No Free Speech for Doctors

In an article that appeared in The New York Times on December 11, the psychiatrist Dr. Richard A.  Friedman calls for suppression of doctors who dissent from his views on Covid-19. He says, “Take Scott Atlas, a former Stanford University radiologist with no training or expertise in public health or infectious disease. As President Trump’s special adviser on coronavirus, he cast doubt on the efficacy of face masks, long after science had confirmed their efficacy. He was a staunch proponent of herd immunity — a recommendation that would almost certainly have resulted in vast mortality.”

What should be done with such a dreadful character? “But where is the outcry from medical leaders and various professional organizations in the face of this betrayal of public trust? Where was Stanford University, for example, when its faculty member Scott Atlas was telling Americans that they could forget face masks?. . . Doctors who provide outrageous advice that is far outside the bounds of accepted standards should be investigated by their state board and subject to sanctions, including revocation of their medical license. . . there are limits to what’s allowed, and no doctor should get away with pushing bad advice, especially during a pandemic.”

In England before World War II, some people called psychiatrists “trick cyclists.” I first heard the phrase from Walter Starkie, and Sir Lewis Namier also used it. Dr. Friedman is an apt candidate for the designation.


10:47 am on December 12, 2020