Change.org, the website that allows users to create petitions for social change, received a legal threat from Peabody Energy after Coal Kills Kids (CKK) -- a group that partnered with the Yes Men to unveil a faux Peabody charity initiative earlier this week -- continued the hoax with a mock petition.
The petition was titled, "Stop Peabody Coal's Outrageous Coal Cares campaign," in mock outrage over the Coal Cares website that CKK developed in tandem with the Yes Men. The website claimed that Peabody had created a charity to "make asthma cool" by giving away free designer inhalers with themes like My Little Pony and The Bieber.
Peabody's lawyers contacted Change.org on May 12 and threatened to file suit if the fake petition against the fake website wasn't removed within 24 hours. "The lawyers seem as serious as an asthma attack," said Ben Rattray, founder of Change.org. The website agreed to remove the petition in order to avoid legal entanglement.
"I think Peabody probably made a mistake doing this," noted Change.org spokseperson Brain Purchia. "Because now it's drawing more attention to the problems that coal-burning power plants are causing."
The Yes Men and Coal Kills Kids received their own legal threat from Peabody, and they issued a response early this morning.
Here's what they wrote:
Dear Andrew Baum, Foley Lardner LLP, and Peabody Energy,
Your threat, although entirely baseless (see ... the EFF's blog post), did make us realize one thing: that Peabody, despite being our country's largest coal producer, and one of the largest lobbyists against common-sense policy, accounts for a mere 17 percent of U.S. coal production. The remaining 83 percent comes from 28 other companies, who are, every bit as much as Peabody, giving kids asthma attacks and other illnesses.
As even you may agree, the root of the problem is not Peabody, but rather our system of subsidies, regulations, and lobbying that lets your whole industry continue its lethal work. To make this clear, we have changed every instance of the word “Peabody” on www.coalcares.org to a rotating selection of the names of other large U.S. coal producers who, like Peabody, also need to be stopped from killing kids.
Very truly yours,
Coal is Killing Kids and the Yes Lab
See: The Yes Men