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The Yes Men, Dow Chemical and Bhopal
Alex Steffen, 11 Dec 04

This is a brilliant little media hack: the guy from the Yes Men goes on TV posing as a spokesperson for Dow (which ate Union Carbide) on the anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, apologizing, saying that the company was taking responsibility and compensating victims.

This of course forced Dow to issue a denial saying they were not sorry, were not taking responsibility and wouldn't pay the victims a dime. Brilliant!

Activist Andy Bichlbaum convinced the broadcaster he was a Dow spokesman by putting his number on a fake Web site for the company. The BBC acknowledged it had been duped and apologised for airing the hoax. Bichlbaum later said his goal was to show that "another world is possible" if Dow did the right thing and paid victims. In the interview, he told the BBC Dow Chemical was taking responsibility for the disaster and would pay $12 billion (6.2 billion pounds) to victims.

Dow Chemical quickly said the story was not true and "Finisterra" was not its employee. The company says it bears no legal responsibility for the disaster and owes victims nothing.

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Finisterra: very nice. These guys are brilliant.

Here's the Yes Men's own accounting of their little prank, complete with streaming video of the actual BBC broadcast:

Posted by: Emily Gertz on 12 Dec 04

Very clever, yes, and embarrassing for Dow (as deserved) but presumably the residents of Bhopal who broke down in tears on hearing the bogus report would not think it was brilliant. To quote the Yes Men:

"There were people in tears of joy when they found out, and indeed it is very sad that this isn't the case. But you have to realise that this is Dow's doing: Dow could make the tears of joy real".

Well, yes, clearly Dow bears all responsibility for the tragedy of Bhopal. But the raising of false hopes in this particular instance? That is the Yes Men's doing.

Posted by: Nick Temple on 13 Dec 04



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