They're only thinking of us

John J. Hopkins Apr. 25, 2009, 4:28am

There are very few truly original ideas in the movies, with most films beginning either as books or plays. Of those, oft times the most difficult to bring to the screen are the musicals. There have been some great adaptations, cases in which the movie is actually better than Broadway -- "My Fair Lady," "The Music Man," "The Sound of Music," and most recently, "Chicago" -- come to mind.

On the other hand, there have been some lesser efforts, wherein the movie version simply pales in companion to it staged cousin -- "Camelot," "Hello Dolly," and one of the most egregious misfires, "The Man of La Mancha."

The story of Don Quixote, the delusional, clearly mad knight tilting against windmills and chasing the "Impossible Dream," is not surprisingly one of my very favorites.

Starring in the title role was the usually outstanding but most horribly miscast Hollywood legend, Peter O'Toole. He is joined by another legend, Sophia Loren, equally miscast in the female lead.

The story is basically the same, with the expected special effects and expansion that movies permit. While Man of La Mancha most definitely misses the mark overall, there are some acceptable parts, and it is one such part that serves as today's metaphor.

The niece of Don Quixote and his female servant are embarrassed by his behavior. Complaining to the local parish priest, they assert their motives are pure, and that "They are only thinking of him."

The niece, worried that her fiance will be spooked by the display of her family's odd behavior, wants action taken, but maintains that "in her body it is well known, there is not one selfish bone, as we go on worrying and thinking of him." But the platitudes sound hollow, and the true hypocrisy of self interests ring clear.

Like the emptiness of the niece of La Mancha, claims of "interests only in the welfare of the public" made by the representatives of the medical society and others to promote imposed damage caps, ring so very false.

To recap the playing field, in a panic and fanned by the state's largest medical malpractice insurer, the General Assembly passed special legislation, the type and kind three times previously declared as being in violation of the Illinois Constitution. In doing so, they added to the already premium legal position of immunities and defenses enjoyed by the medical profession.

By declaring arbitrary caps on damages -- caps not to all men and all cases before the Law -- but to ONLY those daring to call doctors or hospitals into account, the submitted legislation was primed for a challenge in the Courts.

This challenge was answered, and the legislation declared by a courageous judge in Chicago to be a violation of the long standing prohibition of unequal treatment before the Bar of Justice. The matter now rests before the state Supreme Court for final resolution. Enter the spin masters.

Ignoring both the bedrock principles of a land ruled by Laws and not Men, as well as the concept of an impartial and independent judiciary, the forces of greed have set forth an assault on the public forums, trying to spin the notion that our common welfare depends on Illinois' highest Court affirming the legislatures' right to discriminate.

Beginning with headlines in business publications such as "Illinois State Medical Society optimistic that Caps Law will be upheld," to such scare tactics as letters statewide by Dr. Ahemd and others declaring that "Health Care Hangs in the Balance," the spin takes a page right out of the Obama play book: make a situation worse than it is, distort the facts and frighten the people, and they will, without scrutiny, pass over their rights as citizens.

Whatever the source, whatever the style or content, the purpose of public discourse is to influence action through the power of the persuasive word. This is a proper tactic UNTIL the legislature acts.

Once action has occurred, wise and deliberate or the product of the scared and unwitting, the propriety of such action lies in the exclusive province of the judiciary. Free and independent Courts, the type and kind so sought by the current spin masters, are rightly insulted by such tactics, assuming as it does, judges who are only driven by the popular wind, the righteousness of the Law be damned.

Both sides in this debate have presented their respective positions through skillful advocates before the Court. It is the proper role of the parties and their allied supporters to now wait in respectful silence.

The false propaganda barrages sown in the past have already bore the fruit of an irrevocably damaged citizenry as the jury pool. Little wonder in their arrogance, the spins thought they could pull a comparable sham on a higher level. They will not -- they must not -- be permitted to succeed.

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