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And blind people probably shouldn't fly planes

The Supreme Court sensibly refused to hear the appeal of a dental hygienist who was removed from his job after his dentist-boss discovered he was HIV-positive. The Eleventh Circuit had held that the risk of passing the disease to patients justified the dentist's decision.

Waddell's lawyers argued that the appeals court ignored a previous Supreme Court decision and conflicts with rulings from other federal appeals courts. They asked the high court to use the case to underscore that an employer must have objective medical evidence to claim that an employee poses a risk to the health or safety of others.

Otherwise, ``a host of imaginable disasters could be hypothesized to exclude virtually any individual with a disability,'' Waddell's lawyers wrote.

Hmm. Fatal, communicable disease. Wheelchair. No, sorry, I don't see the slippery slope there.
``If left uncorrected, the 11th Circuit's decision threatens to undermine the public's confidence in the safety of dental treatment and the nation's health care system,'' the American Dental Association said in a friend of the court brief filed in Waddell's case.
So letting someone with AIDS treat patients won't cause problems, but banning this person from treating patients will "undermine the public's confidence." Uh, yeah.

There might be reasonable arguments against the dentist's decision -- but if that's the best one people can come up with, there obviously aren't. In fact, come to think of it, any political position justified on arguments about "undermining the public's confidence" is clearly a losing position. It doesn't really mean anything. Why can't people own cell phones? It might undermine public confidence in the nation's communications infrastructure. (See how easy it is?)

Sure, you have to feel sorry for the poor dental hygienist -- but it's easy for advocacy groups who will never be treated by this guy to insist that other members of the public ought to be guinea pigs to see how safe it really is. These are the same people, ideologically speaking, who endorse the "precautionary principle" in government regulation, which says that new technologies (genetically modified food, for instance) ought not to be allowed until they're proven safe. But when it comes to someone in a protected class, all of the sudden the principle gets reversed.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 29, 2002 5:37 AM.

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