George Graham

The Moving Finger Writes – and Sometimes Gets Bitten Off

This story is so disgusting that I can hardly bring myself to tell it. But it is so illustrative of the lunacy and the irony of the health care dispute raging in America, that I think it needs to be told.

health careOne man bit off part of another man’s finger during a fight at a health care demonstration in California recently. The victim, a 65-year-old man named William Rice, said he was driving by and stopped when he saw the demonstration. About 100 demonstrators in favor of health care reform had gathered on one side of the street. And about 25 counter-demonstrators had gathered on the other side. Rice said he got out of his car and went  to the anti-reform side “to ask people what their purpose was.”

A man crossed from the pro-reform side of the street and confronted Rice. This led to a fist fight, and Rice lost part of his finger in the scuffle. The identity of the biter is still unknown, and police are looking for him. He could face felony mayhem charges.

A hospital spokeswoman said he declined to have the missing fingertip sewn back on. She added that his treatment was covered by Medicare.

So, this man who obviously felt so strongly opposed to government-run health care that he got into a punch-up with a pro-reform protester relied on a government-run health care program to fix his damaged finger, did he? Doesn’t that strike you as ironic?

The irony is deafening throughout this sorry stand-off that has divided America. Here’s an obvious example, as reported by the Associated Press:

Interest groups are unleashing a torrent of modern and old-fashioned lobbying tactics at members of Congress returning for the autumn battle over health care, from spending sky-high amounts on TV ads to staging rallies in the capital and perhaps outside insurance company offices.

Plans include a massive, 8 million-piece direct mail campaign by AARP, the lobby for older Americans that has generally supported the health overhaul drive. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will send lawmakers a letter next week signed by 2,800 companies and business groups opposing the effort, and is working with local chambers of commerce to bring business people to Washington to lobby legislators later this month.

The nation’s television stations, which last month hosted more than $28 million in ads on the health overhaul, may see even heavier spending in September, according to Evan Tracey, president of the Campaign Media Analysis Group in Arlington, Va. Should the health battle spill into December, this year’s total might hit $200 million — roughly the same as was spent in multiyear fights over tobacco regulation and the Medicare prescription drug program, said Tracey, whose company tracks political advertising.

So where’s the irony? The way I see it, it’s ironic that so many groups throughout American society can find so much money to run ads, organize rallies, lobby members of Congress and fund “research” projects yet the nation is too poor to afford universal health care? Poorer than Canada? Poorer than the UK? Poorer than Cuba? Gimme a break!

And the lunacy? How’s this for a couple of examples?

At a town hall meeting in New Jersey, a woman in a wheelchair is shouted at while she tries to tell her story. The costs associated with her two incurable autoimmune diseases are threatening her ability to pay for her medications, and she fears losing her home. She speaks, but the hecklers never let up, never listen.

And at another meeting…

“It’s your fault!” hecklers yell at a young woman who is pleading for help with her developmentally disabled daughter after being dropped from her blind husband’s insurance plan.

This ugly interlude will forever tarnish America’s image in the world. How can U.S. leaders look anyone in the eye after this and claim to speak for “the world’s greatest democracy”? How can America claim the high moral ground in international affairs? How can Americans even pretend to be civilized?

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for