While cruising through the news sites, I came across a disturbing headline: “Tea Party Debate Audience Cheered Idea of Letting Uninsured Patients Die.” Now, surely, people wouldn’t be so shallow as to cheer the idea of letting someone die! That’s just not the American way! So, of course, I clicked the link to see what the fuss was about:
CNN moderator Wolf Blitzer’s hypothetical question about whether an uninsured 30-year-old working man in coma should be treated prompted one of the most boisterous moments of audience participation in the CNN/Tea Party Express.
“What he should do is whatever he wants to do and assume responsibility for himself,” Paul responded, adding, “That’s what freedom is all about, taking your own risk. This whole idea that you have to compare and take care of everybody…”
The audience erupted into cheers, cutting off the Congressman’s sentence.
Now, let’s stop right here. Anyone reading this the say way I did notices something very important. The crowd cheered in response to Ron Paul’s comments, that clearly spelled out the idea of people taking personal responsibility for themselves. But just to make sure, let’s see what happened next:
After a pause, Blitzer followed up by asking “Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?” to which a small number of audience members shouted “Yeah!”
Paul, a doctor trained in obstetrics and gynecology, said when he got out of medical school in the 1960s “the churches took care of them.”
“We never turned anybody away from the hospital,” he said. “We’ve given up on this whole concept that we might take care of ourselves or assume responsibility for ourselves. Our neighbors, our friends, our churches would do it. That’s the reason the cost is so high.”
So…a few idiots (not even close to being the entire audience) decides to be stupid. But this is not how the headline portrays it. The casual observer (or staunch Liberal) is led into the story thinking everyone let out a roar when the option of letting an uninsured person die. Paul never implied that was the case.
For the record, a number of the republican candidates issued statements to condemn the cheering. But let’s be clear. This is an example of poor journalism, made even worse by the fact that many outlets picked up the story and ran with it. Now we get to hear about how the Tea Party wants uninsured people to die. Just lovely.