There’s nothing normal about anti-vaccine cyberbullies

You probably would not be surprised if I told you that the debate about vaccines and their association with a myriad of things (backed up only by loony, religious-like beliefs without any science) can get a little bit rough. I’ve told you about our Douchebag Emerti-ass Dr. Bob Sears and his crazy band of Facebook followers. Or weirdo John Stone from Age of Autism who for a while was intent on finding out who I really was (maybe going as far as to call a certain health department in a certain capital city of a certain country and whining about me not being an epidemiologist). I’ve told you about Joe Gooding and his band of “Passive Agressive Ravens” who take work published in other media and don’t link to it but just copy it verbatim onto their site, changing the headline to blame vaccines for whatever the issue is. (More on them in a minute.)

Listen, there is no shortage of evil people out there who just want to watch the world burn. They have theirs, so you shouldn’t have yours. They’ve been protected by herd immunity and their own vaccinations, so children the world over should not be vaccinated anymore. They are living fat and happy in the United States, so children in Somalia should get measles because it’s their fault they don’t have proper sanitation (or some bullshit like that). Most recently, they’ve taken to social media to find the profiles of people who are trying to promote the best public health intervention we have, and they are attacking those people relentlessly.

Joe Gooding and his child-like friends, for example, have started to post personal information and photographs on social media of people they dislike:

“Since early last summer, when Renee began advocating publicly for childhood vaccination, a dedicated clique of Twitter trolls has hounded her every tweet. They’ve filmed nasty videos, defamed her to colleagues — even posted photos that suggest they’ve followed her on the street. But Renee was particularly irked when some of her stalkers began posting photos of her, and her toddler, that they’d lifted from her private Facebook account. She filed several several harassment reports to Twitter, but the photos weren’t taken down.”

Because nothing settles vaccine safety science like these vile tactics.

Not to be outdone, Joe and his men-baby friends quickly posted a screed about free speech and whatnot, natch. Because free speech allows you and I, apparently, to lie about people and make them feel unsafe. It allows you, according to these kids, to relentlessly attack and smear at all costs.

Losers.

What’s funny is that I and others have been accused of bullying and making fun of “autism parents” by simply stating to them, time and time again, that vaccines do not cause autism and that autism is not something you cure. When we tell them that they are doing a disservice to their children by calling those children “lost” or “missing” or “gone,” these “autism parents” say that we’re being abusive. Have they taken a good look at what they’re doing? How do they think the children will feel when being talked about like that?

Of course, no one does abuse of autistics quite like Andrew Wakefield has. His latest high-school AV club-quality “documentary” is full of the usual lies, including the lie that there is a “CDC Whistleblower” who is going to make the whole vaccine program fall. The program won’t fall. The “whistleblower” is not whistling anything. There is nothing in any of the documents he’s provided. As usual, Andrew Wakefield has made a mountain out of a mole hill.

To make matters worse, when a group of autistic advocates went to protest Andrew Wakefield and his anti-autism documentary, the protestors were abused relentlessly. So proud of their abuse of these autistic people were wakefield and friends that they posted a video of it on Facebook. (Be warned, it contains some pretty abusive people being horrible to autistics who have a hard enough time as it is to communicate without being harassed.)

Here’s the video: https://www.periscope.tv/w/1RDxlOANgqmJL

On the Facebook page, people are absolutely happy that these autism advocates were harassed so much:

But this shouldn’t surprise you if you’ve been reading this blog, or Orac’s, or Todd W’s, or Liz Ditz’s, or Skeptical Raptor, etc. This is what anti-vaccine cultists do. They can’t fight the science with any kind of evidence, so they resort to name-calling, conspiracy theories, and libelous claims about anyone who debunks them. It can get so bad that they try to bully and dox a 12-year-old child.

So why pay attention to them? Why continue to point out to you the stupidity with which they handle being opposed? Because it’s fun? No. The reason we (here at The Poxes, and I don’t claim to speak for anyone else) keep covering them is because their actions need to be brought out of the echo chamber they inhabit on social media and blogs, and we need to explain to bystanders that this is not normal behavior. It is simply not normal to say that an autistic child is broken, or stupid, or missing, or dead. It is not normal to say that a mother killing her autistic child is preferable to the mother caring for the child. And it is not normal to so vigorously oppose vaccination without a shred of evidence that is causes injuries in the numbers and intensity that they propose.

There’s nothing normal in being afraid of autism being “normalized.” As if that’s a bad thing.

Advertisements

Andrew Jeremy Wakefield, Litigious Bully

You remember Andrew Jeremy Wakefield, don’t you? He’s the British physician who conducted a case review of autistic children and, despite what his “study” had to say on the matter, he told the world that it was his gut feeling that the MMR vaccine caused autism. Here we are, more than 15 years later after that case series was published, still having an argument about vaccines and autism. This in spite of the fact that there have been no credible, repeatable, peer-reviewed studies confirming Wakefield’s findings, or the conspiracy theories of others about thimerosal in vaccines leading to autism. (The MMR never had thimerosal in it, nor did any of the live-virus vaccines.) If anything, the science is moving more and more toward confirming the theory that autism is a manifestation of our neurobiology. That is, we’re all normal, and autistics are on one end of the spectrum of normal. Or, better stated, we’re all autistic, and those of us who don’t exhibit autistic behaviors are on one end of the spectrum of autism.

Despite years and years and years of research and spent resources on trying to confirm Andrew Wakefield’s study, there has been nothing moving the theory that vaccines cause autism. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Then along came Brian Deer, an investigative journalist who uncovered fraud in the Wakefield study. “Fraud”… That’s such a strong word. What does it mean? According to the dictionary, “Fraud is a deception deliberately practiced in order to secure unfair or unlawful gain (adjectival form fraudulent; to defraud is the verb).” What was Wakefield’s gain in stating that the MMR vaccine caused autism? (And, let me be absolutely clear, he did say it, no matter how much anti-vaccine activists say he didn’t.) For starters, he was hired by a law firm in Britain that was attempting to bring suit against vaccine manufacturers. And he was also trying to patent his own measles vaccine. (Read all about it here.) Continue reading

No, No, No, and No!

It looks like someone over at the “daily web newspaper of the (non-existent) autism epidemic” is all worked up over people telling her the truth. In a weird blog post, an anti-vaccine activist asks 15 questions of us “vaccine bullies”. Go read them. Every answer, from me, is a resounding “NO”. The best question was number 14:

“If a parent has independently researched vaccines, possibly to a level that exceeds that of any healthcare practitioner they might see, and is confident that they have reached the best decision for their family, would you be okay with that parent exempting their children from vaccines?”

I needed a good laugh after this week. (Work gets rough as the cold and flu season picks up in the capital area.) People “doing their own research” “to a level that exceeds that of any healthcare practitioner they might see”? Please. The only way this is true is if they’re seeing a chiropractor. Continue reading