Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Private convictions vs. public displays
Gene Lyons
Posted on Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Am I the only person in the United States getting fed up with moral
exhibitionism? And no, I’m not really talking about the Terri Schiavo
spectacle playing out 24/7 on the cable news channels. Turning the poor
woman’s tragedy into a carnival sideshow became inevitable once
Congress and the brothers Bush decided there was political advantage
in taking sides in a grave and intimate family quarrel. Most politicians’
commitment to "err on the side of life" waned as quickly as polls
showing widespread public resentment were released. But apparently not,
the Miami Herald reports, before Florida Gov. Jeb Bush considered
dispatching state troopers to take Schiavo into his custody in defiance
of state and federal courts, a plan abandoned only after local police
indicated they’d resist. In Texas, meanwhile, they do things
differently. On March 14, doctors at Texas Children’s Hospital withdrew
life support from Sun Hudson, a 6-month-old infant with a fatal and
untreatable form of dwarfism, over his family’s protests. The baby died
quickly. Under a 1999 law signed by then-Gov. George W. Bush, hospitals
may discontinue artificial life support, including feeding tubes, even
if a patient’s family members disagree. A doctor’s recommendation must
be approved by a hospital’s ethics committee and the family must be
given 10 days’ advance notice of the decision to try and locate another
facility for the patient.

The president’s hypocrisy aside, that’s how it should be. I’ve had
enough personal experience with how seriously the medical profession
takes such decisions to entrust them to hospital ethics committees. So
when I hear Pat Robertson, the well-known TV faith healer, observe, as
he did on FOX News’ "Hannity and Colmes," last week, "Why, you wouldn’t
treat a dog or horse the way they’re treating Terri," I’m inclined to
say: No, Pat, you’d allow an animal more mercy and dignity.

Medically speaking, brain death is death. All the rest is made-for-TV

Meanwhile, the latest trend in moral exhibitionism is pharmacists who
refuse to fill prescriptions they suspect might be used sinfully.
According to a March 28 article in The Washington Post, a growing
number are not only refusing to dispense birth control or "morning-after"
pills that offend their personal religious beliefs, but delivering impromptu
sermons to the sinners who come to pick them up.

One joker in Wisconsin cross-examined a college girl about why she
needed birth control pills (which have medical uses unrelated to sex),
condemned her sinfulness, then refused to transfer the prescription
elsewhere so she could get it filled by a pharmacist who didn’t have
himself confused with a TV evangelist.

Actually, make that the pope. A lawyer with the Christian Legal
Society’s Center for Law and Religious Freedom explains that his client
is "a devout Roman Catholic [who] believes participating in any action
that inhibits or prohibits human life is a sin."

The Post story also told about a married mother of four denied a
"morning-after" pill by a conscience-stricken pharmacist. "I couldn’t
believe it," said the 44-year-old woman, who’d made love with her
husband, but didn’t want a fifth child. "How can they make that
decision for us? I was outraged.... But I was scared. I didn’t know
what we were going to do."

I think all this has less to do with real faith than with the growing
number of "devout," self-dramatizing narcissists among us. I’m on firm
scriptural grounds too. "Be careful not to do your ‘acts of
righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them," Jesus said in the
Sermon on the Mount. "If you do, you will have no reward from
your Father in Heaven."

Only hypocrites, Christ added, make a public spectacle of their
religiosity. Apart from Old Testament admonitions about selling
daughters into slavery or stoning Bevis and Butthead to death, it’s
getting to be the least observed doctrine in the Bible.

But I’d put it differently to Pharmacists for Life and other
holier-than-thou groups that feel the need to put their agonized
consciences on public display. (So far, they’ve gotten four
states—South Dakota, Arkansas, Mississippi and Georgia—to pass
laws saying they don’t have to dispense medications they wouldn’t
themselves take. Several others—California, Missouri and
New Jersey—are considering laws requiring pharmacists to fill all
legal prescriptions.) My advice would be simpler: Get over yourself
or get a new job. This is a fairly straightforward piece of moral
reasoning: The rights that matter here aren’t yours, they’re the
patient’s, whose sexual and reproductive practices come under
the heading of None of Your Business. If that’s not good enough,
hire some kid to serve as your shabbas goy—what Orthodox
Jews call somebody who does grunt work on the Sabbath. After all,
anybody who can count to 10 can take pills from the big bottle, put
them in the little bottle and ring up the sale while you look prayerfully

Meanwhile, any pharmacy that advertises "We Fill All Legal
Prescriptions" will get my trade.

•–––––—Free-lance columnist Gene Lyons is a Little Rock author and
recipient of the National Magazine Award.


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