Over the course of my life I’ve rented homes from time-to-time and have had varying experiences with landlords. Most were good — a complaint about something broken was met with an instant response — while one landlord had to be sued over the failure to return a security deposit; he claimed I failed to provide him with a forwarding address but I had a Perry Mason moment in Small Claims Court when I produced an email from him confirming my new address.
Lesson learned: save everything until you’re positive you no longer need it.
But this isn’t about me, this is about Mark Kimpson, a Brooklyn, New York landlord who was convicted of allowing his tenants to live in apartments covered in lead-based paint and ordered to pay damages to a 4-year-old boy who suffered health problems as a direct result of exposure to the lead-based paint.
Kimpson, however, argued in court that he should not have to pay the $2 million in damages because the child was Hispanic and probably wouldn’t amount to much anyway … oh, but he did, though the judge wasn’t having it:
“Posed is the question, can statistics based on the ethnicity — in this case, ‘Hispanic’ — of a child be relied upon to find a reduced likelihood of his obtaining higher education, resulting in reduced damages in a tort case? The answer is no.”
Kimpson’s lawyer, Roger Archibold, tried to argue that this boy, because he was Hispanic, had little prospects of attending college and therefore little prospects of becoming successful, so he wasn’t worthy of the $2 million dollar judgment.
Yes, this is America today, where someone can actually argue in a court of law that a person’s ethnicity somehow predetermines that they will never attend college, and therefore never become a useful member of society … like Mark Kimpson, who, let’s be perfectly clear, was found guilty of poisoning a child.
In his ruling, Judge Weinstein also pointed out to both Mark Kimpson and Roger Archibold that this young boy, who wasn’t worthy of a cash settlement to help defray the costs of medical treatments as a result of exposure to lead paint, was the son of a man with a bachelor’s degree and his mother has a Master of Fine Arts.
Oops. Looks like Hispanics can go to college, eh? And now, with the help of the cash settlement, maybe that 4-year-old can grow up, and go to college and become a useful member of society, like his parents, and unlike Mark Kimpson, who seems to think that being Hispanic means you don’t matter.
And, while this might seem a leap to some folks, let me pose this question: how is saying that you shouldn't pay damages to a child you poisoned because that child is Hispanic, and therefore doesn't have a bright future, really differ from saying 6 million Jews don't matter because they're Jewish?
I'm not implying that Kimpson, or anyone, is suggesting we gas Hispanic children, but when we start calling people less than because of their ethnicity or faith or gender or orientation, we are marching in that direction.