I’m going to paraphrase President Obama’s quip about Cliven Bundy at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner: If someone starts off by saying that doctors shouldn’t invade the privacy of patients by asking about guns, you don’t really need to know the rest of it. But an op-ed in the Pensacola News Journal caught my attention because the writer came up with a rather ingenious reason why gun ownership should not be considered a risk when compared to other, much more serious health risks that physicians don’t treat at all. And what is the risk that physicians overlook in their obsession to take away all our guns? Flat feet.
The author of this remarkable missive, a Pensacola resident named David Dodson, was reacting to the newspaper’s editorial which called on physicians, particularly pediatricians, to willfully ignore the law and continue to ask their patients about guns. What drove Dodson to respond to the newspaper’s opinion was not just the invasion of privacy that occurred every time a physician asked a patient about guns, but his discovery that other, much more important medical issues were being ignored during examinations, in fact, were no longer part of the medical school curriculum.
The result of this negligence, according to Dodson, is s veritable “epidemic” (his word) that physicians have needlessly “thrust” on children by not treating their bad feet which then leads to “bad knees, bad hips, bad backs and lame adults.” And how did it come about that such an important part of the human anatomy is completely ignored in consultations between physicians and children? Because “the care of children’s feet is not taught in medical schools anymore.”
Dodson’s information on medical school curriculum was told to him by a “member of a national board of pediatrics” which, unfortunately, he neglects to identify or name. This is too bad because if there is such an organization, it’s probably an offshoot of the medical board that allowed Rand Paul to certify himself as an ophthalmologist. Maybe Dodson’s a podiatrist, maybe he’s just a nincompoop, and maybe he’s just one of these retired guys who strolls over to the local park every morning to engage the other, self-professed retired experts in whatever important news issues were discussed that morning on Fox. Whatever he is, physicians and other medical professionals should be heartened by the fact that his op-ed piece was printed by the Pensacola News Journal as a response to its editorial about doctors and guns.
The way it works in the news media is that if an editorial board publishes an editorial on any given subject, they usually feel obliged, in keeping with the notions of balance and fairness, to publish something which gives the opposite argument to what the editorial actually said. But since the readers don’t see every response to an editorial, we have to assume that the editors can pick and choose based on what they hope their readers will learn from being exposed to both points of view. And I have to imagine that in their decision to publish Dodson’s response, the editors of the Pensacola News Journal wanted their readers to understand exactly why the law criminalizing physician’s seeking information about guns was proof, as they said, that the Florida legislature was “sick in the head.”
Defending the Florida law as an “assault” on the 2nd Amendment, like Obama said about Bundy, just doesn’t go very far. And anyone who talks about the issue on that basis will wind up talking only to people who don’t have a clue. But here’s a guy who doesn’t want physicians to ask about guns because he knows that medical school anatomy cuts the human body off somewhere below the knees. And if we don’t believe him, we can always trust his unidentified source. Now if this is the best that the gun community can produce to keep physicians from asking about guns, on this issue the physicians clearly have the upper hand. The Florid legislature may be sick in the head, but I doubt if the illness will spread all that far.