Saturday, June 06, 2009

Who should we throw in jail?

I read a harrowing story today; in Australia a little 9 month old girl died unnecessarily from chronic eczema (an easily treatable skin condition) and secondary infection bought on by her parents who refused to treat her with proper medicine. The two people involved were believers in Homeopathy; this is where active chemicals are diluted in water to an essentially infinite degree. It is perhaps the most ridiculous of all "alternative" medicines, since it clearly cannot work, does not work and has been tested repeatedly and shown to be useless. For those who ask, "What's the harm", you should direct your question the two parents in the story whose 9 month old baby suffered and died because of their beliefs. And suffer she did. The accounts of the paediatricians who tried too late to help little Gloria Thomas are simply harrowing.

In many ways I don't care how the parents choose to treat their own conditions, they are adults and make their own choices, the crime here is that they inflicted their beliefs on a child whom they were supposed to protect. When I first read this I felt that they had been rightly convicted by a court and felt satisfied that these people will have up to 25 years in jail to consider their convictions. However, upon reflection another question presented itself, are the Thomas parents the only people who should pay for this crime?

What about the people that fostered the culture and environment that caused these people to believe the things that they did, the people who told them that this nonsense works, the ones who encourage and profit from it, are they not culpable in some way?

Before we all get too smug that this happened in Australia, you may be interested to know that Homoeopathy is practised here in the UK, even from NHS funds, over 55,000 people a year are treated using it.

This made me think of the famous quote from Edmund Burke, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."


Elizabeth said...

I know a woman down the road who does Homeopathy. She studied four years for a degree in it. I think once you've made that kind of investment, you can never doubt it.

Steve Borthwick said...

E, A degree?? is there such a thing, four years I can't believe that!

Reminds me of a joke (if you can't laugh you just cry when you read this stuff), did you hear about the homoeopathy patient who forgot to take his medicine...

He died of an overdose..