Monday, 10 September 2012

Man refused treatment in Calgary hospital for his jewelery

The title of this post is slightly hyperbolic, but I couldn't think of a better phrasing. The actual story involved a young man in a very goth-style outfit who visited a hospital in Calgary. He was asked by the admitting employee to remove his inverted cross; he agreed to tuck it away so it was no longer visible, but refused to remove it. When he did so the officer in question told him to find someone else to admit him. He did so, and the hospital in question has offered a full apology and is investigating.

To this point, there's not much wrong here. It seems fairly obvious to me that refusing someone medical treatment because of something they're wearing is absurd, and that the employee should be censured for his behaviour. The rest of the hospital staff did the right thing and corrected the problem, and as noted, an investigation is pending; it must be made clear to hospital employees that this behaviour is not acceptable, which it appears they are doing. No problem; if this was all there was I certainly wouldn't be writing this post about it.

The problems come in once I hit the comments on the article. I know, I know; such comment sections tend to be horrifying cesspools, better left alone, but a number of counterpoints seem to come up over and over again, and I felt it appropriate to deal with them.

"its not a matter of dressing the same, its a matter of dressing in a way some might find offensive in a public setting. You have the right to dress how you like on your own time, when you are going to a public institution, perhaps some respect in dress in standard are required for the free treatment you are receiving."

"He wasn't denied health care, he was told to remove his costume or to go talk to someone that would tolerate his freaky costume"

"Rather than trying to make a statement. dress normal and you would not have issues."

All these comments, and many other iterations of such, have the same idea in common: Fit in, look like everyone else, and you won't be discriminated against. But for a medical practitioner to behave this way because he dislikes a given symbol goes against all the ideas needed for a multicultural society to exist, especially one where human rights are held paramount. The man is a public employee; he is required to treat all Canadians equally, regardless of race, gender, orientation, and so on. If this man had refused to treat a man in a turban, would that be acceptable? If he happened to be an atheist and refused to treat someone wearing a crucifix, would that be acceptable? Of course not; the very thought is absurd. People have a right in this country to be treated equally, regardless of their attire, regardless of whether you, as an individual, think his clothing is 'silly' or 'clownish'. To state otherwise is ridiculous. Which brings me to the next theme:

"22 in my peer group was marrying age and working to get a house. Not indulging fantasies and crying to daddy and demanding my story get print when someone gives me the short stick."

"This smug guy that cries to the newspapera because he upset someone with his jewelry needs to rethink his life goals."

"Ahhh.... Look at me, I need all your attention, ...... Yeah, sure..."

There seems to be this overarching theme that this guy did all this just for the attention. Now, I don't know the man in question. Perhaps he really is indulging in attention-seeking behaviour. Perhaps he just likes the look. Perhaps something else entirely. But the same point stands; even if he is dressing like this just for attention, does it matter? Do attention seekers not deserve medical treatment without having to worry about what they're wearing? Should I be forced to remove a silly shirt when having my knee looked at, because the medical practitioner doesn't like it? Again, the idea seems absurd to me. He has every right to wear what he pleases, for whatever reason he pleases, and still receive the same care as anyone else, wearing anything else at all. His reasons for dressing the way he does are irrelevant.

I can imagine a scenario where a Christian is asked to remove his or her cross by an admitting official. Oh, the outrage! The cries of religious persecution. The yelling about how anti-Christian society is becoming. And the thing is, in an instance like this, I'd have to agree with them on at least some of those points. A citizen should not be compelled to remove their personal items without good reason, and "I don't like that thing" is far and away from being a good reason.

1 comment:

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