Need a laugh? Read this anti-vax lawsuit.

Let’s get one thing out of the way: I’m not a lawyer. My expertise comes from investigating infectious diseases, how they spread, who spreads them, that kind of stuff. So take the following criticism of an anti-vaccine cult’s lawsuit against California over vaccine requirements and just that, random criticism intended to bring out the sheer delusional stupidity of the people filing the suit and, sadly, their lawyer.

The plaintiff is a group calling itself “Revolt, Revoke, Restore” which is attempting to overturn Senate Bill 277, which passed recently and eliminated personal belief exemptions from vaccine requirements in California. In essence, the only way a parent can skip their child’s immunization requirements for school is if the child has a medical exemption. No more skipping shots because the parent has bought into anti-vaccine propaganda. No more skipping shots because the parent has some weirdo religious belief against vaccines.

As you can imagine, some people went nuts over the new law. Some even went as far as to threaten violence against those who supported the bill. The people who run “Revolt, Revoke, Restore” decided to do something less dangerous and hilarious. They filed the worst lawsuit I have ever read. Here is their site, and here is the lawsuit. Follow along.

As all good lawsuits should begin, this one starts off with a quote from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., then goes downhill from there:

“Prologue: “They can put anything they want in that vaccine and they have no accountability for it.” – Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

SB 277 removes the “personal beliefs” exemption as a basis for parents to opt-out of state mandated “immunization” requirements for schoolchildren. Plaintiffs oppose this tyrannical bill because it wrongfully places the interests of the national vaccine market above the interests of California children; and sadly, this is a symptom of a larger sickness that debilitates the nation. America stands alone; we are the only nation on Earth in which healthcare is dispensed first and foremost to create shareholder value, and only secondarily for health-related reasons, and even then, with little or no regard for patients’ rights as individuals.”

Again, I’m no expert, but I do believe that you must stick to the facts of the matter is you want to convince a judge or a jury that you’re serious about what you’re arguing and that you haven’t completely lost your goddamned mind. Notice that the bill is “tyrannical”, the Big Pharma shill gambit, and the “what about our rights?!” connotations.

It doesn’t stop there, however. We get hints of race-baiting a few sentences later:

“If SB 277 takes effect, California will be left with a decidedly “segregated” school system — vaxxed and unvaxxed — where many children will suffer invidious discrimination based on “medical status” (a protected class under California law). Under a Brown vs. Board of Education analysis, such a bifurcated school system — vaxxed and unvaxxed — reeks of “separate-but-equal,” and thus, cannot be allowed to stand. Under California law, segregation based on “medical status” is every bit as odious as segregation based on “race,” “creed” or “color.” “

Don’t you see that unvaccinated children will be bussed all-unvaccinated schools and treated like second-class citizens by the society around them? Of course, they won’t. The bill is basically telling parents that they have every right not to vaccinate, but they don’t have the right to place all children at risk by allowing their children to be vectors of disease. Their children can be homeschooled, or go to an private institution that allows such shenanigans (probably in some other state). However, public tax money will not be spent on children whose parents are irresponsible in protecting the health of all children.

Ah, but notice that the plaintiffs are being oppressed:

“Plaintiffs steadfastly refuse to surrender their constitutional right to exercise “personal beliefs” — i.e., their sincerely held philosophic, conscientious, and religious objections to State-mandated immunization; furthermore, Plaintiffs refuse to surrender their children’s constitutional right to go to school.”

Like any good lawyer, but in a bad way, the argument then turns to semantics:

“It is worth noting that SB 277 is conspicuously silent as to the words “vaccine” or “vaccination.” Remarkable as it sounds, neither the words “vaccine” nor “vaccination” ever appear at SB 277; and Plaintiffs were surprised when they learned this! Most notably, SB 277 uses only the term “immunization,” (but never
the term “vaccination”). And this is quite significant because, of course, there is a world of difference between “vaccination” and “immunization.”

The term “immunization” is a conclusion that a disease-fighting shield is in effect; whereas, by contrast, the term “vaccination” refers to a one-time medical event that (ostensibly) leads to “immunization.” The language of Sacramento lawmakers is clear and unambiguous — no vaccines required! SB 277 requires only “immunization,” and Plaintiffs’ children are already naturally “immunized.” “

Right. The whole “immunization” versus “vaccination” argument is one of the favorites by anti-vaccine zealots. They claim that not all vaccines lead to immunity, so vaccines are not immunizations. This is ignorance of science at its worst. Of course vaccines don’t always lead to immunity. Nothing in this world is 100% perfect. But the terms are interchangeable in the medical community and amongst laypeople. They’re just grasping at straws.

This part made me chuckle and shake my head:

“Science cannot explain “why” vaccines kill, nor can science predict “who” will next suffer vaccine injuries or “when.” Under a simple cost-benefit analysis, the “costs” associated with vaccines clearly outweigh any “benefit” — because vaccines come with no immunization guarantee and instead carry the very palpable risk of death.”

I hope the judge drags this lawyer into the courtroom and demands evidence that “science cannot explain ‘why’ vaccines kill.” Science can very much explain this. Some people, very few and very, very rarely, have bad reactions to vaccines. And an even smaller subset of those people do end up dying, unfortunately. But that very small number is not an excuse to endanger the rest of society by stopping immunizations… sorry, vaccinations… altogether. Furthermore, from effectivity and efficiency studies, science can very much guarantee what percentage of those receiving the vaccine… sorry, immunization… will become immune. Heck, we can even tell you with near certainty how long that immunity will last in the average person in an average community.

In an “epilogue” (EPILOGUE?), the lawyer writes: “Freedom means nothing if you can’t keep the government out of your body.” Except that this is not the government in your body. Not even close. This is the government telling people with weird anti-vaccine beliefs that they are not allowed to make others stick. They are not allowed to endanger public health for their own benefits.

After the weirdo epilogue, we get a description of the plaintiffs, and they’re rather interesting:

“Plaintiff, TAMARA BUCK, believes that vaccinations are extremely risky for everyone, especially infants and children. Her philosophy on immunity is that natural immunity is the safest and best kind of immunity we can acquire. Plaintiff, TAMARA BUCK, breastfed her daughter for 30 months in order to pass on immunity, and to help her daughter fight disease while her immune system matured. Her daughter has been extremely healthy since the day she was born, with no immune issues whatsoever. Philosophically, TAMARA BUCK, believes it is important to continue on her child’s current vaccine-free path. Because her daughter will enter seventh grade this coming fall, it constitutes a new “grade span” under SB 277, which requires mandatory immunization; and unless she compromises her “personal beliefs,” her daughter will be denied the rest of her free public education based on SB 277. Plaintiff, TAMARA BUCK, will be required to homeschool her daughter – and remain out of the work force, or relocate out of state.”

Poor, oppressed Tamara. Then there’s this doozy:

“Plaintiff, SHARON BROWN, a Riverside County resident, is a 42-year old wife of a law enforcement officer, mother of two children, one of whom had severe vaccine reactions. Plaintiff, SHARON BROWN’S two children are upstanding, honor roll students in the public school system, of which SHARON BROWN is an active financial contributor and weekly volunteer. SHARON BROWN is a degreed, working professional with 15 years’ experience in the engineering recruiting industry. Plaintiff, SHARON BROWN, is a Christian fiercely opposed to the practice of harvesting fetal cells from live babies for use in vaccines. SHARON BROWN, believes in a holistic lifestyle, rejecting genetically modified foods (GMOs), pesticides, pharmaceutical drugs, vaccines, and other chemicals, as much as possible. In addition, SHARON BROWN believes that SB 277 violates her right to privacy by “outing” her family as non-vaccinators.”

Jesus Christ!

And then there’s this one:

“Plaintiff, SARAH LUCAS, a Butte County resident, is a 33-year-old single, low-income, Christian, mother of three children who have had most recommended vaccinations. All three of SARAH LUCAS’ children experienced vaccine failure or adverse physical reactions resulting in urgent care and ER visits. Plaintiff, SARAH LUCAS, believes that, if her children aren’t immune by now, then that is a failure of the vaccines and failure to further vaccinate should not impact public school access. Plaintiff, SARAH LUCAS, refuses to again put her healthy children in danger simply to exercise their fundamental right to a public education.”

This one convinces me that the lawyer has no clue of how to lawyer. If he did, he would have told Sarah that the children could get a medical exemption if the reaction to the vaccines occurred as is claimed. That would get them in the clear to go to school, and, if anything, puts them in the group of kids that need to be protected through herd immunity.

Seriously, who is this lawyer? Where did they go to school?

I have a suspicion that this lawsuit is going nowhere and that the plaintiffs are going to claim that the judge is somehow biased or bought, or whatever… Just like all the other anti-vaccine lawsuits that have gone nowhere and the plaintiffs shriek that there’s been foul play instead of acknowledging how ridiculous their claims are.

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 8.29.14 PM

The fantasies of the anti-vaccine crowd

I really feel bad for people who are deep into the anti-vaccine cult. It has got to be a horrible existence to have to explain away reality day after day. Vaccines do not cause autism, but they have to go to enormous lengths to try and convince themselves (and others) that vaccines do cause autism. They make really weird movies with really bad reviews. Then they show up in the comments section of the reviews to ask the reviewer how much they got paid by Big Bad Pharma to write the review. Because a mockumentary directed by a disgraced former physician who uses spliced audio as evidence of ultimate evil could not possibly get bad reviews.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, they try to convince themselves that Robert De Niro is still a supporter of the mockumentary. For example, “Tanner’s Dad” (aka “Tim”) sent out a tweet stating that Robert De Niro and his wife went to the premiere of the mockumentary:

If you can’t tell it’s a photoshopped picture, here’s a picture from the original event:

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 8.30.04 PM

The original event was a gala for Autism Speaks. After it was explained to Tim that the photograph was photoshopped, he claimed it was a “cruel” April Fool’s joke… One sent on April 2. Again, you have someone trying to explain away reality.

This is par for the course for the anti-vax crowd. Reality: De Niro took back his support for the quackumentary. Anti-vax Fantasy: De Niro showed up at the quackumentary’s premiere. Reality: The picture is fake. Anti-vax Fantasy: It was a cruel joke. (The equivalent to “my account’s been hacked!”)

Reality: Andrew Wakefield lost his medical license and was struck off the register. Anti-vax Fantasy: Big Pharma did it. Reality: Wakefield was trying to patent his own vaccine and discredit the existing one. AV Fantasy: Nah-nah-nah, I can’t hear you!

Seriously, pay close attention to everything the anti-vaccine cult members write or do or say. They’re constantly trying to explain away reality any way they can. I can’t imagine it’s an easy thing to do. They must be exhausted, and it must be a very scary world. At every turn, reality pops up and slaps them across the face, and they find themselves having to explain it away all over again.

Andrew Wakefield’s biggest mistake (this month)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably missed all the commotion over ex-Doctor Andrew Jeremy Wakefield’s anti-vaccine film being utterly rejected from the Tribeca Film Festival. Seriously, his 1998 case study of a handful of children which concluded that vaccines do not cause autism should have been rejected just as quickly. But beggars can’t be choosers.

 

So much for Anti-Vax Jesus.

jesus_trick

“To our community, Andrew Wakefield is Nelson Mandela and Jesus Christ rolled up into one.” – JB Handley

While Wakefield and his followers are almost literally crying over this hell of a setback, and crying about violations of their First Amendment right to freely express themselves as if YouTube wasn’t a thing, Andrew Jeremy has no one to blame but himself. Had he been a little more humble about the film being accepted into the Tribeca Film Festival, had he just put his ego aside and let the film be screened first before he went yelling from the mountaintop that it was accepted… Had he just kept his goddamned trap shut, he would have avoided this embarrassment of monumental proportions.

Seriously, Andy, if you’re reading this, I hope this is a lesson to you. Had you just stayed quiet, you could have been boasting today that your student AV club of a movie (with all of its lies and inconsistencies) was screened at the Tribeca Film Festival. You could have had the movie seen by thousands (maybe) and then raise interest in distribution companies. You could have made a lot of cash, and it looks like you need it.

Instead, as is the case with everything that Andrew Jeremy Wakefield touches, his documentary film is now toxic. Only a fringe distribution company would pick it up at this point. (You know the kind, a distribution company that hires $1 theaters to show films to true believers.) Not only is Andrew Jeremy Wakefield not a doctor and not a film director, but he seems to be a horrible businessman as well.

Anyway, Andrew Jeremy Wakefield went and told the loonies to go and support the film. When Robert De Niro posted on Facebook that he supported the movie because, get this, he wanted a dialogue or something, the anti-vaccine weirdos showed up in force to counter the reasonable comments of scientists, skeptics, and bloggers. And, boy, did the antivaxxers make a spectacle of themselves.

There was everything in those comments. From claiming that everyone who supports vaccines and opposes Wakefield’s movie is in league with Big Bad Voodoo Pharma, to claiming that someone or some group threatened De Niro in order to get the film withdrawn. And the anti-vax bingo you can play with their comments. Jesus!

So it’s no wonder that even after talking to a US Representative for an hour (or so they claim), and after desperately trying to save his AV club film, Andrew Jeremy Wakefield failed to have the film screened. Seriously, how many more things does former doctor Wakefield need retracted for him to throw in the towel and go sell perfume at a mall in Egypt or something?

Poor Lord and Saviour Andy. He should have kept his mouth shut.

Let me tell you a story…

Spoiler alert: This story does not have a happy ending.

Back in 1932, the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) decided that it would be a good idea to understand the natural history of syphilis infections. They wanted to know what happened to a human body when the infection took place, from beginning to tragic end. To that end, they “enrolled” 600 African-American men from Tuskegee, Alabama, into a study where the men would be given free medical exams, free meals, and burial insurance.

Over the course of the next 40 years or so, this would become one of the most shameful episodes in the history of my profession. It was shameful for several reasons. First, the men in the study were not fully told what the study was about. They were not told that scientists would observe their bodies succumb to a disease. Second, when penicillin became widely available in the 1940’s (especially after World War II), the very effective antibiotic treatment that penicillin offered against syphilis was withheld from the study participants. Third, by the time the “study” was concluded in 1972, an untold number of men had died or been hurt by syphilis unnecessarily. Their wives were infected as well.

Some good did come from this, however. Because of this embarrassment, this abomination to science that was eclipsed only by the Nazi human experiments during the Holocaust, protections of human subjects in research studies (private and public) was finally codified into law. Today, you cannot have someone participate in a research study without their complete and fully informed consent, without the study benefiting the subject in some way, and without doing all that is possible to keep the subject from any harm. If you do something that violates these principles, the consequences can be very grave.

The story did not end with the class-action lawsuit that the Tuskegee participants launched against the US Government. It didn’t end when President Clinton apologized on behalf of the nation for that horrible crime. Oh, no. Thanks to the wild imaginations of people like Brian Hooker and Andrew Jeremy Wakefield, the story continues today. Although, today, the perpetrators of the lies and deceit of the African-American community are not in the employ of the US Government. Today, it’s the anti-vaccine groups that are lying through their teeth so that Hooker wins his court case (and the sweet, sweet cash that comes with it), and Andrew Jeremy Wakefield gets some sweet cash donations for his next film.

After all, Andrew Jeremy Wakefield is now a filmmaker, don’t you know?

Yes, these two sorry excuses for human beings are telling the African-American community that the so-called “CDC Whistleblower” has “revealed” that a study by staff from the Immunization Branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention clearly shows that there is an association between the MMR vaccine and autism, and that this association is more pronounced in African-American male children than in any other group.

This is a bunch of baloney, as several people have explained here, here, here, here, here, here and here. Oh, and here.

In their long-winded speeches about what the “whistleblower” may or may not have said, neither BS Hooker nor Andrew Jeremy Wakefield mention how much money they stand to make from the whole thing. They don’t mention the mountains of evidence against them, either. Andrew Jeremy Wakefield never mentions how he is no longer a licensed physician anywhere in the world because of his elaborate fraud to try and link the MMR vaccine to autism when he was getting paid by lawyers to find that link (by any means necessary?) and how he was planning to patent a vaccine of his own to compete with the vaccine he was trying to destroy.

BS Hooker doesn’t tell people about his current case in the Vaccine Court and how he stands to get money if he wins it. It even seems that he goes one step further and not tell even the people he’s suckered into working with him about this, citing no conflicts of interests in his papers and being an “independent” researcher according to hack reporters he’s using to spread the “whistleblower” mythos. But, somehow, a study of children in Georgia done with full institutional review, adhering to the Belmont Principles, and whose results are clear and verifiable, somehow that study is the big lie being told to the African-American community?

Brian S. Hooker and Andrew Jeremy Wakefield (and RFK Jr. and company) must think that African-Americans are stupid in general. There’s no other explanation for why they are proudly and openly lying about the “whistleblower.” If you look at the documents that the “whistleblower” passed on to Congress at the behest of Hooker and Wakefield (in the expectation that Congressional hearings would be called and someone would have a Perry Mason moment on the stand) there is nothing of substance in any of those documents. Even Ben Swann, the orange-colored not-so-super reporter who was fooled into making a YouTube video about this, kind of put out his video and then walked away.

But you know what is really the worst part of this? Hooker and Wakefield and friends do not tell African-Americans the very real consequences of not getting vaccinated. They are two fat, happy White men who have the resources available to get care if they get sick who are going around to communities of people whose access to care is less-than-appropriate telling people in those communities to forgo one of the most important ways of staying healthy. And, should it come to pass that any of those unvaccinated children are harmed by a vaccine-preventable disease, I bet you good money that both of these very privileged men will wash their hands of the whole thing.

Heck, I’ll even go one step further and predict that they will distance themselves from the Nation of Islam and other African-American-centric groups the minute they feel that they are not getting their money’s worth. Andrew Jeremy Wakefield already did it with the Somali community in Minnesota. He went up there and scared them away from the MMR vaccine, triggering a measles outbreak, and has not been back since. He might as well have mooned them when he heard there was a measles outbreak.

Yes, I’m blaming you, Andrew Jeremy, for the measles outbreak that hurt African-American children in Minnesota. And I’m not the only one. And now, I’m blaming you and your friend, BS Hooker, of scaring away an even wider audience of African-Americans from the one public health intervention that has not failed them, of trying to break the trust that we in public health have been trying to rebuild since Tuskegee, and of me, personally, being physically threatened over something that happened before my time and that you two despicable jerks are bringing up as if it is happening again.

Remember how I wrote up there that this story doesn’t have a happy ending? It really doesn’t. We all lose when lies and greed seed so much doubt and fear that people, even one person, gets hurt. Last time there was this much mistrust toward my profession was for a very good reason. This time, it’s because BS Hooker and Andrew Jeremy Wakefield seem to can’t do without that sweet, sweet, motherf*cking cash.

I hope they’re happy.

You thought American anti-vaccine loons were bad, and then you met Frankie Vazquez from Australia

This is Frankie Vazquez from Australia:

As far as anti-vaccine weirdos go, he seems pretty tame, right? Unfortunately, he’s not tame at all. He’s quite delusional. Read what Reasonable Hank has to share about Frankie Vazquez’s — “The Voice For All Unborn Souls” — threats of violence, and then come back for the next video. You won’t be disappointed.

Or, hell, click on the next video now because it is pure anti-vaccine gold:

Centrelink, by the way, is kind of the equivalent to health and human services here in the States. Frankie Vazquez, “The Voice For All Unborn Souls”, went to warn people about vaccines, about “Ozmerica” invading Australia, and about other nonsense. He took his daughter with him and seemingly upset her very much.

He was very lucky that none of the security guards were probably armed. (It’s Australia, after all.) But someone just randomly yelling for everyone to pay attention like that could be cause for a forceful reaction. Frankie Vazquez would have probably been shot here in the U.S., and that’s no joke. People are kind of spooked about terrorism right now, and Frankie Vazquez and his delusional yelling would have scared someone into shooting first and then asking questions.

I’ve encountered Frankie Vazquez from Australia online several times, and I haven’t really been able to make heads or tails of his arguments against vaccines. They’re not so much arguments as they are rambling, seemingly delusional screeds. I thought this was an otherwise normal anti-vaccine loon, but then I saw the threats and the videos and thought to myself how utterly nuts this guy is.

I hope he gets the help he needs.

2015 Douchebag of the Year is… Heather Dexter!

As we did for the 2014 DB of the Year award, first, I’d like to tell you about a very good thing that happened in 2015.

We had Senate Bill 277 pass in California, doing away with religious and philosophical exemptions to vaccination requirements for children to go to public school. If a parent doesn’t want to vaccinate their children, that’s all fine and well. However, their children are not allowed to endanger all other children by going to public school. Fair is far, right? Though there have been challenges to the law, it will likely make it through any challenge since the US Supreme Court has ruled time and again that States have the authority to compel vaccination in order to protect the health of the population.

Now, on to our winner…

With 31.9% of the vote, Heather Dexter is 2015’s Douchebag of the Year.

Screen Shot 2016-01-01 at 3.18.13 PM

We had a large slate of candidates this year, so she didn’t take the majority, but she took a big chunk. How could she not? She allowed her children to go through months (MONTHS) of whooping cough in the name of anti-vaccine, anti-medicine, anti-science activism. Oh, she tried to cover her ass with the Quack Miranda Warning, but she still deleted the post and acted as if it never happened.

The internet is forever, though. And, so, Heather Dexter is, now and forever, 2015’s Douchebag of the Year. Bad job, Heather. Bad job.