Coercion/Force

Ethics

I remember an episode of Law and Order SVU, where a psychologist infuses truth serum or sodium pentothal and coerces a child to believe that her own father abused her, which leads to the ultimate murder of the father at the hands of two children. The mother who took the children’s side and believed that her husband was a monster, says on camera at the end “How dreadful it must have been for him – to believe that even the woman he loved betrayed him at the end”. At the finale of the episode they show the psychologist being taken away by law enforcement officers, after all, she and coercion took the life of an innocent man.

Another example of physiological or reflexive coercion comes in the story of the Nobel Prize winning experiment on the Pavlov’s dog. That was after all a lesson to us all in synthetic physiology, when the body is programmed by repeated sensory input until there is a metamorphosis of effector action. In this episode, the dog is reprogrammed after repeated ringing of the bell to salivate not at the sight of food but by the sound of ringing.

These days, when I teach bioethics in class, I teach students on a volunteer/subject’s right not to be coerced to a drug trial, new vaccine or to any sort of new age treatment that is in the experimental stage still. Only when informed consent with autonomy is present can a subject decide with freewill (after hearing all the negatives/side effects) that he or she will participate in the trial. Again, coercion is a real monster, a leviathan and not a harmless whale.

It should be remembered here that even in 20th century America, there were forced sterilization campaigns, mandatory testing for sickle cell anemia for African American children and adults and of course, the famous Tuskegee experiment comes in to mind when nearly 400 black farmers from the south, were, without disclosure or informed consent, injected with syphilis and the progress monitored, in an age of post-penicillin discovery. Even sulfonamide drugs were in use (although in a premature sense) in the 1930s. Therefore, coercion and forced campaigns litter the last century in the most progressive nation of today, America.

Coercion/enforcement, is a lethal weapon, when just like the Tuskegee experiment, the course of study spans a long time frame, when there is sufficient time to weaken resistance and immunity of a person and to make that person a pawn to physiological change or in this day and age, mental coercion. There are some things that can never be changed – like sexual orientation – an epigenetic phenomenon that is hardwired during the gestation period of a fetus. Sexuality is a deeply personal factor that should not be put on a world stage (in black and white prisoner overalls), after all, every man and woman is entitled to love one gender with no strings attached and no judgment of the wider public.

It is that notion and the ‘Pavlovs’ who are the real monsters, who have only a Medusa’s heart to fabricate ‘lies’ without evidence and pursue witch hunts at the cost of human health – mental and physical. They say there are witches in Salem, but in this part of the world, in this beautiful country, trust is the mortar that brings people together in amity and fellowship. Innocence is not only found in children, but in all hearts absent of malice, after all it is the hatred of the child-like goodness that drives the wheels of witch hunts. No adult is childish all the time but he or she can be child-like in his trust of his loved ones and his circle of friends. Only when that ambiance shatters, man realizes that sometimes being self-sufficient is the only life tool available to counter the selfish world we live in, where coercion is only means to an end and not means to the truth.

Forced marriages are a imminent threat to love and the same goes for any forced or coerced liaison. Force is the blade of power to which there are a million different shields. After all, there will always be knights in shining armor holding shields, who will disarm the futuristic Truman-like technocracies, by simply planting the seed of timocracy. Only then will there be a revolution of honor or “timia”, in a world of few good men and fewer unmalicious hearts.

Advertisements

Author: meandererworld (Dilantha Gunawardana)

Dr Dilantha Gunawardana is a molecular biologist who graduated from the University of Melbourne. He moonlights as a poet. His poems have been accepted/published in Forage, American Journal of Poetry, Kitaab, Eastlit and Ravens Perch. He mixes science with poetry for a living, when what matters is the expression of both DNA and words into something serendipitous. Although an Australian citizen, Dilantha is domiciled in Sri Lanka, his country of birth.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s