We’re Sorry – Not!

After what many felt was a very heartfelt apology by Dr. James Kelly over the column in Outpatient Surgery Magazine I thought this was going to go away. But… the Editor in Chief, Dan O’Connor seems to be doing what he can to keep it alive. A friend of mine, fellow WLS blogger (and celebrity!), Diva Taunia brought to our attention something I missed earlier. Apparently before the OAC discovered all this, Dr. Kelly did publish an apology in the September issue of the magazine. I wish I had seen it before hand, so a small oops on my part for not doing my own due diligence… but it did lead to a good dialogue with the doctor.

Crossed Fingers

Anyways, what I also missed was what Taunia referred to as a “non-apology” by the Editor in Chief in that same issue. Taunia posted a copy of this article on her site, giving her own impressions about it…

First, let’s get something straight: this is no apology letter. They probably relied on the one response that they got that didn’t condemn them within a hot second and used that to support their lame attempt at an apologetic response. And let me be clear about what Mr. O’Connor tries to understand from Ms. Bryant’s response: it IS the message, it IS the medium in which it was delivered, and it IS discrimination at it’s worse.

While I’m no expert on copyright laws, between my blogging and my previous work with the creative writing site Dragon’s Mark, I like to think I have at least a fairly decent working knowledge of it. And unfortunately, I wasn’t very surprised when Taunia announced she basically got a “cease and desist” sort of letter from them…

Dear Taunia:

Many people do not understand copyright law, so I will ask you this one time nicely. Please remove our content from your website immediately. Our content is copyrighted and we protect it zealously and aggressively. You do not have permission to reproduce it and your publication of it is an open-and-shut violation which will result in legal expenses and a judgment against you that will be very expensive. I understand that you has concerns about the article and may wish to view it online; you may deep link to the same article on our website if you wish. This page (http://diva-taunia.blogspot.com/2011/10/outpatient-magazines-non-apology.html) on your website needs to come down immediately or we will commence legal action next week. Thank you.


Dan O’Connor
Outpatient Surgery Magazine
610.240.4918 x. 16

I did get permission from Taunia to post this here by the way… and I should mention too that Andrea was asked to remove the link to the scanned copy of the original article that was on her website – WLS Vitagarten.

So yea, let’s touch on the editorial Mr. O’Connor published to begin with… and I will do my best here to comply with their linking policy and “fair use” copyright law. Here’s the opening paragraph from the Editor’s Page article entitled Slings and Arrows

My inbox has skid marks from the dozens of angry e-mails expressing shock and outrage over “XXL Patients,” last month’s Cutting Remarks column by orthopedic surgeon John Kelly, MD, that many of you felt cut too deep.

If you wish to read the article in it’s entirity, here’s the link. But again, I am somewhat dismayed by the fact that one needs to register for their site in order to view the content, so I will also once again put in a plug for sites that let you create disposable email accounts such as 10MinuteEmail.

Now by most accounts, under fair use I can quote a few things in order to illustrate my point of view here, so here’s a couple of select items I would like to touch on.

What Ms. Bryant seems to be saying is that it’s not the message so much as the medium (a professional trade magazine) and the manner (insult comic Don Rickles) in which it was delivered. I get that.

That was in reference to one letter to the editor where someone stated they expect this sort of humor in a nightclub setting (Dr. Kelly has and does do some stand up comedy), but not in a magazine such as this. I could make some arguments against that very premise, and of all the letters they published this was the only one to even make that argument. But in the end, I don’t believe that Mr. O’Connor does “get that”, as evidenced by the following:

I laughed out loud when I first read Dr. Kelly’s column. But a wince wiped the smile off my face when I thought of how some of you might react to it appearing in your magazine.

Ahh, the perils of political correctness.

This isn’t about political correctness. Trust me, I’m very conservtative and the whole “PC” really grates on me at times as well. And I absolutely believe that nobody has the right to not be offended. But take a look around. Obesity is a very real problem. Bullying is as well. And you don’t need to call someone names, or tell off-color jokes to bully someone about their weight. This is a very real problem in the medical field – doctors dismissing the concerns of their patients out of hand because they can’t… or won’t… make the effort to look past the size of their patients. The bias against the obese is real, and when it comes from those in the medical community it not only effects their patients mentally, it can have lasting physical consequences as well as many obese patients simply give up seeking the aid they may desperately need.

Just as it is your instinct to protect your patients, it is our instinct to protect our authors. … He (Dr. Kelly) feels the same remorse over last month’s column about overweight patients. “I hate hurting people,” he says. “But we own the mistake, and we move on.”

Did he cross the line last month? Maybe. But we will not muzzle him. We apologize to those we offended and we march on.

I applaud you for protecting your authors. We are fortunate enough to live in a country where we are all free to speak our minds, to have out opinions be heard. But words are a powerful thing, and with that power comes responsibility. And with responsibility comes consequences. It’s not about muzzling anyone, it’s about facing up to, not dodging the consequences of your actions.

Dr. Kelly got a taste of those consequences in what I am sure was a deluge of emails, phone calls, etc. And in the end he owned up to it and apologized. I personally may never know if he lives up to that apology, but I am hopeful. This editor and this publication on the other hand… “They” haven’t apologized. Instead they have continued to use their publication as a sort of  bully pulpit to redirect the focus off of what was the real issue.

They made a mistake. Dr. Kelly has learned from this. I don’t believe Mr. O’Connor has.

photo credit: Carmella Fernando

About Rob

I had RNY Gastric Bypass on April 8, 2009. I went from my heaviest of over 380 down to a low of 188 (for about a day!) before working on rebuilding muscle and such. Now I maintain at about 225. WLS has changed my life in so many ways, including my career as I now tackle nutritional coaching and other obesity education issues and is also a co-host on The Wake Up Call, a health and wellness radio show.