We promised to say something about the hoax perpetrated on shareholders of Whitehaven Coal last week. A bogus press release by 24-year old Jonathan Moylan claimed that ANZ had pulled a $1.2 billion loan previously agreed with Whitehaven. The press release caused a big dip in Whitehaven’s shares.
The law is the law. If you did something like that to boost or crash a share price, you’d be charged by ASIC with some kind of fraud or manipulation. Moylan and his defenders will probably argue that the justness of their cause – the motive – means it’s not really a crime. It’s a protest. And not only that, it’s a protest bringing attention an even higher cause – the environment.
Fair enough. People can think what they’d like about their actions. But the law is the law. It’s great that Moylan believes in what he’s doing. It’s not great he’s committing acts of financial vandalism, in essence destroying other people’s property. He ought to go to jail.
There, he can write letters like Martin Luther King did in Birmingham. Or he can go to jail like Gandhi or Thoreau or countless others who practice civil disobedience against what they perceive as injustice. The world needs people who are willing to put themselves on the line for what they believe.
But as our friend Ron Manners always says, ideas matter. Ideas have consequences. And so do actions. No one’s above the law, or at least no one should be. Find Moylan a cell alongside Bernie Madoff. Make room for John Corzine. Equal justice under the law is the best cause of all.
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