Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Michael J Fox...exploiting or simply voicing?

Fox ad sparks controversy

I saw the ad last night. There was Michael Fox, speaking about stem cell research. He says one candidate supports it, the other opposes it. Then he implies (in my opinion) that if you vote for the one candidate, then certain diseases like his own can be cured. The whole time he is writhing to and fro, clearly having difficulty controlling his own body movements. I saw the ad. And I simply disagree with Fox. I don’t think voting for one candidate will cure disease and I don’t see any scientific evidence that embryonic stem cell research will lead to miracle cures. I’ve seen theory, but no evidence.

Now for the controversy. Rush Limbaugh suggested that Fox may have been intentionally off of his medication to ad drama to the commercial. He is dead wrong and such a suggestion is unfair. As a physician, I’ll say that the medications used for Parkinson’s have some dramatic side effects including inducing writhing movements like those seen on the ad. Further, when Limbaugh says something like that it detracts from the message that many people simply disagree with Fox and, not only that, but also he was a little misleading when he said the Republican senate candidate did not support stem cell research. But that gets lost when Limbaugh makes the comment that Fox "wasn’t on his medication". It makes him look like he’s picking on someone with Parkinson’s Disease. In short, it makes him look mean.

But, there are people who were upset with this ad, and they have a point in contending that it was done in poor taste. Is Fox exploiting Parkinson’s Disease for political purposes? I personally don’t think so. He has a right to support whomever he chooses for whatever reason. The fact that he has money allows him to run ads during the World Series, but he earned that money himself so more power to him. But I can see how some would take offense. For example:

I could place a camera in the delivery room while a partial birth abortion is performed. I could film the process, film the needle puncturing the baby’s skull, film the last minutes of that child’s life. Or I could simply show pictures of dead babies and say "candidate X supports partial birth abortion, candidate Y does not. If you vote for candidate X, then you vote for partial birth abortion."

I wonder what kind of outrage such an ad would generate? Once again, the media double standard would rear its ugly head. But I wouldn’t have a problem with anyone making such an ad, just like I don’t have a problem with Fox’s ad. Limbaugh shouldn’t speak about medical matters that he knows nothing of, and instead of criticizing Fox the right thing to do would be to make a counter ad – which is exactly what’s being done. Democracy at its finest.


Allisoni Balloni said...

In Wisconsin, we ARE facing an election that will determine the future of stem cell research in our state. The Republican candidate has publicly stated that he opposes the research (which, ironically enough, was pioneered in WI, maybe he should run for governor of a different state...) currently being done and that he will do everything in his power to slow or stop it. People CHOOSE not to see the possibilities for cures, just as people choose not to see the possibility that we are destroying the planet we live on. Certianly it is a theory, but if we block all means of gathering evidence in the first place, there is no way to know whether or not it is legitimate. The message that the president and some candidates are now sending is that life is only important until birth. Then what? You don't get affordable health care, we don't support research to cure your diseases (even when the majority of the country does), we will cut Pell grants and give big coorporations benefits so that you can't afford your education. Life is important ALL THE TIME. Fox is absolutely correct. Some people just choose not to see it.

John The Patriot said...

Allison, a few things to address. First, I truly believe that you and people like you who support embryonic stem cell research have the best intentions in mind. I believe that. But, you should see my prior comments on moral relativism to understand my position. Either it's okay to take an innocent human life or it's not...regardless of the reason. I argue that it's not okay. You argue that it is as long as it "benefits" humanity. That's a slippery slope that we can't afford to step on.

Second, I CAN afford health care, and the 41 million who don't have it can ALSO afford health care. Anyone with a steady job can afford health care because the insurance companies are in it to make money. Employers provide health insurance and if Congress would allow small businesses to pool their assets to buy plans at discounted rates like large corporations, then more people could have access.

Third, ANYONE can get an education in this country if they want. Stafford Loans and other funds are readily available to those who have dedicated themselves and made the grade. Yes, it's a loan, but it's a way.

Tell me why I, as a taxpayer who has taken care of himself (with no help from the government) should have to pay for things like health care and education for people who have not? And, suppose that I oppose using my tax dollars to fund research that offends my personal beliefs. Why should I be forced to pay for that? Would you be okay with using tax dollars to fund churches? Of course not.

Finally, there is only ONE thing the Constitution says the government should be providing for its people, and that's military defense. Yet, we spend nearly four times as many tax dollars on social programs than military defense. Is that Constitutional? In my mind, no, and that's one of the major reasons I oppose the things you mentioned.

Thanks for the comment.

allisnoi balloni said...

First of all, a human life is not being taken for the sake of research. If these embryos are not used for research, they are discarded.

Second, is it not a shame that elderly people are unable to afford the medications they need? Just because you are able to afford health care does not mean that others are able to--this is a country in which you can work full time and minimum wage and still be below the poverty level. That's a damn shame, if you ask me.

Anonymous said...


Alhtough I feel Rush's comments were harsh and uncaring, his question regarding whether or not Fox was on his medication is a legitimate one. Fox has already admitted in his book that he purposely stayed off of his medication prior to testifying before Congress so that the effects of Parkinson's would be easier to observe.

Although this is somewhat reprehensible, Fox took these actions admittedly once and possibly a second time for dramatic effect. The same way Reagan used what he had learned in his acting career to be a better politician. The same way the media will interview someone from NOLA who won't get off their butts and help themselves but won't interview people from the MS. Gulf Coast who are actively rebuilding.

Politics is certainly getting uglier in a 24 hour news cycle and an on-demand society!


Dan Trabue said...

"Tell me why I, as a taxpayer who has taken care of himself (with no help from the government) should have to pay for things like health care and education for people who have not?"

Because it's cheaper than NOT paying for those so struggling?

When some individual's inability or plain failure to take care of themselves results in homelessness, imprisonment, under and unemployment, vandalism, etc, etc, etc - ALL of these results cost you, too. More, I'd suggest. So, many suggest that we fund these sorts of programs for pragmatic/fiscally-responsible reasons as well as compassionate reasons.

A question: Assume that it was clear beyond a doubt that Program X cost taxpayers $1,000,000 but saved taxpayers $2,000,000 - would you support it?