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Green Party to ditch alt-med idiocy?

Mar

07

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National Committee to vote on platform change

So a while back, my buddy Rebecca Watson was out in San Francisco doing her skeptical thang, and she bumped into a guy called Jesse Townley. He runs Alternative Tentacles Records, which is owned by Jello Biafra. And, though it’s slightly less awesome, he’s also an elected Green on Berkeley’s Rent Stabilization Board. So Watson mentioned me.

BEAST readers may remember that, when I ran as a Green in last year’s special NY-26 congressional election, Watson served as my Minister of the Science. The position mostly involved getting funny-drunk and beating me at Trivial Pursuit. Anywho, the reason I asked her to join the campaign was because she has science cred, and I was seriously embarrassed by the official Green Party stance on alternative medicine.

From the health care plank introduction:

Greens support a wide-range of health care services, not just traditional medicine which too often emphasizes “a medical arms race” that relies upon high-tech intervention, surgical techniques and costly pharmaceuticals. Chronic conditions are often best cured by alternative medicine. We support the teaching, funding and practice of holistic health approaches and as appropriate, the use of complementary and alter- native therapies such as herbal medicines, homeopathy, naturopathy, traditional Chinese medicine and other healing approaches.

And from single-payer section:

Primary and preventive care as priorities, including wellness education about diet, nutrition and exercise; Holistic health including homeopathy, naturopathic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, herbalism and medical marijuana;

When I’d periodically meet up with local Greens during my run, for reasons I never fully understood, we did so at an acupuncture studio. I was polite, and swallowed my reason-based rage. So when Jesse emailed me after meeting Watson, and we ended up talking on the phone, I vented many winds in his ear-hole about the ridiculous Green woo. This may be a false memory, but I’m pretty sure I repeatedly screamed, “YOU HAVE GOT TO CHANGE THAT!”

And he did.

Well, almost.

Townley convinced the California State Green Party to propose a change to the national platform. “The process has to go through a state party, that’s why California was involved,” says Townley. “Now the national delegates vote on-line in March, and if it survives that vote it’ll go to the July Presidential convention for rubber-stamp approval in Baltimore.”

The changes excise the bold bits of the intro:

Greens support a wide-range of health care services, not just traditional medicine which too often emphasizes “a medical arms race” that relies upon high-tech intervention, surgical techniques and costly pharmaceuticals. Chronic conditions are often best cured by alternative medicine. We support the teaching, funding and practice of holistic health approaches and as appropriate, the use of complementary and alter- native therapies such as herbal medicines, homeopathy, naturopathy, traditional Chinese medicine and other healing approaches.

And changes the single-payer section to:

Primary and preventive care as priorities, including wellness education about diet, nutrition and exercise; and medical marijuana;

I emailed Bruce Hinkforth, Green Party U.S. Platform Committee Co-Chair, but, as co-chair, he didn’t think it was appropriate to comment on the record about proposed amendments. I found this odd, considering how uncontroversial it would be to have a public opinion on this. It’s like saying you won’t comment on whether the earth revolves around the sun. But whatever.

Your typical alt-med proponent

It’s easy to misconstrue valid concerns regarding over-prescribed, profit-driven Big Pharmaceuticals into a conversely invalid advocacy for “alternative medicine.” Preventative medicine and proven alternatives to modern medicine are fine. But endorsing utter quackery like homeopathy (which consists of watering down medicine to the point where the active component is all but gone), “is akin to having Creationism or Intelligent Design in our platform,” says Townley. And, you know, Republicans already have that covered.

So, Greens, please get rid of that junk. It’s embarrassing. Yes, even more embarrassing than having me as a candidate.

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