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 George P. Mitchell, a pioneer in the use of fracking to obtain more, cheap and clean natural gas. As I wrote last year about why Mitchell won:
George P. Mitchell didn’t even invent the techniques that he commercialized to extract significantly more natural gas. Mitchell’s efforts didn’t just reduce carbon emissions by making clean energy plentiful, as Matt documents in his nomination. Mitchell demonstrated how improving the human condition, including improving the environment, is more likely to come from individual freedom and capitalism than from government coercion.
Yes, Mitchell was richly rewarded financially for his accomplishments, but we’ve already established that making money in no way undermines one’s case for having improved the human condition.
In 2011 “The Al” went to Earle Haas, the inventor of the modern tampon. Thanks to Anna for nominating him and recognizing that advances in equal opportunity for women had as much or more to do with entrepreneurs than government mandates. Haas beat his fellow nominees: Charles Montesquieu, the political philosopher, David Einhorn, the short-seller, and Steve Wynn, the casino mogul.
The 2010 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.
And the 2009 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.