"...under President Bush, the independence of the surgeon general has been placed below industry lobbying and the demands of the religious right. The Bush White House banned Dr. Richard Carmona from speaking or issuing reports on stem cells, emergency contraception, sex education, prisons, mental health and international health issues, he has revealed. For years, the White House also tried to "water down" a key report on the dangers of second-hand smoke, he said. When it was published last year, the report stated that even brief exposure to cigarette smoke can cause immediate harm."
When I read this story, I was nearly incandescent with rage. My poem for Poetry Thursday was inspired by the shameful inhumanity of this story, as well as yet another assault on freedom of speech:
Hubris and lies and a chief doctor too long silenced
by an administration with no regard
for facts or reality, much less the nation's health.
Don't talk about this or that subject
it might upset someone;
never mind if it might kill them.
We wouldn't want to discuss such things
in polite society.
Better to let them get sick or die
if they don't have health insurance
than present the truth in black and white
and find solutions.
Not enough to sacrifice a great city to incompetence
or thousands of young soldiers to war;
careless disregard for health of the nation's citizens
goes beyond the bounds of human decency.
It is criminal behaviour
endorsed by the government:
Blood on their hands.
Inhabitants by Ramon Rodriguez, acrylic on canvas. Photo courtesy of the Blue Rain Gallery, Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico.