Sunday, June 17, 2007

Disparities In Punishing People For Wrongdoing

Life, as John F. Kennedy once said, is unfair.

The Page 1 story yesterday, Saturday, June 16, by Charles Ornstein and Susannah Rosenblatt, in the L.A. Times, detailed one of the all too common miscarriages of justice.

Six staff members of the Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital in South Los Angeles were given only letters telling them how they should behave in the future for having observed a dying woman writhing on the floor of the hospital's Emergency Room lobby, and doing nothing to either treat her or see that she got treatment.

The woman, Edith Isabel Rodriguez, 43, soon died, and the publicity from this sad event went far and wide, soiling the hospital's already horrible reputation for gross negligence in the way it handles its patients.

Those employees not even quite reprimanded included a nurse and two nursing assistants. Earlier, a janitor who also observed the woman, was given verbal counseling, and a triage nurse who was apparently in overall supervision of the scene was placed on leave, and subsequently resigned.

Well, it's nice to be rid of her. But it's obvious that the hospital should have handed out punishments, not letters, to the six written about Saturday.

At a time when Paris Hilton is serving a county jail term for driving with a suspended license, and the popular majority cheers, there is something grossly wrong here in letting those who idly stood by while a woman died off in such a light way.

Yet the Martin Luther King hospital staff has been given one reprieve after another for its derelictions -- another sign just how badly minority communities are routinely treated in our society.

Were such a hospital operating in Sherman Oaks or Beverly Hills, rather than Willowbrook, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and federal inspectors, certainly would have taken strong action to see it didn't happen again.

But, even 40 years after the civil rights struggles of the 1960s led to major civil rights legislation, still there is this disparity in treatment.

And it is not only at the hospital. The unhappy truth is that police and Sheriff's deputies shoot and kill far more people on the south side of Los Angeles, than they do whites in other parts of town, stores often charge more, insurance premiums are higher, and lending terms more severe. Every crisis of modern life affects the South Los Angeles community more seriously.

Is this because crime ridden South L.A. is deserving of harder treatment, or does the harder treatment actually inspire more crime? I think it is the latter.

The poet W.H. Auden once wrote, "You and I know what all schoolchildren learn...Those to whom evil is done do evil in return."

And so it is. Society pays a heavy price because we accept these disparities, and we cannot expect that life in the city will be satisfactory, until it is satisfactory in all parts of it.


Two days into power in Gaza, is the Hamas organization already acting in bad faith?

Surprise, it could be.

Just after taking power, Hamas officials said the BBC journalist, Alan Johnson, kidnapped this spring in Gaza, would be released within 24 hours.

Lo and behold, he was not released. The terrorists holding him now say he will not be released until the British meet their demands, which are to release terrorists held in British jails. Later in the day, they threatened to "slit his please God."

So, either the Hamas officials were lying, or the organization really does not hold dominant power in Gaza.



Anonymous McRib said...

MLK Jr. Hospital - the future of healthcare when the government takes it over.

6/19/2007 1:42 PM  

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