Monday, March 22, 2010

WHO IS SIMON SINGH AND WHY THE FUCK SHOULD YOU CARE

First I’ll ask you to curb your language. This blog is read by the fairer sex. Now, I’ll tell you about Simon Singh, a science writer working in the UK. In 2008 he penned an article, which pointed out that on their websites many chiropractors advertise spine manipulation to treat ear infections in children. Since there are no legitimate studies showing manipulating a child’s back can cure ear infections, Singh called this treatment bogus. Because of that statement he is being sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA). Libel laws in the UK are very different then they are here. Over there, if you are sued for libel, it is up to you to prove that you are right. To clarify, it is NOT up to the BCA to prove their claim that a back massage can cure infection. It is up to Singh to prove them wrong.

So why the fuck should you care? (Please, language. I hope you don’t kiss your mother with that mouth.) Here is the amazing thing. You don’t have to be a British citizen, or even be talking about a British citizen, to be sued for libel in the UK. All that has to happen is that someone in the UK reads something that you write. It doesn’t have to be some snappy letter to the editor in the New York Times. It could be some offhand remark that you make on you blog, here, about your pets health, (my cats bowel movements looks like Dick Chaney) or some rant that you twitter to your girlfriend about that guy you went on a date with last night (I’m never going to dinner with Dick Chaney again. He’s an asshole.) All that has to happen, is that someone across the pond reads it. And BAM…you could be wearing a new libel suit.

So if you were to say - "Sarah Palin is a mentally challenged cheerleader whose supporters are all inbred hillbillies. They are only drawn to her through some S&M librarian fetish which they can’t fulfill because of an inability to master the internet to satisfy themselves." – You could be sued for libel.

Or if you were to say - "Rush Limbaugh’s recent outbursts in which he declared, on numerous of occasions, that he was not going to bend over, grab his ankles and happily take it from the Obama administration, was clearly an unconscious expression of a secret desire to be sodomized by a strong but gentle African American male." - You could be sued for libel.

Or if you were to say – "Bill O’Reilly was nothing more than an overbearing bully who is obviously overcompensating for the documented fact that he was born with a single cheese doodle where his genitalia should have been. And that’s all I have to say about that." – You could be sued for libel.

And if I, myself, were to say promoting chiropractics for ear infections in children is dangerous because it might persuade some parents to postpone real treatments thereby leading to more serious conditions. It’s cruel, because the brutal stabbing pain kids experience could easily be cured with simple antibiotics. It’s crazy, because there is no scientifically based mechanism as to why moving around the backbone would have anything to do with curing an infection. Not to mention that bending and manipulating the spine of a young child whose bones are not yet fully formed sounds, to me, just plain stupid. – I could be sued for libel. But what do I know. I’m not a doctor. Oh wait, nether are chiropractors, not real doctors anyway.

Parliament is just beginning to review its libel laws in the UK and Singh’s case is in the courts right now. Good luck Simon.

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