Listen Youse Gies

By Seth W. Shields, D. D. S.

            Doctor William J. Gies, who confesses that he isn’t a dentist, is truthful if nothing more. His letter which was reproduced in the December, 1936, issue of NUTRITION AND DENTAL HEALTH contains one of the most unimpeachable statements I’ve ever read: “…Thus, no one wishing to interest a layman in making a generous gift to dental cause –say to a dental school –would be tactless enough to present copies of any of these tawdry publications to show the intelligence, the esthetic comprehension, the professional gumption, or the public responsibility, of the dental profession.”

Surely, no same thinking dentist is silly enough to doubt Doctor Gies’ statement.

If any layman, who wished to make a generous gift “to a dental cause –say to a dental school -”, was to be presented with one of these “tawdry publications” he might read, in the advertising section, that prominent members of THE AMERICAN COLLEGE OF DENTISTS are using their names and influence to promote the sale of products to the public and profession at a profit. I’m quite in accord with Doctor Gies when he implies that the philanthropist would be discouraged when he found out that an organization, which Doctor Gies would have us think is the Almighty Supreme Being and His head of Apostles of the dental profession, would permit mercenary procedures within its own ranks. I’d suggest to doctor Gies, along with my tribute to his truthfulness, that he clean up the F. A. C. D. first before he attempts to destroy that part of dental journalism whose worst fault is telling the truth.

If the philanthropist actually attempted to investigate further, he might find out that certain schools have a close warm connection with certain supply houses operating within their buildings. He might, in the near future, find evidence to this effect printed in those “tawdry publications.” He never will find such information in the society journals. Their policy of education by reiteration would not permit space for such information, non would they care to publish anything of such a “non-technical” issue.

If he was not disgusted with such a mess he might even learn that the “profit motive” was removed from dental education, and with its removal, by the acquisition of the profit-making dental school by the State in which it  was located, of the sudden raise in the salaries of its professors and demonstrators which occurred. The tuition, incidentally, remaining the same along with the fees charged to clinic patients.

Since I have done some writing for proprietary dental publications, I am one of the dentists Dr. Gies hits below the belt when he says that we “not only misrepresent dentistry as a profession but also degrade and dishonor it.”

If I had been aware of the freedom of the press and the freedom of speech in America, I never would have bothered to write my manuscripts let alone submitted them to an editor for publication. If I were not a patriot, I would be resentful of his criticism, and, if I were inappreciative, I would not take this opportunity of thanking Dr. Gies for reading my stuff which I now gratefully do. UNDOUBTEDLY, the Doctor has read the journals he so heartily condemns, as no man has the right to criticize that about which he knows nothing. Furthermore, he can’t be overly acquainted with some of the freedom we have in the United States, or he wouldn’t try to stop any citizen from expressing his views.

Now, Dr. Gies, I say in vernacular in which you would like to think of me as using: “When you, a man who is not a dentist, think that you can tell me what I must read and who is to be the judge of what I read, and what I shall like in dental literature and what I shall not like, you’re talking fighting talk of the most vicious type. I don’t mean ‘physical combat’ when I say ‘fighting talk,’ but I’m willing to sling the lead of my typewriter until the ribbons are worn to bits before I’ll let such an asinine accusation as your go unchallenged.”

            1 Independent or Proprietary Dental Journals, Present and Future, Nutrition and Dental Health, December, P. 16.

Darlington, Indiana.