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In Search of Dignity

January 26, 2015

Filed under: Ethics,Marketing,Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Barry @ 3:31 PM




On a recent trip to central Pennsylvania, in order to prevent myself from dozing, I read road signs.  Road signs can really get your attention.  They can be just as creative as some of the better television ads I see these days.

They can be real conversation starters, like those digital WANTED signs that warn us to be careful of criminals on the loose.  And of course those redundant GEICO billboards.  Yes, billboards can be a sign of the times.

That’s why, on my way into Harrisburg I found one sign that really made me laugh.  I guess this is the devolution of what started out as, “If you’ve been hurt in accident…call.” 

This billboard implied the same, but it instructed the viewer to call “LarrytheLawyer.com.”  (Name changed).

LarrytheLawyer.com?  Hmm?

Back in the eighties it became legal for professionals to advertise.  For years professional organizations fought advertising.  Many dentists are aware of “Painless Parker,” a flamboyant street dentist described as “a menace to the dignity of the profession” by the American Dental Association.  “Menace to the dignity of the profession”…in the thirties.  I wonder what the forefathers would say about our dignity now?

Dignity.  What does the word mean?  The dictionary definition tells us it is a sense of pride in oneself; self respect, an honorable rank or position.

Well, I guess it is up to each of us to protect our own dignity.  I certainly wouldn’t do what Larry did and display it all over my hometown for the sake of getting people’s attention.

But who protects the dignity of the profession?  The collective dignity of the profession.  Does anyone have that role?  I know in sports like football and baseball, players must answer to their undignified behavioral issues (sometimes anyway).  Someone is in charge of protecting the public image.  Because it’s important.

For what you ask?

Public trust.

And that’s the big problem with today’s professions.

Today the professions have narrowed and distorted the idea of dignity.  I wonder if advertising had something to do with it?  Maybe there was something to letting the professions police themselves instead ofd giving way to the free market.  After all health care ethics is a bit more complex than selling cars or insurance.

Maybe it doesn’t stop with the health care professions.  Just last week I was watching Barak Obama interviewing Glozell Green at the White House.  Check her out…she has this unbelievable following on YouTube.  I guess he did this for the same reasons Larry the Lawyer takes out billboards…to get the public’s attention through shock value.

Maybe it’s time we all took a deep breath and put some dignity back into our jobs…it wouldn’t hurt.












  1. Years ago

    Comment by James (Jim) Craig DDS — January 26, 2015 @ 5:56 PM

  2. True Jim…but dignity is universal and timeless.

    Comment by Barry Polansky — January 26, 2015 @ 5:58 PM

  3. Many years ago one of my patients that was an ER doctor was suturing my sons head as the result of a youthful indiscretion on a trampoline. At the time the hospital that was his employer was competing to be the go to hospital for cardiac care. Some brilliant marketing person placed a twenty foot tall inflated red heart on the top of the hospital. My ER doctor simply said “beautiful” when I complemented his organization on their PR. If you were having a cardiac incident would you demand the ambulance driver take you to the hospital with the “twenty foot heart” on top? We have slipped so far!

    Comment by James (Jim) Craig DDS — January 26, 2015 @ 6:03 PM

  4. The human mind has never changed. It can discern things and people that go beyond words. Larrythelawyer.com says the same thing to everyone. We may choose to ignore that message but it’s still there. The problem is that many people look the other way…we have become numb to a lot of this. Obama himself has said that the public is quick to comment and then they forget. He may be right about that but it certainly doesn’t say much about the basic sensibilities.

    Comment by Barry Polansky — January 26, 2015 @ 6:21 PM

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