Saturday, April 03, 2010

Making Sense Of It All

The sign (video, from GOP TV via youtube, below) on the office door of urologist Jack Cassell of Mount Dora, Florida advises patients

If you voted for Obama … seek urologic care elsewhere. Changes to your healthcare begin right now, not in four years.

In Dr. Cassell's office, above a passel of pamphlets attacking health care reform is a sign upon which is written

This is what the morons in Washington have done to your health care. Take one, read it and vote out anyone who voted for it.

Dr. Cassell contends that he still treats many Obama supporters and told the Orlando Sentinel "I'm not turning anybody away — that would be unethical." Nevertheless, he continued "But if they read the sign and turn the other way, so be it."

In an interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN, Cassell (a Republican whose wife is running as a Republican for a county commission seat) seemed to take the whole thing lightly, apparently enjoying the publicity. Representative Alan Grayson (D.-Fl.) (who represents Mount Dora), though, is not amused. He is filing a formal complaint with the Florida Department of Health and the Florida Medical Board, perhaps because Cassell apparently is in violation of Section 9.012 of the American Medical Association's Code of Ethics.

Cassell evidently is willing to intimidate potential and existing patients who are Obama supporters while still treating individuals bold (defiant?) enough to continue to seek treatment from him. This brings to mind a controversial incident from 2006 in Philadelphia, Pa.

In 2005, Joey Vento of Geno's Steaks in South Philadelphia placed above the walk-up window of his cheesesteak joint a sign reading


The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, as an article from 2007 explained, in 2006 "began investigating whether Vento violated a the city's Fair Practices Ordinance, which prohibits discrimination in employment, public accommodation and housing on the basis of race, ethnicity or sexual orientation." It initially found probable cause, then voted 2-1 in 2008 in Vento's favor, maintaining

The posted signage does not have the effect, result or consequence of communicating that the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of his business will be refused, withheld or denied or that the patronage any person within a protected category under the ordinance is unwelcome, objectionable or not acceptable, desired or solicited.

Presumably, the Human Rights Commission did not believe that inability to speak English fell under the purview of race or ethnicity (or sexual orientation); and that the sign did not suggest that business would be denied to anyone.

Obviously, the Commission's reasoning was tortured but the take-away is this: Vento won his case because he did not specify that he would deny service to anyone- rather, he merely requested that all patrons speak English. Intimidation was his stock in trade- as it apparently is with Dr. Cassell, who pleads "I'm not turning anybody away" but if they're scared away, that's just fine.

What, then, does this have to do with the price of tea in China? Perhaps nothing, or perhaps there is a connection, however slight, to the matter of South Carolina's Joe Wilson.

When the Republican Congressman shouted "you lie" to President Obama during the President's State of the Union address, the House censured him with a motion noting in part

Whereas the conduct of the Representative from South Carolina was a breach of decorum and degraded the proceedings of the joint session, to the discredit of the House: Now, therefore, be it resolved, That the House of Representatives disapproves of the behavior of the Representative from South Carolina, Mr. Wilson, during the joint session of Congress held on September 9, 2009.

After Rush Limbaugh and other conservative Republicans vowed to retaliate, there was nothing: just the standard, politics-as-usual response as each major party exploited the occasion to raise funds.

A tale of three conservatives- a doctor, a small business owner, a politician. Two are bullies whose modus operandi is not action, but intimidation, whose defense when confronted has been: really, we didn't mean anything by it. The third is not a bully (it's tough taking on the President of the United States) but, when supporters in his Party were challenged, they largely backed down. Three do not a pattern make, but maybe it is characteristic of the style of today's right wing.


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