Thursday, March 22, 2007

The fall of a sick society

What kind of a society have we become that a 12 year old can die of a toothache? What have we done as a community that a child can be abused and tortured to death?

For Want of a Dentist (from the Washington Post on 2/28)
Twelve-year-old Deamonte Driver died of a toothache Sunday.

A routine, $80 tooth extraction might have saved him.

If his mother had been insured.

If his family had not lost its Medicaid.

If Medicaid dentists weren't so hard to find.

If his mother hadn't been focused on getting a dentist for his brother, who had six rotted teeth.

By the time Deamonte's own aching tooth got any attention, the bacteria from the abscess had spread to his brain, doctors said. After two operations and more than six weeks of hospital care, the Prince George's County boy died.

This is a fairly old story but I want to bring it back to the forefront. It seems that we, as a society, jump all over this type of issue and then it quickly fades to distant memory never to be discussed or mentioned again. The increase in our societal apathy is appalling.

Which brings me to the case of our recent local avoidable child death. Summer Phelps was tortured and killed by her parents. The outrage was quick and severe. People were becoming so abusive in the blog posts on the step mothers blog that relatives had to pull the site from MySpace.

Blogs foster the return of public pillory

The above blog from the Spokesman Review covers an interesting aspect of this abuse case.

How far we have fallen if a child can die of a toothache on one side of the country and a child can die of extreme abuse and torture on the other side. The quick, justifiably brutal online attacks are a quick release of the anger people felt over this tragedy.

But what does it accomplish? Not much. The outrage of the community is expressed in the time it takes to type a 100 word letter to the editor or jot a note on a blog.

How quickly will that outrage drift from our memory? - Just as quickly as we can hit the send button.

What is accomplished by the collective outrage? - nothing.

Will any of those who posted to the website or wrote letters to the editor do something more after they hit the send button? - not likely, that would require additional thought, action and time.

All that being said, you should not worry, have another cheeseburger, take another anti-depressant. As soon as you finish, everything will be right as rain.

I promise.