Correspondence (Fall 2002)

Open Letter to the AMA President, Dr. Richard F. Corlin

Dear Dr. Corlin,

You probably don't remember me, but we met when I attended the California Medical Society lobbying session during my year as Alaska State Medical Society president, a dozen, or so, years ago.

I am a former competitive shooter and gun collector --- a gun nut, if you will. I am also a life member of the NRA (since 1947).

At the beginning of my tour as ASMA president, I reviewed the AMA policy on gun control. It was clear that the authors of those policy items knew nothing of gun issues, but were interested only in maximum restriction of citizen liberties. I decided to try to modify these policies by pointing out the "junk science" characteristics, and pointed out that physicians would not tolerate this sort of thing if it pertained to genuine medical topics. Further, I opined that physicians should not be so arrogant as to assume that an MD degree conferred expertise on all other issues. I was hooted off the floor of the reference committee with comments such as "guns are evil" and "the end justifies the means." The president of the AMA shrugged off my complaint regarding this philosophy by reminding me that the AMA is a democratic organization and all it takes to make policy is a vote of the delegates.

The JAMA and NEJM are famous for promoting irrational gun control policies. A letter to the editor of NEJM a few years ago pointing out the statistical errors in a gun control article draw a "harrumph" response with the observation that in a non-medical matter, good statistics don't matter.

I read your inaugural address and pondered writing to you then, but procrastinated. Your article in Heartbeat prompts this one.

The reason for my comments simply is that I don't trust you. You may recall that the CDC's efforts at gun control were defunded because of junk science. I disagree that "gun violence" is a public health problem.* The problem is with violent people, not the instrument they choose. As a former Alaska State Medical Examiner, I have seen virtually any handy object used as a weapon --- scissors, screwdrivers, axes, machetes, knives of all kinds, splitting mauls, rocks, etc. I can't imagine a conclusion your committee could propose that would reduce violence short of gun confiscation --- which doesn't work either --- please review the experience in Australia and England since those countries confiscated their citizens' guns.

I resigned from the AMA after my tour as ASMA president because of these concerns. I now donate the equivalent of AMA dues to the NRA. I will attend the ASMA meeting at the Alyeska Prince Hotel and look forward to re-meeting you. Thank you for allowing me to vent.

Best regards,
Donald R. Rogers, MD
Anchorage, AK

*See "Doctors to Ask Patients about Gun Ownership," Medical Sentinel 2001, pp. 115-117, as well as the special two-part issue "Doctors and Guns --- a Failure of the Public Health Model," Medical Sentinel, November/December 2000 and Spring 2001.

Bioethics is a Monster

Dear Editor,

Bioethics is a monster, gestated in big government and the insurance industry.

There were no bioethics courses in my medical school...only a Roman Catholic medical ethics course and exhortations about the tradition of Hippocrates. That was all any physician needed. That is all any physician needs now.

Futility, a major tenet of bioethics, "is a value judgment, not a medical determination" and "determinations about futility involve paternalism" in the most perverse and futile way. Futility decisions are based on prejudice and bias against disabled people and minorities. In addition, "futile care theory gives some of medicine's most important health care decisions to strangers." Futilitarians are quoted as calling the murderous Kevorkian approach to be "utopian utilitarianism" (I think these bioethicists are bragging, not complaining). Futility theory is a manipulation accelerating death spuriously meeting the desperate bewilderment of those who have run out of things to do. Interestingly, while bioethicists talk about "futility in medicine," they manage to overlook the greatest futility in all medicine: health care administration, health care insurance, and bioethics, all three of which should be rationed and then the plug pulled.

Ninety-nine percent of medical cases need no bioethics. Only in cases where death is desired does bioethics achieve any sort of significance. The bioethical phenomenon is a tireless self-promotion and self-protection racket filled with self-righteous convenient white lies and clever words. Bioethics is a house of cards and a word salad. It is an intellectual guillotine for those who want others dead or not cared for. Some of it is harmless but not so in the tough cases when all erring is on the side of death, big government and insurance profit. Bioethics is out to defeat the individual doctor/patient relationship which needs no bioethics if the tradition of Hippocrates is embraced.

The evil coming from the bioethics movement needs to be understood for what it is and loudly identified to the public as you did in the previous special issue of the Medical Sentinel, Summer 2002, "Individual-based Medical Ethics vs. Population-based Bioethics." All those supporting bioethics should be removed from the field of medicine. Bioethicists are morticians, not clinicians. Take no chances. More than cursory contact with bioethicists or megabureaucracy sychophants is malpractice and against patient care.

Samuel A. Nigro, MD
Cleveland Heights, OH


Potential Bioterrorism in our own Backyard

Dear Editor,

...[Cuba, Winter 2001 issue of the Medical Sentinel] is just too close for us not to take heed of the possibilities. The Cubans who have left have the best sense of it all. They are too keenly aware of and appreciate what freedom is all about, unlike the pathetically apathetic American population who have forgotten what America is all about (i.e., it's about people who love freedom, not just about people who are born here) and especially not about people who are born here and don't feel any sense of responsibility toward keeping freedom alive.

Thomas Jackson Tidwell, MD
Columbus, GA


Correspondence originally published in the Medical Sentinel 2002;7(3):69-70. Copyright©2002 Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).