I feel free to say that I view chiropractors as either deluded or dishonest practitioners of unscientific mumbo-jumbo, peddling a pseudo-medical ritualistic "treatment" modalities without a basis in modern science, shot through with odd connections to even more bizarre beliefs, and preying upon both reasonable and paranoid fears about science-based medicine.
I feel free to say that because I am in America, not in Britain. Were I in Britain, I would be much more circumspect. That's because Britain's libel law is, to American tastes, a playground for thin-skinned thugs and suppressors of dissent, and hostile to critics thereof. That's why the British legal system is the preferred venue for Holocaust deniers, bagmen for terrorism, and other libel tourists.
Case in point, courtesy of Overlawyered: Simon Singh, a British scientist who had the temerity to suggest that what chiropractors do is "bogus," particularly in connection with claims that chiropractors can treat childhood ailments by "adjusting" little spines:
"The British Chiropractic Association claims that their members can help treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying, even though there is not a jot of evidence. This organisation is the respectable face of the chiropractic profession and yet it happily promotes bogus treatments."
This being Britain, and the British Chiropractic Association being a swarm of politically powerful thugs protective of their income and furious that anyone would reveal them as the pack of gibbering stick-shaking shaman that they are, sued for libel. They found a sympathetic ear and accommodating gavel in presiding judge sir David Eady, who recently ruled not only that Singh must carry the burden of proving the truth of what he asserted, but that he must prove that the British Chiropractic Association is spreading lies knowingly, because Sir David interprets the term "bogus" to be both an assertion of fact rather than an assertion of opinion and interprets it to mean that the misinformation is knowing and deliberate. This, of course, is in sharp contrast to the American legal system, where people seeking to use the legal system to suppress speech and extract money would have the burden of proving that what was said about them was a false statement of fact, not opinion or hyperbole. Whatever else we do wrong — and my God, there's plenty — we do that right.
One hopes that the decency and common sense of the British jury — an ancient institution for which America owes a debt of cultural gratitude — will prevail here over this appalling legal norm, as it did in the Holocaust denial case linked above. But if it doesn't, Singh may take some comfort on his way to bankruptcy and court-sanctioned censorship that Britain's libel law is well on its way to being a pariah, both as a matter of opinion and as a matter of law, in other countries. If the current trend persists, a thuggish litigant like the British Chiropractic Association will be unable to enforce British libel judgments elsewhere in the world, and such judgments will be met with roughly the same esteem and legal effect as a writ from East Fuckistan demanding that the courts of another country forcibly genitally mutilate an escaped tribeswoman.
Edit: I had comments turned off for some reason. They are back on now.
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