Across The Pond by Paddy Duffy
Healthcare, gay marriage and the right side of history - dealing with our modern pressing social issues
Posted on Sunday, July 08, 2012 at 07:05 AM
- Conor Cusack, John Murray and Ireland's continuing crusade for mental health awareness
- Seven things the Irish learned thanks to the Senate referendum
- Mayo have an All-Ireland ancient curse similar to the Red Sox jinx
- Remembering the radiant Mira and her buzzing modern Facebook shrine
- Remembering two giants, Seamus Heaney and David Frost
Sometimes, it seems that imagination is a slave of modernity. You can look around you and see the swirl of technological gadgets that assist your living and generally consider the relative ease with which you live and think to yourself: how can we possibly top this? Are there any quantum leaps left? What possible thing could our kids complain in a “back in our day” manner to our grandkids?
Of course, there are plenty. Not just in the technological sphere but in the social, and in fact the intersection between those two will be the ethical battlefield for several generations to come. But in the meantime, we have plenty of pressing social issues to deal with. The first of which is healthcare.
In no sphere of influence is American exceptionalism found more pathetically lacking than with health provision. The notion that a developed country, much less the ostensible greatest in the world, would have such primitive ideals in dealing with their sick and vulnerable is nothing short of macabre. And the fact that so many people kick up such an hysterical fuss at advancing American healthcare so much a mere step in the direction of civilization is just disturbing.
Most of the opposition seems to stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of even the most basic tenets of political theory. Some seem to think that universal health care run, in any form, by the government entitles Vladimir Lenin to emerge from his mausoleum and give you a kick up the arse whenever he feels like it. But they’re not even the worst of it.
The worst are the ones who seem to take “Give me liberty or give me death” a bit too seriously, as if health insurance and freedom are mutually exclusive. More times than I care to admit I’ve heard Americans say “If people can be compelled to buy health insurance, they could be compelled to do anything!” What a terrifying prospect. Imagine a world where a government also compel you to insure your car, force you to apply for a license to drive it and limit the speed at which you travelled in it for fear of sharp punishment? Chilling.
The other hot button issue of the day is of course gay marriage, and curiously a lot of the same people bloviating about liberty when it comes to health care mandates get suddenly prescriptive when it comes to freedom to tie the knot. Thankfully the case for marriage equality is gathering steam, legislative heft and generally large public support, and in the last few weeks alone the US President, UK Prime Minister and Irish Tanaiste and Justice Minister have all stated their support for gay marriage. And yet, the state of North Carolina are digging their tar heels in with a proposed gay marriage ban, the religious right continue their absurd fixation on rounding up/curing gay people, in Africa homosexuality is treated as a real and present bogeyman, and in the Ukraine a new law proposes to clamp down on gay “propaganda”, making discussion of gay rights, talking about homosexuals in general or stating a fondness for Culture Club illegal. In this day and age, it’s just wrong. Hell, it’s wrong for any day and any age.
Thankfully, progress is inexorable, and the line in the sand is being drawn. There will come a time, not all that far away from now, where the notion that a man and another man couldn’t get married, or a first responder to a crisis would have to wait over a decade for rudimentary health coverage, will be preposterous. As preposterous to us as not allowing a black woman to sit anywhere she wants in a diner. Fifty years ago a great many of people would have put up a strenuous fight to stop that black woman sitting there, but those people have been proved to be dogmatically small-minded and stupid. So too will anti-gay bigots and anti-healthcare ideologues. History will prove it.