Politics and Culture in the Comic Zone

Daniel Rigney

Daniel Rigney
New Texas, USA
August 01
free-range writer
In this writing workshop and citizen's blog I'm exploring various short forms, often from a satiric angle. My interests include politics, culture and the human comedy; old and new media; social theory and urban life; the commercialization, corporatization and tabloidization of everything; sustainability; Unitarianism (UU); coffee; and writing (sorry, I mean providing content). Turtle stamp is from Tandy Leather. Interested in republishing a piece? Contact drigney3@gmail.com.


Daniel Rigney's Links

OCTOBER 28, 2011 1:37AM

When Does Corporate Personhood Begin?

Rate: 5 Flag

By Daniel Rigney

What’s all this I hear about “corporate personhood”?*   

Everywhere I turn lately, people seem to be asking whether we as a democracy should “end corporate personhood."  I’m no legal expert, but I do have a few questions to help stimulate public discussion on this trending topic. 

Such as …

Does a corporation become a person at its moment of conception, even before it’s born?  For instance, did Apple Inc. become a person when Steve Jobs first conceived it, or did its life as a person begin only after corporate attorneys midwifed  it into legal existence?

Suppose Steve’s imagination had been fertile at the moment of corporate conception, but that he had chosen not to bring the concept to fruition.  Would he then be liable to prosecution under a proposed constitutional amendment in Mississippi establishing conception as the beginning of personhood?

At what age does a corporation become fully responsible for its actions? 18? 21?

Before passage of the Fourteenth  Amendment in 1868, was a corporate person only 3/5 of a real person?

Are corporate persons male or female? Or neither? Or both?

I saw a sign on Wall Street that read “I’ll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one.” I wondered: Can an entire corporation receive a lethal injection under Texas law?

If the head of a corporation says it doesn’t know what the rest of its body is doing, is the head really responsible?  (Some may know this as the “Ken Lay conundrum.")

Can a corporation have a heart or soul? Does it have feelings? Can a corporate person be greedy, or predatory, or cold-blooded, or vicious, or profoundly corrupt? Can a corporate person be a bully?

Or does it take a real flesh-and-blood person to be all these things?

What’s that you say?  It’s pointless even to ask questions like these because we're powerless  to act on them? That corporate persons are effectively in charge of the American legal and political process, including the process of deciding whether or not they're corporate persons? That we live in a corporatocracy, and there's nothing we or the Supreme Court can do about it?

Never mind.


*with respects to the  late comic actor Gilda Radner and her unforgettable SNL character Emily Litella.



Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
Do you support marriage between same-sex corporations?
Really good thoughts on the subject. I would add if one corporation buys another, is it slavery?
How about if a corporation shouts a lie loudly in the public space, is it the same as yelling "Fire" in a theatre? This one is particularly important because lying about candidates or issues is the Frankenstein that the Citizens United v. FEC case loosed on the country. It is the monster that can destroy us.
If a coporation buys another, the bought company is ended by the State's authority where it was incorporated. Does this mean it died and should be subject to "death taxes" if it had a net worth above $5mm?
If you really want to understand the subject, read Thom Hartmann's "Unequal Protection" regarding the falacy of coporate personhood. It is a commanding read.
oh - and I should add [R] to your piece Dan. Very good.
Some great ideas, here, Fog and Tim. I think the concept of corporate personhood has comic and legal implications as far as the eye can see.
Moral of the story? Always use protection when engaging in any type of intercourse with a corporate "person".
Thanks, Tom. Also, always practice safe SECs.