Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tobacco, packaging, “property rights,” the Underwear Bomber, and the “right” to entice kids to smoke

If you follow the legal reasoning of 
Philip Morris to  its logical conclusion, 
property rights trump all other laws. 
Maybe including murder
Hey, guess what! I’ve just invented a machine for slowly skinning kids alive. Yes yes, of course they eventually get killed by the process. And yes, yes, they feel pain before they die. Even so, nobody can contest that the machine is my intellectual property. Right? 

But I have a problem.

Every time I try to use my intellectual property to skin somebody alive, the government steps in and tries to stop me. The nerve of them! So I’m gonna sue the government. What for? For depriving me of my intellectual property by not allowing me to torture and kill people with it.

Is that completely crazy? 
Not to cigarette companies.

My argument in favor of allowing me to kill kids with my skinning-alive machine appears to be precisely the argument that a tobacco company is are now making to head off laws in various countries that would force them to make packaging changes the company doesn't like.

Turns out, the government of the UK discovered that “plain packaging” – no brand name on the pack, but graphic health warnings instead – reduces the rate at which kids decide to try smoking. And of course, the fewer who try smoking, the fewer who will die of it. O, the horror of it all!

The Philip Morris company is outraged. I mean, I get the feeling they couldn't be in higher dudgeon if you dropped a decaying rat carcass in their soup.

According to a Reuters report,“‘Standardized packaging’ is a euphemism for government-mandated destruction of property,” the tobacco company grumbles. In fact, they’re mad as hell and they’re not going to take in any more. Instead, the company is “prepared to protect its rights in the court and to seek fair compensation for the value of its property.”

If it’s my intellectual property
I have the right to kill you with it

Hey, if Philip Morris wins, I think the same principle of law will allow me to skin people alive, as long as I own the design rights to the machine that does the deed. The new definition of property, as proffered by Philip Morris, would permit inventors and designers not only have the right to their conceptions, but also the right to use them free of government regulation. Any government action to the contrary would be unfair confiscation of property.

Why, if some terrorist were to design a new and unique way to build a bigger, better, and more powerful bomb, the Philip Morris Principle would give him the right to try it out in a crowded stadium.

And of course, the same “legal principle” that Philip Morris espouses can be used to free the Underwear Bomber. I mean, if he and his Al Queda buddies thought it up and patented it, it’s their intellectual property, right?

1 comment:

Cirze said...

"Pointy heads!"

Love ya,