Tolerating the Intolerant

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It seems that intolerance is alive and well today. For all the hyperbole about the “hate-straights” and those of us who supposedly want to limit the freedom of chiropractors to practice a broad scope approach, the only tolerance I see is being demonstrated by the very group that’s being accused.

The problem begins with a true understanding of what tolerance is all about. Somehow the definition of tolerance has gone from meaning “I do not agree with your approach but I respect your right to prefer that approach or conduct yourself in that manner” to meaning “I accept your approach as being as valid or legitimate as mine.” Do you understand the difference? The true definition is, you are wrong but I respect your right to be wrong. The second suggests that there is no wrong and that everybody can be right. Well, you can see that by holding to the orthodox definition, the straight chiropractor has been stripped of his tolerant position, while allowing people to practice as they choose. This was previously understood to be the practice of tolerance. Today tolerance seems to be defined as accepting any kind of approach to chiropractic as being valid whether or not it has a defining standard or principle. Straight chiropractors maintain the position that other approaches are not valid, and that they neither support them nor efforts that promote them. But since by virtue of the law it is legal to practice in other ways they will not infringe upon someone’s practice rights. Intolerance is trying to force someone to adhere to your standards. Tolerance is allowing others to practice the way they want, even if you think it is wrong.

We also need to differentiate between legal and valid. Just because the law says various approaches to the practice of chiropractic are legal does not make them valid. As citizens, we respect the right of anyone to practice chiropractic any way they want within the law. That does not make it right, any more than chiropractic being illegal in the early part of the last century invalidated it. Let’s be clear that we do not agree with certain approaches to chiropractic but we acknowledge the legal right to practice in that manner. That is true tolerance. V19n2

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