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“It is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of a disease a patient has.” - Sir William Osler

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    Thursday, February 06, 2003
    Thanks to Ken Layne for his post, "Bitter Little City of Hate," regarding a recent editorial in the SF Examiner about the local response to the Columbia disaster. From the Examiner:

    Several readers have called or written to complain about the selection of letters we have printed about the space shuttle Columbia tragedy.

    Where, they asked, was the universal outpouring of grief for the seven brave astronauts and their families? Why were so many of the letters tinged with gratuitous bitterness toward President Bush or otherwise infused with cynicism or conspiracy theories?

    Frankly, my colleagues and I were asking the same questions Saturday as we sorted through the several dozen e-mails and faxes that came in after the disastrous breakup of the shuttle on its final descent home.


    Even more startling was the cynical, even hateful, tone of many of the letters. The outtakes were considerably harsher and more jaded than the selection we printed.

    One letter writer flat-out accused the government of a secret plot to "sabotage the mission to direct future finances away from NASA to further the military industrial complex." A recurring theme was resentment that Bush would somehow exploit the tragedy for political gain.

    Perhaps it is idealistic to assume that a tragedy would prompt us to draw on our common humanity, rather than to trigger unprovoked animus based on racial, national or political differences. And these were not anonymous tirades. The above e-mails were sent for publication, with names, addresses and phone numbers.

    For all the readers who asked, we do want to print more letters that pay "tribute to the memory" of the Columbia crew, as we have today. But we can only choose from among the letters we receive.

    I lived in San Francisco for 4 1/2 years during and after my medical residency before I moved back down to Los Angeles. I made many friends there, and have many good memories of my stay.

    But this editorial tells you why I left. I just got sick of the Attitude I confronted on a daily basis. The post above expresses it in a nutshell.



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