Battling Tyranny


History & Highlights


Battling Tyranny


Holding the ACA’s 50th Anniversary in our nation’s capital is the perfect location for this celebration. This event marks the occasion when, in May of 1963, the NCA and a handful of ICA board members formed the new ACA as “the answer to survival and progress,” issues we still fight on Capitol Hill.

“Formation of new American Chiropractic Association

is the answer to survival and progress”

 Recognizing that a unity stalemate had been reached in negotiations, six leaders of the NCA met with six leaders of the ICA and joined hands in resolving the profession’s greatest need – total organization – by developing a “Master Plan for Chiropractic Survival and Advancement.” 

     They are (left to right): Dr. H.W. Pruitt, Director of Professional Relations of NCA, Iowa; Dr. L.M. Rogers, Executive Secretary of NCA, Iowa; Dr. A.M. Schierholz, Chairman of NCA Executive Board of Directors, ICA; Dr. Harold F. Russell, Member of ICA Board of Control, Alberta Canada; Dr. L.K. Griffin, Member of ICA Board of Control, Texas; Dr. A.A. Adams, First Vice-President of ICA, Washington; Dr. Clair W. O’Dell, Chairman of World Posture Pageant, Michigan; Dr. Devere E. Biser, Second Vice-President of ICA; Dr. Cecil L. Martin, Member of NCA Executive Board of Directors, New Jersey; Atty. James E. Bunker, General Counsel of NCA, Iowa; Dr. R.T. Leiter, Immediate Past President of NCA, Georgia; Dr. Richard W. Tyer, Member of ICA Board of Control, Mississippi.

Despite this seemingly important merger, the ICA did not fold; as usual, it resisted unity. According to historian Joe Keating, PhD, in his expansive, “Chronology of today’s American Chiropractic Association,” this merger was not approved by the mainstream ICA leadership that maintains a separate association to this day.

In a press release, the ICA made this point clear:

The International Chiropractic [sic] Association has taken a strong stand against resignation of five of its board members and one general member to become key backers of the proposed American Chiropractic Association.

   In an official release, ICA said, in part:

   “The attack against the principle, the straight chiropractor, and ICA has been a possessing goal of certain NCA officials for decades. Even the newest ruse, romantically called the American Chiropractic Association, is not new….

   Selected NCA strategists and a quintet of defecting ICA Board members, under the false guise of unity, will try to lure unsuspecting ICA members into a trap.  This trap is the American Chiropractic Association, a trap that is scheduled to be closed within 90 days through absorption of these doctors as second class citizens into the NCA.

   The five defectors gave up their positions of trust as members of the ICA Board of Control to become membership chairmen for the NCA through the “puppet state” ACA.  The fact is that even the NCA Executive Board does not have much confidence in this unholy marriage, as evidenced by its demand for a dowry of 1,500 members to be put up within 90 days before the marriage is consummated…Such doctors will soon realize the truth, that the ACA is part of the NCA “master plan” to divide and conquer, to destroy the ICA, to weaken the Chiropractic principle, and to gain membership and control of the profession.”

  1963: A Very Odd Year

As the new ACA organization joined forces in 1963, none of these forefathers could imagine the intense battle that laid in wait because the same year also saw the formation of the AMA’s Committee on Quackery whose goal was “to contain and eliminate” and ultimately “to destroy chiropractic.”

No other profession would endure what the chiropractic profession would experience from the defamation and tyranny by the AMA’s CoQ. Never before or since has any professional association declared a genocidal war upon its rivals. Just as chiropractors suffered, moreover, patients have been collateral damage in this medical war.

Fourteen years later in 1976 the Wilk et al. v. AMA et al. antitrust trial would signal the beginning of the most intense legal battle in the medical war against chiropractors. Eventually, these chiropractic plaintiffs would prove successful, if not totally triumphal in the medical war, considering the AMA’s “wither on the vine” policy continues.

Although these brave warriors won that legal battle, the medical cold war against chiropractors continues to this day as we now see with the AMA’s Resolution 241 to repeal Section 2706, which is the non-discrimination clause championed by Sen. Tom Harkin.

The AMA’s quest to repeal Section 2706 symbolizes the medical tyranny as well as its contempt for the will of Congress. It also illustrates the acceptable medical prejudice against chiropractors that still permeates much of the media.

Imagine if any other organization announced its goal to repeal legislation aimed to end discrimination, such as the Civil Rights Act or the religious freedom amendment, the push back would be enormous from those who believe in equality and justice for all.

Our Time for Tribute

 Despite these problems, visiting Washington DC always rekindles within me the American spirit of liberty with the many monuments and museums on the Washington Mall dedicated to those Americans who fought for the concepts of justice, equality, and freedom that have been the building blocks of this country.

The most recent memorials on the Mall honor the victims of the Holocaust and the courage of American victors of WWII as well as the newest one that pays tribute to MLK, Jr. and his followers in civil rights.

The indomitable and quintessential American mindset for liberty is best inscribed in a frieze below the dome at the Jefferson Memorial: “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

Perhaps someday the Smithsonian will also pay tribute to the victims of the medical war against chiropractors. In fact, the chiropractic profession is not mentioned in any of the museums on the Mall, not one, as if our profession never existed. The Smithsonian officials are missing a fascinating yet untold story from persecution to vindication as we’ve seen with many other minorities.

Few people have ever appreciated the heroism and perseverance shown by chiropractors to keep our healing art alive. Historian Russell Gibbons wrote that “chiropractors felt the brunt as one of the first grass roots movements in America,”[1] but, I might add, an unheralded movement.

The recent celebration in memory of Rosa Parks, the first black woman to be honored with a full-length statue in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall, symbolizes a similar plight. Just as she and other black Americans were forced to sit in the back of the bus, chiropractors were thrown under the medical bus.

And for this effort to attain social justice in healthcare, chiropractors paid a heavy price.  To this day, few Americans understand the length and ferocity of the medical war against chiropractors. From New York to Louisiana to California, chiropractors were routinely harassed, extorted, and arrested; some were ran out of town while others were beaten up by the local police.

During the first half of the twentieth century, over 12,000 American chiropractors were prosecuted over 15,000 times, and some 3,300 were sent to jail for practicing medicine without a license although they never dispensed drugs or did surgery.[2] Their incarceration was simple a ruse to discourage competition to the medical profession.

Give Us Medical Freedom

Just as Americans now honor the courage of Rosa Parks, imagine the same depth of character required by the early chiropractors to persist despite the unholy medical persecution. Like our Founding Fathers, they had to develop a similar strength of conviction to fight against overwhelming odds, just as our American Revolutionaries fought against the power of King George III.

Certainly the injustice done to chiropractors is a newsworthy all-American story that remains untold considering even a Signer of the Declaration, Dr. Benjamin Rush, allegedly mentioned the possible danger of medical despotism. Sadly, his hope for medical equality was not incorporated by our Founding Fathers into the Constitution as he suggested.

Dr. Rush pushed for a medical freedom amendment in the Constitution to oppose the creation of the medical Bastille as we now see today.

“The Constitution of this Republic should make specific provision for medical freedom as well as for religious freedom. To restrict the practice of the art of healing to one class of physicians and deny to others equal privileges constitutes the Bastilles of our science. All such laws are un-American and despotic. They are vestiges of monarchy and have no place in a republic.”[3]

Unfortunately, this medical despotism is now so entrenched that its purveyors consider themselves virtually untouchable as the unelected 4th branch of government, but unlike the other three branches, the medical monarchy is self-appointed and self-serving.

Medical sociologist Paul Starr wrote in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Social Transformation of American Medicine, that as a result of the Flexner Report, the AMA presumed to have cultural authority to invoke reform upon both its own medical schools as well as to condemn the education of competing health professions like homeopathy, naturopathy, and chiropractic in order to run them out of business:

“Even though no legislative body ever set up…the AMA Council on Medical Education, their decisions came to have the force of law.”[4]

Indeed, this assumed authority was granted de facto by state legislatures intimidated by political medicine, which explains why in 1949 Harper’s Magazine labeled the AMA “the most terrifying trade association on earth.”[5]

Rather than embracing Dr. Rush’s call for an egalitarian healthcare system as we have religious freedom of or from any faith, the medical profession followed the lead of the AMA’s former executive director, Morris Fishbein, MD, dubbed by his contemporaries as the “Medical Mussolini” for his tyrannical leadership from 1924 to 1949.

His despotic attitude was most evident when he penned his battle cry in 1925, “Scientific medicine absorbs from them that which is good, if there is any good, and then they die.” [6] Imagine if any religion or political party had the same motto, the outrage would be enormous today just as we’ve seen concerning gun control and the Second Amendment.

Dream or Nightmare?

Certainly all Americans now suffer as a result of this medical monarchy—a healthcare crisis never before seen in the annals of our country. We spend more, get less, live shorter lives, and now lead the industrialized world in every category of disease.[7] Indeed, for patients the American Dream has also become a medical nightmare.

Despite these throes, the medical profession remains steadfastly opposed to diversity, freedom of choice, or free enterprise in healthcare—all very un-American concepts.

Indeed, if there is any hope to stop the bleeding of our broken healthcare system, it rests with the American beliefs in equality and free enterprise to bring forth the best and cheapest mousetrap to the healthcare market, a goal opposed by the AMA.

In fact, after a century of medical domination, their policy has certainly fallen on the wrong side of history both in terms of political-correctness and clinical effectiveness. Just as seen with the debate on global warming, the science is in, and the medical detractors have been proven wrong on many issues.

After a century of touting itself as scientific, in fact, the notion of “scientific medicine” is now seen as a hoax considering 2,000 of 3,000 treatments have been shown to be ineffective or unproven as reported in the British Medical JournalThe Washington Post revealed this startling fact a recent article: “Surprise! We don’t know if half our medical treatments work” by Sarah Kliff.

The same can be said about medical spine care consisting of drugs, shots, and surgery that have been proven dangerous, addictive, expensive, mostly ineffective, and deadly. Mark Schoene, editor of an international spine research newsletter from Georgetown University, could not be clearer when he said: “Spinal medicine in the US is a poster child for inefficient spine care.”[8]

Indeed, this plethora of spine research reveals the paradigm shift away from “bad discs,” a concept disproved by researchers such as Scott Boden, MD, and even chided by Rick Deyo, MD, MPH, who labeled them irrelevant and dubbed them “incidentalomas.”

Furthermore the recent deaths caused by epidural shots contaminated by meningitis and the 38,000+ deaths from prescription narcotic painkillers, mostly taken for chronic back pain, illustrate the ineffectiveness of these medical methods kept alive by a greedy medical profession.

On the other hand, chiropractic care has proven to be at the top of the heap as Dr. Tony Rosner, PhD, testified in 2003 before The Institute of Medicine: “Today, we can argue that chiropractic care, at least for back pain, appears to have vaulted from last to first place as a treatment option.”[9]

The historic spine studies, such as the AHCPR guideline, Manga Reports, UK BEAM, and the New Zealand Inquiry, as well as more recent seventeen recent international guidelines, have also recommended our brand of spine care over medical care in the majority (85%) of cases—the so-called “non-specific” mechanical cases where joint dysfunction is the main problem.

The medical mismanagement of this pandemic of back pain is enormous and, when low back pain is combined with neck pain, these painful spinal disorders are second only to ischemic heart disease in its impact on the global burden of disease according to Scott Haldeman, MD, DC, PhD, a leading spine expert. [10]

This is yet another way the 80,000 chiropractors, which today constitute the third-largest, physician-level health profession in the country, could improve this dire U.S. health disadvantage with their superior diagnostic and clinical skills as America’s primary spine care providers.

[note: The recent TIME magazine (March 4, 2013) cover story, “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us”, by attorney/journalist Steven Brill discusses the inordinate high medical costs. As well, the documentary Doctored also shows badly the medical system is broken.]

Pricks in Healthcare

One might ask why this medical incompetence in spine care remains in this era of evidence-based healthcare. Sadly to say, it’s all about money.

As medical writer, NM Hadler, MD, wrote, “The pen may be mightier than the sword, but it is not mightier than the dollar.”[11] Indeed, the medical bully pulpit is more powerful when the preacher has a pocketful of cash.

From its bully pulpit, medical demagogues shred the self-worth of their competitors with degrading trash talk—a form of hate speech, if you will. They use their political and social power to degrade rather than to cooperate with the other healthcare communities for the benefit of patients.

As well as we recently saw in Deadly Dose, chiropractors are completely ignored when medical reporters like Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN develop a serious case of professional amnesia to avoid giving any credit to chiropractors in an exposé that, ostensibly, seeks a non-drug solution to chronic pain.

Chiropractors in particular continue to experience constant harassment and hate speech from medical bullies who still cling to their old dogma, pride themselves on their unabated prejudice and, in some cases, flaunt their outright bigotry by pricking at every aspect of our profession—they stab relentlessly at our image, they poke fun at our treatments, and they constantly jab at our science.

For over a century, these medical pricks have included numerous comments that still permeate the public’s attitude about our profession, such as:

  • Chiropractors were labeled “rabid dogs” and “killers” despite no evidence.[12]
  • Chiropractic remains an “unscientific cult” despite the numerous guidelines that recommend it now as a “proven treatment.”[13]
  • Chiropractic is “dangerous” and causes strokes despite the insignificant rate compared to drugs, shots, spine surgery.[14]
  • Chiropractic was labeled as “quackery” because its original philosophy had a vitalistic belief that medical atheists resent.
  • Chiropractors should not be referred to as “doctors” because it would “elevate practitioners of alternative medicine to the same level as medical doctors.” [15] 

Obviously these medical pricks against our profession are relics from the past originating in the 1920s during the Morris Fishbein era, empowered in the 1960s with the Committee on Quackery, and continued today under the semblance of the Institute for Science in Medicine and its sidekick, Science-Based Medicine, clans for medical atheists and demagogues hiding behind the guise of science.

This is the unnerving admission by Francis R. Collins, MD, presently the Director of the National Institutes of Health, and undoubtedly the most powerful MD in the nation today. From his experience, Dr. Collins admits as many as sixty percent of doctors and scientists are atheists.[16] 

In effect, these scientists and MDs have taken the “bio” out of biology—in other words, the source of vitality and vigor of a living body—the God factor. This concept is not a religious or moral issue as much as it is a primordial biological principle that there is a life force within every living creature; obviously without it, you are dead. To deny it is sheer folly as biological scientists.

Apparently, modern medicine has lost its soul by embracing an atheistic attitude and, when combined with its bully pulpit touting hate speech while using mostly ineffective treatments, the AMA appears as a strange and mean-spirited organization that obviously has lost sight the Hippocratic Oath and “Do No Harm.”  

Indeed, Dr. Rush would be ashamed of today’s medical Bastilles that, as he predicted, resembles “vestiges of monarchy and have no place in a republic.”[17] Never did he imagine his own profession would become laden with atheists, bullies, and monopolists.

It’s no wonder the medical war against chiropractors continues and the American public remains so sick. Indeed, the American Dream of good healthcare has become a nightmare at the hands of the medical monarchy.

In 1993, Dr. Kerwin Winkler, chairman of the American Chiropractic Association’s Board of Governors, offered a reconciliatory attitude to this medical Cold War:

“It is time to tear down the walls of isolation, bridge the moats of prejudice, and work as a separate and distinct brigade of the same army. The enemy is not medicine; the enemy is disease.“[18]

Further proof of the AMA’s antipathy toward chiropractic occurred in 2000 when the AMA snubbed a peace offering by the American Chiropractic Association according to Howard Wolinsky of the Chicago Sun-Times, a writer you might find familiar as author of Serpent on the Staff:

The cold war between the Chicago-based American Medical Association and the American Chiropractic Association is heating up again, nearly a decade after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the groups to bury the scalpel, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

In a Feb. 28 letter to the ACA, AMA Chairman D. Ted Lewers said, “It is our understanding that the ACA desires to meet with the leadership of the AMA in order to `focus on those issues we have in common.’ However, the AMA has a different view and no desire for such a meeting.” [19]

This snub not to make peace with chiropractic should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the war on chiropractic. Even after its defeat in the Wilk v. AMA trial, the medial leadership remained defiant. Just as the proverbial racist Jim Crow remained rebellious after the end of the Civil War, the medical counterpart, Jim Crow, MD, remains just as resolute in his bigoted convictions.

This medical monarchy that Dr. Rush warned our Founding Fathers has now led to a national crisis. Obviously his prediction has come true and fixing this broken system begins with free enterprise for all healthcare professions as Steven Brill mentioned in his recent TIME article, Bitter Pill.

I might add allowing freedom of choice for patients is another important step to improve America’s dismal health situation as Section 2706 hopes to insure.

From this historical perspective, the ACA’s 50th Anniversary should be a festive time to celebrate our victories—legal, legislative, and scientific—as well as become a beacon of hope for the millions of Americans who also have suffered from the tyranny of the medical mindset.

Let us use this occasion to renew our hope for a stronger profession and a better future for all patients. Perhaps we chiropractors should embrace a statement by MLK, Jr. who said it best:

“Of all forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”

[1] Russell W Gibbons, “Go to Jail for Chiro,” Journal of Chiropractic Humanities 4 (1994): 61.

[2] Gibbons, ibid. pp. 67–71.

[3] ER Booth, History of Osteopathy and Twentieth Century Medical Practice, Cincinnati: Caxton Press, 1905 (1924):312.

[4] P Starr, The Social Transformation of American Medicine, New York: Basic Books, (1982).

[5] M Mayer, “The Rise and Fall of Dr. Fishbein,” Harper’s Magazine, 199/1194 (Nov. 1949): 76

[6] M Fishbein,  Medical Follies, New York, Boni & Liveright, (1925): 43.

[7] Sabrina Tavernise, For Americans Under 50, Stark Findings on Health, NY Times, 1/15/2012.

[8] The BACKPage editorial vol. 27, No. 11, November 2012.

[9] Testimony before The Institute of Medicine: Committee on Use of CAM by the American Public on Feb. 27, 2003.

[10] Scott Haldeman DC, MD, PhD, FRCP(C) and Simon Dagenais DC, PhD. A supermarket approach to the evidence-informed management of chronic low back pain. The Spine Journal, vol. 8, Issue 1, January-February 2008, Pages 1-7.

[11] Hadler, NM, Stabbed in the Back; confronting back pain in an overtreated society, University of North Carolina Press, 2009, pp. 88

[12] Minutes from the “Chiropractic Workshop,” Michigan State Medical Society, held in Lansing on 10 May 1973, exhibit 1283, Wilk.

[13] Bigos et al. US Dept. of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, Clinical Practice Guideline, Number 14: Acute Low Back Problems in Adults AHCPR Publication No. 95-0642, (December 1994)

[14] A Rosner, “Evidence or Eminence-Based Medicine? Leveling the Playing Field Instead of the Patient,” Dynamic Chiropractic  20/25 (November 30, 2002) 

[15] M Kranish, “Senators Seek Coverage For Alternative Therapies,” Boston Globe, (July 24, 2009)

[16] Interviewed by David Hirschman, Recorded September 13, 2010,

[17] ER Booth, History of Osteopathy and Twentieth Century Medical Practice, Cincinnati: Caxton Press, 1905 (1924):312.

[18] K Winkler, Outlook (Aug. 1993)

[19]  Howard Wolinsky,  “AMA snubs overture from chiropractors,” Chicago Sun-Times, March 24, 2000