Madison County Opinion...

June 19, 2002


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
June 19, 2002

Frankly Speaking

Let’s remember the wise words of Franklin
Benjamin Franklin warned us, in one of his lesser-known quotes, that “Those who would give up essential liberties for a measure of security deserve neither liberty nor security.”
Someone needs to post this important statement on George W’s desk. I have taken a close look at the proposed new Homeland Security plan and it greatly disrupts our essential liberties.
We are supposed to be a nation of laws. No one, not even the president, can place himself above the law. The foundation upon which the rule of law is built is the U.S. Constitution. Without strict adherence to the Constitution, our law has no basis for existence.
Our constitution guarantees us the right of a trial before a jury of our peers. It gives us the right, when accused of a crime, of facing our accusers. It prevents authorities from confining us without due legal process.
Our constitution establishes the states as the center of government for domestic affairs. It places strict limits on the federal government, listing specific duties and powers, and leaving all others to the states or to the people.
The Constitution gives us the right to hold private property, to bear arms, to peacefully assemble, to be free of military occupation, and the right to worship God as we wish and to speak our minds in any forum we chose.
The Supreme Court has ruled that the constitution assures every citizen the highest possible level of privacy. We supposedly have full freedom of movement around the country.
This proposed new department will have the power to interfere with most, if not all, these freedoms. In the name of security, we find our ability to travel without harassment severely reduced. We find our right to keep and bear arms being more and more infringed. We find even more power being removed from local governments and concentrated in the federal bureaucracy.
It is our essential liberties that the world terrorist organizations wish to destroy. Nothing will make them happier than to see our nation restricting the liberty of our citizens in the same way citizens of the offending nations are restricted. If we continue on this course, the terrorist will have won!
This has never been a “secure” nation. We are a nation of risk takers. Our founders put their lives, their fortunes and their honor on the line to win those liberties. Millions of Americans have put their lives at risk in the military to defend those liberties. It was a major risk that allowed us to put men on the moon. Every successful business in America was started without guarantees.
Shall we fight the terrorist? Absolutely! Shall we give up our essential liberties in the effort? Absolutely not!
Security should be an active effort. Arm our aircraft pilots. Regain control over our borders. Improve the investigative ability of our law officers. By all means coordinate the actions of the CIA, FBI, Coast Guard, INS and other national security agencies. But make sure they function within the guidelines of our constitution.
Security is important to us, but not nearly as important as our essential liberty.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net. His e-mail address is frankg@mcga.net.

Column
By Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
June 19, 2002

From the Editor's Desk

The earliest
anesthesiologist
Most everyone is familiar with the distinct fat feeling that comes with shots of local anesthesia.
And as I sat in the dentist’s chair last week, I felt that numbness in my lips and right cheek. There’s a helplessness I always experience with those shots. I think of snakes and spiders and the venom they inject, how their prey is powerless to the effects.
Perhaps its this kind of skittishness that kept my grandmother from ever getting a shot at the dentist. She was a tough woman, able to deal with pain better than most. The dental assistant told me that others prefer my grandmother’s approach, bearing the pain of a drill with no anesthesia.
But luckily I’m not required to endure that torture. And neither are you. Whether it’s a dental visit or major surgery, we have anesthetics to keep the pain away.
We have many to thank for the technology of pain relief. But Crawford W. Long, a native Madison Countian, is first on the list. Those who know the old story can beg off here, but if you’re not familiar with Long, read on. He is perhaps this county’s biggest claim to fame.
Most every Madison County resident has noticed the statue of Long that sits on the southern side of the old county courthouse in the center of downtown Danielsville. Also, the house Long was born in still stands in Danielsville off the street named after him.
As the inscription on his statue notes, Long was the “discoverer of the use of sulphuric ether as an anaesthetic in surgery on March 30, 1842 at Jefferson, Jackson County, Georgia...”
The anesthetic was used that day on James Venable, who had a tumor removed from his neck. Long reportedly performed eight surgeries with ether before other doctors began copying him.
The 26-year-old doctor had the idea for using ether in surgery after some young people asked him for laughing gas and he gave them ether, noticing that they seemed intoxicated after using it and without pain when they staggered and fell.
Despite his accomplishment, there’s a debate over whether Long was actually the “father of anesthesia.” Some say it was William T. Morton, a Boston dentist, who used ether while removing a tumor from the neck of Gilbert Abbott, a Cambridge, Mass., newspaper printer in October of 1846 in front of a crowded amphitheater. In 1997, Time Magazine credited Morton as “the father” of anesthesia. The Crawford Long Museum in Jefferson wrote a letter to the magazine to point out their error, that Long was, in fact, the father of anesthesia. Time wrote back, acknowledging that Long used ether in surgery first. But Time maintained that Morton had greater stature in the field of anesthesia because he was “the first to demonstrate its (ether’s) anesthetic efficacy before an audience of fellow surgeons...”
Whether or not he gets credit as the first, Long was clearly ahead of his time, a pioneer in medicine.
Strangely, some 160 years after Long’s historic surgery with anesthesia, scientists still don’t understand why anesthesia knocks us out.
A recent article in a special science issue of U.S. News and World Report likens our faith in anesthesia to our faith in flying. You put your life in a stranger’s hands in both. But the analogy holds true only if the pilot, mechanic and aircraft designer don’t know what keeps the plane aloft.
There are conflicting views about what actually happens when someone is knocked out by general anesthesia. According to the article, the oldest theory is that anesthetics produce a temporary structural change in cell membranes that causes swelling and stifles nerve signals.
But most scientists agree that anesthesiology is much more complicated than that and they allow that anesthetics can have “varying effects.” The U.S. News and World Report article concludes that it “may be 20 years before they (scientists) really know what’s going on in a patient when he’s under.”
Sounds scary.
But I’d prefer a little uncertainty to the certain pain of knife on skin.
That’s what you had in store when you needed surgery before Crawford W. Long came along.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.

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