OPINION

Hippocrates in action

The story had a touch of the silly season about it, and a dose of the sympathy which victims of the stock exchange reserve for their fellow victims. A doctor paid a police officer and a thug (or rather two thugs, one of who happened to be a police officer) to persuade a stock broker to return capital the doctor had invested and lost. The two hired heavies did their job as ordered, and then charges were pressed against them. The precise details of the case are unknown, as are the names of those involved, but everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Having said that, there is nothing at all silly about the incident, which is evidence of an ongoing degeneration that has nothing to do with the extent of the financial loss or the slow workings of justice. The main factor in this process is the doctor himself, who is – theoretically at least – an educated person, which makes matters even worse. There may have been something wrong with this entire case right from the start. Perhaps the broker promised, or even guaranteed, outrageously high profits. Perhaps he did so out of malice, greed, stupidity or extreme confidence. But didn’t the doctor know that there are no guarantees on the stock market? Hadn’t he heard about the risks? Didn’t the promise of returns far higher than those given by the bank give him pause for thought? Or was the investor, as in many cases, a potential loan shark? Was the use of thugs justified by the delay in the court system? Was the doctor not sure of being vindicated in the courts? And when someone feels hard done by, does he have a right to go and beat people up? The damage does not end there. As for the admirable cooperation between police officer and thug, it simply shows that a police officer can uphold the law just as well as some doctors protect people’s health…