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At the start of 2004 I instituted a "kinder and gentler" policy for dealing with people with whom I might not normally be friendly. During 2004 the policy was reactive - I was kind and gentle when replying to critics. I extending the policy for 2005 to become proactive, and regularly reached out to people with whom I might not be in agreement.
I decided to reintroduce my Proactive Kind and Gentle Policy again in 2009. Under the policy, I write to people to ask them questions to clarify their positions or to point out problems with their arguments. By doing this I hope to establish a dialogue and to demonstrate my commitment to tolerance of their views. Here are the 2012 efforts at diplomacy and friendship.
It's time to be Kind and Gentle again (11/2/2012)
I friend of mine contacted an organisation that handles magazine subscriptions and advised them that issues of Living Wisdom, the magazine put out by the Australian Vaccination Network, had been a bit thin on the ground lately. So thin that they have been invisible. There is probably a law against offering a magazine subscription which provides six issues a year and then later saying this just means six issues whenever they happen to come out, but I'm not a lawyer. What I do know is that subscribers have contacted the AVN about the missing issues and have been given platitudes, if they got any response at all. Here is what the subscription management service had to say:
I thought this could do with a Kind and Gentle email to the publisher:
Dear Ms Dorey,
I realise that you have been distracted lately by matters such as your court case against the HCCC. (I hope to be in court to see your next appearance on February 22. Perhaps we could catch up over a coffee.) I know you have also been very busy writing blog posts and approving comments on them, as well as posting to Facebook and Twitter. (Could you see your way to unblocking me on Twitter, please? It's rather unfair that I can see your tweets but you can't see what I say about you.)
It seems that in all this busyness you have forgotten to post out issues of Living Woosdom, sorry Wisdom, and subscribers might be getting a bit impatient. I've even heard that iSubscribe have dropped you from their web site and list of magazines that they sell subscriptions to. You have mentioned financial worries and I'm sure you don't need any of this aggravation. Perhaps you should check the garage to see if there are any magazines there that you have forgotten to take to the post office. I'm sure that subscribers will be happy to receive them even if they are a couple of months, or even years, late.
I hope this finds you well. See you on February 22.
Memo to Meryl Dorey at the Australian Vaccination Network (28/4/2012)
Do not even suggest that anyone contacts my family. I realise that you have in the past harassed the family of at least one child who died of a vaccine preventable disease. But don't start on me.
You might think you can get away with continual defamation of Australian Skeptics. You might think you can get away with continual lies about the activities of the members of Stop the AVN. What you will not get away with is involving my family in your insane campaign to harm children. If you don't like me asking tasteless questions about dead babies then stop spending your days trying to increase the number of dead babies.
If you or any of your followers come near my family I will react and it will not end well for you. Don't even suggest it in a joke. And if you think that's a threat, think again. It's a promise.
And while we're at it ... (19/5/2012)
Here is a complaint lodged with the NSW Office of Fair Trading (File number 6184095):
The Australian Vaccination Network Inc has created a web page at http://australiansceptics.com/ with the title "The REAL Australian Skeptics". I will leave it up to the real Australian Skeptics Inc to complain about this apparent attempt to confuse people by using a similar name to promote ideas which are anathema to them. My complaint is that nowhere on the australiansceptics.com web site is there any mention of its association with the Australian Vaccination Network, despite the guidelines for incorporated bodies stating quite clearly:
"An association's full name (including the word 'Incorporated' or the abbreviation 'Inc') must appear in legible characters on any letter, statement, invoice, notice, publication including website, order for goods or services or receipt in connection with its activities".
There is no doubt that it is a project of the AVN because it is being promoted on the AVN's Facebook page and Twitter feed and comments are moderated by the AVN's President.
I realise that this could be seen as a trivial matter, but the AVN has been in trouble in the past for working close to the edge of rules and regulations.
I was thinking about the cancellation of charity status for the NZ Immunisation Awareness Society, and I decided that they would probably appreciate a Kind and Gentle email as they would have been feeling a bit down.
You could have no idea how happy I was to read that your charity registration has been cancelled
We don't hear much about you here in Australia, and checking my records shows that the last time I had anything to do with you it was when you were lying about paracetamol in 2004. You can read what I had to say about you then at https://ratbags.com/rsoles/comment/ias.htm
I must send congratulations to Darcy, Ben and Grant. Perhaps they can help us get the charity registration of your Australian counterpart cancelled too. Charities are supposed to do good in the world not contribute to the deaths and illness of children, the inevitable result of your insane opposition to vaccines.
Just to cheer you up, there has been an outbreak of measles near my place. I'm sure this brings a smile to your face, even if it just brings fear to the faces of the children's parents. But what would you care about that? They aren't your children.
(Darcy was the person who submitted the report to the authorities that resulted in the charity status cancellation. Ben and Grant helped out with support on their blogs. Their actions made the IAS cry.)
He offers to help (24/11/2012)
I'm a great believer in reconciliation and extending a metaphorical olive branch to people in order to establish communication and rapport with them. When I saw the hideous mess of a web site belonging to Vaccination Information Serving Australia I felt that I just had to help them to move beyond 1997 and actually start communicating their agenda of harming children instead of having site visitors cry out "What the ...?" and go elsewhere to find information about putting their children at risk of death and disability. Thus this Kind and Gentle email:
Dear Ms Scarborough,
I was looking over the VISA web site and I notice you have some problems. All the image links on the front page are broken. The original "South Australia" pages all have links back to the "Serving Australia" front page, but there does not seem to be any links back the other way. This makes it very confusing for visitors as they might not be able to find the valuable information you have on the site. It also makes it difficult for search engines to index the site, reducing the number of potential visitors
I do web site maintenance as part of my IT consultancy business, and even though I might not agree with you about vaccination I'm sure we could come to some suitably agreeable arrangement. As I am in Sydney and I assume you are in Adelaide we could communicate by Skype and email, as I can do this work from anywhere.
I hope this offer of help is not taken badly. I once made a similar offer to Ms Dorey at the Australian Vaccination Network and she interpreted it as a threat and a form of harassment which was obviously never my intention.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to helping VISA to more effectively communicate with your target market.
I thought it would be nice to send Fran Sheffield a Kind and Gentle email informing her of the great honour that has been bestowed on her.
I don't know if you've heard yet, but you have been awarded the 2012 Bent Spoon Award from Australian Skeptics. The announcement was made at a gala dinner held as part of the Skeptics' National Convention in Melbourne.
The Bent Spoon was inspired by James Randi's debunking of people who perform stage magic while pretending to have real magic powers, and it seems so appropriate that it should go to someone who makes a living doing magic tricks while pretending that there is some real, tangible power there. The description of the award says that it is presented to "the perpetrator of the most preposterous piece of paranormal or pseudoscientific piffle" and it difficult to imagine anything more preposterous or pseudoscientific than homeopathy.
There was strong competition, but you came out on top. Or maybe on the bottom.