Sunday, February 18, 2007

Just when you thought you'd heard every abuse of "rights"

The following is a candidate for "Stupidest lawsuit ever," but the underlying problem is that government enabled it.
Man Sues IBM Over Adult Chat Room Firing

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. Feb 18, 2007 (AP)— A man who was fired by IBM for visiting an adult chat room at work is suing the company for $5 million, claiming he is an Internet addict who deserves treatment and sympathy rather than dismissal.

James Pacenza, 58, of Montgomery, says he visits chat rooms to treat traumatic stress incurred in 1969 when he saw his best friend killed during an Army patrol in Vietnam.

In papers filed in federal court in White Plains, Pacenza said the stress caused him to become "a sex addict, and with the development of the Internet, an Internet addict." He claimed protection under the American with Disabilities Act.

His lawyer, Michael Diederich, says Pacenza never visited pornographic sites at work, violated no written IBM rule and did not surf the Internet any more or any differently than other employees. He also says age discrimination contributed to IBM's actions. Pacenza, 55 at the time, had been with the company for 19 years and says he could have retired in a year.
Did you notice the four words that allows this self-professed "sex addict" to claim protection?

A wise man once warned:

The law perverted! And the police powers of the state perverted along with it! The law, I say, not only turned from its proper purpose but made to follow an entirely contrary purpose! The law become the weapon of every kind of greed! Instead of checking crime, the law itself guilty of the evils it is supposed to punish!

If this is true, it is a serious fact, and moral duty requires me to call the attention of my fellow-citizens to it.


Bastiat wrote further on:

See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.

Then abolish this law without delay, for it is not only an evil itself, but also it is a fertile source for further evils because it invites reprisals. If such a law—which may be an isolated case—is not abolished immediately, it will spread, multiply, and develop into a system.


While Bastiat referred there to protectionism, it's applicable to property rights in general. Pacenza wants to continue using (abusing) the property of IBM's owners (the shareholders) contrary to their wishes. Now that they've made their refusal clear, he is attempting to use the force of law -- and a bad law at that -- to coerce IBM into permitting his conduct, and to prevent IBM from hiring someone else. More fundamentally, he wants to get paid for trespassing. Why do I say that? Oh, he might give IBM some productivity, but no matter how good he is at it, clearly IBM would rather replace him. So IBM wants to revoke the permission it gave him to use IBM property, and if he persists, that's trespassing. That the law (the ADA to be specific) "enables" him to force IBM is irrelevant; that only means government has become complicit by backing Pacenza with the use of force.

This case is about "rights," but the only one that matters here is that of property. The ADA and other laws are liberals' way of circumventing property rights, based on the belief that businesses "abuse" their property rights by "discriminating" against certain people. However, by definition it is impossible for owners to abuse property rights: since it is their property, it is their right to exercise full discretion over the use, delegation, disbursement, etc. of their property -- so long as they do not harm others. Abuse of property rights, therefore, can be committed only by non-owners, and as we can see here, it's typically because "benevolent" government wants to make it easier for some people.

In an ideal world, such frivolous lawsuits would be punished by summary dismissal, and the plaintiff thrown into a prison cell for a while...with a roommate who'll give him all the "sex talk" he can handle.

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