Some Forms Of Torture Are Already Legal
Reassurance: I don’t generally hang on to consumables with six-month-old expiration dates. Actually, I’m quite scrupulous about throwing old things away. Though a lousy housekeeper I’ve never once been sick from eating something I’ve eaten at home, in part because I’ve never been tempted to keep milk, fish or other perishable items after their safety date’s passed.
But I can replace these things any time I wish. If the same held true for codeine pills I’d throw my old ones away and buy a new bottle right now. Maybe something stronger. I can’t, though, so I have to take my chances with the old stuff.
I don’t usually take painkillers outside the occasional aspirin, but these days I’ve got a wisdom tooth growing in the wrong way. It became annoying a week ago and as of Thursday it officially Hurts, every day a tiny bit more as the young tooth moves a tiny bit further where it doesn’t belong. On Friday I tried finding a dentist to extract it, but had no luck. I’ll try again tomorrow morning, but meanwhile the pain is here with me. Four consecutively worse days of it, now.
If we had a truly free market in dentistry, without government regulating who can claim dentist status and what hoops must be jumped through to get there, I could probably leave my house right now, find a walk-in clinic, pay a couple hundred dollars for X-rays, anesthetic and an extraction and be asleep in bed before midnight.
But no. I can’t just walk in and have a problem tooth removed; first I have to make an appointment for a general check-up, and get the X-rays. I can’t have the tooth pulled the same day because rushing the process like that would be irresponsible dentistry. Meanwhile, the added costs of all this are — I don’t know how much, actually. Nobody will tell me what this costs.
It’s enough that the average person can’t afford it anymore, so you have to buy a policy from a heavily regulated insurance company with its own requirements for referrer visits before anything can actually be done, and those will add at least one more day to the time I must live with this tooth and the pain it generates getting worse each day and drilling just a little further into the parts of my consciousness that function better without the distraction of agony, which is to say all of them.
Whoa. Did I just write that? I did. Christ, it’s not you guys, the CIA or even the codeine that need to get the hell out of my head lest I go insane — it’s the pain. How can I make it go away right now, without breaking the law and risking a long term in prison? I can’t.
My government is legally requiring me to suffer pain. I haven’t even committed any crimes, and my government is legally requiring me to suffer pain. If I try to escape it tonight I can only do this by breaking the law. I mean, yes, I’ve got those old pills left over from my last wisdom tooth extraction. But I took them more than an hour ago and I don’t think they’re working. They're making me pretty tired, I'll admit, but my tooth feels exactly the same.
Most galling of all: the laws requiring me to experience every bit of this pain are justified with the excuse that they protect my health.