Thursday, August 14, 2008

Asshat of the Day - August 13th, 2008

Sorry, loyal readers - I mentally flagged this article yesterday, but didn't get around to posting it. So here, a day late, is the Asshat of the Day for August 13th, 2008...

Back to the US with today's story:

Chemist Allowed to Go Home, Sans His Lab

Of particular note...

“It is a residential home in a residential neighborhood,” [Pamela A. Wilderman] said. “This is Mr. Deeb’s hobby. He’s still got bunches of ideas. I think Mr. Deeb has crossed a line somewhere. This is not what we would consider to be a customary home occupation. … There are regulations about how much you’re supposed to have, how it’s detained, how it’s disposed of.”

(Emphasis, as always, mine.) So, Ms. Wilderman, you "think" he crossed a line somewhere? Is that why you seized his property without a warrant? Isn't the progress ion of such things usually "suspicion, investigation, confirmation, jurisprudence, and then lawful search and seizure"? Seems to me you skipped a few stages there.

Mr. Deeb’s home lab likely violated the regulations of many state and local departments...

Again, I'd think that I'd feel uncomfortable in a country where seizure of assets can occur on a "likely". I'd like a "does", thank you.

And, of course, let's not forget one of the leading paragraphs in the article:

None of the materials found at 81 Fremont St. posed a radiological or biological risk, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection. No mercury or poison was found. Some of the compounds are potentially explosive, but no more dangerous than typical household cleaning products.

So, let me sum this up. A chemist who so enjoyed his work that he continued experimenting in his copious spare time after retirement had his lab, doubtless the fruit of many weeks/months of labour, confiscated because authorities thought that there might be something wrong with it being there. Nothing he had was chemically harmful - at least, no moreso than a dozen things you can pick up in a hardware store - and as a chemist, he was probably more aware of the harmful capacities of any such chemicals than your average layperson.

I sincerely doubt that Mr. Deeb was dumping chemical residue into greywater, given his previous experience, so what we're left with is "I don't understand what you're doing, but it scares me, so I'm stopping it" from the authorities.

Oh, and I don't buy the "violation of zoning laws". He wasn't doing scientific R&D commercially, he was doing it 'cause he liked doing it! It was a freakin' hobby! He might even have found something new, working on his own... but we can't have people trying to better society on their own property, can we now?


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