His name was Lawrence Keeney. He was 47 years old.

He is dead. It was likely his heart. He became ill and, when he finally went to the hospital, it was too late.

Lawrence Edward Keeney III was no stranger to technology. That is how and why he finds himself in the virtual pages of Technocracy today. A veteran journalist whose multiple careers included that of landlord and restaurateur, Lawrence feared little and backed down from less. Few men had his courage. Fewer still had his spirit. He was tenacious, he was persistent, and he was vocal. Every man has regrets; few if any of his involved failing to say what had to be said.

After years in an industry arguably dying where it sits, Lawrence left traditional newspapers behind and started his own online “paper,” the Boone Examiner. He knew everybody and was known by everyone. He held feet to fire. He never shrank from conflict. The news business is a contentious one; the local news business, in a tightly knit community, is that much more so.

Lawrence Keeney was a man of action. He carried a gun. He carried a knife. He walked with a cane. He knew how to fight with all three. He pointed pistols at more brigands than some cops I know. He once used a shotgun to blow a home invader off a ladder, as the man tried to climb into Lawrence’s bathroom window. “And that,” he would say, “is why the folks down at the courthouse call me ‘Buckshot.'”

Lawrence was threatened many times. He was stalked, both in person and online, by a variety of life’s losers. He never let this cow him. In fact, he relished it. “Being able to annoy those people to the extent they threaten violent acts,” he said, speaking of the “hippies” he so despised, “is what makes my day worthwhile.”

Threaten violent acts they certainly did. Lawrence had several very narrow encounters with violent criminals and their irate family members in Boone County, Va. Never once did he give in to fear. In each case, he resolved to train more, to learn more and to equip himself better. He stared down his stalkers when necessary. He humiliated his enemies when possible. He was prepared to back up his stand every time he took one.

Lawrence was carrying his trusty Glock pistol the day he almost lost a fight – to a minivan. Few men can win a bare-knuckle brawl with a Chevrolet, but Lawrence Keeney did. He was walking through a parking lot on his way to enter a shopping mall when an errant driver struck him accidentally. The force of the blow was so great that it knocked the gun from Lawrence’s holster. The weapon was found several feet away on the pavement.

His back was broken.

The vehicle was totaled. Lawrence Keeney went on, but the devastating accident derailed his plans just as he was about to take on a new job. It was after fighting through the recovery, the medical bills, the personal injury lawsuit and the depression afterward that Lawrence went back to journalism.

Pain became a constant in his life. He lived with it every day. His battles with it, both physically and emotionally, were evident in his conversations with his friends. Yet despite this, while he was something of a curmudgeon, he was lovably so. It was impossible not to like Lawrence, not to find him amusing and not to admire his strength of will. Despite challenges that would and do crush lesser men, Lawrence managed to maintain a positive attitude and an enthusiasm for work and for life. It was the hallmark of his courage. It was his defining characteristic.

You didn’t know Lawrence Edward Keeney III, but there are many Americans who could benefit from his example. This is because a campaign of sorts is under way. It extends to everything from newspaper articles to radio advertisements. That campaign is intended to discourage you from going to the emergency room for “unnecessary” visits.

On its face, the argument is sound. If you do not need emergency services, waiting and visiting your doctor, or going to an “urgent care” facility, makes more sense than straining the ER resources of a medical system already suffering from high costs and the uncertainty of government intervention. But it is, in some ways, that very government intervention that is the source of the problem. With Obamacare looming and more medical professionals expressing concern over this scheme to force socialized medicine down Americans’ throats, there can be no doubt that rationing of health care awaits us all.

It is in the spirit of rationing that we attempt to discourage those who feel sick from seeking emergency treatment. The problem with such a campaign is that, while it prevents many people from tying up resources they don’t truly need, it encourages some authority other than the individual to determine what your needs really are. The decision to go to the ER, or to stay home and hope, should be yours. It should not be left up to bureaucrats or advertising executives.

Had Lawrence Keeney gone to the emergency room sooner rather than later, he might have lived. It’s impossible to say. What someone suffering from a heart attack doesn’t need to hear is that he should wait, that he should avoid the ER. We shouldn’t tell him that he’s bothering the staff of the ER by daring to think his problem is important enough to take up their precious “care.” What is “care” if nobody is deemed worthy of it? Why is every problem an emergency unless the problem is yours?

You didn’t know Lawrence Edward Keeney III, but perhaps you’ll think of him now. He would be glad that you did. He would be especially pleased if, in thinking of him, you saved your own life – while angering the architects of Obamacare.

Lawrence Keeney was a good man in a world of too few good men. We don’t need to lose more before their time.

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