Doctor-Assisted Tyranny: Asking about Guns
On the one hand, states are passing laws which legalize assisted suicide. On the other hand, doctors, reacting to new laws constraining them, are demanding the privilege of asking us questions about our guns in order to prevent gun suicides. The former suggests that suicide is none of the doctor’s business. It is a personal decision. The doctor’s job is to help the patient with his decision. The latter implies that the doctor is supposed to interfere with the gun owner’s decision to assist himself with his suicide, using his gun, in case that happens to be his personal decision. So which policy is in force?
This absurd incoherence is a product of the fact that doctors are reaching beyond the functions we, the customers, want them to engage in. This is being encouraged by our government.
I go to a doctor to get treated for syndromes which I have already decided, as a layman, constitute disease — for me. The doctor can always disagree with me and choose not to assist me with my goal — to be rid of what I happen to think is a disease. For example, someone may wish to be rid of homosexuality in defiance of a subset of doctors. A man may wish to become a woman. We do not visit doctors to find out how we should live. They are not experts about what maximizes our happiness. I decide whether or not my supposedly bad habits have actually optimized my happiness. No doctor can do that for me.
The doctor, as a vendor, is there to help me achieve my goals, no matter how relative, not his. How else could elective surgery, like plastic surgery, be justified? If it is up to me to decide whether or not suicide is good or bad for me, then surely it is up to me to decide whether or not my guns are good or bad for me. They might be good for me precisely because I can commit suicide with them. How is this conviction morally distinct from concluding that a suicide assistant is good for me? The state is admitting it has no objective way to decide when suicide is justified, or not, once it legalizes suicide, let alone assisting it. Either it is never justified or it is always justified. Who is the judge of someone else’s suffering? Either way doctors have a financial incentive to interfere.
The nanny state, including Obamacare, is promoting the nanny medical establishment. However, until doctors can determine for us, exactly what maximizes our utility, this is nothing but obnoxious authoritarianism. As customers of medical services, it is time for us to make it clear to doctors that we want them to operate in a free market where they can select their customers, accepting the economic consequences, and where we can select doctors who understand that their role in our lives is as limited as we decide it should be.
Today, if someone asks a doctor to help him overcome homosexuality, he will get an ideological lecture about how he should accept the syndrome as normal. It is no longer up to the patient to decide whether or not he is suffering and diseased. It is up to “God,” the doctor. If I tell a doctor that my guns have contributed security, peace, adventure and contentment to my life, and the doctor claims this cannot be true, he becomes silly. Hardly anyone believes he could know better. If his claim is more specific — that the mere presence of guns is the cause of suicide by gun, or violence visited on others — then he is making an equally ridiculous, unscientific claim. Guns are irrelevant to the treatment of what might cause their misuse. This implicit idea that they are part of the syndrome themselves is the kind of nonsense which gives philosophers of science, as skeptics, a field day. This is the sort of thing which is discrediting “science” in our time.
The philosopher David Hume noticed that causation, from an empirical point of view, is nothing more than constant conjunction, which is not even present in this issue. Millions of people own guns without ever misusing them. In the meantime, the evolving scientific view of Reality often changes the “scientific” view of what causes what. Do guns turn John into a serial killer, or does John buy guns because he is already a serial killer? Where do we start? The vast majority of ordinary people would start with what turned John into a serial killer, or made him depressed, or made him a murderous husband.
If we are forced to go to a particular subset of doctors because of Medicare regulations, or other federal or state law, then we clearly need laws which prevent the political-medical complex from demanding answers to any questions we are not interested in providing. And since refusing to answer questions about our guns might be recorded as a token of gun ownership, resulting, in effect, in gun registration, we may need laws which prohibit doctors from asking in the first place.
If doctors are morally or medically justified in asking patients whether or not they own guns, then why not a plethora of questions about their life style? Why not ask patients what floor of their apartment building they live on, and if they are not on the first, advise them to move down lest they be tempted to jump? Why no concern about the fact they own a car — a product which takes far more lives than guns? Imagine how many lives would be saved if we did away with cars altogether? (Of course the left is prepared to ban cars believing it knows better than we do what optimizes our happiness — a risk free world with no chance of accidental death.) If the goal is our overall security from opportunities to hurt ourselves or others, then guns are just the tip of the iceberg. Why the focus on guns?
On the one hand we are taught that doctors believe in a non-judgmental medical culture which encourages people to seek help. On the other hand, doctors are now fighting laws which would produce such a medical culture for gun owners.
But, the doctors argue, gun ownership is not just a personal problem. It is a “public health issue.” But how, without destroying the privacy that even some liberals seem to cherish, could it be the public’s business, i.e. the government’s business, if no crime has been committed, if no harm has been done in any individual case? Is car ownership, in general, a public health issue? Knife ownership? Motorcycle ownership? Any government mandate to predict and preempt crime, let alone harm simpliciter, which is not even in process, is inevitably totalitarian. Is gun ownership like raising and selling lettuce with e coli, or having aids and being promiscuous without informing one’s victims? I don’t think so. The distinction between a private and public health issue is the nature of an effect and its scope. It is the actual commission of a crime, or the prevention of a crime, which makes any gun of interest to the public. And this is where the benefits have always clearly outweighed the costs except for left wing fanatics who despise the democratic popularity of guns and try to suppress the accumulation of their benefits with gun free zones. The power to act on the supposedly expert prediction of a criminal act, based on an otherwise passive fact (John owns a gun), is the end of the rule of law and civilization. No one would be safe from arrest without cause, including doctors.
Freedom has a price. Not coercing people, no matter how suspicious, who have not yet committed a crime, is part of it. The danger of this is almost completely mitigated by people, in general, owning and defending themselves with the great equalizer. In other words, widespread gun ownership makes freedom possible. It is part of its fabric. It takes away any excuse for a police state.
State legislatures are beginning to redress the attempted power grab by the political-medical complex, passing laws which constrain what doctors can ask us, even if the taxpayers are footing the bill.
Here is something you can do. Copy this article and hand it to any doctor who asks you about your guns as you walk out the door in search of non-political treatment.