The Gunns case, in which the world’s largest woodchip exporter is suing critics it accuses of ‘corporate vilification‘ is a typical instance of companies wanting to have it both ways. On the one hand, advocates of the corporation deny that corporations can have any moral or ethical obligations, other than to their shareholders. On the other hand, they want all the protections available to a natural person, including protection from defamation. An individual who acted the way a company is supposed to act in the standard theory would be a sociopath, incapable of being defamed because of the absence of any justified reputation.
In this case, of course, we have the equally important issue of defamation laws being used to suppress free speech on political issues. I doubt that Gunns will prevail, but they don’t have to – a corporation with deep pockets will always win at this kind of game, unless the courts come down hard. I hope that they not only lose but are forced to pay a full accounting of the costs they’ve imposed.
fn2. On the third hand, to mangle the metaphor, the officers and shareholders expect to be protected from any sort of liability for their corporate actions, relying on the sanctity of the ‘corporate veil’. I had a go at this topic here