The Death Of Personal Responsibilityby Doug Mataconis
A 58 year old man in New York was fired by IBM recently because he was visiting adult chat rooms on company time using company computers. In response, he’s suing IBM claiming protection under the Americans With Disabilities Act:
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — 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.
Until he was fired, Pacenza was making $65,000 a year operating a machine at a plant in East Fishkill that makes computer chips.
Several times during the day, machine operators are idle for five to 10 minutes as the tool measures the thickness of silicon wafers.
It was during such down time on May 28, 2003, that Pacenza logged onto a chat room from a computer at his work station.
Diederich says Pacenza had returned that day from visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington and logged onto a site called ChatAvenue and then to an adult chat room.
Pacenza, who has a wife and two children, said using the Internet at work was encouraged by IBM and served as “a form of self-medication” for post-traumatic stress disorder. He said he tried to stay away from chat rooms at work, but that day, “I felt I needed the interactive engagement of chat talk to divert my attention from my thoughts of Vietnam and death.”
In other words, it wasn’t his fault that he was breaking company rules, it was the damn Vietcong…..or maybe LBJ, William Westmoreland, and Richard Nixon.
This case is only one example of something that has become all too prevalent in American society. Instead of taking responsibility for their actions and admitting that they did something wrong, people blame their problems on someone or something else. In Mr. Pacenza’s case, instead of admitting that it was wrong for him to goof off on company time in an adult chat room, he thinks that IBM was wrong for failing to “reasonably accomodate” his Internet “addiction.”
Most likely, this lawsuit will be thrown out long before it reaches a jury. But the underlying problem of the death of personal responsibility will remain and there will be plenty more James Pacenzas in the future.