Teresa Nielsen Hayden, a blogger and much-respected figure in the
science-fiction community, is staring at the ruin of her life, and
about it. And rightly so. As her husband Patrick explains, she’s a
narcoleptic, and the FDA has just banned the only drug that keeps her
I’m not personally friendly with the Neilsen-Haydens, but I’m friendly
towards them. They’re part of several communities in which I’m invested.
They do good work. I don’t like to see them hurt. I feel for Teresa.
But I also think her anger seems curiously misdirected. She’s
wishing death on Ralph Nader and his “Public Citizen” group, but it
isn’t Nader who banned Cylert. The FDA did that. And it isn’t Nader
who has the authority to jail pharmacists who sell the drug and harass
companies who make it. It’s the FDA. More generally, what’s at fault
here is not just any one pressure group, it’s the entire political
system that gives government control of what adults put in their
bodies in the privacy of their homes.
I don’t know the Neilsen-Haydens well, but I’m fairly sure their politics
are conventional for elite coastal-liberals of the NPR-listening variety;
good-government leftism underpinned by a conviction that people need to be
regulated for their own good. And even if I’m wrong about them, that
certainly describes a lot of the people who have been offering them
Teresa, even as I feel your pain, I’m wondering if you’re going to learn
the right lesson. The Cylert ban isn’t an accidental failure of the
system, it’s an essential one. It wasn’t perpetrated by villains, but
by well-intentioned people working the levers of a system designed to
elevate “public safety” above individual choice. That system
functioned as designed; it’s the design that’s broken.
I may have your politics wrong, and if so I apologize…but my gut
reaction when I read your enraged post was “those who live by
regulation get to die by it too”. Welcome, Teresa, to the ranks of
those who have been royally screwed by “good government”. You’re now
one with every homeowner who’s been raped by eminent domain, every gun
owner, and every overtaxed working stiff in the United States.
UPDATE: Great Ghu, it’s an Instalanche!