“I Have Power! I Have Power!”

Those are the words reported to have been shouted by a Stasi TSA agent in Chicago when a passenger, forced to drop his trousers in full view of other passengers, asked to see her supervisor.

More and more, this seems to be the attitude of those who draw .gov paychecks.

A couple of days ago a reader (thanks, Russ) emailed me a link to this story along those same lines:

Home science under attack

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports that Victor Deeb, a retired chemist who lives in Marlboro, has finally been allowed to return to his Fremont Street home, after Massachusetts authorities spent three days ransacking his basement lab and making off with its contents.

Deeb is not accused of making methamphetamine or other illegal drugs. He’s not accused of aiding terrorists, synthesizing explosives, nor even of making illegal fireworks. Deeb fell afoul of the Massachusetts authorities for … doing experiments.

Authorities concede that the chemicals found in Deeb’s basement lab were no more hazardous than typical household cleaning products. Despite that, authorities confiscated “all potentially hazardous chemicals” (which is to say the chemicals in Deeb’s lab) from his home, and called in a hazardous waste cleanup company to test the chemicals and clean up the lab.

Pamela Wilderman, the code enforcement officer for Marlboro, stated, “I think Mr. Deeb has crossed a line somewhere. This is not what we would consider to be a customary home occupation.”

Allow me to translate Ms. Wilderman’s words into plain English: “Mr. Deeb hasn’t actually violated any law or regulation that I can find, but I don’t like what he’s doing because I’m ignorant and irrationally afraid of chemicals, so I’ll abuse my power to steal his property and shut him down.”

In effect, the Massachusetts authorities have invaded Deeb’s lab, apparently without a warrant, and stolen his property. Deeb, presumably under at least the implied threat of further action, has not objected to the warrantless search and the confiscation of his property. Or perhaps he’s just biding his time. It appears that Deeb has grounds for a nice juicy lawsuit here.

There’s a lesson here for all of us who do science at home, whether we’re home schoolers or DIY science enthusiasts. The government is not our friend. Massachusetts is the prototypical nanny state, of course, but the other 49 aren’t far behind. Any of us could one day find the police at the door, demanding to search our home labs. If that day comes, I will demand a warrant and waste no time getting my attorney on the phone.

There’s a word for what just happened in Massachusetts. Tyranny. And it’s something none of us should tolerate.

Ms. Pamela Wilderman, “code enforcement officer” for Marlboro, has power, and she’s not afraid to abuse it! At the end of the news piece she added:

“He’s been very cooperative,” Ms. Wilderman said. “I won’t be citing him for anything right at this moment.”

Remember the Ayn Rand quote. He broke some law or laws. All he has to do is provide any resistance at all, and they’ll find some to cite him with.

There’s far more tyranny in government than just the BATFE.

And by all means, read the comment thread.

UPDATE: From the newspaper comment thread:

I am the daughter of Victor Deeb and what they did and took from my father is not only unfair but devastating to an old man whose life for the last 40 years has been chemistry. They not only took all of his chemicals (which he used in his research for non-toxic sealants for baby food jars) but 20 years of notes that were valuable only to him. Now his research notes have magically disappeared into thin air. Can someone tell me where the justice is in that?

-m deeb

Where indeed?

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