Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Human nature punches liberalism in the face

I have updated the Catalog of Clinical Liberalisms with perhaps the greatest offender yet: the question "are you sexually active" and its follow-up, "with men, women, or both?" This is particularly relevant because of a story I heard secondhand from a classmate last week.

During our first year, we have a number of clinical experiences wherein we spend one afternoon in a particular practice setting. In most of these we merely observe, but some students, when sent to the ER, have been asked to take patients' histories. Allegedly, so the gossip goes, one of my young female classmates was sent into a room to interview a patient, a young urban minority type, and asked him the famous "men, women, or both" question, whereupon he promptly took a swing at her, voicing offense at the suggestion that he was a "faggot." She was unhurt, but the patient had to be restrained for the remainder of the visit, and I assume the med student was somewhat shaken.

At one level, this reflects merely on the naivete of the medical student. One must assume that a seasoned physician, even a liberal one who believes devoutly in these clinical liberalisms, would not be so foolish as to ask this question so nonchalantly of a man who, were one permitted to employ stereotypes, one would know would not take kindly to it. At another level, though, it reflects on how out of step liberalism is with basic reality. After all, not only social workers but liberal physicians themselves advocate this system, and while their approach to the issue in daily practice may be more nuanced, they fully support the system of medical education that is teaching students that we must ask these ridiculous and socially destructive questions without qualification. Do they not know that incidents like this are bound to happen?

While I do not celebrate a physical assault on my fellow student, I find stories like this one heartening in a way, because they provide evidence that liberalism so contradicts reality and human nature that it cannot ultimately triumph.

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