Bill Gates pretends to be an insane meglomaniac
February 5, 2009 Leave a comment
‘Malaria is spread by mosquitoes,’ the Microsoft founder yelled at a well-heeled crowd at a technology conference in California.
’I brought some,’ he added. ‘Here, I’ll let them roam around – there is no reason only poor people should be infected.’
He let the shocked audience sweat for a minute or so before assuring them that the freed insects were malaria- free.
What a magical moment that must have been, wondering if the boy billionaire was actually so insane as to raise awareness by exposing people to malaria.
Thankfully he wasn’t raising awareness about HIV and didn’t deploy people with syringes to randomly stick audience members for a minute before assuring them that the needles were clean.
But why should Bill Gates care? Even if every audience member sued him for the variety of tort claims that may be available, they would just be like mosquitoes to someone as wealthy as Gates. So why bother to respect the basic civil rights of anyone?
What Gates did seems like the kind of thing the civil justice system tries to prevent. The idea that people are entitled to remain free from contact they don’t consent to (’battery’), free from the anticipation of unwanted contact (’assault’) is at the core of the system. It is the legal system’s way of trying to insure that we treat each other like equals, entitled to the same levels of security and respect.
But perhaps the need to respect individual rights depends on whether you can afford not to.