I just sent this letter off to the Board of Regents of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy:
October 12, 2023
Dear Executive Director Maddux and Board of Regents,
During the past 3 1/2 years, I have observed the troubling pattern of silencing viewpoints that depart in any way from the official Covid narrative. Your cancelation of Dr. Vinay Prasad as a keynote speaker at the upcoming ACCP Conference is an example of this inappropriate trend.
This is America. The founding principle of America is the freedom of speech, without which none of the other rights enumerated in the Constitution matter, because they cannot be pursued. Healthy, vigorous, oppositional debate is essential to innovation and problem-solving. Without debate there is no progress and people become afraid, first to speak, and then to think for themselves.
Alicia Lichvar states she “cannot – in good conscience – share a platform with an individual who promotes such harmful rhetoric.” Ms. Lichvar claims there is a role for critical discourse, but not as the Keynote speaker. Why not? Since when is it assumed that the speaker at a conference, or graduation ceremony, or civic event represents the viewpoint of all?
In this instance, ACCP appears to have sided with the false ideology recently stated at Twitter (X) that people are entitled to “freedom of speech, not reach.” In Ms. Lichvar’s world, people like Dr. Prasad have the right to their views, just not in public, which is no right at all.
This was the moment to clarify that your group values varied viewpoints by inviting Ms. Lichvar to share her side in a debate with Dr. Prasad, or in her own presentation. It was not a moment to say you will be “revisiting the keynote speaker vetting and selection process to ensure alignment with the expectations and values of ACCP members.” There were obviously ACCP members who wanted to hear from Dr. Prasad, or he would not have been selected as a keynote speaker in the first place.
People who are so fragile they cannot even hear a differing viewpoint to their own, especially one presented by a licensed and credentialed colleague, need a wakeup call, not coddling.
You, Mr. Maddux, Mr. Olsen, Ms. Farrington, Ms. Phillips, Ms. Blair, Mr. Hemstreet, Ms. See, Ms. Finks, Ms. Parker, Ms. Ross, Ms. Clements, and Ms. Badowski, are listed on the ACCP webpage under the dropdown menu of “Leadership.”
The role of real leaders is not to “ensure alignment with the expectations and values” of the vocal few, but rather to preserve the ability to approach problems and issues in a manner that allows for consideration of all sides. People cannot make informed, adult decisions, if they’re awash in a culture of “safety” where “words are violence,” and differing viewpoints are “harmful.”
I invite you to reconsider your roles, and the bigger picture of what is happening in our country today, so as to ensure that free speech and thought are the elevating principles of enlightenment in your organization.
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