Baby Riley Hughes died on March 17 2015: one month ago, today. He was 32 days old. He died from whooping cough (pertussis). Riley’s mum and dad, Cath and Greg Hughes, immediately set about ensuring that no other parents have to go through what they are going through, right now. On the Light for Riley memorial Facebook page they started campaigning for increased immunisation rates; the roll-out of maternal pertussis boosters around Australia; an awareness campaign to increase pertussis immunisation rates in families of new babies; and they started raising funds towards more research for a more effective vaccine. Incredible stuff.
What most of us knew was coming their way was the anti-vaccination movement. The McCaffery family – having been vilified by anti-vaccinationists, incited by Meryl Dorey, for six years – immediately stood side-by-side with the Hughes family, so that they knew what to expect. Together these two families have done more for increasing pertussis immunisation awareness than all state and federal governments, and all immunisation research bodies, combined. And what did they get? Venom, and vitriol.
In the past, as it is now for both families, the McCafferys received an onslaught of bile from anti-vaccination zealots. And no one lifted a damn finger. Not the regulatory bodies. Not the police. All that these families have in the place of their babies now are graves. And still these families continue to raise awareness with dignity, civility and resolve.
I’ve attempted – roughly – to collate the following screenshots into three sections. First, there are the vile attacks against Cath and Greg Hughes, and against Riley’s memorial page. Second, there are the usual arguments we hear from anti-vaccinationists who will do anything they can to deny the lethality of whooping cough, whilst attacking the safety and efficacy of immunisation in general. Also in this section are any attacks on immunisation policy. Third, there is a smaller section of miscellaneous screenshots, including the peddling of fake cures. Throughout the post some screenshots are fuzzy. I apologise for this. I had to enlarge the images – so some are out of focus – so us old people can see them. I will be adding updates to this post so as to act as an ongoing repository. It is a certainty that more revolting comments will be made against the Hughes family. Wherever sure of accuracy, I have linked to the commenter’s Facebook profile.
Please keep this in the forefront of your mind as you go through these images: these comments were all made on the memorial page of a deceased infant, and hideous comments were also sent directly to his parents. All of this has happened within the first month of Riley’s death. Just one month. Much of it was done with a full intent to harm and hurt. Think about that.
Nicole Johnson/Johanna Holland is a protected troll who has been vilifying the McCaffery family and other grieving parents for almost six years. The troll has been, and still is, protected on the Facebook page of the Australian Vaccination Network, and in the private group, Vaccine Free Australia, holding court in both groups. There are direct links between anti-vaccine ideologue Meryl Dorey, and the troll.
This is the troll, Holland/Johnson, in the not-so-private group, VFA, warning others about the ethical cesspit of harassing grieving parents:
And this is the message sent by the same troll two weeks after it issued the admonition, above. As expected the hypocrite disregards any pretense of possessing even a single ethic in exchange for inflicting hurt. It sent this message directly to Riley’s mum and dad via private messaging:
This troll page posted on the same day it desecrated Dana McCaffery’s Facebook page. Given the arguments it makes, the language used, and the coincidental timing of the above message, I strongly believe that the Holland/Johnson troll is the creator of this now disabled page:
Robyn Jameson (Holland/Johnson troll account which was immediately disabled; private message sent directly to Cath and Greg):
Frank Vazquez (previously investigated by South Australia Police for sending multiple death threats):
Gemma Clarkson (newly created troll account):
Nell Jones (confirmed Johanna Holland/Nicole Johnson fake profile; AVN/Meryl Dorey protected troll; activist with the anti-vaccine protests: Facebook username is “NoJabNoPayNoBloodyWay.”):
Stephanie Messenger (Messenger posts her fake story of vaccine harm to Riley’s page like a ghoulish competitor):
Jessica Fyfe (brand new troll account):
Helena Denley (who – along with her husband, Warren Denley, and her mother Olya Szewczuk – killed her 13 month old daughter Isabella Denley by withholding seizure medication, in 2002):
Nicholas Moore (after 2016 Young Australian of the Year was announced, messaged the LFR page, immediately; the troll account also posted to the LFR page):
Sarah O’Reilly (unqualified health practitioner at Butterfly Dawn):
Chantel Galwey (sent this disingenuous private message of support to Cath and Greg; but, in the meantime, she was bragging to her anti-vaccine colleagues about her actions, on the Things pro-vaxers say Facebook page, which is run by Ian Hastings):
Sasha Masko (Alex Masko):
Melinda Kennedy (troll profile spammed this comment four times):
Emma Cameron (newly created troll account):
Jenny (deleted troll page):
Melissa Mccudden (Mel Leicester; Mel Issa):
Andre Colbert (this was sent in a private message directly to Cath and Greg):
Ian Hastings (AKA Ian Smith, Sapere Aude; and No Fluoride Australia, No Vaccines Australia, Refutations to Provax Memes, Things Pro-Vaxers Say, End the Illusion of Choice, and Worried Mama Facebook pages):
John Wong (this was sent in a private message directly to Cath and Greg):
Trevor Simons (conspiracy post, sent in private message directly to Cath and Greg, contains Nazi references and a big picture of Hitler. Others are anti-vaccine links):
Getting no response via personal message Simons also posted this link to the main page. Note his Tony Abbott/Swastika/vaccine image:
Anna Kaszonyi (private message sent directly to Cath and Greg):
She was asked to leave the family alone. She couldn’t:
Will Edwardson (this is a brand new troll account which uses the same phrases and makes the same arguments as those used by Kayla Shields and Ivan Bortic. It could be a coincidence):
Gemma Evans (troll account):
Samantha Lee (troll account):
Amy Apple (troll):
Fiona Smith (Fiona Henderson):
Shell Wellington (Shelley Thomas):
Kader Lorenzo (owner of OMEGA Security):
Anna Patel (AKA Anna Stancombe: vicious anti-vaccine Queensland teacher who has featured in this post; attended the Brisbane No Jab No Pay No Way anti-vaccine protest; Stancombe/Patel has previously attacked a baby store proprietor because he would not going along with her scheme to defraud an airline of money for alleged damages to a baby stroller. Stancombe/Patel then went on to accuse the proprietor of being at the helm of a paedophile network, along with the moderator of the consumer protection site, Ripoff Report, who also refused to acquiesce to Stancombe/Patel’s outrageously deceitful claims):
Jamie Taylor (troll account with only four friends. One of them is Stephanie Messenger):
Kelleigh Rae (concern-trolled page in relation to troll account, Jamie Taylor, above):
Clarice Larson (Clarice Sutterfield):
Melissa Dunn (concern trolled page with lies, then, attacked):
Gavin Rider (friend of Chris Savage):
Lacie Parker (concern trolling):
Kristy Anne (AKA Kristy McCarrick. At the urging of anti-vaccine activist Trevor Simons, in closed Facebook group, Unvaccinated Australia, antivaxers start spamming LFR with Kelly Winder’s deceitful anti-vaccine blog post):
Persephone De Kari (as above):
Jacqui Soliman (as above):
Lynne Hopewell (concern trolling):
Kate Larvin (registered midwife NMW0001101809):
Elena Rouge (Elena Kardash):
Ben Grassham (trolling Riley’s page; final screenshot, taken from anti-vaccine group VFA, shows Grassham’s real intent):
VFA comment about Riley’s page:
Em Taylor (trolling Riley’s page; three following screenshots, taken from anti-vaccine group VFA, show Taylor’s true intent, supported by Daielle Seymour and Alex Smith):
VFA comments about Riley’s page:
Jason Richards (Jason Van Krieken):
Maria Macdonald (registered nurse midwife):
Irina Berryman (she posted this antivax article twice):
Rachel Ann Elizabeth (Rachel Perkins):
Vaccine safety and efficacy, and immunisation policy.
Damien Poulsen (organiser of the Sydney No Jab No Pay No Way anti-vaccine protest march; partner of Breanna King/Breanna Stanley, who believes people who hold cruel anti-vaccine commenters to account should be shot. Poulsen thinks he has uncovered and posted a gotcha moment. Unfortunately for this anti-vaccination zealot, no reputable person claims that the whooping cough immunisation is perfect; no one claims that immunised individuals cannot contract whooping cough, nor pass it on; whooping cough immunisation lessens the severity of the disease, if contracted; and whooping cough immunisation – especially if recently fully immunised, as opposed to historically fully immunised – greatly lessens the chances of catching the disease, compared to unvaccinated individuals like Poulsen and his selfish, ignorant cohort who think it is appropriate to post what they believe are gotchas on a baby’s memorial page):
Belgin Sila Colak (co-organiser of the Sydney anti-vaccine protests, with Poulsen):
Belgin Colak (using a different Facebook profile posts more anti-vaccination comments):
Shari Zumba Smoker (Shari Letchford):
Nikki Ivess (Nikki Vaughan):
Karly G Oodall (Karli Goodall):
Melissa Mccudden (Mel Leicester; Mel Issa):
Kayla Shields directly concern-trolled the Hughes family via private message after her boyfriend, Ivan Bortic, had done the same [please see the update at the end of this post which shows how Bortic pretends to be a concerned citizen, just asking questions. His own images prove him to be precisely as depicted here: a callous ghoul intent on inflicting hurt]. Bortic was politely requested to leave the Hughes family alone. Again, Shields started emailing the family after Bortic was requested to stop. They started out Just Asking Questions, then hit the anti-vaccine pedal full-throttle with their second message. It’s a common tactic anti-vaccinationists use [update April 18 2015: Bortic sent threatening emails warning that legal action would commence and police would be called, and that Riley’s parents, the page admins, and this blog would all be involved]:
Kate Hollingsworth (private message sent directly to Cath and Greg. The link she included goes to a news story about Saba Button):
Jillian Seger (this person actually has the wontons to go crowdfunding for legal fees and everyday living expenses):
Chris Savage (anti-vaccine, chemtrailer, anti-Semitic former Queensland police officer who has been lying about vaccines, SIDS, and Shaken Baby Syndrome, and related health topics for years. Was removed from the QPS due to his delusions. Has recently been escalating his anti-Semitic rants, befriending many white supremacist activists. He was a One Nation political candidate in the late 1990s, and still supports Pauline Hanson):
Emily Zelig Barr (concern troll):
Kelleigh Rae (concern-trolled with anti-vaccine links; then, concern-trolled in defence of a real anti-vaccine troll account: see Section 1, above):
Tracy Nicole (Tracy Maynard):
Jasmine Aslanides (Jasmine Corbett):
Sarah Deacon (Sarah Cole):
Deacon also posted this in the Vaccine Resistance Movement group:
Anna Horváth (Anna Sikes):
Peddling of fake cures and miscellaneous.
Mel Thornburg. AIDS-denialism, for some reason known only to her:
Kelly Winder is the proprietor of Belly Belly, the online anti-vaccine, alternative parenting business:
The Paleo Recipe Cookbook – Cheap and Easy. Because there isn’t a rock low enough from which paleo promoters won’t scuttle, and then spam:
Thanks for reading.
Update April 18 2015
Ivan Bortic and Kayla Shields run a business of what appear to be questionable therapeutic practices which include neurolinguistic programming, a thoroughly discredited therapy. I cannot see any qualifications listed on their site, so I’ll be sure to pass this on. Shields notes of herself that she is “gifted with strong empathic abilities”. Bortic describes himself as “intelligent and wise beyond my years”. Anyway, let’s hear about the real Bortic.
I want to be clear about Ivan Bortic’s rabid anti-vaccine beliefs from the outset. This is a man who is a follower of and a disseminator of the anti-vaccine ramblings of Sherri Tenpenny. Tenpenny, you would all be aware, is the queen of extremist US anti-vaccinationism. Bortic posted Tenpenny misinformation on the cancer-cure crank Tyler Tolman’s page:
Bortic is also precisely the callous type of individual who blames the weakness of the victims of contaminated raw milk for their death. He even lies about the victims “dying from a serious illness” before the raw milk killed them. A despicable troglodyte, to be sure:
So, we can be entirely forgiven for being cautious about a person who sends private messages under the deceitful cloak of concern, when in actual fact he is a demonstrable liar who strung out a series of private messages with grieving parents who were wondering why he demanded to know such private information about their deceased infant.
The very final screenshot in this series, all made publicly available by the liar, Bortic, proves his intent all along was to hurt a grieving family. He is a liar, and a conspiracy theorist, and he needs to hurt others due to his own anti-social personality disorder.
Here are the Bortic messages:
The badgering of grieving parents starts:
The mock community sentiment of a liar:
The fake community concern continues, and Bortic has the audacity to demand that he has the right to private information, telling the Hughes they have lost that right:
And the hideous final message we all expect from these hideous, horrid people:
I would ask you only this, would your sons legacy forever be tainted by hiding the truth, or will your sons legacy remain strong…
Please, I beg of you, please be honest with us all.
I thank Bortic for making his images publicly available for all to see what a man he is.
The poor parents being subjected to this, the most obnoxious berating the family for ‘getting it wrong’ or ‘not having the facts’. The family lost their child to a vaccine preventable disease. End of.
PS, I’ve just had my pertussis booster shot, and the only side effects are righteous indignation and sorrow for baby Riley Hughes and his family.
Disgusted. Sadly it was expected. Am I right in assuming that the people that attack us have formed a secret group where they discuss tactics and then celebrate attacking us? It’s interesting being hated because your child died and you thought you should warn other parents, because the system failed you and no one warned you.
That’s terrible. I’m so sorry. The willful ignorance of anti vaxxers and their self righteous idea that their ’cause’ justifies such actions is so disgusting. My heart goes out to you.
The disgusting levels of torment and ignorance shown by these keyboard warriors, shows them as the lowest humans ever to breathe!
I’m not defending this type of behaviour, however, unfortunately social media is a platform where people can express opinions and unfortunately common decency can go out the door, with little regard to how others may feel regarding comments being made. This isn’t the platform for presenting information about the ineffectiveness of the Whooping Cough vaccine. Despite this being fact and thankfully researchers are working on why this is the case, people need to be respectful of this family who have lost their child, and others. Its tragic that this happens in our day and age. There are other avenues to vent concerns regarding vaccine safety, efficacy and issues regarding vaccination. I just hope those who have been touched by this problem, use the fire in their belly to right this wrong and head down the path of science, put pressure on them, to help mitigate these tragic circumstances from happening to others.
What utterly cretinous behaviour! The ignorance shown is sadly no longer quite beyond belief – but I would have thought that with such ready access to “research” via the Internet, these delightful folks would at least be able to discover that whooping cough has an incubation period of up to 20 days & generally first manifests as an illness virtually impossible to differentiate from a cold for about a week?
Given that most babies are born in Hospitals, which are full of all sorts of adult visitors, many of whom unwittingly bring in airborne illnesses, I fail to see how anyone could even dare harass or blame the parents. Can these types not contain their bile to their own fringe-y websites and backwards Facebook groups?
Someone on this page told me that they were sad that pro-vaccinators put themselves above others. We don’t: Anti-vaccinators lower themselves with their disregard for knowledge and science. They also lower themselves and their cause – by harassing grieving parents.
Wow. Notice the inordinate immediacy, scale and tone of vitriol directed at the Hughes family this year compared to that directed at the McCaffery family in 2009. I’m not suggesting quantifying such repugnance reduces the thunderous immorality behind such attacks, but the attacks on the McCaffery’s were crafted and outsourced by the (then) AVN and particularly Meryl Dorey. At the time Dorey could produce no children harmed by vaccines – something that is as true today as it was then (bar one case in W.A. that has occurred in the interim).
The illogical reasoning stems from the same lies and manicured misinformation. Ergo: Vaccines kill and harm large numbers of babies/children, therefore to recommend them (in this case for pertussis) is to place large numbers of young children in harms way. Yet, the complete opposite is true. The failure to respect reputable information on this topic places our own children, and the children of the community at risk of disability and death.
Thus it appears, despite the odd academic dismissing the phenomenon, that belief in conspiracies, antivaccinationist reasoning and the consonant rejection of science based medicine has likely increased significantly over the past six years. In fact so ingrained and passionate is antivaxxer madness that brutal and groundless attacks on grieving parents appeals to more of their ranks than it did half a decade ago.
Once again we should remember the debt we owe to these parents and others like them for seeking to spread nothing more than facts and an understanding of consequences. Vaccination saves lives. Get vaccinated.
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I’d invite an anthropologist and/or a psychologist to weigh in here.
I “get” why a handful of sociopaths with something to gain might be lead the anti-vaxxer movement (e.g. making money off “alternative medicines” or publications or as a speaker or just narcissistic gratification at the “recognition”).
But I don’t “get” why so many (presumably) non-sociopaths jump on the bandwagon.
I’m in my fifties, and all the elders in my family were staunchly pro-vaccination because they remembered first-hand what it was like before (esp. polio).
Is there a specific demographic aspect to the anti-vaxxers, something that disconnects them from the experience and learnings of their familial elders?
And perhaps a lawyer could weigh in here too? Freedom of speech is curtailed (at least anecdotally) by the classic example of “you’re not free to yell Fire! in a crowded theatre”. If somebody did, and there were injuries or deaths resulting from the panic, presumably there would be prosecutions and/or civil lawsuits. So why does the same not apply here? Why are these nasty venomous conscienceless aberrants free to spread lies and misinformation that (if they are successful enough) could plausibly lead to mass deaths, and some of them making money out of it along the way?
Yes, someone should do some research on what turns someone into an a passionate anti-vaccinationist. It would be a fascination social study to identify what causes the lack of empathy and narcissism that is clearly present before they start to identify with these people. I could make some anecdotal observations but that would be unfair to people who might share some common .
However, one thing worth consideration is that Gen X (which includes me) is a generation that was raised when scientific information was available in the family Encyclopedia Brittanica. We weren’t taught to apply scientific rigour to freely available information because somebody else (usually qualified) had already done that for us. Everyone knew someone who said their warts had been cured by rubbing them with snails, for example, but we all knew that the best bet was the doctor because there was only one snail-curer (and their believers) around. We never even expected the snail-curers might learn to write sciency-sounding articles that looked legitimate, that might need some questioning. We weren’t taught much about the WHO and how they eradicated smallpox without the assistance of snails or other alternative “cures”. We never expected that people would believe some of the conspiracy theories on GMO and aliens on the X Files, but they did! And then.. came.. the internetz… and gave the snailcurers a voice.
We can’t change these people, all we can do is stop the spread of their poisonous messages and keep them away from our children, who are the ones we can teach properly.
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It makes me sad that this happens, but even sadder that there seems to be no legal recourse for people being targeted in this fashion.
This information on restraining orders in WA would seem to apply to the situation:
Misconduct restraining orders are intended to restrain a person:
* from behaving in a way that is intimidating or offensive to you or a person for whom you have legal responsibility
* likely to cause damage to your property or
* from committing a breach of the peace.
It’s awful that no-one in authority is able or willing to stand up for these families.
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