Another false controversy


For the last 20 years, if not more, we’ve been embroiled in an us versus them controversy. Whether it is abortion or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, universal healthcare or even the auto bailout, this has been perpetrated in the media as us versus them. Many of these controversies have been extremely petty. Currently, we have some folks who are incensed that Republican Governor Chris Christie has decided to fly the flag at half mast in honor of Whitney Houston. There are some who believe that such an honor should be reserved only for fallen officers and fallen military personnel. Okay. You can believe that, but it’s not based on anything written in stone. I have a problem with people who get mad simply to get mad. These people want to be outraged all the time. These are the people who scream at you through their car windows while driving 80 miles an hour through bumper-to-bumper traffic spilling their hot coffee on themselves.

The decision to fly a flag at half mast is usually up to the governor of that state, or to the president. The decision is relatively arbitrary. It is simply a sign of respect. Whitney Houston was beloved by millions of fans all over the world. She had an amazing voice. Unfortunately, she was consumed by demons both real and imagined. Personally, I find great sadness in her death. It seems to me that someone who flamed out so publicly could’ve been saved by somebody. She had mentors. She had followers. She had handlers. She had friends. Yet through this vast network of people, nobody pulled her out of her tailspin. To me, that’s the real tragedy. I don’t think flying the flag at half mast dishonors our troops or fallen police officers. Whatever Governor Chris Christie had decided would not have changed my mind about Whitney Houston’s career or her death.

Finally, if we want to get mad about something, we need to get mad about how we are treating our troops. These guys are real heroes. Whether you believed in their missions or not is not germane. The fact is that these young men and women stepped up and answered the call when our country asked them to. They need universal health care for life. They need better post-traumatic stress treatment. They need better services available for them so that they can reassemble into society with a minimum of disruption. They need better pay. There should be no family of active duty servicemen on food stamps. There’s no excuse. If we truly want to honor our troops, we need to take care of them like the heroes that they are.

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.


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