A doctor gets suspended for speaking her mind about COVID

The First Amendment of the United States of America states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."  This freedom of speech has been one of our most cherished rights since the founding of our country.  Whatever happens in the United States, the people have been free to express their opinion about it.

Although the First Amendment applies to the government, Americans have understood that it applies across the board, in a variety of venues.  Of late, though, that right has been eroded.  We've seen it vanish in academia with campus speech codes.  Celebrities have been slammed for offenses ranging from criticizing frozen yogurt shops to pretending to be Spanish.  The refrain has been that while speech is free, it is not without consequences.

Fair enough.  If I say something you don't like, you're free to respond by saying something I may not like.  That's how free speech used to work.  People were criticized, but no one lost their job over their opinion.  That has now changed.

Dr. Mary Bowden of Houston Methodist Hospital has been suspended.  Dr. Bowden is not guilty of any improper conduct at the hospital.  She hasn't fudged her bills or committed malpractice.  She has complied with the hospital's vaccine mandate and treated her patients in accordance with accepted medical protocols.


Image: Mary Bowden, M.D. (edited in befunky).  YouTube screen grab.

Dr. Bowden's offense is what George Orwell called a "thoughtcrime" in his dystopian novel 1984.  Dr. Bowden had the audacity to tweet thoughts about vaccine mandates and ivermectin on her private Twitter account.  She praised ivermectin as a treatment for COVID and said vaccine mandates were wrong.  Indeed, with the current discrimination against the unvaccinated, she also wants to focus on providing treatment options for them, rather than for vaccinated people who are not treated as pariahs.

Dr. Bowden has adhered to her Hippocratic Oath at a time when other doctors are refusing to treat unvaccinated patients.  She believes that people should have a choice whether to get vaccinated or not.  She believes that ivermectin, a drug developed for human use, could save lives.  Dr. Bowden expressed those opinions, in accordance with her rights under the First Amendment.

The response was as swift as the drop of the blade of a guillotine.  Houston Methodist suspended Dr. Bowden, accusing her of spreading dangerous misinformation that is not in accordance with the values of the hospital.

I don't understand how expressing an opinion, which is not factual, can be construed as spreading misinformation, but that is what the hospital is going with.  Dr. Bowden has been deprived of her livelihood for speaking her mind.  Perhaps it is time to remember that George Orwell wrote 1984 as a warning, not an instruction manual.

Pandra Selivanov is the author of The Pardon, a story of forgiveness based on the thief on the cross in the Bible.

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