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Move Over, Atticus Finch

Occasionally, when I’m not actively engaged in my daily responsibilities of whiskey-drinking, cigarette-smoking and guitar-playing, I like to do a little pro-bono work for the American public. When people, or groups of people, begin to make astronomically stupid claims that they are “owed” something from the rest of the population, I step in and make sure that there is some merit to their arguments. Here is the transcript of one such mediation:

All rise. The honorable Judge Valannin now presiding over the case of Pure Logic vs. The People of the Incorporated Village of Hempstead, New York. This case will determine whether the people have any justifiable claim in their demand for a taxpayer-funded hospital facility in their vicinity.

Ok, folks, you can take your seats. Before we get started, I need to know who will be speaking for the defendants.

Your honor, I am Dr. Aubrey Lewis, I’m a Cardiologist from Merrick, Long Island. I’ll be speaking on behalf of the 65,000 people who live in Hempstead and demand Justice in the face of this neglectful, oppressive action!

Dr. Lewis, let’s not start the grandstanding just yet, ok? Tell me, why have the people chosen you as their advocate? Other than your medical qualifications I mean.

I don’t understand.

Well, Dr. Lewis, you’re not actually from Hempstead, New York. You live and practice in Merrick.

Yes, but these people have decided that I am best qualified because these people are my community, my brothers and sisters. The mileage between us may be great, but the ties of history are strong!

Dr. Lewis, all you had to say was “Because I’m black, and so is almost 53% of the Hempstead population.” That’s really it, isn’t it?

Well, yes, but…

Let’s move on. Dr. Lewis, what exactly is your claim? And please, once again, try to keep the drama to a minimum.

In 2003, The Village of Hempstead lost the only medical facility that was feasibly in close proximity to the people. The Hempstead General Hospital went bankrupt and closed its doors due to mismanagement and may I say, like the levee system in New Orleans, this empty building stands as a metaphor for the political neglect…

Whoa, whoa, there. The Levee System? What does that have to do with the hospital closing?

Like I was saying, the minority community has suffered far and wide at the hands of the so-called “privileged ruling class” in our country. The fact that so many of our brothers and sisters died as a result of neglect in New Orleans…



1,464. That’s how many people in Louisiana died as a result of Hurricane Katrina. And since Louisiana as a whole is made up of 32.5% of your “brothers and sisters”, I’m going to assume that 476 black people died as a result of the hurricane in that state. And, according to the Louisiana’s Governor’s office, 112 people die each day regardless of the weather. This is a poor metaphor, Dr. Lewis. Can we move on with the facts, please.

Yes, Your Honor. As I was saying, due to the closing of the hospital in 2003, the people have no medical care facility in their immediate area in which to receive both preventative and emergency care…

When you say “immediate area”, can you be a little more specific?

Sure, the original hospital was located at 800 Front Street, 1.3 miles from the village center. That is certainly within walking distance for most of our residents…

Walking distance? Sick and injured people don’t typically walk to the hospital, do they, Dr. Lewis? And you keep using the plural possessive pronoun “our”. May I remind you that you’re not actually from the town of Hempstead.

Granted, Your Honor. But at the very least, you must concede that the hospital’s former location was convenient.

Oh, most certainly. Having a hospital within five minutes driving time from the village center is definitely convenient. Now you’re saying that there are no other hospitals within a similar radius? I find that most distressing.

Well, there are (mumbles under his breath)

I’m sorry, Dr. Lewis, I didn’t catch that. Can you please speak more clearly?

Three, Your Honor, there are three Hospitals in the vicinity, but they are overcrowded and none are as close as the former…

Clerk, access on my laptop and bring it here to me. (Receives laptop) Thank you. Ok, according to Mapquest, the closest hospital to the village center is Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre. It appears to be 1.82 miles, or about five minutes away from your village center. How exactly is that not “close”?

Oh, it is, but Mercy is overcrowded.

The website says that there are 387 beds available. How many were available at your former hospital?


So Mercy is larger. Hmm. Interesting. Upon further analysis, there seems to be two other hospitals within ten minutes driving time of the village. Winthrop University Hospital is 2.78 miles away, or nine minutes (and has 591 beds) and Nassau University Medical Center is a 1500-bed facility only 10 minutes or 4.10 miles away. So, in summation, even though your former hospital has closed, there seems to be three viable alternatives all within a ten-mile driving radius of the Hempstead Village center. Am I correct?

Well, yes, but what happens if we experience a hurricane, other natural catastrophe or terrorist action? Minutes can mean the difference between life and death in emergency situations…

A hurricane? The last hurricane with the intensity of Katrina (if I may be so bold as to use your flawed metaphor) was Carol in 1954, and it caused only 65 deaths. Plus, according to the United States Hurricane Landfalling Probability Project, there is only a 26% percent chance that New York will be hit by a Category 3 hurricane in the next 50 years. Hardly cause for concern at this point in time. And, color me skeptical, but if New York were to experience another terrorist strike, chances are probably pretty remote that they would choose the Village of Hempstead as their next target. Terrorists tend to go after symbolic places of note, inhabited by people of power and influence. Or locations with a high population density, such as nightclubs, strip malls, or, ironically, hospitals. The very fact that the residents of Hempstead are lacking one may just be the key to the town’s salvation.

But everyone is born equal, and we're entitled to health benefits just like everyone else! Why should the minority community suffer at the hands of…

Who said that you weren’t equal? Look, the residents of Scarsdale, NY, whose per capita income is $89,000, approximately six times that of Hempstead’s $15,737 and happen to be 84% white, still have to drive an average of five to ten minutes to their closest hospital. Color and socio-economic status has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that sometimes not everything is conveniently placed in your backyard. You want to turn this into some sort of commentary on racial inequity, further polarizing our society, but the cold hard fact is that, in the words of the immortal Rolling Stones, you can’t always get what you want. Especially if you choose to complain about it instead of actively seeking to remedy the problem. According to my files, you had a protest yesterday concerning this, did you not?

Yes. Dozens of our supporters braved the bitter cold yesterday to fight this injustice!

Hmm…my files say “almost 60 people” showed up. And yesterday it was 43 degrees outside. Hardly bitter. No, the only thing bitter here, Dr. Lewis, is you. You, the successful Cardiologist who can’t seem to understand is that you cannot force the government to reopen a private hospital that filed for bankruptcy due to the fact that the majority of its patients rely on Medicare, a system that has seen major cuts in its distribution levels over the past decade. Remember, a private hospital is a business like any other, and exists to make a profit. If they fail to do so, they will close up shop. I find it hard to believe that you went through almost 20 years of higher education without learning the basics of the Free Market Economic System. According to my sources, the average salary of a cardiologist is $261,886 per year. If your patients were primarily Medicare recipients, I think you’d find that your income would greatly diminish. Besides, you have the same net worth of approximately 17 residents of Hempstead combined, and therefore could not possibly speak on their behalf. You are nothing more than a publicity hound who seeks to exploit your “brothers and sisters” while only sharing the most tenuous connection to them, that of skin color. I don’t suppose you have any plans to open your own free clinic within the boundaries of the Town of Hempstead, do you?

Probably not…

Well, then, this court finds you to be irrelevant. And, on the basis of the facts, and only the facts, I, Judge Valannin, protector of the laws of reason, logic and common sense, find that Dr. Aubrey Lewis, on the behalf of the people of the Town of Hempstead, has not presented sufficient prima fascia evidence to warrant a further investigation into this matter. I find all claims to be nothing more than unsubstantiated grandstanding, most likely to further Dr. Lewis’ career or lay the groundwork for a future political position, and thereby dismiss said claims with extreme revulsion.

In other words, you’re all full of shit, so get out of my courtroom lest my Louisville Slugger find your backside.

Court Adjourned.


Moni said…
Maybe they could use you to decide who Anna's baby daddy is. I'm sure you could cut through that crap of a circus. :)
Scott said…
Val, hop over to ZombieSlayers blog and read his current post on the candidates running for president. Then do your thing.

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