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Cancer Medicine Politics

John McCain: A “crazy cancer-ridden dishonest madman”?

I was disappointed to find an approving link from a fellow ScienceBlogger to this sort of rant by Matt Stoller:

We all know that winning this election is not enough. It’s just not. It’s not even close. This is the most unpopular President we’ve ever had and our opponent is a crazy cancer-ridden dishonest madman. Our nominee should crush this guy.

“Crazy cancer-ridden dishonest madman”? Nice. I wonder if Matt spit out the term “cancer-ridden” with the same amount of contempt and venom while typing as he did when he spit out the terms “crazy,” “dishonest,” and “madman.” I wonder if he thinks “cancer-ridden” is just as bad an insult as the other terms.

As a cancer surgeon, I found that bit about “cancer-ridden madman” to be a truly despicable rhetorical gambit, not to mention irrelevant. John McCain had melanoma. He was successfully treated for it, and has been cancer-free for seven years, making the likelihood of a recurrence very small. Whatever reasons one might have for not wanting him to be President, even if his having survived melanoma is one of them (an aspect of the overall package that, in McCain’s case, I rank pretty darned low on the list of reasons not to vote for him, given the low likelihood of his tumor recurring), using the term “cancer-ridden” as part of a string of disparaging adjectives gives the impression that the vile moron who wrote the above sentence views being a cancer survivor as something to be ashamed of, something on the same order of being dishonest, crazy, or a madman.

And this blogger is not alone. For example, here are some other similar, equally vile, descriptions of John McCain:

Nice to know these bloggers and commenters apparently think that having had cancer makes for a term of disparagement worth throwing in with all the other insults. Yeah, I’ll point out again that I’m a cancer surgeon, and I may be a bit more sensitive about this sort of crap than John Q. Public, but to me it doesn’t matter what you think of John McCain politically or personally. As I’ve said before, I lost my enthusiasm for him after he decided to start kissing up to the religious right in the wake of the election of our current President. What matters to me is that there’s no reason to throw around the term “cancer-ridden” in describing McCain as though it were an insult. Ditto on all the age-based insults as well. Throwing around such rhetoric reveals far more about the bloggers who use the term “cancer-ridden” with the same contempt that they use terms like “cheater,” “madman,” “troll,” and “loon.”

And none of what it reveals is good.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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