Friday, February 24, 2006

"Compassionate" Conservative

Earlier this week I received an e-mail from my friend Jason. It is for the Lifetime channel's petition for a bill that would stop insurance companies requiring drive-through mastectomies. (Basically, insurance companies are forcing women home the same day as their mastectomy as a cost-cutting measure. There are bills before the Senate and the House that would require insurance companies to pay for 48 hour hospital stays, minimum.) The petition is here:

So, I forwarded the e-mail to the folks at work. Bear in mind we only have, like, 25 employees. I didn't think anything about it.

I received one e-mail when I got to work the next day. It was from someone who shall remain nameless. This person pointed out that covering a wide range of medical procedures is a "large" part of the cost of health insurance.

Okay, so he was showing the flip side of health care, which is universal: there's always going to be a tug-of-war between cost and coverage. If he had left it there it would have been okay. A little tactless, but relevant.

However, he happened to add a comment that went over the top. He said that he had a couple of drive-through procedures and that he "lived to tell about it".

I was, to say the least, stunned. I wondered if he had simultaneous treatments for testicular cancer and stomach bypass surgery, for that's the only thing I could think of that would equal the pain (physical and psychological) of a mastectomy, let alone a double mastectomy. Taken with the earlier comment about the cost, the subtext was obvious: that all drive-through procedures are the same, and that there's nothing wrong with them, especially if they mean lower health care costs.

(Of course this person is also against socialized health insurance, even though it would offer similar coverage at lower cost. I've noticed that the average American has poorer coverage than a Canadian due to out of pocket expenses, and yet Canada spends a lower percentage of its GDP on health care than the U.S.; last time I checked it was 8% for Canada versus 12% in the U.S.).

I received an e-mail from a female employee soon after, thanking me for the e-mail. She was very tactful, saying that perhaps you have to go through cancer with a loved one in order to understand. (My Dad died of cancer, as did Alana's Mom.) Another female employee talked to me about it in person. She was far less tactful. Livid, I think, is the best description.

One thing I've noticed by a lot of conservatives is that they are pretty hard-hearted. This is in spite of strong religious convictions. From what I remember of the Bible, there was a strong "it is better to give than to receive" ethic throughout the New Testament. Yet the political conversations in the office often deal with who is deserving of what, and why they were paying too much in taxes. At lunch a couple of days ago one person suggested that native Americans should be thankful for their tax-free status and the money the bring in through casinos. They looked at me as though I was speaking Chinese when I said, "I guess they're still not happy about that 'near genocide' thing."

There's very little "live and let live", either. Of course opposition to gay marriage is the primary example of this, but there's a lot of other stuff, too. There's a small sex toy shop in town that can't advertise — even discreetly — on local TV without threats from the District Attorney's office. You can't even have a sex toy party in Louisiana with mixed sexes, as someone thinks this is the next best thing to an orgy. None of this stuff would hold up to a constitutional challenge, but that doesn't stop conservatives from trying to legislate what happens in the privacy of someone's home. (When a "liberal" starts talking about gun control, they're quick to trot out the 2nd Amendment; I just wish they were so quick to protect the 1st Amendment.)

It's not the first time I've heard the words, "I consider myself a good Christian, but...", usually just before they say something racist. You know, that "but" pretty much negates the rest of the sentence.

Perhaps the writer of the e-mail that prompted this rant just replied without thinking about how others might see it. Or perhaps he doesn't have any real understanding of the issue, and I truly hope that he never does (for there is only one way to truly understand cancer).

I'll leave other possible reasons for the e-mail to your imagination.

I wrote three different replies, but didn't post any of them. In the end, I decided to let his words speak for themselves. I'm still not sure that was the right move, morally, but it was probably the right move professionally.

1 comment:

Winter said...

"It's not the first time I've heard the words, "I consider myself a good Christian, but...", usually just before they say something racist. You know, that "but" pretty much negates the rest of the sentence."

I agree with you completely. I often find people defending themselves before they say anything at all!