Stem Cells to Smoke; Wingers Salivate Over Suffering

July 19, 2006

Davis Sweet, Columnist, Huffington Post

Within the past month, right-wing pressure groups have defeated the science/reality axis on two big fronts: medical cannabis and stem cell research. Now we can all rejoice in the knowledge that when your body feels like it's being chewed up by a Tyrannosaurus, the wingnuts will be standing behind ol' Rex, whacking him in the nuts with a gopher wood bat.

Bush and his last hundred million believers want you to suffer, even those of you lucky enough not to be trapped in Iraq's festering embrace of democracy. Your pain is worth less to your president than the warm feeling he gets in his pants at a photo-op. (A friend makes the excellent point that Bush's test-tube prop kids wouldn't be alive today if he'd had veto power over in vitro fertilization.)

Both of these sadistic decisions by an incurable president and a life-threatening Congress hit home for me because of Multiple Sclerosis. But I'd give a damn about other people's pain even if I were as healthy as a Specialist the moment before he motors over a chocolates-and-flowers IED.

Multiple Sclerosis is unique to each patient, but for me it's kind of like a cat gone insane. When you wake up, it's right there in your face, looking all innocent, but you know that as soon as you set one foot on the floor you'll find it has left you an unpleasant surprise. Unlike a cat, though, MS tends not to present interesting vomit sculptures or horribly mangled birds. The disease coughs up a new muscle that won't respond or un-clench, a new patch of skin dead of sensation, a new blank spot in your field of vision, or a new blinding pain. I'd prefer the hairballs, thanks.

Medical science hasn't caught up to MS. There's no cure. The thousand-dollar-a-month treatments are universally horrid. (We MS folks brag if we find treatments that are only a little bit horrid.) When your nerves are cranked up to eleven -- a.k.a. full-on blowtorch -- the only painkillers that even cool the edges come with side effects you wouldn't wish on your meanest high school teacher.

So a lot of us would like to see a cure, and that cure will have to come from science. With nerves in our brain and spine shattered by an immune system gone crazier than Michael Jackson, we can't imagine we'll just cut out cheeseburgers or take herbal supplements and wake up repaired. Our current best hope appears to be stem cell research, looking into those remarkable building blocks that can become new, healthy nerves. Until we have a cure, a lot of folks with MS, like Montel Williams, support medical cannabis, a well-tolerated pain killer and muscle relaxant which science tells us alleviates symptoms in MS patients. (Don't tell the gummint these docs are on -- they still get away with saying no studies show cannabis is effective as medicine.) And it helps epileptics. And people with Huntington's, ALS, AIDS... you know the list. Basically everything you don't want to hear at your physical.

Unless you're a right-winger. Because apparently when you have that genetic mutation that says, "I got mine; screw you," even when you're living in a metal house with wheels, you also get to really enjoy your diseases. When the dour-looking doctor says, "I'm sorry, you have Multiple Sclerosis. There's no cure, but at least it's not contagious," the right-winger doesn't start hoping for a cure; she, he, or it praises Jesus or similar, shouting, "Oh, I only wish it were contagious so I could share the disease with all my friends!" S/h/it flings s/h/itself around the room in ecstasy, almost tasting the blood from that first out-of-the-wheelchair flail during which they'll bite their forked tongue. "Oh Aquaman, or whoever," they pray, "pleeeeeeeeeeeease don't let there be a well-tolerated painkiller and muscle relaxant available, unless my having it guarantees I'll be treated worse by the justice system than a murderer. I'm soooooooo looking forward to shredding my liver with chemicals and experiencing horrible side effects in your holy name. And if my being crippled or racked with pain by this disease means a politician gets a chance to concoct a grandstanding, zero-benefit, election-year dramedy, I say let me suffer! Ay-men!"

Or do they experience pain the same way normal humans do? Is it ultimately some kind of masochistic, cycle-of-abuse deal that I'm not clued in on? Because if wingnuts had functioning central nervous systems and/or any give-a-shitness about their fellow humans, there's no way in hell they'd say, "Well, on the one hand you got your blinding pain in an actual person; on the other you have a completely pointless gesture that saves a by-product from medical research so it can be incinerated... I got to say, BURN THE CELLS and SHOW ME THE WINCING CRIPPLES! Oh, yeah, baby, LOOK AT THAT ONE WITH LOU GEHRIG'S DISEASE! I could put a cigarette out on his forehead and he wouldn't be able to defend himself! Whoo, I need a moist towelette!"

Please, folks, vote these heartless, brainless, dickless pricks out of power. Chant with me: "Vote out the pricks; Overthrow in '06!" (Damned vulgar bloggers.)

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