Should the police torture sick people?

Practicing medicine without a license is a crime, except when it’s done by the police, including the Drug Enforcement Agency. There is a story in the NY Times Magazine (June 17) by Tina Rosenberg about a physician who is serving a long prison term for prescription practices the DEA does not like. Was he wrong? That should be determined by pain specialists not by the police.  Here clearly the DEA is practicing medicine, so it is the DEA that is committing a crime. The police should not practice medicine. This leads (among other problems) to undertreatment of pain. And pain kills. There are many who have died from it  (often unnecessarily, because that is what the law requires). What would we think of a criminal who tortures and then kills? Obviously such a person should get a long prison term, life without the possibility of parole. Why should the DEA be treated differently? If you were in pain who would you want to treat you, a physician or the DEA? In this country we have decided it should be the DEA. Is that really what the people of this country want?

Then there is the question of medical marijuana. People feel that they desperately need it. Why shouldn’t they get it? Because it has not been approved. (You must not do what the people in power do not want you to do!).  And of course it will never be approved.

There are underlying psychological reasons for these positions and behaviors. There are people who have an intense need to tell other people what to do. That is the reason for dictatorships and authoritarian governments. But the need is almost universal. It can be seen in so many ways, including drug policies. Of course in all these it does much harm. But people feel their emotional needs are more important than even the lives of others. Realizing this makes much, not only drug policies, clear.

Conservatives, who are the ones most supportive of such policies, believe that people should suffer. They have both a theological belief and an underlying (sadistic) need to see people suffer. They cannot tolerate seeing people get relief from pain or misery. That is why they (including the DEA) are so strongly attached to policies designed to continue and increase suffering.

Conservatives are opposed to governmental interference in people’s lives except when that hurts others.


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