Esso can’t censor all of cyberspace!

Feature story - July 24, 2002
Esso succeeded in having a parody logo banned from the Internet in France, but Esso can not hide their own crimes against the climate. The censored site has been moved to oil country and Esso’s own backyard.

Stop E$$O from destroying our climate.

Esso doesn't want to talk about climate change. They don't want to talk about clean, green energy. In fact, they don't want to talk to us at all.

Earlier this month, Esso France succeeded in silencing its opposition through a French court by censoring a parody logo on the Internet.

Greenpeace France used the E$$O logo on its French website, and the court sided with Esso, ordering the logo be removed. Esso says the logo, which replaces the 'SS' with dollar signs, damages Esso's reputation, but they don't want to talk about the content of the site and the real problem with their reputation.

Logo parodies aren't going to damage Esso's image as much as their own actions.

ExxonMobil has tried to undermine international talks to halt climate change through the Kyoto Protocol. They have funded multimillion-dollar anti-Kyoto advertising campaigns and spent US$11.7 million on lobbyists in one year. ExxonMobil also contributed more than US$1 million to the Republican Party the year George W. Bush was elected. A year later President Bush withdrew the US from the Kyoto agreement.

Although Esso may be able to stifle debate in France, the international campaign has moved the censored French site to Texas - oil hotbed and the home of Esso's parent company ExxonMobil. Every citizen in every country, speaking whatever language, has a right to know the lengths this company will go to in its efforts to carry out business as usual.

As far as we are concerned the debate here should be about Esso's activities to derail action on climate change. But Esso's attempts to gag a key part of the campaign through the courts has moved the issue into the contentious debate about freedom of speech on the Internet.

The decision by the French court is not just a blow to the Stop Esso campaign, but may pave the way for corporations and governments to silence voices worldwide speaking out against environmental and human rights abuses. This court action is the beginning, where will it end?

After all, since when is truth no longer a defence for freedom of speech. It is obvious where Esso's commitments lie. Esso chose to spend its money on banning the use of its logo in France rather than tackling the problem of climate change. Despite profits of US$15.5 billion in 2001, Esso still refuses to make investments in renewable energy.

It is time to show that opposition can not be silenced on the Internet. You can help spread the word about Esso beyond the reach of French courts, including downloading and setting up your own Stop Esso site.

Support the Stop Esso campaign and free speech:

Send a internet card of the parodied logo

Email Esso Paris and the architect of ExxonMobil's climate policy, CEO Lee Raymond

Join the competition and design a new StopEsso logo.

Download a copy of the censored Stop Esso site or link to it at http://www.stopessofrance.org

Greenpeace France's site will continue at http://www.greenpeace.fr/stopesso, but will stop using the logos as ordered. Greenpeace France has not been involved in setting up the new site.

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