Dear AACT members,After my remarks the other day, I received overwhelmingly positive comments, and I thank you for them. There has been some confusion among a few members as to why I would use the platform of AACT president to espouse what can be viewed as political opinions. While my letter to the members from 03 June was speaking for myself and not the Board of Trustees and not AACT, I know that my position as president would imply that I do speak for the Academy. In case there are more members unhappy with the statement than I am aware of, please allow me to clarify.
The focus was not political, in my view, but was aimed at standing in solidarity with the people who entrust us with their care. Toxicologists, for the most part, don’t care for people with “casserole diseases”. By that I mean nobody gets a casserole from a neighbor when their son is dealing with addiction, when their sister attempts suicide, or when an immigrant family has a child with lead poisoning. Our specialty focuses on the diseases of despair. These maladies are overwhelmingly concentrated among people stuck at the poor end of our socioeconomic spectrum.
Yes, we can and should debate the proper dose of N-acetylcysteine, how we can best alkalinize the urine, and when we should give activated charcoal. These can be important discussions and we are the ones to have them. But let’s face it, most of the time we are just picking at the edges. Economic security and justice are directly related to improved mental health and decreased addiction, suicide, and environmental poisoning. Preventing poisoning is in our mission statement after all. How can we not take a strong stance in support of these protests and what they represent?
I apologize that my tone was political (though I believe the content was factual). Politicizing AACT is not my objective, nor can it be. But If my words made some people uncomfortable, I can’t say that I’m sorry for that. There’s nothing wrong with being uncomfortable. Some feel that neither AACT nor its executives, should take a public stand on such issues and that I should have instead put out a statement calling for calm and understanding, we’re all in this together, etc, etc. Sorry, but those types of statements are like flag pins on a lapel – meaningless.
I am not delusional enough to think that my bringing up this topic in this manner will have any real impact on our patient’s lives, at least in the short term. But if it starts/continues the conversation and makes people think, then that is something real that can build, help our patients in the long run, and make AACT more relevant than ever.