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The International Writers Magazine
: Reality Check: Kill all the Doctors?

"The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers."
- William Shakespeare
King Henry VI, Part II, (Act IV), Scene 2
James Campion

Plus Readers Letters 27.01 2005

Doctors really don’t know what they’re doing.
Take one aside at a mixer after his or her third Manhattan and ask. They’ll tell you. And when you’ve talked to enough of them off the record it will hit you: No one has a clue how you tick or what keeps you ticking. It’s a crapshoot, like predicting the weather or prognosticating the Oscars. My mother calls it "the educated guess." Call it what you will, it’s wacky science and you’re the lab rat.

That being established, no matter the circumstance or political rhetoric, should there be any legislation passed that would diminish the amount or severity of liability placed upon doctors, hospitals, drug companies et al, if these guesses go awry. Otherwise what is now a free-for-all in medicinal darts will turn into something out of an Aldous Huxley novel.

What the 109th congress will now debate, along with the desperately needed - but doomed to oblivion - Social Security reform, the fate-sealing eternal tax cut, what to do about the gluttonous 23% increase of federal spending the past three years, and more nonsense about adding bigoted amendments, is the extent of your right to protect yourself from the tyranny of medicine.

By which I mean for instance a maddening expansion of pharmaceuticals consumed by Americans in the last decade. This alarms many pundits. I am not one of them. If people need to be medicated to stay the fuck off towers with an automatic weapon, I’m all for it. Most of us are nuts. This is a fact. Medicine has curtailed the results of this; a cause for celebration, not harangue. The self-righteous louts who deride the medicated are delusional, which is our most heinous social malady. But, alas, there is no drug to assuage the delusional, unless you count religion. I do not. Of course there is always the odd prescription of mood-altering drugs to depressed teenagers with suicidal tendencies that sort of-kind of might cause an increase in depression and suicidal tendencies or the sedation of rambunctious toddlers with some nifty narcotic to zombie them up. But I’m not sure what level of outrage this rouses in the grand collective, so I’ll call it an epidemic for lack of a sane definition.

However, anyone who has been to a physician in the past few years knows well of what I broach. And I’m not talking about massive screw-ups like people dying on operating tables or given a lethal dose of something or a frighteningly bad diagnosis that leaves them crippled or dead. It’s the quick check-up to unnecessary craziness that needs to be accounted for.
To wit; I was diagnosed with high cholesterol two summers ago. My doctor could not whip out the samples of Lipitor fast enough. He was busy cranking out a handy prescription when I suggested exercise and diet. Soon after the obligatory derisive chortle, I demanded I have three months to lower the "bad" cholesterol naturally. I did. Lipitor and my doctor lost out.

Now assuming the best-case scenario, which doesn’t have my doctor in cahoots with a massive pharmaceutical company, and he isn’t a lazy ass, he was likely guessing that drugs were best for me. I disagreed. I guess I lucked out.
But if you take this story and ratchet it up considerably to bring in larger physical problems, you might get the picture. The government wants you to believe that lawyers and frivolous damage claims are ruining the medical profession, keeping you from the best care, and jacking up the cost of health care in general. This is bullshit, like most of what this government, or any government tells you. The fact is the toothpaste is out of the tube when it comes to health costs. They can tort reform all over the map and you’ll still pay through the nose with less or no rights in case all this guesswork lands you in a wheelchair or worse.

Bash lawyers all you want. It’s fun. I do it in weaker moments. Bashing attorneys is the comedic equivalent of the fart joke. It never fails to get a laugh. It’s cheap and it always works. But when you are damaged goods, you had better get a good one or you will be one of the forgotten.
Many malpractice lawsuits are out of control, but making laws to curtail or put restrictions on the amount and severity of legal recourse is how this country deals with aberrations of any kind; throw the baby out with the bathwater. The federal government, the FBI and the CIA can’t protect us, so chuck civil rights. Lunatic children shoot up the schools, outlaw guns and video games. Drug problem? Jail everyone. Homeless problem? Make them disappear.

Why should the American people give up the right to sue lousy doctors or negligent hospitals just because the denizens of our court system cannot tell the difference between a frivolous lawsuit and a legitimate claim? We have regulated ourselves silly. So much so, that many of us crave some form of chemical to keep us from facing the truth. And what is the truth? The AMA and huge Pharmaceutical corporations have stronger lobbies in Washington than you and me. They dump tons of money into campaigns. Those campaigns find themselves in chairs in congress and they make the laws. We eat shit.

This is how it works. Shakespeare knew this. That’s why the above quote, often misused to mock the law profession by those who still think Randy Newman hates short people and we didn’t steal Texas, is really about the first sign of abuse of power. A character that goes by the name of Dick the Butcher, whom the author describes as "the head of an army of rabble and a demagogue pandering to the ignorant" and who plans on overthrowing the government, utters it.
It is a warning about letting things run smoother by giving up the right to have a voice if you become a casualty. Consider this another, if not less literary, warning.
© James Campion Jan 17th 2005


Hey JC,
Listen to these liberal Kerry whiners, waaa, waaa, waaa. Stop sniveling and get over it. Face it, these loony leftists are in the minority in this country and no stupid ass purple map will change that. Since 1994, it has been all downhill for the Democrats and continuing to cry voter foul will do nothing to change that. The only thing that was foul in this years campaign was the odor coming from the strategy room at the Kerry camp. This was truly the gang that couldn't shoot straight. Bush should have been beaten down in short order considering he had the Democrats, George Soros, Bruce Springsteen, The NY Times, The LA Times, The Washington Post, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Hollywood and the recording industry all against him. The fact that he stood tall against this onslaught and came out victorious either speaks to his greatness or the feebleness of his opponents campaign. In either case, Bush won and you can recount Ohio till the cows come home but it won't change the fact! that it is getting amusing to watch Democrats mysteriously find voting "irregularities" only in states where they needed electoral college votes.

America will go on for 4 more years. Taxes will be lowered, we will hunt down terrorists, Social Security will be saved and Roe v. Wade will still be the law of the land. It is funny to watch libs hyperventilating over this loss that should have easily been won had they not rushed their way through the nominating process.
Either way 4 MORE YEARS!!!!! Bill Roberts

Mr. Campion,
We are entering a very dark time. It is only for writers like you that I find any hope or light. I wish you well on the front line. It will not be a pretty place to be in this combative, deceptive, judgmental, paranoid Age of Bush. Calvin

I read a terribly pretentious and negative review of Chris Turner’s, "Planet Simpson" in the Village Voice a few weeks before yours ("Dangerous Art Networked Daily" – Issue 12/22) and was intrigued in reading the book simply because the asshole at The Voice could not, and will never grasp the anti-intellectual jargon and satire of The Simpsons. And he could not understand, as you do, and Chris Turner does so well, that The Simpsons exists for comedy, and whatever fuels that comedy – whatever social commentary that lies within is merely a byproduct of its brilliance. Thanks for a great piece and culling salient points from the author. I shall go out and get the book and enjoy it, as I do the show, without the shame of pompous intellectual iniquity. H.H. Foster

I say what I do from the schizophrenia of my emotions and logic. I belly laugh at The Simpsons and at the same time have intellectual fits of vomiting over some of the clichés and devices common to all art. A sensitivity born of being an animation buff my whole life has shown me to see the unoriginality of The Simpsons. Reportage, made popular in literature by the likes of Zola, who wrote about the common man: whore, baker, wino etc... finds its mirror in all of 20th Century lit and TV media. I still prefer heroic drama when I can get it in its unadulterated form tongue-in-cheek-free. Let's see, evil right-wing corporate type, Mr. C.M. Burns. Bumbling, average Joe, Homer. Gee, you could trade Mr. Spacely from the Jetsons and George Jetson for Homer, allowing for dated material and characters. Why is it that all modern art criticism gives a "do not go to jail and collect $200" to anything that "sticks it to the man". I guess we don't expect much from art in reality. Subversive = Good Art is the mantra. I much prefer episodes like the one in South Park where they burn down the Wal-Mart and then head to patronize the little general store in town to support 'the little guy'. Their patronage grows the 'little guy' into Wal-Mart proportions and the skit ends with them burning that down too. Subversive, yet it contains a pure kernel of truth. People have been dogmatized in this country into thinking the tallest blade of grass needs to be cut down (Bill Gates, Martha Stewart) because it must be intrinsically evil while at the same time patronizing that which they hate. This goes out to all my Bush-hating, anyone-but-Bush-Kerry-loving NYC friends sipping their Starbucks in the Martha Stewart mug they bought at Kmart in the East Village cum Gap hood who think they're sticking it to the man because they love The Simpsons and profess subversive lives.
The Simpson's rock!
Robert Herman

JC – THIS ("Manifest Destiny Made Easier Through Modern Chemistry" – Issue 12/29/04) is a really (the appropriate word, or phrase escapes me at the moment) this is the best work I have read from you. You got both elements of revealing yourself in the finest fashion I could imagine. The content was infused with a poetry that made a staid and officious subject a lyrical opera. If there is any value in what I think, what I feel, this is superb writing. I wasn't moved by the boldness of the piece, being bold is redundant with you. I was moved by the manner in which you expressed yourself. The similarities to past endeavors are present, but there is a little something extra in this one. With this one, you were flying around, twisting sentences together, moving in complex ways, but keeping the intent simple and clear all the while. Kudos to you j.c. I don't even care if I agree with you or not. My interest is in the work . . . and as wild as this piece is, there is a certain cohesion to it that just jumps out at me, and makes me smile. Roves

This is very funny, dude. However, your suggestion that "only acid junkies would comment so blindly that there is some kind of insidious US plan for a bloodless coup in that mess" is wrong. Nothing in Iraq is bloodless ... but a puppet regime? Why not? King Rumsfeld has already ruled there will be not be a 'religious' government, even if a Shiite cleric is democratically voted in. I also disagree with your WMD assessment that Hussein "either lie to the UN or risk letting the Iranians know he was a paper tiger and take him out." Not quite good, sir. He still had enough conventional weaponry--way more than enough to deal with Iran. Also, Iran couldn’t very well attack a country under de facto occupation by the US. What happens next should be interesting. v.

jc, I love your column, please keep up the great work you do. I love sharing it with my like-minded friends and torturing my not-so-like minded friends with it. On to my comment: Just a suggestion, really. Perhaps we should shift some of our boys in the military over to help the victims of the natural disaster to try to do some good for a change.

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