America is a land of extreme contrasts and contradictions. On the one hand it can create the most wonderful things. Cinema, TV, music—transcendental testaments to human creativity pour out of America at a ludicrous rate. On the other hand you have all that racism, capitalism, and imperialism. Contemplating America’s poles can sometimes make one dizzy.
I hate to be that mug who quotes Charles bloody Dickens but those opening lines from ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ do seem particularly apt here.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…
Some might say that America is not a special country, merely a large and loud one. That every nation makes great art, everybody has an ugly side, and that it’s just the case that America has the most power and the most money—so of course things are gonna seem more pronounced there than in other places. America exercises a form of cultural hegemony that rivals its military and financial arms in terms of the stranglehold it has on the world. It exports its stories and values around the globe in a ceaseless torrent of incalculable power. So of course it’s going to feel special.
There is one area however in which America truly is an unmitigated, quantifiable outlier. Gun violence. Considering its status as an OECD nation and its ostensibly high position on the nation developmental ladder (ignoring for the moment some rather ugly truths about that ladder, and of America’s place on it), the rate of gun violence that afflicts America really does make it a terribly remarkable place. It is a country in the grip of a paradoxically permanent paroxysm of self-inflicted death. The epidemic is not an accident, and there are parties and agents at whose feet responsibility can be laid. Mike wrote a wrote a pretty damming diagnosis of the problem the other day.
It’s always interesting to see how people in America respond to the endless procession of killings that blight the country. Most people, naturally, exhibit differing mixtures of grief, horror, exhaustion, rage, and compassion. Recently, in the wake of the awful shooting in California (and I hate how tragically generic a template sentence that sounds), it was the nation’s doctors who chose to respond by adding their voice to the calls of ‘enough is enough’.
And then you have the National Rifle Association. The good ol’ NRA. The good ol’, spent-more-than-$5-million-on-political-lobbying-in-2017 NRA. Their response to the doctors’ response was: Mind your own business. Or in the parlance of our times, #StayInYourLane.
Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane. Half of the articles in Annals of Internal Medicine are pushing for gun control. Most upsetting, however, the medical community seems to have consulted NO ONE but themselves. https://t.co/oCR3uiLtS7— NRA (@NRA) November 7, 2018
So the doctors in turn responded to that.
#StayInYourLane was answered with #ThisIsOurLane
It started with Dr Judy Melinek, and it went from there. (Fair warning: some slightly disturbing imagery ahead.)
Do you have any idea how many bullets I pull out of corpses weekly? This isn’t just my lane. It’s my fucking highway. https://t.co/48S9UIFaV2— Judy Melinek M.D. (@drjudymelinek) November 9, 2018
My wife @drjudymelinek is a #forensic #pathologist—a #doctor who does #autopsy. Nearly every day she pulls spent bullets & pellets out of someone's dead son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister. Then she talks to the family. Often to a jury. A hard job. She is a #badass. https://t.co/1MyxijnOFJ— T.J. Mitchell (@TJMitchellWS) November 10, 2018
.@NRA says docs should “stay in [our] lane.— Stephanie Bonne (@scrubbedin) November 9, 2018
My lane is a pregnant woman shot in a moment of rage by her partner. She survived because the baby stopped the bullet. Have you ever had to deliver a shattered baby? #ThisisMyLane . What’s yours? #Docs4GunSense
Had a patient who was shot right in the belly. So much blood rushed out of his abdomen when we made our incision that it spilled all over the surgical field and onto the floor. We transfused as much blood as we could while removing his spleen. He didn’t make it. #ThisIsOurLane— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) November 12, 2018
Hi, NRA. I work psychiatry. My patients die because of guns. We have clear evidence that with fewer guns, people do not change their means to attempt suicide- they get help. Means restriction is a big part of safety planning. This is MY lane. #ThisIsOurLane #GunControlNow https://t.co/Zz0gYDCjNi— Chelsea A (@ChelseaArata) November 9, 2018
@NRA Already commented: you want me to stay in my lane? Come scrub brain matter off my backboard. It dries fast. You'll really need to scrape it off. It's going to take you about 45 minutes. #ThisIsOurLane #NRA 1/ https://t.co/xUxku2zVPS— Undercaffeinated Medic (@coffeeisvida) November 9, 2018
This 2017 piece on what bullets do to bodies is one of best “longform” pieces I’ve ever read: “The gun debate would change in an instant if Americans witnessed the horrors that trauma surgeons confront every day.” #ThisIsOurLane https://t.co/rsHlOhS6fm— Matt Dowell (@dowellml) November 10, 2018
#ThisISMyLane #ThisISOurLane @NRA @DocsDemand @MomsDemand This is what the floor looked like after his chest tube for his giant hemothorax. He locked eyes with me and pleaded, "Doc, don't let me die." Enough is enough. pic.twitter.com/phPfUs4Tnx— Doc (@drscubs) November 10, 2018
.@ArtAcevedo with common sense ideas to reduce gun violence in our country. This is his lane- wouldn’t you say @NRA?? It’s a public health crisis and law enforcement, physicians, and mental health professionals need to be at the table! #ThisIsOurLane @MomsDemand @Everytown https://t.co/9TcxZ3ApIF— Shannon Westin (@ShannonWestin) November 9, 2018
If @NRA had stayed in your lane, promoted gun safety, safe storage, and more effective enforcement of existing laws,it wouldn’t have fallen to us. But as it is #ThisIsOurLane. When you show you understand the difference between “anti-gun” and “anti-gun injury” we’ll consult you.— Alex Limkakeng (@alimkakeng) November 8, 2018
Timing of this is beyond insensitive. Trauma surgeons & really all physicians have a duty to decrease preventable death. We support seat belts, helmets, cancer screenings, antibiotics, vaccines, fall prevention, and yes #gunsafety. #ThisisOURlane #stayinyourowndamnlane— doctorenough (@doctorenough) November 9, 2018
Dear @NRA,— DrWolfe_Forensics (@DrWolfeMD) November 10, 2018
This is what a GSW to the heart looks like. This is not survivable. This could be the heart of anyone; man or woman, the innocent or the guilty, young or old, the god-fearing or the secular.
But no matter who it is, it’s preventable. That’s why we speak.#ThisISMyLane pic.twitter.com/eWIsAMgvUZ
I am a psychiatrist who trained in the US— Dr Javeed Sukhera (@javeedsukhera) November 10, 2018
I was trained to asked every single suicidal patient about guns before they went home
I saw countless patients with PTSD from gunshot wounds
I work in Canada now
I haven’t had a single patient with a gunshot wound#thisisourlane
As a physician my daily mission is to protect and preserve life. The sole purpose of a gun is to end life. Treating loss of life, limb, and functional status due to gun violence is what we do as doctors. It’s not just OUR lane. It’s OUR highway #ThisIsOurLane https://t.co/5Lsrd99wce— Joseph Marino (@josephmarino13) November 10, 2018
Shocking, sobering, heartrending imagery.
An impassioned, desperate plea for change from those at the front lines of an unnecessary war.
Will anything change?
Header Image Source: Twitter