Dr. Murray Guilty

Doesn't everyone take their doctor on vacation?

Maybe if Dr. Nick had been tried in court instead of in front of the Tennessee State Medical Licensing board, he would have gone to jail for killing Elvis – and Michael Jackson, Corey Haim and other doctor shopping celebrities might be alive.

But doctors are rarely held to the standard that mere morals are held to – so Dr. Conrad Murray, who was just the last in a string of pusher doctors, is found guilty at trial rather than be fined by the medical board for poor ethical standards.

Will Murray be the latest victim of celebrity excess and the greed that surrounds celebrities, or will he herald a change for doctors to really do no harm to their celebrity patients?

What’s most interesting to me is how much easier it seems to be for doctors to be blamed when their patient is a dead celebrity – because having worked some years ago on a medical malpractise complaint against a doctor, it is astonishingly difficult to establish guilt.

In the Vancouver case, a doctor who specialized in AIDs patients, was using liquid nitrogen to burn off anal warts – a common opportunistic infection. But think about that for a moment: Liquid nitrogen, anal spincter.

If you aren’t squirming in your chair, you probably haven’t had to have liquid nitrogen applied to your skin. Having had liquid nitrogen used to remove planter warts from my toe and some moles on my arm, I can assure you that liquid nitrogen is nothing that you want on anything as sensitive as your anus.

Of the three doctors who reviewed the treatment, one stated that the application of liquid nitrogen to the anal area was inappropriately agressive, with the other two indicating that it was unconventional but not unthinkable as a treatment option.

That four of the five patients that we represented didn’t even have anal warts, didn’t factor into the assessement of the appropriateness of the treatment.

So, here, we had a case of a doctor, using unconventional aggressive treatment for an ailment that the patients don’t have and isn’t warrented for what they do have. But these are just five gay guys and not dead celebrities, so the case falls apart in the face of doctors standing together – and it doesn’t matter what reality or evidence demonstrates.

So while Dr. Conrad Murray didn’t get Jackson addicted to drugs, he stepped into a situation that Jackson’s death was inevitable and gambled that he could do what he was paid to do and get out before things went too wrong. He gambled and lost.

Is it fair he go to jail?

In that jail is intended as a deterrent to crime and insofar as Murray’s actions were criminally negligent in that he was not trained to administer the drug at issue, which was further being done in an improper setting, yes, Dr. Murray, as a medical doctor, knew or ought to have known, how dangerous the situation was.

Despite that Jackson himself should have been in jail and not unconsciously preparing for a concert tour (can you call it a tour when it’s just the one location?),  no matter Jackson’s failings and shortcomings, Dr. Conrad Murray contributed to his death.

But it’s the actions after that are the most telling – Murray did not immediately call for help and he hid information from medical responders. There was never doubt about Murray’s contributions – but there is some doubt as to whether he should shoulder the full burden.

But, as with Elvis, the biggest share of responsibility lies with Jackson himself. Celebrity seems to be it’s own reward as well as punishment.



1. Doctors and police should never investigate themselves for misconduct, because there’s an inherent conflict of interest.

2. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a Michael Jackson fan. I believed him to be guilty of The Charges years in advance of any claims being made. That taints my observations of the current events, and I just wanted to admit my bias.

Mason restores faith in people


Mason Crumpacker is a ridiculously smart 9-year-old girl who became moderately famous this month after chancing into a conversation with Christopher Hitchens at a get-together of freethinkers in Houston, TX

Mason Interviewed

Mason’s Mom tells the story

Because a kid who’s growing up in Texas and has that level a head on her shoulders, is going to have an amazing life. Not to mention, being far more heartening a story than elevatorgate…

An Experiement in books

Jenny, from A Religious Experiment, and I are doing a book exchange.

I happened upon Jenny’s post in which she talks about exposing herself to other viewpoints.

So, we agreed to an exchange of books, rather than just referring each other book titles, to make it more interesting – and we’ll be reviewing the books on our respective  blogs.

I am sending Jenny: The Secret Lives of Saints: Child Brides and Lost Boys in a Polygamous Mormon Sect [Hardcover] Daphne Bramham

What is it to grow up

What does it mean to grow up emotionally? When you ask a person how old they are and how old they feel, more often than not, the numbers will be different.

For most of my twenties, I didn’t feel that different from my teen years. I didn’t live that differently either, except that I was responsible for my own apartment. My 30s didn’t feel different from my twenties, but were definitely different than my teens. At 43, my life seems remote from these earlier decades, but while the change is apparent now, when the change occurred remains elusive.

But it’s not that my idealism has lessened, but my sense of being able to bring about that idealism in the world, that’s what changed.

Part of it is likely from movies and pop culture – 30 used to be a big number – the 1960’s cry of trust no one over 30. Well, until the 60’s youth became 30 so the 30 of the 1960’s becomes the 40 of the 1980’s. But now, now it seems that 50 is the new 30, 60 the new 40. Will the boomers ever stop dominating ageism and accept they are older and are not the sole group entitled to the world stage?

How much of aging is feeling the age of the day? Feeling that your generation is driving the age, rather than being by-passed?

Even as adults, we experience things that make us feel like children.

Being called to the boss’s office feels no different than being called to the principal’s office.

In fact, you even end up feeling smaller and less powerful walking to the bosses office – as if you’re defeating yourself before you close the door behind you.

Aside: I read once that keeping cats and dog as pets, fed, protected, played with and petted keeps the animal in a childhood state of their development. Well kept dogs and cats are generally playful and affectionate throughout their lives while cats and dogs that experience hardships like bad owners or being feral, they tend to not be affectionate and playing is practice for hunting or fighting.

So, as long as we as adults reduce each other to childhood states, then there are no grown ups – both the workplace boss is as the schoolyard bully and the victimized adult is as the victimized child.

The observation that I have long made is that we cannot eliminate bullying in the schoolyard, or else the children won’t be prepared for the adult workplace, is sadly and tragically true.

But, I am finding that less funny now.

In some ways, bulling between children is easier to cope with because we were all children with no authority over each other – the bully exerts power of size or numbers over others, but has no authority to do so.

As, as an adult, when your bully is your boss, they exert both power and authority over you, making it much more difficult to defend yourself, because the authority of the boss’ position means that the employee is up against not only the authority, but the entitlement to authority – and bullies of any age are enamored with their entitlements, which, they take as their due more than merely their ability to force themselves upon you.

As a child in school, I easily handled bullies. I was usually taller and heavier than  the bullies who picked on friends of mine or more rarely, who picked on me.

When the fighting was brought to the attention of teachers or administration, despite being the person who threw the first punch, I was never suspended or had detention; because I could explain and justify my actions as being in defense of myself or more usually, others; and against generally known bullies.

Because I felt that my actions were correct, I had no difficulties as a child or teen talking to the authority adult figure as a peer. I was never picked last for sports, I was always picked first and universally to be the referee or umpire by my peers.

Aside: I challenged a teacher in grade 11 gym by taking an umbrella out to play soccer in the rain.  The policy and practice had always been that the girls did not go outside for gym in the rain. I was offered the choice of putting the umbrella away or going to the office. Breaking with decades of class clown tradition, I went to the office.

The principal tried to cajole me by asking how much sense it makes to play soccer with an umbrella and I replied, the same amount of sense that playing in the rain was.

He then tried to convince me that regardless of the policy and past practice, that we had to allow teachers the authority to make decisions.

To which, I responded that the last time I had followed orders, the gym teacher had us run backwards across the field, and that I ended up falling over someone else who tripped, landed on the small of my back and ended up hurt – and, as it turned out, with lifetime back problems.

The smile ran off his face, and even though I had to sit in the “bad boy chairs” outside the office, I felt that I had won a victory. Plus, it was fun the aftermath scandal of me, the goody two shoes girl, being in the bad boy chairs.

So, as a child, I learned by experience and by my rearing, to question authority, especially when said authority was questionable or dubious to begin with.

Which becomes a minefield as an adult, when you realize, how little genuine authority that there is – and most of it is artificially created and unearned though workplace organization charts and the social pecking order of mean girls.

When bulling occurs in the workplace, the person who is blamed is the victim who stands up and says no more. In the workplace, it seems that the naming of a problem becomes the problem to solve.

It seems that the only way to be an adult, is to let go of the childhood hurts and triggers – so that when another adult behaves inappropriately and pushes those childhood buttons; that you have already disabled the button – and can maintain grown up conduct in the current situation.

All the workplace conflicts come down to the same core issues as playground conflict – who gets to play in the group and who doesn’t. Who’s in and who’s out.

Being an individual and not conforming to the group is the quickest way to being out – and unlike when you’re a kid, there are no grown ups to restore order and resolve the conflict.

When it’s workplace bullying, there is no resolution, just ever worsening bullying until you quit or die. Because bullies will do whatever it takes to continue to get to be bullies, they don’t care about people or productivity or the corporate culture.

They want the people who complain to be isolated – alone, it’s harder to fight back, defend yourself or even fend off attacks. They want the potential allies and witnesses to be too intimidated to stand as witnesses, for fear of being the next victim. So instead of standing together, we are divisible and one victim is thrashed and tormented while the others watch, silent so as to not draw fire and suffer the dread and worry about being next, or perhaps relief that the bully might be sated for a while.

But growing up is about risk and responsibility, and we have a responsibility, obligation even, to uphold the social contract, the workplace policies, the law of the land.

It’s not about skating by and avoiding trouble, all for yourself and everyone else can look out for themselves,  it’s about fighting the good fight, making a difference in the world, it’s about being cooperative, it’s about avoiding regrets and being the change you want to see in the world.

For me, that means, I do not allow bullies to win.

The human experience of the world is no longer nature, red in tooth and claw – that’s not what has gotten us to where we are today – cooperative behaviours are what has allowed humans to become the apex species of a world that, frankly, operates better without people altering the landscape as we have.

It’s our ability to cooperate and be more than the sum of our parts, to defer gain and pleasures to the future while we sacrifice and make an effort now.

What purpose is there to working for a better future, if we are just going to continue tolerating bullying, inequality and unfairness in the here and now? When, we could take a stand and make the present better and the future even brighter.