It is time once again for us to solicit nominations for the Al Copeland Humanitarian Award. The criteria of the Al Copeland Humanitarian Award can be summarized by quoting our original blog post in which we sang the praises of Al Copeland and all that he did for humanity:
“Al Copeland may not have done the most to benefit humanity, but he certainly did more than many people who receive such awards. Chicago gave Bill Ayers their Citizen of the Year award in 1997. And the Nobel Peace Prize has too often gone to a motley crew including unrepentant terrorist, Yassir Arafat, and fictional autobiography writer, Rigoberta Menchu. Local humanitarian awards tend to go to hack politicians or community activists. From all these award recipients you might think that a humanitarian was someone who stopped throwing bombs… or who you hoped would picket, tax, regulate, or imprison someone else.
Al Copeland never threatened to bomb, picket, tax, regulate, or imprison anyone. By that standard alone he would be much more of a humanitarian. But Al Copeland did even more — he gave us spicy chicken.”
Last year’s winner of “The Al” was Earle Haas, the inventor of the modern tampon. As I wrote last year about why Haas won:
But the tampon also helps illustrate where advancements for women really tend to come from. Technological innovation, like the tampon, helped liberate women and that innovation comes from a capitalist system. Earle Haas invented the tampon, at least in part, to make money. Tampax Corporation brought the product to a mass market primarily to make money. And women were successfully educated about the benefits of tampons through advertising. Contrary to the loosely Marxist notion that advertising artificially creates desires for unnecessary products, just look at how essential advertising of tampons was in overcoming irrational opposition and ignorance of its benefits for women and society.
The previous year’s winner of “The Al” was Wim Nottroth, the man who resisted Rotterdam police efforts to destroy a mural that read “Thou Shall Not Kill” following the murder of Theo van Gogh by an Islamic extremist. He beat out The Most Interesting Man in the World, the fictional spokesman for Dos Equis and model of masculine virtue, Stan Honey, the inventor of the yellow first down line in TV football broadcasts, Herbert Dow, the founder of Dow Chemical and subverter of a German chemicals cartel, and Marion Donovan and Victor Mills, the developers of the disposable diaper.
Another past winner of “The Al” was Debrilla M. Ratchford, who significantly improved the human condition by inventing the rollerbag. She beat out Steve Henson, who gave us ranch dressing, Fasi Zaka, who ridiculed the Taliban, Ralph Teetor, who invented cruise control, and Mary Quant, who popularized the miniskirt.
Nominations can be submitted by emailing a draft of a blog post advocating for your nominee. If I like it, I will post it with your name attached. Remember that the basic criteria is that we are looking for someone who significantly improved the human condition even if they made a profit in doing so. Helping yourself does not nullify helping others. And, like Al Copeland, nominees need not be perfect or widely recognized people.