On Wednesday, July 25, 2012, an article by me was published on the web site Mamamia with the title "The anti-vaxxers reach a shocking new low". This did not please Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network, who proceeded to publish no less than four responses on the AVN's blog over a period of days. Not unexpectedly she did not really address what I had said but instead set out on a "shoot the messenger" frenzy of ad hominem. As I am blocked from responding on the AVN blog I have no alternative but to publish my responses here.
This is my answer to her second post. So that I can't be accused of selective editing, you can see the original here:
The parts marked in yellow are where Ms Dorey has said something which might not necessarily be true (for certain values of "true"). My responses are in italics.
Society likes to think that it's come a long way. We no longer call black people 'niggers', gay people 'poofters' or Asian people 'slit eyes'. We've gotten beyond all that now. We're so proud of how advanced we've become. But scratch the surface of many people and you can expose their inner bigot. And when it comes to medical bigotry, this behaviour is not only openly accepted by the media and most mainstream institutions - it's government approved!
I suppose the government encourages bigotry against people who offer fake cancer cures, who sell contaminated food or medications, who supply the obviously popular recreational drug market, who freely choose to drive while intoxicated, who pollute streams and rivers by exercising their right to freely choose where to dump rubbish, …
No, Ms Dorey – the government has a quite clear policy on vaccination and it is not bigotry for them to support people who place science above ideology.
Quick explanation for those who have always thought the word 'bigotry' was synonymous with 'racism', in actuality, a bigot is anyone who is intolerant of those who hold differing opinions. So you could say that everyone who is a member of Stop the AVN – by definition – is a bigot. As are the media, the government and most mainstream medical organisations.
So you are a bigot, Ms Dorey, as you appear to be rather intolerant of my opinion that vaccines not only save lives but are probably the greatest life-saver in the history of medicine.
Just look at how the Minister For Health's office has acted to withhold information on parent's rights to become conscientious or medical objectors to vaccination in order to claim all of their entitlements? Or how representatives of mainstream medical organisations and government bodies continually try to blame outbreaks of infectious diseases on the healthy unvaccinated members of society when most of those contracting the illnesses are fully vaccinated but not protected. It's bad enough that they are pointing the finger of blame directly away from the obvious culprit – vaccines that are not working as promised – but they are also vilifying innocent families who have made a conscious informed choice not to vaccinate or those who have already suffered due to vaccine reactions.
The Minister for Health has never hidden the fact that people can lie by claiming conscientious objection in order to steal benefits that they would not be entitled to if they told the truth. You can't get the Baby Bonus without a baby. Why should you be able to get an allowance for vaccinating your children if you freely choose not to vaccinate them? Oh, and the Minister of Health kept it so secretly that the information is available on a government web site.
Eligibility for Family Tax Benefit Part A
If there is an approved reason why your child is not fully immunised and you want an immunisation exemption, you need to provide us with one of the following from your immunisation provider or doctor:
The truth about the "most of those contracting the illnesses are fully vaccinated" has been explained to Ms Dorey so many times that it is impossible to think that she doesn't understand. If you have 10,000 children vaccinated with a vaccine that is only 95% effective (and nobody has ever claimed that all vaccines give 100% immunity) and 100 unvaccinated children and you expose them all to the infectious agent, you will get 100 infections in the unvaccinated (that's all of them) and 500 in the vaccinated group (5%). What she ignores is the 9,500 children who don't get infected.
Vaccines do work as promised. They prevent disease. Anybody who denies this denies reality.
No innocent families have been vilified. People who tell lies about vaccines have been criticised. If these people happen to have families then this is a coincidence.
Bad behaviour continues
Yesterday, I wrote a blog post about Pseudo-Skeptics Behaving Badly and as expected, most of the people who support freedom of health choice were appalled and disgusted by the sort of behaviour evidenced by Peter Bowditch who has had a long connection with both the Australian Skeptics (acting as their President at one time) and the splinter group that was set up with the express purpose of annihilating our organisation – Stop the AVN. I didn't expect him to cop a lot of criticism from those groups. No, I thought they would just ignore my blog and pretend it had never happened.
I did not "[act] as their President at one time", I was the elected President for two years. This sort of slur is like attaching "so-called" in front of names and titles. It is a method of casting doubt about a certainty. It is a form of lying.
I have lost count of how many times Ms Dorey has been told that there is no connection between Australian Skeptics and the Stop the AVN Facebook group. There is a commonality of membership. So what? Stop the AVN was awarded "Skeptic of the Year" in 2010, something which could not have been done under the rules of the award if SAVN was an Australian Skeptics project. As an example, I am not eligible for that prize because I am a member of the Australian Skeptics committee.
What occurred has shocked even me – and I thought I was past being shocked!
Not only did these groups and the individuals supporting them not criticise Bowditch's abusive bullying behaviour – they applauded it!
And last night and today, Bowditch compounded his shocking assaults against innocent supporters of the AVN as you can see below:
Innocent supporter? An anonymous person using the Twitter handle "@EauTheHypocrisy" and the name "Old Mans Obsession" who distributes lies about me having a criminal record is innocent? Pull the other one, Ms Dorey.
So once again, he implies – to the mother of a vaccine-injured child - that she gets sexual pleasure from dead babies! As if that were not bad enough, he then sends a graphic and violent message to this same mother:
There is no evidence that the anonymous person is either a mother or has a child, injured or not. You will notice that the anonymous person seems to be threatening to sue me. If it doesn't like being insulted it should either get off Twitter or reveal its real name. I use my name.
Just to make sure that parents of vaccine-injured children know where his heart is on this issue however – so there can be no doubt or confusion - he posts this juvenile image under the heading of – a message for all anti-vaccination liars – to express his feelings about the people he has hurt:
Poor dears. How sad it must be to take offence at a joke. Oh, and by the way – I meant every word of it. I don't care if I offend anonymous people who spread lies about me. Or if I offend anti-vaccination liars, for that matter.
Civil society works because there are certain lines that we don't normally cross. Bowditch crosses those lines on a regular basis and the fact that Mia Freedman and members of Stop the AVN and the Australian Skeptics cannot seem to see that is a disturbing insight into their worldview and bears examination. If people from the Australian Skeptics and SAVN can look up to or admire a man like Bowditch, how low do they have to be? I feel that people who cannot see what is inherently vile and disturbing about Bowditch's rhetoric could be capable of anything.
Let me repeat – this man has a regular blog on Mia Freedman's Mamamia page; he writes on various news websites and makes himself out to be an expert on many health issues which, by all available evidence, he knows nothing about. And he regularly abuses, assaults and bullies those who disagree with him!
I have written twice for Mamamia – in December 2011 and July 2012. This is hardly a "regular blog". I make myself out to be no sort of expert on medical matters. I leave that to doctors and scientists who have researched the value of vaccines. Anti-vaccination liars, on the other hand, claim expertise that seems to come from imagination and Google searches.
Perhaps Ms Dorey might like to present this evidence that I know nothing. I know more than those people who claim that vaccination causes autism or SIDS, or who say that Shaken Baby Syndrome is always caused by vaccines, or who lie about girls being killed by the HPV vaccine.
So spreading lies about me having a criminal record or suggesting that I'm paid for my opinions or hinting that people should contact my family or blocking me from web sites, mailing lists and blogs isn't bullying? And Ms Dorey might like to think carefully about accusing me of assault. I have a policy of not suing for defamation (otherwise I would have sued her in 1999 when she first accused me of criminal activity) but that could change at any time. Perhaps the court would award me a macadamia farm as compensation.
Should this be allowed to continue? Should this person be allowed to keep his position with organisations like the Australian Skeptics, Stop the AVN, Mamamia, etc?
So after calling me a bully, Ms Dorey wants people I associate with to bully me as her proxies. I thought she was in favour of free speech? Well, I suppose she is as long as it's her speech that's free. I'll believe her on that when I can comment on her blog (to do such things as answer the message I'm replying to here), join the AVN's mailing list (from which I was expelled without ever posting a message), follow her on Twitter and comment on the AVN's Facebook page. Now she's asking other people to follow her example and silence me. Somehow I'm not surprised that she would defend something which calls itself EauTheHypocrisy on Twitter.
I say no. And I say that these groups should immediately and publicly come out to distance themselves from him and repudiate his brutal way of dealing with those whose opinions he disagrees with. Vilification and bigotry have no place in Australia.
Then perhaps Ms Dorey might like to stop vilifying and behaving like a bigot. I agree that these have no place in Australian society, just as lying about the dangers of vaccines and consequently putting children at risk of disease, disablement and death have no place.