Gee, why would officious authoritarian egomaniacs who think they are God try to do something like that?
The New York Times reports that medical groups are agitating for state boards to discipline physicians spreading “misinformation.” The Federation of State Medical Boards, which represents the groups that license and discipline doctors, recommended last month that states consider suspending or revoking medical licenses of doctors who share false medical claims.
The American Medical Association says spreading misinformation violates the code of ethics that licensed doctors agree to follow. “”Misinformation” is defined by Ethics Alarms as opinions that do not comport with the majority opinion in the profession, with the added qualification that such non-conforming opinions are considered especially worthy of censorship if they offend the political Left, which is where the AMA hangs its metaphorical hat.
The medical association, like its allies, are increasingly unashamed aspiring totalitarians. In this post from April, I wrote about how the AMA issued a statement that it was “deeply disturbed” and “angered” by a recent Journal of the American Medical Association podcast that “questioned the existence of structural racism.” Though JAMA supposedly has editorial independence from the AMA, the association forced JAMA Editor-in-Chief Howard Bauchner to ask for the resignation of podcast host and deputy editor Dr. Edward Livingston because his statements and tweets were “inconsistent with the policies and views of AMA” and “structural racism in health care and our society exists and it is incumbent on all of us to fix it.”
“Structural racism in health care and our society exists and it is incumbent on all of us to fix it” is what the medical profession now calls a “fact.” What the medical profession’s censors are really after is lockstep ideological conformity, using the power to take away the means of contrarians to earn a living as a bludgeon. The Times article would be amusing it it wasn’t so ominous. How can a doctor or a journalist call anything said about the Wuhan virus and its friends “mis-” or “dis-” information, when so many “facts” have been promoted to the public by health experts and then been retracted, reversed, qualified or otherwise contradicted? Dr. Fauci admitted that he deliberately lied to the public about whether masks protected the public from infection. Do you think any state broad will try to take his license away? No, because he’s one of the good doctors, and his misinformation is a means to a just end.
I am pretty certain that any effort to silence medical professionals who espouse controversial opinions will be struck down even by liberal judges, and that the medical groups advocating censorship know it. What they are really trying to accomplish is prior restraint, intimidating non-conforming doctors into keeping quiet by raising the specter of discipline. It’s the ethical equivalent of extortion.
Naturally, the Times, being on the same pro-totalitarianism team as the medical establishment, wants to get the message out: “Nice little career you have here; be a shame if anything were to happen to it!” In the linked article, the First Amendment and freedom of speech aren’t mentioned at all! That can’t be accidental, since the amendment and the right almost certainly are the reason no doctors will be disciplined for claiming, for example, that the vaccines’ aren’t safe, or if any are, the discipline will be struck down, creating a powerful precedent.
I hope a state does try to punish a doctor for bucking the medical majority. We need that court precedent, as climate change activists are calling for the punishment of “deniers,” and a state bar association suspended a lawyer for saying uncomplimentary things about George Floyd on Facebook.
Ironically, a useful court decision on the issue of muzzling doctors came against the Right, when Florida passed a law prohibiting doctors from questioning their patients regarding guns in their homes. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, struck down the bulk of Florida’s Firearms Owners’ Privacy Act (FOPA) in a near-unanimous ruling. The logic behind the law was identical to the rationalization given in the Times article for why “misinformation” promoting doctors should be punished. “When a doctor speaks, people pay attention,” Dr. Humayun Chaudhry, president of the Federation of State Medical Boards, is quoted as saying. “The title of being a physician lends credibility to what people say to the general public. That’s why it is so important that these doctors don’t spread misinformation.”
Got it: the more effective a citizen is in persuading others, the more important it is to censor her. What unethical, paternalistic crap. I don’t need a law to stop my doctor from lecturing me about guns. I have a mouth and feet. As I wrote elsewhere here on doctors abusing their authority by promoting gun control, I would tell my anti-gun doctor that how I choose to exercise my Second Amendment right is none of his business, and that when I want his advice on gun safety, which is unlikely, I’ll ask for it. The next step is walking out the door and finding a new doctor. Similarly, I don’t want or need the state to prevent me from hearing or reading controversial medical or scientific views. In this country, the Constitution and Declaration say, I get to make up my own mind.
Americans must face the unpleasant fact that too many of our “experts” don’t support basic individual rights if they get in the way of the experts’ power to tell us how to live our lives.
This is a problem.