Gut Rumbles

November 20, 2006

Common sense

Originally published April 5, 2002

I have ranted before about the fact that the most neurotic, anal-retentive, overly-sensitive, ungracious, discourteous and downright hostile mutants in our society today are making THEIR RULES the ones WE ALL have to live by. In OVERLAWYERED today is the story of a woman who was evicted from her apartment in Denver because she screams at lot, and "FIRE!" at the top of her lungs, at all kinds of odd hours is her favorite thing to scream. Her neighbors thought her behavior disrupted the peace and tranquility they expected in their homes, especially when trying to sleep at night, and they complained. The landlord attempted to toss the screamer, and the lawyers moved in for the kill.

The woman has Tourette's Syndrome and therefore cannot control these screaming outbursts. She has special rights under The Americans With Disabilities Act, which means she is very likely to win her lawsuit and stay in her apartment. The neighbors, just common, everyday working stiffs, who want only a quiet home and a good night's sleep, probably will be told to put up with it or get out themselves. Her special rights trump everyone else's. If all the tenants move away and the landlord loses his property, all because of a screaming banshee that nobody can stand to live around, that's just tough. That's the way the Law of the Lowest Uncommon Denominator works.

People have sued under the ADA because they had horribly stenchful flatulence and the boss had the unmitigated gall to mention it to them. The basic reasoning behind the suit was, "Yeah. I SMELL LIKE SHIT! But you and everybody I work around better get used to it, buy some nose-plugs or find other employment, because I have the RIGHT to smell like shit and YOU DON'T HAVE THE RIGHT to complain about it. So there!"

Guess what? Under the ADA, they have the right to smell like shit and you don't have the right to complain about it, any more than the neighbors of the woman who screams "FIRE!" all the time. This recent explosion of special rights created for twisted people may reward them, but it punishes everyone else. The more rights we grant, the less free we become.

Philip Howard, author of (I know this should be italics, but I haven't figured out how to do that yet) "The Death of Common Sense" puts it succinctly: "Intending to check the abuse of authority, we transferred power to every angry person to bully society." And bully they do.

If I had horrible flatulence and someone mentioned it to me, I would not hire a lawyer. I would go see a doctor and attempt to cure the problem. But I suppose I'm a crusty old troglodyte. I was raised to have manners and a modicum of consideration for the feelings of those around me. That's a very passe attitude today.

If the woman screaming "FIRE!" is cured tomorrow, moves to California and starts smoking cigarettes, she may find herself staring down the other end of the gun she pulled in this case. She can scream "FIRE!" all the time and live anywhere she wants. But if she adds a little smoke to offend a delicate bully's nostrils, SHE'S OUTTA THERE!

Makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?

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