Vol. 12, No. 3,009 - The American Reporter - October 19, 2006

Make My Day

by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
Syracuse, Indiana

Printable version of this story

SYRACUSE, Ind. -- A couple months ago, I wrote about Caesar Barber, the Brooklyn, New York maintenance worker who is suing McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, and KFC, claiming they didn't warn him that eating their food four or five times a week for four decades would make him fat.

And you would hope that with all the jokes and shouts of "What an idiot!" echoing through the country, the other 297 million Americans would say, "Hmm, maybe I should take responsibility for my own actions."

But you would be wrong.

Thanks to Overlawyered.com for bringing an article to my attention, from the September 11 issue of the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania Times-Leader.

According to the Times-Leader, Wilkes-Barre resident Kathleen Ann McCormick is suing eight doctors at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, because they failed do anything to prevent the heart attack that has left her a "cardiac invalid."

McCormick was in the hospital on several different occasions between 1997 and 2000 for different problems, and had several obvious risk factors for a heart attack.

She says that despite her obesity, history of hard-core smoking, high cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as a family history of coronary disease, the doctors "did not do enough" to help her make any life-saving changes. According to the lawsuit, they didn't help her to eat less or stop smoking, or force her to take drugs to lower her cholesterol and blood pressure.

In other words, no one said, "Lose weight and quit smoking, or you'll die."

Not satisfied with dipping only into the pockets of the eight doctors named in the suit, she is also suing the government, since it - through the Department of Veterans Affairs - employed the doctors. And since she is house-bound and requires constant care, she is seeking $1 million.

So where is McCormick's responsibility in this? If you follow her logic, nowhere. It's not her fault she's fat. It's not her fault she smokes too much. It's not her fault that her lifestyle lead to high blood pressure and high cholesterol. No, it's the doctors' fault, because they didn't make her stop.

But shouldn't she bear some ("some," from the Greek meaning "absolutely, positively ALL of it") responsibility for her own unwillingness to make these life changes? By blaming the doctors, she is essentially saying that she did not know these things could lead to a heart problem. Instead, she thinks it was entirely up to the doctors to point these things out to her.

Never mind there are graphic, bloodthirsty warnings on cigarette packs designed to make people quit smoking.

Warning: The Surgeon General has determined that if you smoke, you will be attacked by pirates, and sharks will feast on your still-twitching corpse.

And never mind that Richard Simmons has built a diet-and-fitness empire by weeping with former 800 pound people who Dealt-a-Meal down to a shocking 120 pounds.

Richard: And so, Betty Ann, you're saying that thanks to Deal-a-Meal, you no longer have to travel by tractor-trailer?

Betty Ann: *sniffle* That's right, Richard. Boo hoo hoo!

Richard: Waaaah ... buy my latest video!

Basically, she's saying she ignored thousands of experts, warnings, and news reports that we need to lead healthy lives to avoid heart problems, but she would have listened to the doctors.

What did she expect them to do? Jam some medication down her throat? Give her a series of electroshock punishments in a drastic stop smoking campaign? Or would it have been enough if one of them had just said, "Hey, Kathleen, why don't you put out that cigarette and drop a few pounds, huh? We'd hate for you to have a heart attack or something. Haha!"

I'm surprised the American Civil Liberties Union and privacy nerds haven't dropped on McCormick with Daisy Cutter-like thoroughness. By pushing the blame onto her doctors, the implication is that she no longer needs personal liberties either.

In other words, since the doctors -- and by her argument, the government -- should have made her quit smoking, they can actually force her to stop. Since they should have told her to lose weight, they have the obligation to make her get a stomach staple.

Is McCormick willing to give up her right to privacy just so Arnold Schwarzenegger can make sure she's exercising every day?

Arnold: Hey, Lardo. You awen't wunning fahst enough. Wun fahster! Fahster, fahster, fahster!!

Maybe I was asleep during my high school social studies class (actually I was), but I don't recall the line about "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness" being followed by a disclaimer that says " ... unless you eat like a pig and sit around all day."

With the ACLU shrieking about any infringement on personal freedom, whether it's the Ten Commandments displayed at a county courthouse, or the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, it's a wonder they haven't stubbed their cigarettes out on their triple cheeseburgers and screamed to the press that McCormick will set personal liberties back by 50 years.

Or maybe I can sue Kathleen Ann McCormick for that myself.

Copyright 2006 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

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