from fellow Republicans, never mind the rest of Congress and the world. By Saturday, Barton's comments were being referred to as "stupid and extremely insensitive" by Republican leaders, while all Democrats enjoyed with sheer delight. Barton was expected to move up to chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee – a post that is now in jeopardy according to "anonymous sources." 

BP's U.S. Health Safety and Environmental Policy States:  "Our goals are simply stated – no accidents, no harm to people and no damage to the environment." Date:  November 2007. BP's record on safety and cutting corners gives it lots of practice in making apologies with each being less meaningful than the previous. 

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill is not the only disaster BP's standard operating procedures of cost cutting and disregard for worker safety have cost lives and caused horrendous damage to the environment.

Production in Alaska's Prudhoe Bay, classified as America's largest oilfield, was cut by half in March of 2006, the largest spill ever for Alaska's North Slope. The oil spill (201,000 gallons) was a result of BP's failure to conduct regular inspections and cleaning of the pipeline. BP's own documents produced during a U.S. House Committee investigation revealed BP ignored corrosion protection for the pipeline which ultimately meant replacement of 16 miles of the 22 miles of transit pipeline at a cost of $260 million. 

In 2002, an explosion at BP's refinery in Texas City, Texas killed 15 people and injured 170 more workers. An internal BP report showed its own investigation placed responsibility for the explosion on four executives for "failing to perform their jobs, and demonstrating poor judgment." One of those four resigned, but the other were still employed by BP as of May 2007 (the date of the report). 

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board's report found BP's lack of management and cost cutting policies were factors in the explosion, emphasizing that management, not lower-level employees, were responsible. 

Perhaps the timing could not be more appropriate, but June 15th was the deadline for public comments on a BP tar sands oil pipeline proposal. The KeystoneXL pipeline would carry tar sand oil from Canada through the heart of America to BP refineries. 

According to a Sierra Club news release, "The KeystoneXL pipeline requires clear-cutting ancient forests, sucking up water supplies and leaving behind toxic lakes so big they can be seen from space. Noteworthy is that these toxic lakes are where they [BP] store the waste from the production of this dirty fuel. Unfortunately, the waste isn't 'stored,' but seeps out about 2.9 million gallons per day." The Sierra Club refers to tar sands oil as "the dirtiest fuel on Earth" that threatens the U.S.'s global clean energy economy." 

So when is an apology not acceptable? BP CEO Hayward has apologized profusely for his gaffe early in the disaster, and then moved quickly to an apology that encompassed all things – one probably worded by the finest public relations/spin doctors BP's money could buy.   

Words remain only words when the conduct apologized for is the continuing standard operating procedures – in BP's case, cost cutting, risk to its employees and monumental damage to the environmental, perhaps this time irreparable, for the sake of profits OVER AND OVER.

Only serious consequences such as refusing approval of the KeystoneXL, even banning BP from the U.S. and U.S. waters is likely to get the attention of such a reprehensible company. Does the U.S. have the guts to take such action? When it comes to oil companies, don't hold your breath, especially when members of Congress such as Representative Barton accept massive contributions from the oil and gas industry!

The reader’s comments or questions are always welcome.  E-mail me at doris@dorisbeaver.com.

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