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JAMA 100 Years Ago
March 24/31, 1999


JAMA. 1999;281(12):1068F. doi:10.1001/jama.281.12.1068

The recent occurrences in Colorado and Texas illustrate the possible dangers of sanitation attempts with unenlightened individuals. A health officer was ordered to prevent a public funeral of a person who had died of a contagious disease, and he was killed in the performance of his duty. As the Chicago Post says, editorially: "He was a victim of the idea that health laws are made for the purpose of distressing those who already are sufficiently distressed." There is, with all our boasted enlightenment, a large amount of barbaric ignorance in this country, not only among the recently imported elements, but also amongst those who should know better. As the Post says, there is a feeling apparently existing in some degree among persons esteemed and esteeming themselves educated and intelligent, that the laws relating to contagious and infectious diseases are made to be ignored. If this is not a sign of what we have charitably called it, barbaric ignorance, it is something worse, it means a reckless indifference to law and to human life.