Your right - even when you're wrong
September 1st 2008, 15:48 | Bryan Hubbard
The struggle between the Sons of the Enlightenment and medical quackery - as they view any therapy that doesn't involve powerful pharmaceuticals - is getting more bitter by the day.
In the past week, the University of Central Lancashire has closed its BSc course in homeopathy following what the lecturers describe as a relentless campaign by David Colquhoun, one of the Sons of the Enlightenment. But another SoE has been at the receiving end; Simon Singh, co-author of the recent book Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine On Trial, is being sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association over claims he makes about the therapy in the book.
The SoEs seem to be forgetting something pretty important in their relentless campaign: an individual's right to choose. They may claim that homeopathy doesn't work and so shouldn't be offered, but surely that is for the patient to decide. By all means, give him or her all the 'facts' - and, by this, it should be even-handed - but then leave well alone.
Put another way, the SoEs are effectively saying that they are protecting people against their own stupidity, and this is where the weakness of their position is exposed. Who are they to determine what I, or you, should be free to try? It's dangerous ground, and could be applied to many walks of life and provides unrasonable power to self-appointed experts who, in the name of the public good, decide what we can say or do.
Ultimately, it's the difference between having either a belief in the State - which becomes the ultimate authority on everything we are allowed to have and experience in life - or the common-sense of the individual. A quick scan over the history of the 20th century tells me which approach I would prefer, even if it means that, on occasions, I am wrong in my judgement and choice.