Picture this: you’ve got a cough, a little fever; you feel like you might need an antibiotic. You call your doctor, set up an appointment, and as he’s listening to your heart, taking your blood pressure, asking about your symptoms, he suddenly, apropos to nothing, asks, “So did I hear you’ve got an AR-15? How are you likin’ that baby?” As you wax on about your latest artillery acquisition, you note him smiling as he quietly makes notes in something that ain’t your medical chart.
Sound ludicrous? That’s because it is. But that isn’t stopping Tea Party mouthpiece, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky) from flogging an already debunked conspiracy theory that Obama is going to “deputize” doctors to snitch on their gun-toting patients to government databanks.
It remains astonishing to most sane people that not only do some on the right eschew truth, fact, logic and rational thought in service to their delusions about the left, but that others on the right just nod right along with, without a shred of proof or corroboration. You just say there are weapons of mass destruction and, even after it’s been widely disproven, keep saying it, over and over as if it is true, and without too much work you’re going to find loads of party loyalists not only willing to believe it, but happy to pass it on. We’ve seen that work a few times, haven’t we?
This is another one of those idiotic “lie till it’s true” paradigms in action. According to Right Wing Watch, Senator Paul has oddly decided to trot out a weary conspiracy meme, one originally pumped to life in 2009 by the right-wing group Gun Owners of America (and roundly debunked by Politifact), that claimed the Obamacare bill (which was found to contain no mention of the words “guns” or “firearm”) was out to discriminate against gun owners. From PolitiFact:
The Obama administration is so anti-gun, the group contends, that “it is even possible that the Obama-prescribed policy could preclude reimbursement of any kind in a household which keeps a loaded firearm for self-defense.” […]
We looked carefully at the language in the Baucus bill and found no mention of either “gun” or “firearm.” So there’s no explicit support in the bill for the group’s claim.
Okay, says GOA, but guns could still be a target because of the emphasis on discouraging unhealthy behaviors. “The ObamaCare bill already contains language that will punish Americans who engage in unhealthy behavior by allowing insurers to charge them higher insurance premiums,” the group said in its alert.
(Isn’t thinking the emphasis on “discouraging unhealthy behaviors” is somehow “anti-gun” an odd and telling twist for pro-gun advocates?)
Despite this skewed theory, PolitiFact ultimately confirmed that it found “insufficient evidence to support the group’s overheated rhetoric” and declared the statement “False.”
Now, fast-forward to the present. We’ve been through the horrors of Sandy Hook, we’ve accrued 1000 more homicides by gun since that December 14th massacre; New York has just passed the “toughest gun bill in the nation,” President Obama passes 23 Executive Orders focused on protections and regulations related to guns, and the discussion about guns is seriously on. This sets the Tea Party contingent into high alert, the NRA puts out a slanderous ad slamming the “elitist” hypocrisy of Obama in having (mandated) security for his daughters, a few zealots put together “gun appreciation days” where 5 people were shot in 3 different gun shows, and it seems the madness surrounding GUNS could not get any weirder.
Enter Dr., and now Senator, Rand Paul. Sitting this past week with uber-conservative and president of the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, Paul dug deep for something to stir his twitchy constituency and pulled out the oldie but goodie about doctors informing on gun-owning patients. From Right Wing Watch:
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) echoed that theory, claiming that President Obama’s new executive actions have “language in there talking about doctors being required to report on patients and ask patients if they own guns or not.”
He warned that President Obama’s “going to use Obamacare apparently to have doctors informing on their patients to whether or not they have guns” and will put the information into “government databanks.” He added: “I’m very much opposed to this kind of information going into government databanks because I fear that the time will come when this data will be misused.”
Right Wing Watch makes the point Paul is completely off-base about the language of the executive orders, as well as the different verbiage in the Obamacare bill:
The White House statement does discuss having doctors talk to patients about gun safety if someone in the home has mental health issues, rebutting the rumor that Obamacare prohibits doctors from asking about gun ownership.
Contrary to Paul’s claims, this neither “requires” doctors to ask patients about gun ownership nor makes doctors give government “databanks” information on who owns guns. A plain reading of the law finds that it explicitly prohibits such data collection. [Click here to do some “plain reading.”]
Other right wingers are who are promulgating this distortion include NRA President David Keene, who said:
“The idea that your doctor would ask you if you have firearms in your house as part of an examination of your health is repugnant.” [Source]
Larry Pratt, Executive Director of Gun Owners of America, asserted erroneously:
[Obamacare] says that all of our medical records are available to be pawed through by bureaucrats somewhere in Washington, looking for a reason to disenfranchise gun owners, to say ‘oh you have a medical diagnosis that means you might be a danger to yourself or others so we’re going to come and knock on the door for the BATF to take away your guns. [Source]
And fact-challenged Rush Limbaugh couldn’t help bloviating about the idea, going so far as to claim, in a piece ridiculously titled, “Regime Deputizes Gun-Snitch Doctors,” the following:
“So now doctors are being ordered, instructed to talk to patients and get information from them about gun ownership, where they are in their house, who has access to them, where the ammunition is kept. Doctors are now, quote, unquote, ‘permitted,’ unquote, to do this. t makes ’em deputies, agents of the state. And if they don’t do it — let’s look at this the other way around. Let’s say patient X goes to a doctor. The patient’s got a sore throat, runny nose. The doctor does not ask the patient anything to do with the patient’s guns. The patient then goes out and uses the guns sometime later and then the regime learns that the doctor didn’t report that this patient indicated that he might be dangerous. Look at the position this puts the doctors in. The doctors are now under the thumb of Obamacare…”
There’s an old adage about fighting in relationships that says, “If you’re going to fight, at least fight about what was really said; you don’t need to make stuff up.” There’s some application of that admonition to be made here. It’s one thing for Senator Paul, Rush Limbaugh, Tony Perkins, David Keene and Larry Pratt to disagree with Obama’s executive orders, to disagree with gun control; it’s another to twist verbiage, dismiss fact, and pervert the clear intent of a written law in an attempt to stir fear and foment suspicion.
But another fact that can’t be denied? This is standard operating procedure for a party that can’t seem to fight without “making stuff up.”