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your masters forbid you to do as you please in matters of conscience ? How can you call yourself a freeman while you remain in this condition of servitude ? I hold that in matters of conscience every man should be free to think and act as he chooses. *
Dr. Putnam. Your idea of freedom is perhaps a little too broad. There never was a time in any civilized government in which men were permitted, without restraint, to act according to the dictates of their conscience. They might indeed be permitted to think as they pleased, but not to act as they pleased. To permit this would be subversive of social order and of all government. It would permit a man to take the life of his own child, if he thought it his duty to do so. As every jurist will tell you, you will have to abandon this ground, which I see some of your friends have taken, if you wish to commend your present struggle to the sympathies of an intelligent and civilized world. It was not this liberty for which your fathers and mine shed their blood.
* “But even among medical men who have so long quietly submitted to be hampered by artificial restrictions, the irrepressible demand for free thought, free action, with no restriction but the high and noble aspirations of what pertains to physicians and gentlemen, will certainly arise. ...
“Freedom of thought and action are the palladium of our institution.”-S. Oakley Vanderpoel, M.D., President N. Y. Co. Med. Soc.
Dr. Warren. Conceding what you have said to be true, you will not deny that all good citizens are bound to respect and obey the laws; and the laws of the State of New York declare that the diplomas of the Homoeopathists and Eclectics are legal qualifications to practice. To refuse therefore to consult with them is virtually to disobey and to disrespect the laws of the State. For this view of the subject we have the authority of at least one distinguished jurist. *
Dr. Putnam. I reply that, if by “respect” is meant approval, the statement is not correct, but if it means obedience it is correct.
Our Legislators pass many laws which I cannot respect in the sense of approval, but which I propose to obey.
That I must obey the laws is undoubtedly true; but our legislators have not passed a law declaring with whom I shall or shall not consult. If they had done so then indeed would our liberties have been invaded. If a law were enacted legalizing a policy-shop, or any other more infamous establishment, this would not make it our duty to frequent such establishments.
* Letter to Dr. C. R. Agnew, from Theodore W. Dwight, Prof. Columbia College Law School, The Medical Record, May 13, 1882.
The time has been in this State (and may be again), when any man who chose could practise medicine. If your argument is sound, we ought then to have consulted with any ignorant charlatan who called himself a doctor.
Dr. Warren. Well, but, Dr. Putnam, we assume that these men with whom we propose to consult are not ignorant, but that some of them are as well instructed in the science of medicine as we are. What then ?
Dr. Putnam. I doubt the correctness of the supposition; but if it were true it would not justify your proposed action. If a man learned in all that pertains to the science of medicine were to declare publicly that he prescribed in all cases nothing but moonshine, and even to advertise himself as a moonshine doctor, would you seriously claim that I ought to consult with him in a case of pneumonia, or of strangulated hernia ?
Dr. Warren. You have made an extreme case, which does not apply to either of the parties with whom we desire to associate ourselves. Dr. Putnam. Not at all. Study for yourself
the medical theories of these gentlemen, and see if you can make of them anything more than moonshine. They consist of nothing but the most absurd and ridiculous antitheses of common sense.
Dr. Warren. But, as you ought to know, some of them have openly and publicly declared that they have renounced the practice of prescribing moonshine, and that they are now giving the same medicines which we do.
Dr. Putnam. If this be so, then all that remains for them to do is to renounce their selfassumed and distinctive title, by which they ostentatiously separated themselves from the regular profession, and we are ready to consult with them. But I very much fear that so long as there are so many people who believe in moonshine, that they will not consent to do this. There are a good many excellent people who sincerely think that these gentlemen are continuing to administer to them the genuine article in its most attenuated form, and who, if undeceived, might no longer patronize the “new school.” In fact, however, a pretty large proportion of the disciples of Hahnemann, retain their faith in infinitesmals, and continue to prescribe what may properly be called moonshine. But suppose we drop this subject for the present, to be resumed, perhaps, at some future time, when we have both more leisure.
Dr. Warren. Certainly, I will do so with pleasure ; but, before parting, I wish to say that I cannot but think that the Code of Ethics is an encroachment upon our rights as free American citizens—a worm at the root of the precious tree of Liberty which our fathers planted ; and I for one, whatever may come, propose to stand by the flag of revolt which our leaders have raised.