Letters to the editor 

Congrats

The "Generation Gap" offering by John Branston in his City Beat column (November 17th issue) was superb. We should all be able to, when appropriate, set aside the things that separate us to celebrate the things that unite us. Congrats to John for pointing out such a situation and doing so in such a wonderful fashion. Our young people have much they can learn from older generations, but those of us in older sets have much to learn from them.  

Sam GoffMemphis

Malpractice Reform

Bravo for an excellent "malpractice reform" opinion by attorney Mark Ledbetter (Viewpoint, November 10th issue). Malpractice reform is a misnomer for loss of accountability and disclosure.

My husband died in a Memphis hospital as the result of hospital-acquired infections in combination with incompetent treatment. The physician responsible for his death now has been named in (at least) three active lawsuits and needs to be prevented from practicing. She continues to practice in a critical-care area of a major hospital.

Laws such as those at issue allow insurance companies to impose protective orders on disclosure while paying meager policy limits which permit physicians and/or hospitals to continue business as usual. Not only will malpractice escalate, bad physicians will continue to practice -- with higher premiums to cover their incompetence. Hospitals will enjoy the same protection from disclosure and accountability for their practices.

Do people realize that a jury may never hear their side of the story if caps are put in place? Results will be the same as those enacted for HMOs, which cannot be sued. When people give up their right to be heard, it means that bad doctors will continue to be free to practice bad medicine.

Julia B. Young

Memphis

Editor's note: For an opposing view, see Viewpoint, page 17.

A Dark Hour

The winter of 1776 marked a dark hour on the American continent. The American Revolution had almost certainly failed and with that failure would come the death by hanging of its perpetrators, including George Washington and John Adams. Worse still came the news that in New York and New Jersey the British and Hessian armies were applying the standard European war doctrine of "shock and awe," called in those days "quarter." That meant the murder by rifle butt and bayonet of most wounded and many unwounded captured American soldiers and the brutal treatment and starvation of those POWs not murdered. (A larger percentage of American POWs died in British hands than did those in WW II Japanese camps.) The news from the countryside was even worse, as Hessian troops ran amok, burning, looting, and raping women and girls.

If ever there was a time for retaliation, it was then. Surely the Congress and General Washington would order stern measures to be taken. Surely captured British and Hessian troops would receive the same treatment. Washington would surely order "enhanced interrogation techniques" to be employed against captured prisoners to obtain vital intelligence necessary for the winning of the war.

Well, no. As Pulitzer Prize author D.H. Fisher writes in Washington's Crossing: "In 1776, American leaders believed it was not enough to win the war. They had to win it in a way that was consistent with the values of their society and the principles of the cause." Washington ordered POWs to be treated appropriately and provided with adequate food and shelter. Congress, at the instigation of John Adams, adopted a "policy of humanity."

Those Americans, men of their time, believed that their personal honor, morality, decency, and Christian ethics were more important than mere survival.

But that was then. Now is now, I guess.

Clary Lunsford

Memphis

Conviction

Thank you for reminding us in your editorial (November 17th issue) about the Rev. Adrian Rogers. "The man had conviction," you wrote, and he did, indeed.

Let us all remember that life is an adventure -- a gift from God -- to which we must commit ourselves and to which we must carry through, one way or another. We must have conviction, loving and serving an ideal. We must right wrongs and be, if necessary, considered crazy by the rest of humanity for trying with every fiber of our being.

Arthur H. Prince

Memphis

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