Are we creating zombies?
Werewolves and vampires are so yesterday! The new hotness is the slow-moving, non-critical, unthinking, inflexible, life-altering zombie. Actually, zombies are quite real and are created every day through an administrative action commonly called the "Zero-Tolerance Policy" or ZTP.
Outrageous abuses resulting from ZTP are legendary and common. The school which required the weapons to be cut off the plastic toy soldiers in a diorama honoring servicemen comes to mind. The student suspended because of the butter knife in the bed of his parked pickup truck accidentally dropped while moving his grandmother is another example. More recently a new mother from New Castle, Penn. had her 3-day-old daughter removed by Children and Youth Services officials when the hospital reported a routine blood sample showed she was "using opiates." It was five days before the newborn was returned when the reason for the positive test was discovered to be a poppy seed bagel the mother had thoughtlessly consumed before delivery. The hospital released the standard zombie exoneration statement that "they were only following the law."1 Braiiinnnnnssssss!!!!
ZTP has invaded nearly all areas of our lives, including my beloved veterinary medicine. Anyone who goes to a doctor and mentions the words "dog or cat" and "bite or scratch" in the same sentence soon learns to regret it. Due to ZTP, the medical personnel are legally required to report the incident to local Animal Control Services who are then likewise legally required to place the pet in rabies quarantine. The vaccination status of the pet, the ownership of the pet, and the details of the incident are irrelevant. A bite is a bite and a scratch is a scratch. "They're coming to get you, Barbara."I do not minimize the seriousness of rabies nor do I impugn Animal Control for trying to safeguard the public. If your dog runs across the street and bites me on my front porch for absolutely no reason, I want that dog in quarantine. That dog ain't right! But if my own cat scratches me because he don't wanna take no stupid pain pill after his neuter, that is NOT the same thing. The latter case does not warrant the expense, stress and inconvenience of a 10-day prison sentence. And yet, both Cujo and Mr. Jingles end up as cellmates in the same slammer.
The safety factor of ZTP is obvious. You can't make a bad (or good) decision if you aren't allowed to make any decision at all. Ironically, the elected and appointed officials operating with a ZTP have little to worry about. Zombies are in search of brains to eat and a ZTP insures a scarcity of grey matter.
Dr. McLaughlin is a practitioner in Plano, Texas.
1. Baby seized after poppy seed bagel triggers false drug test; parents file suit. http://WLBZ2.com/ News Online Bangor, Maine 10-30-2010