BY MIKE MAGEE
A case has been made that a logical approach to reforming America’s violent and racist leanings would be to adopt the values and practices of Health Care for All. These include a commitment to compassion, understanding, and partnership; extending the linkages between individual, family, community and society; addressing fear and worry for individuals and populations; and promoting an optimistic and equitable future for all Americans.
Nurses and doctors and pharmacists and other health professionals pledge oaths and spend years training to exhibit and practice these values in the course of providing preventive and interventional care to select Americans. Imagine the effect of delivering these many benefits in an equitable way, in all communities, with the intent of making not only Americans, but also the American culture healthy.
Or we could simply continue to accept the values exhibited by the Missouri State Legislature, where misogyny and brass knuckles have risen to the top of their legislative calendar.
In June, 2021, a Missouri News-Press editorial commented that “one vote last week might strike some as a sign that Missouri’s lawmakers could use some help with time management and prioritization.” The Republican led body had soundly passed HB 1462 which included Section 571.020 and 571.107 which read “This act repeals prohibitions on the possession and selling of brass knuckles, firearm silencers, and switchblade knives.” The same act addressed the taxpayer burden for possession of their weaponry by providing “that all sales of firearms and ammunition made in this state shall be exempt from state and local sales taxes.”
Coming off of pandemic induced limited face time, the local legislators are back to giving it their all on behalf of Missouri’s citizens, though their priority list remains pretty debatable. This week, 116 men and 43 women legislators gathered to do the state’s work in earnest. One of their first actions? Updating women legislators dress code in four sentences of a 37-page resolution.
Democratic women, like legislator Raychel Proud, rose to object, stating, “I think we’re being quite pedantic here by making rules so petty. And what it will ultimately lead to is the disenfranchisement of folks. For example, they don’t make jackets or blazers for women who are pregnant. That can be very uncomfortable.”
Her Democratic colleague, Ashley Aune, added she was personally offended by being given the once over by her male colleagues, adding “You know what it feels like to have a bunch of men in this room looking at your top trying to decide whether it’s appropriate or not? I mean, this is ridiculous.”
Republican State Representative Ann Kelley, who introduced the new rule, channeling her best inner “Phyllis Schlafly”, feigned confused surprise. “You would think that all you would have to do is say, ‘Dress professionally,’ and women could handle it. You would think elected officials could handle that.”
A decade earlier, fellow Missourian Schafly said, with a polite smile, “We certainly don’t need a committee of foreigners who call themselves ‘experts’ to dictate our laws or customs.” From there it was a straight line to the Dobbs decision, to green lighting weapons of violence, and to challenging women’s autonomy.
Brass knuckles rose to prominence during the Civil War. But their symbolism, along with misogynistic and racist attacks on large segments of our population, can only be described as “deeply disturbing.” None of this would pass the muster in addressing the simple, but very basic question, “How do we make America and all Americans healthy?”
Mike Magee MD is a Medical Historian and the author of “CODE BLUE: Inside the Medical-Industrial Complex.”