I like to think of it as a rite of passage, a trial by fire through which hardy bloggers must pass. A point of pride, really. Like staying on one’s horse while jousting, or figuring out how to navigate the subways after moving to New York City.
I refer, of course, to being compared to a Nazi because someone disagrees with one’s point of view.
Now, if the point of view one is advocating is that National Socialism was misunderstood, or that Hitler wasn’t all that bad, or that horrible things should happen to the Jews, then the comparison is apt. One has it coming. But Godwin’s Law didn’t spring out of thin air. All too often these comparisons materialize when someone has taken a view that has nothing whatsoever to do with fascism or gas chambers or whether to invade Poland.
In my case, it was because I had the temerity to question the existence of chronic Lyme disease. For this, I was compared to Josef Mengele. (You’re kind of gonna have to take my word for it, since that comment pretty much said “delete me” in big, bold, red letters.) As a gay pediatrician who is Jewish on one side, you can imagine how much that comparison warmed the cockles of my heart.
Let’s play doctor. A patient comes to you with joint pain, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, poor attention, and mood swings. You might run a series of tests to rule out a persistent infection or other disorder. If your patient lives in a tick- and Lyme-disease-infested area, you would be wise to test for the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and, if detected, prescribe a course of antibiotics. But suppose the tests come back negative and there is little evidence that your patient was bitten by a tick or was infected with the Lyme disease bacterium. If you are a good doctor, and you are, you might explore a diagnosis of depression, a disease that afflicts almost 10 percent of the population at any given time.
If you are a doctor who believes that the CDC and NIH have misrepresented carefully vetted clinical trial data about the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease, however, you might diagnose your patient with chronic Lyme disease and prescribe an intensive, long-term, side-effect-laden, mega-dose of antibiotics.
And who would be the biggest supporter of your and your patient’s right to pursue a worth-testing-but-found-wanting treatment? Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
The article links to this post on The Weekly Standard‘s blog, all about a mailer from the Romney-Ryan campaign that was sent out in northern Virginia. The mailer features the following promise:
ROMNEY AND RYAN WILL DO MORE TO FIGHT THE SPREAD OF LYME DISEASE
And how will they do this? Among other things:
Encourage increased options for the treatment of Lyme Disease and provide local physicians with protection from lawsuits to ensure they can treat the disease with the aggressive antibiotics that are required.
This is where I am going to stop and say outright that I do not believe in the existence of chronic Lyme disease. I am in good company here, what with the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the Centers for Disease Control taking similar stances. Everything I could possibly say about the subject is handily included in this article in the New England Journal of Medicine, and I’m not going to waste a lot of time trying to justify my medical opinions in this area. I think physicians whose practices are dedicated largely or wholly to treating “chronic Lyme” are charlatans, and unhappy patients should have every right to sue them when they realize they have been victims of chicanery.
If you are a random reader who comes across this blog and thinks I’m a moron or monster because of these opinions, I have no interest in dissuading you. If you think the IDSA and the CDC are rife with similar morons and monsters and thus their official pronouncements are to be treated with nothing but suspicion, there’s probably not a blessed thing I can say that will change your mind. Bluntly, I can’t be bothered to try. Something something free country, and all that. If you feel compelled to call me a moron or a monster in the comments, I’ll try to handle it with sang-froid. (Compare me to a Nazi, however, and I’m afraid your thoughts are destined to dissipate in the ether.)
The opinions of random commenters on the Internet? Not a big deal. Want to know what is a pretty big freaking deal? The opinions of nominees for the Presidency and Vice-Presidency. And want to know what is pretty freaking disturbing? When they’d choose to pander to voters in swing districts by touting their willingness to protect frauds from legal repercussion in defiance of the scientific consensus from essentially every medical body that has seen fit to weigh in on the controversy. It was bad enough when this kind of madness was spouted by some of the more wild-eyed candidates on the dais during primary season, but supposedly Romney and Ryan were the ones the GOP thought sanest and most worthy of the nomination. And still they’re willing to toss the CDC overboard if it means a handful of credulous voters in a swing state might be somewhat more inclined to support them?
Am I all that surprised? No, not really. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if ol’ Mitt were willing to deny that our solar system is heliocentric if it would put Wisconsin back in play. Do I actually think anything in this mailer reflects the potential for any real impact on any legal or healthcare policy in Virginia or elsewhere? Not really. Is this even all that big a deal, all things considered? Nope.
Is it one more reason I won’t be voting for Mitt Romney? Is it one more bit of evidence that probity and respect for science are nothing to his campaign when it comes to pursuing votes? Is it one more pebble on the rock pile of my disdain for the man and all he stands for? Yes. Yes, it is.