An understandably distraught mother is suing the University of California and the Berkeley Student Cooperative because her son (who rented a room in a coop) had a heart attack and suffered brain damage after taking drugs:

The mother of a UC Berkeley student left severely brain-damaged in 2010 after a drug overdose at a campus residence sued the University of California regents and the Berkeley Student Cooperative on Thursday, saying they knew of rampant drug abuse at the house but failed to protect the students.

Madelyn Bennett of San Diego is seeking damages that could soar into the millions of dollars from UC, which owns the Cloyne Court co-op, and from the agency that leases and manages the residence.

Her son, John Bennett Gibson, requires round-the-clock nursing and custodial care, according to the lawsuit filed on his behalf in Alameda County Superior Court.

The son was 21 at the time. A legal adult. I am sorry to see this happen to anyone, but unless he was given drugs against his will, I see him and him alone as being responsible for his plight.

Millions, of course, would disagree with me. They think that if someone takes drugs, it is someone else’s fault. I am unable to understand this philosophy, and this is a particularly egregious example of it. If the University is responsible for the behavior of adult students in their own rented spaces simply because it owns and leases the property they’re on, then why wouldn’t a private landlord be similarly responsible? Unless and until a tenant’s conduct causes interference to others, I can’t see how a landlord has any responsibility other than to comply with the terms of the lease.

Anyway, who is in the best position to intervene and help a grown man with a drug problem? It seems to me that it would be the man’s family. This mother is saying that the University “knew of rampant drug use” there. Well, what about her? Did she know? She raised this kid, right? Was she paying his rent? Had she ever known him to take drugs when he lived with her? It seems to me that she would be the one in the best position to know in a specific sense what is going on with her son and with his living situation, not the owner of the land.

Back in the early 70s, I lived in the Berkeley student coop system (which I loved), and I would be willing to bet that there was even more drug use then than there is now. In those days people who took the risks were considered responsible for the risks they took. What has changed?

At the rate things are going, they’ll be saying that distilleries, liquor stores, and bartenders are responsible for the alcohol consumption of their clients. And landlords who are alleged to “know of rampant alcohol use” by their tenants will be held liable if their tenants drink themselves into a coma or get cirrhosis.

Communitarianism is running amok.

Sorry, but I am not my brother’s keeper, and I don’t want to be my brother’s keeper. The reason is simple. Because if I am my brother’s keeper, what’s to stop my brother from being my keeper?

Those who want to be left alone should leave others alone, lest they forfeit their claim.