Cruel and Inhuman
The force-feeding of prisoners on hunger strike, so powerfully described by Aviva Stahl in “Gag Order” [June 17/24], would not be possible without the active complicity of medical professionals. Whether or not the practice is held to be constitutional by the courts, state licensing boards generally do have the authority to act decisively against such providers.
As important, certifying bodies like the American Board of Internal Medicine have the power to suspend participating physicians from their rolls, hospitals are within their rights to deny them privileges, and insurance providers can refuse them malpractice coverage. Inserting a nasogastric tube over the objections of a competent patient is a clear violation of the basic ethical norms we teach our medical students. If physicians and physicians’ assistants faced significant disciplinary consequences for engaging in a practice that medical professionals widely view as a ghastly form of torture, prison authorities might soon find themselves without the personnel to carry it out.
Jacob M. Appel, md, jd, mph
Director, Ethics Education in Psychiatry
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
new york city
Stahl’s article on the practice of force-feeding prisoners and depriving them of basic human contact for decades reveals an astonishing degree of inhumanity. Also disturbing but not discussed is the effect of such treatment on prison personnel. How can they take pride in their employment? And how can our government justify the expense of such useless, punitive activity? Our prison policies urgently need revision.
Re “Gag Order”: The US government criticizes many other countries for their human-rights abuses. Precisely how different are the abuses described here from the ones we are criticizing?
I am a liberal. Then I read your article “Gag Order” and found that I think anyone who planned and executed a plan to take down the World Trade Center deserves anything that we can throw at him. Did the author of the article forget why this person is in prison in the first place? Rights? He forfeited his rights to be treated as a human being when he tried to kill us.
Some of your radical positions make it difficult to stay “liberal” by your extreme standards.
lake forest, calif.
A Worthy Education Plan
Re “Save Our Schools” by Nikhil Goyal [June 17/24]: I’ve been following public education as a layperson and an educator for 40 years. The charter-school idea was disastrous. (I live in Minnesota.) All the scholarship I’ve read puts the charter-school movement to shame. I can’t find how taking money from public education and giving it to corporate or private-education outfits will lift education for all. Bernie Sanders has a much better plan; there aren’t many like him.
“Save Our Schools” by Nikhil Goyal [June 17/24] mistakenly states that 35 to 40 percent of charter schools are run by for-profit education-management organizations (EMOs). While 35 to 40 percent of charter schools are run by EMOs, only about half of those are for-profit.