Late last year, Tea Party groups in Tennessee held a rally in defense of Gibson Guitars. Gibson had been cited by the federal government for allegedly using illegally logged ebony and rosewood. (You can read our reporting on it here.) To some on the right, this was just another case of the feds overstepping their bounds, the nanny state, etc. And this was Gibson! An American institution!
“We will fight, and we will make sure other companies do not face bullies with guns,” [Gibson CEO Henry] Juszkiewicz said at the Saturday rally [last October], according to the Nashville Tennessean. “With your help, we will make permanent changes.”
Yes! Fight the power, Hank! You show those feds who’s boss!
And now, an update from the Wall Street Journal:
Gibson Guitar Corp. has agreed to pay a $300,000 penalty under a criminal enforcement agreement with the U.S., arising from allegations that the company violated the Lacey Act by illegally purchasing and importing ebony wood from Madagascar and rosewood and ebony from India.
“As a result of this investigation and criminal enforcement agreement, Gibson has acknowledged that it failed to act on information that the Madagascar ebony it was purchasing may have violated laws intended to limit overharvesting and conserve valuable wood species from Madagascar, a country which has been severely impacted by deforestation,” the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division’s Assistant Attorney General Ignacia S. Moreno said.
For some reason, Mr. Juszkiewicz didn’t provide the Wall Street Journal with a quote.
As Andy Revkin notes at the Dot Earth blog, one of Gibson’s competitors is seizing the opportunity to differentiate itself.
Taylor Guitars, a top competitor of Gibson, bought a lumber mill for ebony in Cameroon and the company’s president, Bob Taylor, launched a campaign to convince the industry, and guitar buyers, to get more comfortable with the streaked varieties of this wood from sustainably managed forests there.
Obviously, Mr. Taylor hasn’t heard about the “bullies with guns” looming in the shadows of our bright democracy. The government’s desperate thirst to destroy capitalism will not be slaked by a minor fine imposed on one guitar manufacturer! They mean to crush all corporatism — not to mention country music itself!
We will update this post with the response from Tea Party spokeswhitemen, once Rush Limbaugh provides it to them.