Thursday, July 31, 2014


Each time I see my family doctor, I am handed a short form with a dozen questions on it (meds now being taken, current complaint, most-recent visit, etc.). Buried in the list is this one: “Are there guns in your home?”

My doc is a leftist. Many docs are. And this question is a manifestation of the campaign to characterize (“demonize” might be a better word), gun possession as a public health problem.

I am not a fan of the public health rationale as a justification for national policy. It has an ugly history, and tyrants of all sorts have used “public health” as an excuse for their behavior. The Soviets put dissidents away in mental hospitals (often in Siberia) because their wrong-headed ideas about freedom might “infect” others. And the Nazis explained their genocidal murder campaigns as public health measures---according to them, the Jews, Gypsies and other groups were polluting the pure Aryan blood of the “master race,” so these inferiors had to be exterminated.

Nevertheless, while it pays to be suspicious of the rationale, public health is a legitimate concern of government. Quarantines, border enforcement and vaccination programs can be justified in a free society. I WANT the U.S. Government to prevent ebola from gaining a foothold in America, for example, even if it means that my freedom would be limited in certain miniscule respects.

The problem with the “guns-are-a-public-health-issue” campaign is that it undercuts the serious business involved in actual, potentially deadly, public health concerns. Painting gun possession as a public health problem trivializes the meaning of “public health,” and leads to unintended consequences. One of these consequences is that the claim of “public health” is now often viewed as just another bit of political rhetoric. When gun possession and distracted driving and seat-belt usage become public health issues, the term loses its meaning.

Parents who refuse to vaccinate their children are increasingly common in America and the resulting decline in herd immunity for such things as whooping cough poses a deadly danger to all of us. This is a direct result of political campaigns claiming that whatever leftists disapprove of is a “public health issue.”


Saturday, July 26, 2014


The following is a letter sent to the Philadelphia Inquirer about its coverage, on Sunday, July 20, of the Israel-Hamas war.

To the editor:
In Sunday's Inquirer, you published a photograph of dozens of Palestinians (all male, for some reason), standing around a hole in the ground, with some of them laying on the dirt and flailing their arms. The caption read: "Mourners use their hands to dig the graves of a Gaza family killed in an Israeli strike on their house."

Really? Really??? Are you seriously trying to tell me that these Palestinians, while they have thousands of Qassam rockets and the rocket-launchers to fire them, and grocery stores and apartment buildings and restaurants and schools and hospitals and shopping malls, DO NOT HAVE FREAKING SHOVELS?

This preposterous staged photograph was printed on the front page, above the fold. The other photos you published on Sunday were similar---Palestinian corpses and Palestinians weeping. The only picture of the Israeli side of the conflict was a shot of Israeli tanks rolling toward the border.

These photographs are typical of your coverage. Virtually every shot portrays the Palestinians as victims and Israelis as killers. Where are the pictures of terrified Israeli children cowering in bomb shelters? And when will you show us heavily-armed Hamas fighters heading out to battle the Jews they wish to exterminate?

The Philadelphia Inquirer's complicity in the Hamas propaganda campaign is appalling.