Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Intolerance of Truth

There was a small town that had a high incidence of cancer. Research showed that a chemical substance manufactured in the town was the culprit. Almost everyone in town used Feel Good. It kept people mellow, reduced anxiety, and tempered hostility. No one really ever hallucinated when using it. It seemed to have no serious side effects save for one ... cancer. Rather than ban Feel Good, the town determined to ban the use of the word "cancer."

A new doctor came into town unaware of the town's history. Every time a patient came to him complaining of a pain, he would run tests. He met with each patient and said, "I'm sorry, but you have cancer. Now it's a very treatable kind of can..." But each time the patient would interrupt, "I can't believe how intolerant you are! How dare you threaten me with the C-word?" And the patient would get up, furious, walk out, and never pay his bill.

Deeply concerned, the doctor advertised a town hall meeting on the subject of public health. Hundreds of people showed up. As he addressed the meeting, he said, "I want to share with you my deep concern about the level of health. There is a mystery disease going around that is taking peoples' lives prematurely. My research shows me it affects a highly abnormal percentage of our town's population. The good news is that this disease is treatable if caught in its early stages. I would like to share with you the results of my research. The room grew deathly quiet. He continued, "There is a toxic substance that nearly every one of you in town is using." People in the room began to shift uneasily. "It is the cause of your premature death.” The doctor was shocked when a couple of men in the back stood up and started booing. Undeterred, he proceeded. "I know you enjoy this substance, but it's causing cancer, and I would like to help you ..." He was unprepared for the violent reaction. The whole crowd stood up and began screaming, "Bigot!" "Intolerant!" "He used the C-word!” “How utterly insensitive!" The crowd would not let the doctor finish his speech, and he finally threw up his hands in resignation and left the assembly hall.

Within a week a coalition of citizens had filed a lawsuit against him. The county judge convicted him of hate speech and intolerance. He was sentenced to fifty hours of remedial sensitivity training and 100 hours of community service.

As a result of the whole business, the doctor found himself completely ostracized from the community. Because no one would come to his office anymore, he was forced to work in the local Wal-Mart store selling aspirin and band aids.

When he had completed his sensitivity training and his community service, he moved out of town. As the doctor left town for the last time he mumbled quietly to no one in particular, “How sad it is when people refuse to admit their practices are self-destructive and refuse to accept the cure.” The town continued on its way, dying prematurely in a state of euphoria.

No comments: