Sunday, February 23, 2014

Human feeling

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) has a primary challenger, Dr. Milton Wolf, a radiologist.

Dr. Wolf "posted a collection of gruesome X-ray images of gunshot fatalities and medical injuries to his Facebook page and participated in online commentary layered with macabre jokes and descriptions of carnage", according to an article in the Topeka Capital-Journal.

Wolf defended the postings as legal (the patients were not identified) and added that they served an educational purpose. He also suggested that they served a moral purpose; according to the article, "They also served, he said, to demonstrate evil lurking in the world."

You're supposed to get the permission of next of kin before you publish such images. I can see the families giving permission for an academic publication, but did Wolf really get permission to post the images on FB and compare them to Terminator 2 scenes?

Now, to be clear, the writer of this article, Tim Carpenter, seems to have been less than objective in this piece. Dr. Wolf comes off as a callous douchebag at best.

On the other hand, maybe that's because he is one. A callous douchebag devoid of human feeling.

He seems to have followed the letter of the law: at least, there's no evidence to the contrary, although I hope Kansas's medical licensing authorities are looking into this matter. He and his defenders (who pop up in the article's comments area) are also correct that such images can serve an educational purpose.

But doesn't context count for anything?

Don't courtesy and social niceties count?

There's a big difference between making jokes about corpses among your colleagues, and doing it within earshot of total strangers. The defenders of Wolf don't get that. They, too, seem devoid of human feeling.

Wolf may have adhered to the letter of the law, but that doesn't mean he's not a raging asshole. He seems completely indifferent to medical ethics and appears to have a low regard for patients, or he would never have contemplated making jokes about the X-rays. (He wasn't joking about people who hurt themselves doing something stupid, for crying out loud, he was joking about gunshot victims who died.)

Raging assholes are not unknown in politics, even in the U.S. Senate, but is a raging asshole who Kansans want representing them?

No comments:

Post a Comment