Citizen Wausau

A Site About Life in Wausau, Wisconsin

Voice the official Citizen Wausau blog

Dr. Michael Moore: Drug Trafficker or Modern American Hero?

by on November 17th, 2007

Dr. Michael Moore:  Drug Trafficker or Modern American Hero?

The right to nonviolently protest in peaceable assembly for redress of grievance is a cardinal guarantee so primary that the founding fathers placed this privilege in the American Constitution’s First Amendment.   We ought recognize this with due homage to our Veterans this past week.

Out of respect for the holiday, I suggest you read the Letter from a Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr.  Reverend King’s I Have A Dream speech given late August of 1963 is widely recognized as one of the great rhetorical performances of the Twentieth Century.  The Letter from a Birmingham Jail preceded the march on Washington by four months and a better summary of the belief system supporting civil disobedient nonviolent protest is yet to be written.

The blood of peaceful disobedience runs deep in American veins.  In addition to the Bill of Rights, the philosophy is present in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay Politics, when he writes “Every actual State is corrupt.  Good men must not obey the laws too well” (205).  Emerson bestowed the sacred flame over to his good friend Henry David Thoreau who penned the Essay on Civil Disobedience, contending “Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison”(275). The Essay on Civil Disobedience profoundly influenced Mahatma Gandhi whose Satyagraha method of peaceful disobedience overthrew the stale subdivisions of the caste system and liberated India from British imperial rule.  I cannot stress enough the Christian roots of nonviolent protest.  A fundamental inspiration of Gandhi’s method is Jesus Christ of Nazareth, specifically the Sermon on the Mount’s edict “love thine enemy.”

I offer this local example as a method for establishing doubt – to unsettle the taken for granted by pointing out an instance whereby perhaps morality and the law hold opposing ground.  Recently, a man and his wife were arrested in Antigo.  Their names are Michael and Kerry Moore.  There is no doubt that these two were growing marijuana for non-personal consumption – over 5 pounds!  The police found all the evidence necessary to warrant a host of charges involving the felonious manufacture of the substance.  Case closed.  Given the clarity of the evidence the two miscreants deserve a hefty prison sentence as penance for their unlawful acts against the state.  So meets the naked eye.

However, with a little magnification the lens uncovers disconcerting facts.  Michael Moore is a board certified physician with a lucrative salary.  Greed, the typical motive for narcotics manufacture and trafficking, cannot be applied in this context.  What could be happening here?  I have no evidence as of yet to support my contention, but my sense is that Dr. Moore was providing marijuana to patients as a means to medically alleviate their suffering.  In confronting the misery of AIDS, Cancer, Glaucoma, Lupus and the other diseases we turn away from in unspeakable fear, is it not likely that this man adhered to his Hippocratic Oath instead of obeying the laws of the land?  If this be true, the case is potentially precedent-setting and could find its way to the United States Supreme Court.

It’s a generalization, I realize, yet American physicians today maintain the ugly tendency of tranquilizing themselves in the material trivialities of luxury their fiscally rewarding careers provide. The effect is a diminution of character evident in their everyday speech. If the topical content of conversation is a golf handicap, new automobile, expensive wine, professional sports, or most recent vacation experience, the physician maintains little difficulty in establishing some measure of commonality in the communicative interchange. These topics pose little risk to identity because they fall within the boundary of cursory small talk with little potential for substantive disagreement. However, in matters of significance such as culture, philosophy, morality or aesthetics too often I have seen the medical doctor’s words take on the awkward contortions of the dilettantish dabbler who lacks the spiritual force requisite for eloquent speech. Moreover, rather than assume the risk of taking an argumentative and moral position, the medical doctor stands down and folds for the easy stream of trivial talk. Monetary wealth that maintains its foothold in buying an endless array of baubles causes a scarring effect of inducing complacency and indolence in the higher social forms.

However, in Antigo we have a highly distinct situation. Could it be possible that a local physician would place his entire life in the balance to heroically stand his ground against what he believed were the government’s unjust and inhumane edicts regarding his patients’ suffering? And further, will those whom this man helped publicly speak out in his defense or cower like frightened rabbits if the authorities attempt to brand this man a common criminal, a felon, a drug trafficker? The case is in its preliminary stages and I will be following its unfolding.

Barry D. Liss

References for further consideration:

  • Emerson, Ralph Waldo.  Essays (Second Series). New York: A.L. Burt, Publisher, no date (originally 1846).
  • Thoreau, Henry David.  Walden and Civil Disobedience.  New York:  Barnes and Nobles Classics, 1854/2003.

American Constitutional Amendment I.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Tags & Categories