Saturday, August 1, 2015

Why was Marie Barker's actual death sentence praised while Harry Lime's fictional murders so condemned : a story of two Teddy Bears ...

The 1943 real life Allied decision to deny penicillin to Marie Barker (the only medicine that could save the life of this young teenager and SBE patient) on the (unstated) grounds that her disease was 'not a military priority', has generally been praised by historians of science - then and now.

It was also acquiesced in - at the very least - by most lay people back then.

Even when that public saw newspaper photos of still just a teenager Marie breaking into a smile of delight at the sight of one of her 'stuffies' (a teddy bear) that her Canadian-born mother Hermance had brought to her bedside.

By contrast the needless, painful but fictional deaths caused by Harry Lime denying penicillin to children in 1949 Vienna only six years later has been strongly condemned by most of those same academics and by the public generally.

Okay ---- perhaps the professors did not condemn it in actual peer reviewed articles, but almost certainly, like the public, they did so in casual water cooler talk and during post-movie-watching 'pillow talk' between spouses.

I can claim this with some certainty because it is known that countless audience members discussing the moral issues raised by Harry Lime's unspeakable actions around helpless children and penicillin was what helped lift THE THIRD MAN from being just another run of the mill B&W 'quota flick' to among the top films of all time.

How the casual upending of a child's teddy bear helped change us for good

In just six short years, we went from praising the decision to cold bloodedly and publicly kill Marie Barker & her teddy bear by baneful neglect ------- to blanching at the mere fleeting sight of a nurse silently putting the teddy bear of of one of Harry Lime's victims upside down on a waste basin.

I hold that to be a hugely momentous moral upending, as dramatic in its own way as was the totally unexpected upending of the best in civilized technology by primitive penicillin...

No comments:

Post a Comment