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This Old Canadian Editorial Cartoon Shows How Every Revolutionary Idea Is Met By Opposition

Nowadays, medicare is as Canadian as maple syrup and hockey. But that wasn't always the case. In fact, socialized healthcare met as much hysterical opposition a few decades ago as marijuana legalization faces today. Which just goes to show that every revolutionary idea is met with furious resistance. 

In 1964, Toronto Star cartoonist Sid Baron satirized opposition to Medicare with a cartoon that is currently on display at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. The cartoon captures the prevalent attitude of contemporary medical professionals, who believed state-sponsored healthcare would lower salaries and devalue expertise.

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The cartoon depicts a disinterested doctor asking a nervous-looking patient about his pulse and blood pressure, while sitting in front of a pretty horrific display of anti-Medicare sentiment on the wall behind him.

During his tenure at the Star, Baron was given the moniker "poet of the mundane," due to his tendency to focus on the everyday struggle of the middle and lower classes in Canada. He was also noted for his liberal employment of "background gags," which is on full display in this drawing. Besides the anti-Medicare sign, which is writ large to draw the reader’s attention, there are several other details that lampoon popular sentiment of the time surrounding so-called socialist ideology.

There are three portraits, for instance, that depict a "male," "female," and a lynched "socialist". The implication here being, presumably, they’re something in between the genders, which just further goes to show how one form of regressive thinking tends to beget others.

Editorial cartoons are an excellent exemplar of the particular time and feeling of an era. That’s why many of them have a second life as cultural artifacts and textbook staples. In this case, we see that the 'Reefer Madness' mentality can be mustered to oppose any kind of social change - even free hospital visits. 


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