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June 15, 2013

The AVO saga continues (15/6/2013)
The blatant attempt by Meryl Dorey of the Australian Vaccination Network to abuse the law in order to stifle my right of free speech was dismissed in Lismore Local Court on April 26. Parties have 28 days to lodge an appeal in these cases and sure enough, at the last possible minute on May 24 Ms Dorey lodged an appeal. The grounds for the appeal as set out in the application read in full:

I am appealing because I contest the dismissal of an Apprehended Violence Order made in these proceedings.

That's all. I'm now expected to waste even more of my time responding to something which cannot even be clearly expressed given four weeks to write it out. She's appealing because she doesn't like the decision. Well, that's tough. She had three opportunities to present evidence in the original application (her original submission, the second statement she managed to convince the court she should be allowed to submit, and at the actual final hearing) so she can't really claim that there is any new evidence. As she has delayed the action against another defendant by requesting a change of magistrate because the one assigned might be biased, perhaps she is going to use a similar claim to support her appeal. I certainly hope so, because there's nothing the bench likes more than being accused of bias, and Ms Dorey's comment about the possibility of this in my case went down like a depleted uranium balloon with the magistrate.

The appeal is listed for mention in the District Court in Lismore on July 29.

Sort of apology (15/6/2013)
I had been hoping to write about something other than the Australian Vaccination Network, but because of the AVO appeal and the continuing good news in the media I'll have to stick to that topic for at least this week. Sorry if I'm boring people, but as the AVN was the reason I started this web site in 1999 I hope you will allow me a little serving of Schadenfreude at the continuing misfortune of this vile organisation.

I'm on the television (15/6/2013)
A couple of weeks ago a crew from the television program Today Tonight called in at Ratbag Castle to record some comments from me about the methods used by anti-vaccination campaigners to harass people in order to advance their disgusting anti-health agenda. Coincidentally it went to air on a day which I had spent in a courtroom listening to lawyers argue over whether the AVN could be forced to change its deceptive name. Today Tonight attracted the fourth highest audience across all Australian television networks that night, so a lot of people got to see and hear what all the people in the show said.

You might notice that in response to a question from the interviewer about why she was trying to get a restraining order on someone who lives 750 kilometres away Meryl Dorey made the slightly defamatory claim that I had encouraged people to send pornography to her (I didn't, of course) and she also admitted that the AVO application had nothing to do with the "V" part but was to stop me from saying things in public. I would have thought it unwise to go on a television show which usually attracts more than 5% of the Australian population as viewers and say such things while in the process of appealing a judicial decision about these matters. But I am not a lawyer.

Another point was the use by the narrator of the term "vaccine refusers". This is now the official term used in government publications to replace the expression "conscientious objectors". As the only basis for conscientious objection could be active and devote membership of a religious community, and as all major religious groups and sects in Australia have stated they they have no objection to vaccination and in fact actively encourage it, the word "refuser" is the correct word to use. (It surprised people to find that the obvious standouts, Jehovah's Witnesses and Christian Science not only do not forbid vaccination but actively encourage it. This is why the anti-vaccination liars are trying to set up their own sham church to get around the law.)

The news just gets better (15/6/2013)
Sydney's Daily and Sunday Telegraph papers have been running a campaign called "No jab, No play" about the anti-vaccination campaigners for several weeks now, resulting in much angst among the refusers and much hate mail being sent to journalists. The latest story (June 16) doesn't appear to be online anywhere, but here is what it looks like:

Here it is in words for the benefit of search engines.

Group investigated for fraud

An anti-vaccination group that was ordered to change its name because it was ruled to be misleading is also being investigated for consumer fraud and commercial activities in breach of its not-for-profit status.

The Australian Vaccination Network earned $281,885 in 2010, of which $187,405 came from selling magazines, books and videos based on discredited science linking vaccinations to autism and other anti-medicine books including one alleging mammograms arc dangerous.

Another $76,996 was earned from "rendering of services", according to documents obtained under Freedom of Information.

The AVN is a registered not-for- profit association under the Associations Incorporations Act, which also qualifies it for a tax exemption. However, the group may be engaged in commercial activities that would contravene the act.

The Department of Fair Trading wrote to AVN founder Meryl Dorey early last year questioning the association's 2010 annual financial summary and asking her to clarify what "rendering of services" meant.

Ms Dorey responded in April last year saying she did not have to provide the information because "we are not a charity authority holder".

Greg Beattie, the current president of AVN, also sells his own book, which rails against vaccinations, for $20 each.

The Director of Investigations for the Department of Fair Trading David Byrne confirmed the department was examining the AVN's finances.

Meanwhile, Tasha David, the mother of eight put up by the AVN to be interviewed by television networks on May 19 describing how six of her children were injured by vaccinations is actually one of six committee members of the AVN. She confirmed she did not disclose this to media because: "I wasn't asked".

We have met Tasha David before, when she was allowed to make an anonymous attack on me on an Australian Vaccination Network web page. Read all about it here.

If you want to know where the paper got it's information about the AVN's finance woes, look no further than Ken McLeod's excellent "Meryl Dorey's Trouble With Finance" and the analysis by my other friend Christine Bayne.

Proof required (15/6/2013)
In a further erosion of the rights of vaccine refusers, the federal government wants vaccination status to be declared before children can be enrolled at school. Unfortunately the same rules as apply to prechoools and child minding centres in New South Wales won't be enforced, but at least forgetful parents will be reminded of their responsibility. Refusers will still be able to send heir pox-ridden children to school without having to claim some form of exemption, but it's a start. You can read about it here.

See more Jesus and Mo here

They sentenced me to twenty hours of boredom (15/6/2013)
On June 13 and 14, the appeal by the Australian Vaccination Network against the demand by the NSW Office of Fair Trading that the AVN change its deceptive name was heard in the Administrative Decisions Tribunal. In television courtroom dramas there is always action, and the admissibility of evidence is decided in minutes. In reality, a hearing like this is mostly even more boring than the clichéd drying paint, particularly when the lawyers for the parties each have three very large two-ring binders of paper and take it in turns to read from the voluminous documentation discussing which parts of it will later be actually considered as evidence. At one stage I found myself reading the Administrative Decisions Tribunal Act for some entertainment.

I won't give a blow-by-blow commentary because all that really matters is the decision, but here are some of the highlights. The Internet meme LULZ applies.

With only five minutes left before official court closing time, and with two days transcripts to review, along with a rereading of the admitted evidence, the magistrate unsurprisingly announced that her decision would be announced on a date to be fixed. That decision will be announced here as soon as it is known. It is always unwise to second-guess how judicial decisions might go, but I am quietly confident. As, no doubt, is the management of the AVN.

And another thing (15/6/2013)
Facebook occasionally makes suggestions about pages that it thinks your friends think you might like to like. This turned up on a friend's news feed. And I remember when the future of machine intelligence seemed so bright.

June 22, 2013

Anti-vaccination humour (22/6/2013)
Sometimes I think that if you trod on an anti-vaccination liar it would be far worse than stepping in dog droppings. It would be no use wiping your foot on the grass to get rid of the smell. You would probably have to throw the shoes away, and if you accidentally walked into the house you would probably need to have the carpet replaced, because no amount of shampooing, steam cleaning or elbow grease could ever get rid of the smell of filth.

Here is an example of why I have this opinion. Anti-vaccination liars think this sort of thing is funny.

One small step for mankind (22/6/2013)
For the last 37 years, an organisation named Exodus International has offered a Christian ministry based on the idea that homosexuality can be cured by praying. Last week Alan Chambers, the head of Exodus, issued a formal apology to the people he and the organisation had harmed over those 37 years. It was an amazing admission of doing wrong.

To Members of the LGBTQ Community:

In 1993 I caused a four-car pileup.  In a hurry to get to a friend's house, I was driving when a bee started buzzing around the inside of my windshield. I hit the bee and it fell on the dashboard. A minute later it started buzzing again with a fury. Trying to swat it again I completely missed the fact that a city bus had stopped three cars in front of me.  I also missed that those three cars were stopping, as well.  Going 40 miles an hour I slammed into the car in front of me causing a chain reaction. I was injured and so were several others.  I never intended for the accident to happen. I would never have knowingly hurt anyone. But I did. And it was my fault. In my rush to get to my destination, fear of being stung by a silly bee, and selfish distraction, I injured others.

I have no idea if any of the people injured in that accident have suffered long term effects. While I did not mean to hurt them, I did. The fact that my heart wasn't malicious did not lessen their pain or their suffering. I am very sorry that I chose to be distracted that fall afternoon, and that I caused so much damage to people and property.  If I could take it all back I absolutely would. But I cannot. I pray that everyone involved in the crash has been restored to health.

Recently, I have begun thinking again about how to apologize to the people that have been hurt by Exodus International through an experience or by a message. I have heard many firsthand stories from people called ex-gay survivors. Stories of people who went to Exodus affiliated ministries or ministers for help only to experience more trauma. I have heard stories of shame, sexual misconduct, and false hope. In every case that has been brought to my attention, there has been swift action resulting in the removal of these leaders and/or their organizations. But rarely was there an apology or a public acknowledgement by me. 

And then there is the trauma that I have caused. There were several years that I conveniently omitted my ongoing same-sex attractions. I was afraid to share them as readily and easily as I do today. They brought me tremendous shame and I hid them in the hopes they would go away. Looking back, it seems so odd that I thought I could do something to make them stop. Today, however, I accept these feelings as parts of my life that will likely always be there. The days of feeling shame over being human in that way are long over, and I feel free simply accepting myself as my wife and family does. As my friends do. As God does.

Never in a million years would I intentionally hurt another person. Yet, here I sit having hurt so many by failing to acknowledge the pain some affiliated with Exodus International caused, and by failing to share the whole truth about my own story. My good intentions matter very little and fail to diminish the pain and hurt others have experienced on my watch. The good that we have done at Exodus is overshadowed by all of this.

Friends and critics alike have said it's not enough to simply change our message or website. I agree. I cannot simply move on and pretend that I have always been the friend that I long to be today. I understand why I am distrusted and why Exodus is hated. 

Please know that I am deeply sorry. I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced. I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn't change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents. I am sorry that there were times I didn't stand up to people publicly "on my side" who called you names like sodomite—or worse. I am sorry that I, knowing some of you so well, failed to share publicly that the gay and lesbian people I know were every bit as capable of being amazing parents as the straight people that I know. I am sorry that when I celebrated a person coming to Christ and surrendering their sexuality to Him that I callously celebrated the end of relationships that broke your heart. I am sorry that I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine. 

More than anything, I am sorry that so many have interpreted this religious rejection by Christians as God's rejection.  I am profoundly sorry that many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end their lives. For the rest of my life I will proclaim nothing but the whole truth of the Gospel, one of grace, mercy and open invitation to all to enter into an inseverable relationship with almighty God.

I cannot apologize for my deeply held biblical beliefs about the boundaries I see in scripture surrounding sex, but I will exercise my beliefs with great care and respect for those who do not share them.  I cannot apologize for my beliefs about marriage. But I do not have any desire to fight you on your beliefs or the rights that you seek. My beliefs about these things will never again interfere with God's command to love my neighbor as I love myself.   

You have never been my enemy. I am very sorry that I have been yours. I hope the changes in my own life, as well as the ones we announce tonight regarding Exodus International, will bring resolution, and show that I am serious in both my regret and my offer of friendship. I pledge that future endeavors will be focused on peace and common good.

Moving forward, we will serve in our pluralistic culture by hosting thoughtful and safe conversations about gender and sexuality, while partnering with others to reduce fear, inspire hope, and cultivate human flourishing

At the 38th Annual General Meeting of Exodus it was announced that the organisation is closing its doors. I'm sure this won't make any difference to the bigots who use religion to oppress people with lifestyles they don't like, and in fact some church leaders have already come out and said that their malicious practice of gay bashing will continue, maybe with even more vigour now that Exodus has gone. I would hope, however, that thinking Christians might consider Mr Chambers' words and rethink their own potential bigotry, even if it is unintentional.

Note: Exodus International has no connection with the Exodus Foundation, a Christian charity near me that provides assistance to people less well off than most of us. As far as I know they have a "Don't ask, don't tell, don't give a damn" policy about the sexuality of the people they help. In 2020 the Exodus Foundation changed its name to The Bill Crews Foundation.

Saudi women allowed to drive (22/6/2013)
In a major breakthrough for common sense and fairness, women in Saudi Arabia are to be allowed to drive cars.

I'm writing stuff (22/6/2013)
The newsstands and letterboxes of Australia will be filling up this week with magazines with stuff written by me in them. Here are just two of them.

Australasian ScienceI keep telling people that Australasian Science is the best popular science magazine in the country, but if you don't believe me (because you are a skeptic) you should either subscribe or make sure your newsagent carries it and buy a copy and see for yourself. It is written for a lay audience so it eschews esoteric language. Even I can read it, and I've got an arts degree.

The times they are a changin'

That song came out in 1964, the same year that a vaccine against measles became widely available. If there was any opposition to the vaccine it had a very low profile and would have been treated with the ridicule it deserved, as was opposition to the polio vaccine a decade earlier.

Forward a few decades and there are organisations around the world with deceptive names like the National Vaccine Information Center (US), the Australian Vaccination Network and Justice, Awareness and Basic Support (UK) which exist for no other purpose than to spread untruths about the supposed dangers of vaccines. All these groups were set up by people who claimed that they had "vaccine damaged" children.

You can read the rest here.

I'm sure nobody could be skeptical if I say that The Skeptic is a good magazine. It's been around for more than twenty years and has maintained a high standard of reporting on the world of woowoo and nonsense. I'm only an occasional contributor, but I hope to do more in the future. It's only available by subscription, but it's money well spent.

How to attack freedom of speech.

One of the things I have noticed over the years is that crooks and quacks (often indistinguishable) do not reach for scientists or experimenters when asked for evidence of their claims. Instead they reach for lawyers who are employed to silence criticism. The tactics vary, but he objective is always the same – make threats that imply that awful things will happen to people who don't keep quiet. Here are a few that have been tried on me over the years.

Copyright violation – This was used by a company who had been found by the Federal Court of Australia to be operating an illegal pyramid scheme and who didn't like me talking about it. They claimed copyright on, among other things, a photograph which had been altered to imply that they had an entire building as their Australian headquarters when in fact they rented a single floor, material from a web site which they had denied in the Federal Court action had anything to do with them, and an email headed "Death to Ratbags" which they claimed both copyright on and total ignorance of.

You can read the rest here.

See more Far Side here

Extremists go extreme (22/6/2013)
During the week an official of the Australian Vaccination Network apparently forgot to take her medication and posted the following to Facebook:

Here are the words, with the major lies marked by the traditional yellow highlighter.

Medical doctors, their professional bodies such as the AMA and the RACGP and our government health officials all want to be able to tell us that they care more about our children then we do. They want to be able to tell us that we MUST vaccinate our children even if we think that it would harm them. They want to maintain their lucrative monopoly on healthcare, excluding all others no matter how safe and effective they have proven to be and no matter how many people want to avail themselves of these remedies.

Mainstream medicos now say they believe that vaccines don't protect the individual unless, through some sort of unscientific mumbo-jumbo EVERYONE receives them. Then, magically, everyone will be protected – because they say so. The reason for this being that we have more people vaccinated then we've ever had before and yet, the fully vaccinated are coming down with these diseases in record numbers. Since vaccination cannot be to blame – the villain must be the healthy unvaccinated, right?

The Western medical industry has overseen the largest increase in disabled and chronically-ill children ever. Through their poor stewardship, we now have 1 child in 6 who is learning disabled and 1 child in 50 who is autistic. 1 in 3 of our children is asthmatic and this current generation of children will be the first in living memory to have a shorter lifespan then their parents.

Doctors want to be given absolute rights to do and say whatever they wish simply because they are doctors. They want to be respected as a result of their 8 years of pharmaceutically-provided education, yet they do not want to accept responsibility for the fact that people are leaving them in droves for more effective, safer and gentler natural therapies which have been around for hundreds or thousands of years longer than drug-based medicine. People are not stupid – they know what words (sic) and what does not and they are tired of being killed and maimed in the name of pharmaceutical profits.

Please read the comments below from the page of the Australian Doctor Weekly regarding why doctors should not sign conscientious objection forms and why parents should lose all of their rights. These are the people our politicians are listening to. These are the true terrorists in our society. Freedom of choice is NOT free. It must be fought for and it must be defended. If we are not prepared to do what is necessary to protect our children, then truly we HAVE lost our way as citizens of a democratic nation

I was going to write something comprehensive about this insanity but I'm short of time and will leave it for later. In the meantime, you can see some comments by my friends Reasonable Hank and Shelley.

Doctors are terrorists? I haven't laughed so much about anyone being called a terrorist since the late and unlamented Hulda Clark tried to sue me. One of the charges was "Terrorist threats". Oh, and I love it when quackery supporters talk about "Western medicine". I wonder where they think chiropractic and homeopathy were invented.

June 29, 2013

What a week in politics! (29/6/2013)
The big political news in Australia this week was the change of Prime Minister, but I don't do politics here except where necessary and that event has nothing much to do with what goes on here. What does matter for the purpose of this web site is that Greens Senator Richard Di Natale got to his feet at least twice to say things that I liked hearing. The first was to move a motion:

That the Senate:

(a) notes:

(i) the low vaccination rates in certain parts of Australia, and the threat this poses to the health of Australian children, and

(ii) the irresponsible campaign run by the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN), which is spreading misinformation about the risks of vaccination and discouraging parents from vaccinating their children; and

(b) calls on the AVN to immediately disband and cease their harmful and unscientific scare campaign against vaccines.

The motion was carried, causing hysteria in anti-vaccination liar forums. Here are examples, from an email sent to Australian Vaccination Network supporters:

You can see the full serving of mouth foam here.

You can see this one here. As an example of the commitment to facts shown by the AVN, the full spray contains this:

The most recent death figures for Australia from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that the total number of deaths in the country from all causes in 2011 was 146,932. The 18,000 number is idiotic enough, but to think that doctors are causing 36% of all deaths is a sign either of insanity or a total disregard for the truth.

Then things got better. Correspondence between the Senator's office and interested bystanders became very busy for a while, and then Senator Di Natale made a short speech in the Senate:

And I'm still laughing. The AVN appears to be sitting in stunned silence. I don't think they ever thought they would see something like this. And neither did I. Previous attacks on them in the New South Wales Parliament are recorded in Hansard, the written transcript, but this one went out on television and is there on YouTube. Now they don't know who to vote for, with all three major parties wanting them crushed to oblivion. As do I and my friends.

See more Close To Home here

Oh, dear ... (29/6/2013)
In another massive victory for Mark Geier (seller of castration drugs to children) over the medical establishment, his licence to practice medicine in the state of Hawaii was revoked on March 14, 2013. This follows his victories in having his licence cancelled in all of the other states where he had one.

The man is a winner and conventional medicine is quaking at the way he is attacking its very foundations and causing it to collapse like the controlled demolition of a New York skyscraper.

Having succeeded in Hawaii, the last US holdout, Mark Geier is looking for more challenges. There are rumours that he is going to apply for medical registration in both Canada and Australia, where local state and province registration procedures will give him many more opportunities to be either refused registration or to have it granted and then revoked.

See the good news here.

When will Tim Bolen announce this news?

Some sense about that HPV vaccine (29/6/2013)
Anti-vaccination liars like nothing more than telling lies about vaccines, and one of the vaccines they like to lie about on a daily basis is the one against human papilloma virus, the vaccine that protects women from the most common killer cancer in developing countries and the second biggest killing cancer in developed countries – cancer of the cervix. They employ the usual Nirvana Fallacy (it's not 100% effective so therefore it's not effective at all), and they wet their pants telling lies about all the deaths and injuries the vaccine causes. To give you a taste of the sorts of things they count as vaccine reactions, one of the deaths was of a 70 year old man (?), one was a baby less than a year old (?) and one was a women killed as a passenger in a car several months after receiving the vaccine.

Some friends of mine, David Hawkes, Candice Lea and Matthew Berryman, got together to look at the truth, and their paper Answering human papillomavirus vaccine concerns; a matter of science and time has just been published.

Here is the abstract:

Since the introduction of the HPV vaccine, questions have been asked about its efficacy in preventing cancer linked with HPV. Concerns about the HPV vaccine safety profile have also been raised. This paper highlights the rapidly growing body of evidence (including clinical trials and post-marketing surveillance) illustrating both the safety of the HPV vaccine, through a detailed investigation of reported adverse events, and its efficacy in reducing both HPV infections rates and the resulting drop in cervical lesions, which have been demonstrated to be good predictors of cervical cancer risk.

See more SMBC here

And one last thing (29/6/2013)
The Tour de France is on. Here is what it used to be like.


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