When anger is disguised as activism

FYI: This is the fourth blog post that is not related to vaccines… Or is it?

It’s a tricky balance to listen to testimonies and be skeptical about them. On the one hand, you want to believe everything you’re hearing. You want to give the person the benefit of the doubt and take them at their word. On the other hand, if you are a reasonable person in a position of authority and you need to recommend or take action based on the information you’re being given, then you have do use your best judgment and separate the wheat from the chaff.

The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee recently held a meeting and public speakers were invited. The oral public comments are really something interesting to read. Yet something we need to keep in mind is that these are not the comments of unbiased people. Rather, they are the public comments of people who feel that they have been wronged or that they are currently being wronged by life, the government, members of the committee, etc. Keep that in mind should you want to read them.

My issue with this type of activism is that it is very negative, very angry. Consider this statement:

“Now the numbers continue to rise with little being done to find the cause or cure. My children acquired autism via toxins. We know based on medical tests the toxins were vaccines. Something needs to be done to prevent other children from such injuries. My children have no future. They are extremely affected. It was brought to my attention that some of the studies that this committee uses to base certain opinions were falsified and corruption was taking place. People need to be held accountable because children continue to be harmed.”

Indeed, children continue to be harmed because autistic children continue to be described as having “no future”.

But, if there is no passion, can there be activism and advocacy? Absolutely. Also, anger does not equal passion. Passion is motivation and desire to get something done, to pursue a goal. Anger? Anger just clouds judgment and gets nothing done. Anger only gets you in trouble and makes you sound like a loon (with all due respect).

So how do we take the testimony of an angry mom who sees no future in their living, breathing child who, by her testimony, plays hockey and travels? We take it with an enormous grain of salt.

Advertisements

Submitted for your approval

Imagine that you are a parent, and that your child has autism. Now imagine that you have swallowed the lie that your child’s autism is some sort of a curse, something so bad an unimaginable that you need to “do your own research” and get to the bottom of it. Then imagine that you have swallowed more lies about vaccines and about conspiracies between Big Pharma and the Government. Finally, to top it all off, imagine that you have been allowed to give a public comment at a committee hearing where people are coming together to figure out how to best help improve the lives of autistic children and adults.

What would you say?

Here is a mother who is convinced that vaccines had everything to do with her child’s autism. In her latest blog post, she writes:

“We testified this week at the IACC, although i know it might not mean much, its a feeling of healing that has helped me thus far. I am at peace. I know all things happen for a reason.

Its hard living this life, and having my son not be able to be a normal 8 year old,but thank The Lord he is alive, breathing, walking, running, and laughing.

I am so thankful for my daughters being able to speak on behalf of their brother, and many many other children that cannot speak for themselves.

These children are vaccine injured.”

And here is video of her testimony to the IACC, where she calls for “the leader” (of the committee?) to be taken away to jail for “obstruction of justice.”

I got the video from the Facebook page of one of the woman’s friends, so all credit goes to her. (I downloaded it because these kinds of things tend to disappear when they’re brought out to the light of day.)

So there you have it. Make of it what you will, but do tell me in the comments section below how many anti-vaccine points she hits in her brief statement.

IACC public comments were a disgrace

I had the misfortune of sitting through the IACC (Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee) yesterday, July 10, in Washington, DC. I write “misfortune” because it was a meeting in which some things got done, but a lot of others didn’t. I get it. It’s politics. But the really bad part, in my opinion, was the parade of anti-vaccine and anti-science nonsense that was allowed in the public comments section of the meeting.

It is my policy not to write names of people because some, in their delusions of self-grandeur, have Google alerts of their names and will come hunt me for writing anything about them, especially the truth parts. They really don’t like to see themselves in the mirror, from what I gather. However, because the comments were public, and because I took good notes while sitting there, and because some of their statements were all too idiotic, I am going to name them. I apologize if I get their names misspelled.



First up was Ms. Pam Rockwell. She was a treat. She touted some theory that there are “autism-producing antibodies” that are either given to mothers through the use of Rhogam, or were created by mothers of autistic children through immunization. Her reasoning was simple: Children who are born underweight or premature are more likely to receive blood transfusions, or be born to mothers who received Rhogam or blood transfusions, and are also more likely to have a form of autism. (Do I really need to write that correlation does not equal causation?) Ms. Rockwell didn’t have much time for comments, and neither did the rest of the members of the public that showed up, so I guess she didn’t get a chance to give us the “meat” of her argument. By “meat”, I mean evidence.

Next was Ms. Nicole Simon, who got up to speak with some sort of a banner. She spoke about how the hepatitis B vaccine, when given at birth, enters the blood circulation and can damage the brain, causing autism. She also spoke about the clamping of the umbilical cord at birth and how that causes hypoxia (low blood oxygen) at birth, also leading to damage of the blood-brain barrier, allowing toxins to enter the brain and cause autism. She said she had been doing her own research on this, and she charged the committee with investigating the use of umbilical cord clamping at birth, asking that it be stopped.

I wish I was high on acid when I was listening to this. That way, I would have had a good reason to have heard what I heard. But, oh, it got better.

Marc Blaxill, of “Age of Autism” fame, got up and delivered a scathing critique of the committee’s work. He said that the committee had not in the past, and probably wouldn’t now, achieve anything. (I’d like to editorialize and mention that it probably isn’t achieving anything that Mr. Blaxill wants, not necessarily not achieving anything at all.) He said that the committee as it is composed now is worse than previous committees and that he felt like there was an “Orwellian Time Warp” where fantasy was becoming science. He threw out a lot of big words, a lot of destructive criticism.

Next was Jake Crosby, also of “Age of Autism” fame, and someone who has tried to get people he disagrees with (or people who agree with science) in serious trouble at work. He tried to get  friend of this blog Ren Najera fired through a multi-page diatribe of accusations sent to Ren’s employer. So I was sure his public comment would be fact-based and void of innuendo. Right? Well, not quite. Mr. Crosby sounded very angry, raising his tone of voice at times, and he started off by whining about not being on the committee though he had been nominated. He mentioned how, disgustingly in my opinion, he was a student of public health at a university. And then he dove into conspiracy theories. He launched a lot of accusations at members of the committee and members’ friends and colleagues, and I didn’t have time to take down notes on it all. But the gist of his statement was that the committee and its members were corrupt, that nothing was being done to “cure” autism, and that one or two of the members accepted autism instead of combating it.

I wish this all had stopped there. It didn’t.

We then heard from Dawn Laughboro and Katie Wiseman talking up the toxins gambit. Everything in the environment, including mercury, of course, causes autism. It’s a “complex system”, according to one of them, where viruses, bacteria, parasites, and toxins cause autism. Dental amalgams, fish, and some sort of exposure to a mercury-containing drug generations ago are causing autism today. Ms. Laughboro went as far as to request a study in which the viruses and bacteria living in autistic children be studied as causes.

Right.

In my humble opinion, the commenter that took the prize for the “WTF?” category was Ms. Carolyn Rogers. She has, of course, been doing her own research and published something. I forget if it was an ebook or a pamphlet printed in Philadelphia during the British occupation. Anyway, her theory is that children born to women who had fevers during pregnancy are more likely to be autistic. These women also had ultrasounds. So Ms. Rogers theorizes that ultrasounds somehow cause autism. Does it do it by raising the temperature of the unborn fetus? I didn’t follow the line of reasoning from ultrasounds to fever.

The closing commenter was Ms. Mary Holland. She predicted a rise of autism prevalence from 1 in 88 today to 1 in 44 by 2018 if the committee didn’t do what the anti-vaccine, anti-science groups wanted. She mentioned that the nation will be ashamed to hear what the committee does, or doesn’t do, and it will be reminiscent of the bad job FEMA director “Brownie” did during the response to Hurricane Katrina.

I wanted to walk over to Ms. Holland and explain to her that a rise in prevalence is expected even if the “epidemic” is contained because autism is not by itself deadly, and more autistics are living with the diagnosis than ever before. She and her colleagues claim to understand autism, but how can they say that if they don’t understand prevalence? Heck, you’d think the young MPH student would understand prevalence, but he’s a lost cause.

My only comment to the committee is that they make sure they dot all their I’s and cross all their T’s when it comes to the kind of research they will listen to and recommend. They better be on the ball about science and evidence and not give in to any pressures, political or public, that attempt to counter said science and evidence. Because nothing, nothing, nothing will hurt autistic children and adults alike more than going with a “solution” or “cure” that is not based on science and evidence, like so many scams out there. Sadly, I heard no one demand this of the committee during the public comments.