Jane Corwin is a Republican running for Congress in NY 26. Here is her website: www.janecorwin.com. Nice, clean, professional. Now take a look at this website: www.janecorwin.org. Aesthetically indistinguishable, the designers cleverly use humor to paint Jane Corwin as a clueless hack, bent on destroying the district calling her "A proven millionaire. A real homophobe. The leader we fear." There is little reason to assume that a group would go to this much trouble without having the intention of spreading misinformation.
And now, a group that some claim is the same group responsible for a New York Times spoof in 2008 predicting the end of the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan as well as a revitalized economy, and dated July 2009, has a new website attacking the coal industry.
Specifically, they are taking shots at Peabody Energy, the world's largest private sector coal producer, with a website dubbed CoalCares.org. The fake website offers inhalers for children with Justin Bieber and the writers took extra care to be as thinly satirical as possible more than likely to create confusion among readers who would believe their false claim that they are actually a Peabody Energy initiative.
In fact, they are no such thing. I contacted Peabody Energy to ask them about the website. A Peabody spokesman provided me with this statement on the matter:
Earlier today, an activist group released a “spoof” website claiming to be sponsored by Peabody Energy. The site is in fact a hoax, making inaccurate claims about Peabody and coal.
Peabody is proud to help hundreds of millions of people live longer and better through coal-fueled electricity. A growing collection of studies demonstrate the correlation between electricity fueled by low-cost coal and improvement in health, longevity and quality of life. The United Nations has linked life expectancy, educational attainment and income with per-capita electricity use, and the World Resources Institute found that for every 10-fold increase in per-capita electricity use, individuals live 10 years longer.
Government statistics show that in the United States, coal use has more than tripled in the past several decades while regulated emissions have declined 84 percent. Peabody Energy is a global leader in clean coal solutions and is advancing more than a dozen clean coal projects around the world, leading to our ultimate goal of near-zero emissions from coal.
Interestingly, if you change the URL from CoalCanDoThat.com to CoalCanDoThat.org, you get a redirect to the Natural Resource Defense Council, an anti-coal environmentalist group, with the top headline being "Coal is Dirty & Dangerous." Apparently, redirects are also becoming popular among the left.
Most, if not all of these examples are protected by copyright fair use laws covering parody and satire. I'd be surprised if Peabody was not able to do anything legally given that the Coal Cares website does not appear to be parodying a specific website and makes the blatantly false claim that it is run by Peabody Energy.
It should be noted that President Obama was out in front on this one. He said last year at a commencement address that "information had become a distraction" after all:
Certainly, President Obama is no fan of the coal industry, but given his dedication to truth and transparency as well as helping America's youth cut through the clutter of "too much information," I'm sure we can expect a statement decrying the tactics employed by those who would support his cause.