Quite a nasty conversation has erupted in the last week, involving the Australian (anti) Vaccination Network. It has, of course, descended into the usual misrepresentation and vilification of critics of the AVN. My main points will be focussing on how Meryl Dorey and her supporters devalue critics in an attempt to divert the conversation from their own behaviours which begat the latest round of articles and posts. For an excellent overview of how this behaviour of devaluation is in conflict with the stated aims of the AVN (an admitted Health Care Provider: Meryl Dorey is also an admitted Health Educator), please refer to this post by Paul Gallagher: Skepgoating: why antivaxxers need to devalue skepticism. As noted in the post:
As AVN member and coach University of Wollongong lecturer Dr. Brian Martin argues, this allows one to provoke outrage in onlookers with the hope of causing backfire of critics’ evidence based techniques.
There are quite a few threads to the conversation, so this post will be a little longer than usual. For that, I apologise.
Over a week ago I wrote a post, Meryl Dorey now states that contacting grieving families is appropriate, in which it was shown that Meryl Dorey was advocating for her followers to contact the grieving parents of deceased infants to find out if the infants had been vaccinated; thus confirming Dorey’s belief that immunisation causes SIDS. It doesn’t. For another excellent Paul Gallagher piece thoroughly investigating this false claim, please see this post: Infant vaccination correlates to reduced incidence of SIDS.
Funnily enough, Dorey’s actions, as outlined in my post, caused quite a bit of consternation and derision in the community: and rightly so. Tory Shepherd covered the behaviour in this article: Have your own opinion but not your own facts. Mamamia also covered the story in this article, written by Peter Bowditch: The anti-vaxxers reach a shocking new low. This is where some of the fun starts.
I want to digress for the moment, for explanation’s sake. Vocal anti-vaccination activists, such as Meryl Dorey and her AVN, want to eradicate immunisation. They do not want to eradicate Polio, or Measles: potential and documented deadly diseases. They want children to contract Measles naturally, and sell paraphernalia, aimed at children, to help this come to pass. See this post, as an example: Stephanie Messenger: childhood infectious disease advocate. This fits perfectly with Dorey’s abominable statement that “you didn’t die from it thirty years ago, and you’re not going to die from it today”. Well, you did die from it thirty years ago, and you can die from it today, as shown in the recent European Measles Epidemic:
The WHO’s newest measles summary in the Weekly Epidemiological Record reports more than 26,000 cases of measles in 36 European countries from January-October 2011, with more than 14,000 of those in France. Despite strong health systems, Western European countries have reported 83% of these cases. These outbreaks have caused nine deaths, including six in France, and 7288 hospitalizations.
Given the above, we should now have a good look at the actions of Meryl Dorey and the AVN, when Australia launched a Measles Control Campaign in 1998. As outlined in the link, Dorey and her AVN fought vociferously against the life-saving campaign, using every known anti-vaccination tactic in the book. This table demonstrates how Dorey’s predictions panned out:
So, using Measles as an example, we know that VPDs can kill. Vocal anti-vaccination campaigners want to end immunisation, based on their beliefs. The end result, following the logic of anti-vaccination campaigners, is that they want more children to die. Of course they don’t! But, that’s where their argument leads them. This leads us back to one of the points of this post.
Yesterday, Meryl Dorey published a blog post attacking Peter Bowditch. The attack is ferocious and quite extraordinary. You’ll need to read it for yourself. As is usual, Dorey completely misrepresents and denies history. I’m sure Peter Bowditch will be writing a response. I’ll link to it when it is published. [There will be a few: I will list them here as they upload]
There are some points in the Dorey post that I do want to address, such as the sources relied upon by Dorey, and the convenient misrepresentation of the past actions of these sources. The attacks on Peter Bowditch are conveniently devoid of context and recent history.
For many years, Peter Bowditch has been following the story of Alan Yurko, a man convicted of killing his girlfriend’s ten week old baby, by what is known as Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS). Anti-vaccination advocates took up the cause of this convicted child killer, instead blaming this baby’s death on immunisation. We can see why some people get upset with the anti-vaccination movement. They defend child killers. What does Meryl Dorey have to say about this?
At that time, the AVN was active in trying to help a gentleman by the name of Alan Yurko get out of prison in the United States [gentleman?]
There were so many things wrong with the case against Alan including the fact that his son actually died in hospital following a serious reaction to vaccination… [fact?]
From prison, this extraordinary man started to research exactly what had happened to his baby [extraordinary? his baby?]
I could not believe the cruelty involved in that sort of action and even though Alan Yurko was eventually cleared of all charges several years later, Bowditch still claims that he killed his son. Why? [cleared of charges? he was convicted of manslaughter]
You can see why the SBS vaccine defence is so reviled by members of our community. I have covered Dorey’s other comments regarding SBS in this post: “Shaken Maybe Syndrome”. Dr David Gorski has also written this poignant piece: The vilest antivaccine lie that won’t die: Shaken baby syndrome as “vaccine injury”. I think the question answers itself: should the Australian Vaccination Network, and Meryl Dorey, be held accountable for their myth-based defence of a baby-killer?
Another source I want to highlight from Dorey’s post is the person to whom Dorey refers as “a woman…whose child is vaccine-injured”. Dorey claims that this person is “a woman whose only ‘sin’ is questioning a medical procedure”. On the AVN Facebook page, and on Twitter, Dorey claims that Peter Bowditch “cyberbullies mums”. That’s quite a reframing there:
The person to whom Dorey refers as this victim; just a “mum”; “whose only sin is questioning a medical procedure”, has been covered on this blog:
Let’s be frank: this victim is nothing of the sort. This person has been, and continues to be, one of the AVN’s most prominent attack personnel. This person was the source of the screenshots used in Dorey’s blog post, and actively, continually and regularly attacks and vilifies critics of the AVN. For Meryl Dorey to present this person as an innocent victim in this debate is deliberately disingenuous, and deceitful.
Peter Bowditch got into a Twitter conversation with this person. She trolled him. Peter Bowditch trolled back. Peter Bowditch may use methods which appear ugly to some people; but, he owns his comments, and he accepts full responsibility for his own actions. I’m not agreeing with Peter Bowditch’s words to the AVN provocateur; but, given the inevitable logic that the anti-vaccination movement’s own desire to see the end of immunisation programs will lead to more dead babies, and how fervently they espouse their myths, it is interesting to see how the anti-vaccination movement hides under a cloak of victimhood, rather than address the inevitable death-ride of their own argument.
Even today, Dorey has erroneously claimed that Peter Bowditch has committed crimes:
So, back to today’s AVN Facebook post. Not only has Dorey completely misrepresented Peter Bowditch with the sleight of hand of omission, she also has gone after Mia Freedman. If there is one thing Meryl Dorey knows how to do, and which will get her followers into a frenzy, it’s to Strawman her critics: to devalue them; to make them the other; to vilify them; to keep the dream alive.
In the above post the AVN and its followers jump on board to demonise Mia Freedman. The results are unsettling. It’s not just the attack on Ms Freedman which is distasteful: there is an underlying cognitive dissonance of which they should be duly ashamed. They haven’t seen it, yet. But, they will; once it is pointed out:
I highlight these comments because they show a more sinister undercurrent to a group of people who are generally seen as peace-loving hippies, Mother Earth loving, gentle and “informed” etc. One commenter notes that she hopes Mia “isn’t a parent”. That’s pretty mean and dehumanising in itself; but, it is the comment above which is worth investigating. It is a popular comment, for AVN standards: 21 likes (at the time of writing).
What stands out, for me, is that the comment, “Me thinks she maybe vaccine damaged”, is used in the pejorative. It is a term which is commonly used by the AVN in a derogatory manner, to dehumanise its critics. But, this is an organisation which prides itself on defending the “vaccine damaged” (whether real or imagined). It is the central tenet of anti-vaccinationists worldwide. Do they not understand that the use of this term as an insult has the same implications as would the parent of an autistic child calling someone a “retard”? It is highly offensive, and worthily so, given the stigma and abuse attached to the spectrum for so long. I hope the AVN and its followers have a really good think on what it is they are about. These people are devaluing the existence of their own children, of whom they believe are all vaccine damaged.
Another stream of devaluing and vilification which has been running this week is a contest promoted by Meryl Dorey, to rename the Stop the Australian (anti) Vaccination Network (that’s the new name, by the way. It was done to reduce confusion about the aims of the group).
Dorey created and kicked off the competition in this post:
Indeed, many of us knew where this would head. And, they did not disappoint. Official AVN Facebook administrator RR set the tone early:
Heidi has already blogged on this lovely competition in this post: Respect at all times.
Here are some of the choice comments from the AVN faithful:
Alana Lentin Big Pharma ‘R’ Us
Janelle Burns Pharmaceutical puppets
Kathleen Hyland PPIGS: People against Pro-choice Informative Guidance Services
Bek Henry National Australian organisation for the prevention of free speech, free choice and keeping children healthy. Or NAOPFSFCKCH for short.
Cathie Devery Murray Government and Big Pharma Lackies or GaBPL
Anna Stancombe Silly Knob – Stop Irresponsible Lazy Lying Yobs Killing Nearly all Our Babies 🙂 hopefully they won’t realize what it spells – ha
Alyssa Pilat I have one for them- The Nazi’s Nagging Abhorrent Zealots for Immunisation
Wellbeings Heads In The Sand United – HITSU for short
Michelle Burgermeister Blind leading the blind.
Beth Ellen Howison SHEEPLE Incorprated! 😉
Aneeta Hafemeister I really wish they would officially change to “The Septics”.
Jacquie Cotter Ramming our beliefs down your child’s throat! Or vein….
Maurice Giorgianni AVP Australian Vaccination Police
Nat Leighton I cant stop laughing…. “the septics” from Aneeta…
Jennifer-lee Sinclair Ditto what Nat said!!!
Fran Blake UNDIES – united nutcases defending useless inaccuracies eagerly & stupidly!
Kate Barker Seriously Endangering Positive Thoughts on Individual and Child Safety… Running with the SEPTICS idea…
Katherine Taylor Sheeple Against Choice aka SAC
Sarah Bromwich SAVNNO1. Because they’re not interested in saving anyone. A group with these motivations and hopes (eg basically reducing our faith in nature) .. sounds appalling to me!!!
Julie Hallam How about Needles Up To Shite!!! =NUTS!!
And, from another similar thread:
Dee-Anne Hoving Thorn (read prick) in my side! Bahahahahaaaa…or how about Ignoramus Incorporated…or…Lets go bury our head in the sand and hope the Experts got it right Group ..or Lemmings of the World..Keheheheheeeee wow, one could go on forever 😀
Leah Moulden Vaccine Pushers Incorporated
Tanya Pasfield KKK2
Tess Mitchell How about pharma workers union!
Emma Wright This ones a bit harsh “We don’t care if your child dies, as long as we inject”
Jamie Clark maybe
they got told to change there name by big pharma so its not so obvious that there are dedicated cells out to take down the AVN lol
Lol. Indeed. All at Meryl Dorey’s instigation. There are other comments from the last week which also should be publicised. There is this one from AVN Facebook administrator RR:
RR did not like this comment being publicised on the StopAVN page, so s/he reported it for copyright violation. Courageous *and* anonymous.
One of the comments which was a little surprising came from Australian Vaccination Network Committee Member, Jane Beeby, who has been absent from commenting for some time. Beeby was a signatory to the AVN 2009 Financial Statement, and is a stalwart of the anti-vaccination movement in Australia being a long-time member of the AVN:
It is usually invigorating for AVN critics whenever Jane Beeby comments, as she has a history of wishing that critics would simply die:
Jane Beeby I’m absolutely pro vaccine for septics.
This is no empty desire. Beeby believes that immunisations are lethal, and she has previously stated similar dreams, in 2009:
Nice. Why just devalue critics when you can hope they die?
Meryl Dorey has, today, published the promised second part of her attack on Peter Bowditch and the septics. For a taste of the diatribe, here are the first two paragraphs:
Society likes to think that it’s come a long way. We no longer call black people ‘niggers’, gay people ‘poofters’ or Asian people ‘slit eyes’. We’ve gotten beyond all that now. We’re so proud of how advanced we’ve become. But scratch the surface of many people and you can expose their inner bigot. And when it comes to medical bigotry, this behaviour is not only openly accepted by the media and most mainstream institutions – it’s government approved!
Quick explanation for those who have always thought the word ‘bigotry’ was synonymous with ‘racism’, in actuality, a bigot is anyone who is intolerant of those who hold differing opinions. So you could say that everyone who is a member of Stop the AVN – by definition – is a bigot. As are the media, the government and most mainstream medical organisations.
“Everyone who is a member of Stop the AVN is a bigot.” I kid you not. Dorey claims on Facebook that “the abuse…has GOT to stop”.
Remember what started this latest round of posts and retorts. Meryl Dorey advocated that her followers contact grieving parents. It would appear that Meryl Dorey hasn’t learned a damn thing, and instead attacks critics to vilify, deflect, and divert from her own egregious behaviour, driven by myth and belief.
Who can forget this video? Remember the behaviour which led to this? The behaviour continues. Only, it’s everyone else’s fault but Meryl’s.
Thanks for reading.
I didn’t think the AVN could get much worse. Just after I finished writing this post I was made aware that one Kerry Baker had made a comment accusing the same griving family of being one of the multiple personalities of Peter Bowditch. This is the same Kerry Baker who features in this post: Kerry Baker: Registered Nurse; AVN Supporter; Vilifier of Grieving Families. Here is the bizarre and unconscionable comment which has remained on the AVN facebook page: