It tuns out I wasn't overly unique in choosing to blog last week about the August 24 raid of Gibson Guitar by the Department of Justice. See: Lacey Act strikes sour note for Gibson Guitar)
The Internet is abuzz with dozens upon dozens of news stories and commentaries about the legendary guitar maker's second run-in with armed agents of the DOJ in the past two years. No charges have been filed in either case, including the November 2009 incident in which pallets of Madagascar ebonyand related guitars were confiscated. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which secured search warrants then and in last week's raid, alleged that Gibson violated the Lacey Act, which was amended in 2008 to protect illegally sourced wood and wood products.
Alleged violation of the Lacey Act was also cited in the August 24 seizure. But in a bizarre twist, the question is not whether or not the wood was legally harvested. Instead, the focus of the complaints alleges that Gibson Guitar purchased wood from India in violation of that nation's law requiring that wood cannot be exported without being subject to a minimum level of value-added processing.
Gibson generated a lot of the media buzz buy issuing a press release refuting the allegations under the heading: "The Justic department bullies Gibson without filing charges".
As part of his company's defense, Gibson Guitar CEO Henry Juszkiewicz said that the wood that was confiscated last week by DOJ agents was "Forest Stewardship Controlled." This claim was disputed by the FSC, which issued a statement of its own earlier today, noting though Guitar has FSC chain of custody, the wood being investigated is not FSC certified.
Guns vs. Guitars
Various commentaries on the web liken the DOJ twin raids of plants in Nashville and Memphis to storm troopers. Some bloggists have suggested a left-wing conspiracy, noting that Gibson Guitar and its CEO have continued more money to Republicans than to Democrats. I've also seen columns criticizing the feds for not giving greater consideration to supporting U.S. manufacturing jobs. Plus, several columns have opined that the Lacey Act should be discarded.
Some of these same sentiments were shared by readers who posted comments to my blog last week. Here's a few excerpts:
* "The Obama justice dept, under Eric Holder acts like the Nazis under Hilter. A fully armed swat team to raid a guitar mfg.?? These are very sick people, who if not voted out of office, will turn our country into a fascist police state. And people wonder why businesses of all sizes, refuse to expand or create jobs, except for GE who will now build jet engines for the Chinese so they can compete against Boeing!!" -- Rick Jordan, Hudson, FL
* " Maybe Gibson Guitar should just send the jobs over to India, that should make the fed happy." - Verdis Upton, Woodland, CA
* "I don't know if Gibson is unionized, but it wouldn't surprise me if they are not. If the justice department were run by Republicans, there would not be such drastic action against a manufacturer providing jobs." -- Bill Shaw, Monrovia, CA
* "Amazing how everyone has missed the point on this, and kudos to the CEO of Gibson for throwing up such a good smokescreen. The Lacey Act is not concerned with whether the wood is FSC-compliant, nor is it concerned with American jobs or "fairness". It is concerned with whether the laws of the exporting country were complied with; in this case, whether the fingerboard blanks were more than 6mm thick. Apparently they were. Is the Indian law about protecting trees or Indian jobs? We don't know (though my personal opinion is that it's a little bit of both). The bottom line here is this: does this wood comply with Indian law on export? Everything else is irrelevant: the whining, the allegations of political motivations, the ludicrous tie-in to Gibson's non-union status.." -- Snug the Joiner, Norheastern U.S.
You can view the full comments from the authors cited above and those of others at the bottom of mny August 28 blog.
Better yet, you can join that discussion or start a new one right here.
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