Posted by: Witch Doctor | October 29, 2009

A twitching witch


The BMJ group has a number of blogs relating to individual journals.

Two bloggers were very quick off their mark to comment on the Kerry Wooltorton case.

The first was a lawyer, Professor Sheila McLean who is a distinguished academic with a particular expertise in medical law. She provided a summary in the BMJ blog of the legal situation regarding the outcome of the inquiry but did not enter into any discussion in the comments that followed the post.

According to the books and papers she has written it appears that Professor McLean is not only a distinguished member of The Humanist Society and also appears to be strongly in favour of voluntary euthanasia becoming legalised.

Dr McLean is a member of the ethics committee of the BMA.

The second to put pen to paper on the BMJ Group Blogs was Dr Iain Brassington. His post was in the Journal of Medical Ethics. There is quite a discussion in the comments section, some of it in the foreign language of philosophy.

If you scroll down the comments section to October 12, you reach a very short comment that seemed rather odd to The Witch Doctor.

“Forgive the intervention – I’m delighted to see Iain finding support in case law and statute.

John Coggon”

More recently the name John Coggon appears again, in a post of his own, this time in the BMJ blogs.



Here is the opening gambit of his post:

“If I asked a physiologist to show me where her conscience is, I’m fairly sure she’d not be able to.  Yet, it seems, a great many doctors appeal directly to their consciences, or at least wish to be free to do so.  This is a little strange. If a patient says “God makes me do it” suspicions arise.  So why should a doctor be at liberty to appeal to something beyond the empirically demonstrable?”

Now, The Witch Doctor has no idea who John Coggon is, but she was quite taken by his smiling face, so in order to say “Hi” the way we witches do, she placed a little comment at the end of his blog.

She saw it in print, but it indicated it was waiting for moderation:

There it sat, and sat, and sat………

Waiting, waiting, waiting……….


It vanished. Just like that!!!

My Black Cat and I fear the moderators didn’t like it!!!

Perhaps John Coggon didn’t like it?

So, it seems the BMJ does not allow witches to express themselves freely in the comments section of their blogs.

The Philosphical Folk – yes.

The Ethical Folk – yes.

The Witches – no.

No free speech for witches.!

Probably everyone reading this is now worried sick about what The Witch Doctor could possibly have said to cause such offence.

Well, the witch just gave a little twitch.

That’s all.

Surely they could have published a little twitch?

From a witch……..

N.B. If the comment has not appeared on the BMJ blog by Halloween, then The Witch Doctor will let you know exactly what she said as a little trick and treat before she flies off to The Big Party on the All Hallows’ Eve Holiday.

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  1. ‘And this is good old Boston,
    the land of the bean and the cod,
    Where the Lowells talk only to Cabots
    And the Cabots talk only to God’..

    I’m glad I’m not the only person that happens to, WD. I see John Coggon is using the good old empirical argument; if it doesn’t have a physical existence, then it doesn’t exist. Ask him to show where his thoughts are or better still, where his intelligence is. But I bet you already have…

  2. Sorry, that should have been John Coggan. Btw, Sheila McLean is from Glasgow..

  3. Have corrected the name, Julie.

  4. Some things stick in your mind, & I recall a profile of “rock chick” pioneering philospher Sheila McClean some years ago (1997) in the THES. It’s here: . About the same time, I saw her on a discussion show & the impression I got was more SS-Helferin meets Rab C Nesbitt’s Intermalky. That’s my intuition though, so must’ve been wrong.

  5. […] Those readers of this blog may recollect that The Witch Doctor in the past had one of her comments dismissed as not suitable on a BMA blog. […]

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