The return of J. B. Handley

He’s ba-ack.

Remember J. B. Handley? He and his wife were the founders of the antivaccine crank group Generation Rescue (GR) back in the day. When I first started blogging, GR was new and shiny, with JB and his wife showing up all over the media blaming autism on mercury. In fact, I think it’s worth reminding my readers, for the benefit of newbies (and in this case, newbies could be anyone who hasn’t been reading at least five years) just what GR used to say about autism:

Generation Rescue believes that childhood neurological disorders such as autism, Asperger’s, ADHD/ADD, speech delay, sensory integration disorder, and many other developmental delays are all misdiagnoses for mercury poisoning.

When you know cause, you can focus on cure.Thousands of parents are curing their children by removing the mercury from their children’s bodies. We want you, the parent, to know the truth.

Of course, that was a long time ago. The makeover that made GR more—shall we say?—flexible about autism causation, such that it now says that autism is caused by “an overload of heavy metals, live viruses, and bacteria.” And, of course, vaccines. Toujours les vaccins. Same as it ever was.

After Jenny McCarthy was recruited to be the public face of GR, JB faded into the background. We didn’t see him much. Oh, sure, he still pops up from time to time to say something incredibly stupid, such as his comparing the original antivaccine quack Andrew Wakefield to “Nelson Mandela and Jesus Christ rolled up into one,” attacking the American Academy of Pediatrics, likening a female reporter’s pro-vaccine article to her having been “roofied” by Dr. Paul Offit (classy, as ever), making silly bets as to the identity of pseudonymous pro-vaccine bloggers, and equating autism to “brain damage.” However, over the last couple of years, Handley’s been mighty quiet. It’s almost as though he’s disappeared from the organization he founded. He hardly shows up on the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism, which is tightly associated with GR, any more.

So it was that I almost missed that he’s back, with a post entitled Who’s afraid of autism recovery? It seems to be a post commemorating ten years of Generation Rescue, which is akin to celebrating a decade of resurgent vaccine-preventable disease, but, then, this is GR.

He starts out with a bit of reminiscing about the old days of GR, when it was just a rag tag band of rebels fighting the medical establishment. To hear JB tell it, he was just interested in “recovering” children, but the message of “recovery” through biomedical quackery got lost:

So, the original plan for GR was really a colossal failure and I think understanding why tells us a lot about where we are now.

First off, no matter how hard you try, you can’t talk about recovery from Autism without talking about causation, and then you are officially wrestling with the Vaccine tar baby, which gets everyone dirty, sticky, angry, and confused. That happened to us, almost immediately. We really wanted parents to talk to parents about what was working to recover their children, but every reporter covering GR’s launch wanted to talk about mercury and vaccines. And we obliged. Before we knew it, the message of recovery was buried and the message of vaccine controversy was everywhere.

This is, of course, nonsense. GR was antivaccine from the beginning, because, as I described above, GR was founded based on the idea that mercury from the thimerosal preservative that was until early 2002 present in some childhood vaccines was the cause of what has been called the “autism epidemic” or even worse terms, like the “autism tsunami.” Never mind that the apparent increase in prevalence is mostly due to diagnostic substitution, better screening, and increased awareness.

I remember it well. Back in 2005, I was a freshly minted blogger just starting to make a name for himself, when I encountered the antivaccine movement, in particular the wing of the antivaccine movement known as the mercury militia for its insistence that mercury was The One True Cause of Autism. Leading the mercury militia at the time was JB Handley and GR, using the “intellectual firepower” of David Kirby, who had written Evidence of Harm; Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., all purpose antivaccine crank and author of a conspiracy-laden antivaccine screed, Deadly Immunity, that led to one of my earliest viral posts; and, of course, the father-son mercury militia researchers, Mark and David Geier. Sadly, Robert F. Kennedy is still around, having recently published a new book and managed to get himself and his partner in crime Mark Hyman on The Dr. Oz Show.

Yes, GR was an antivaccine group from the beginning. This whining about the “message” about “recovering” autistics getting lost due to the attention the antivaccine message garnered in the press is an enormous stinking pile of fetid dingo’s kidneys. It’s revisionist history.

Of course, Handley owes me a new keyboard (a new MacBook Pro, actually), as this one’s been fried because I was drinking iced tea while reading this:

The Autism biomed community goes through phases of recovery ideas that work for some children and then get broadly adopted. GF/CF, chelation, IVIG, B12 shots, homeopathy, HBOT, are just a few of the many treatments that have been innovated by members of our community and played a role in recovering children. It’s really a remarkable cycle of innovative and experimental medicine, and it’s the most likely way a solution (cure!) for Autism will be developed.

Innovation. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Experimental medicine? I suppose you could call it that. It is, as I’ve discussed before, unethical experimentation on children involving everything from chelation therapy causing the death, to hyperbaric oxygen chambers, to radical dietary manipulations, to injecting “stem cells” (it’s not actually clear at all that that’s what they are) into the cerebrospinal fluid of autistic children in quack clinics in Costa Rica, and even subjecting autistic children to bleach enemas.

Speaking of bleach enemas:

In the last few years, an entirely new theory has developed about what’s causing the behaviors and symptoms we call Autism: parasites. It’s a novel theory, spearheaded by three very innovative people: Kerri Rivera, Andreas Kalcker, and Jim Humble. (Parents like Robin Goffe have further added to the protocols.) As a ten-year veteran of biomed, I’m skeptical to any and all new ideas, and was extremely skeptical of the claims being made by these revolutionary parents and practitioners.

I hope all parents will take a closer look at the Parasite-Autism theory and see if their child may fit the profile of a child suffering from parasitic infection. What’s most shocking about this new treatment approach are the claims being made by parents. At last count, 163 parents claim their children have recovered from Autism by following Kerri Rivera’s protocol. One hundred and sixty-three kids? I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a lot of kids, particularly for something that’s supposed to be impossible to do! And, as if we need to ask, how many people from the CDC, AAP, or Autism Speaks have looked into the parasite-autism theory or interviewed the parents of the 163 children they claim are recovered? You know the answer.

Regular readers might recall Kerri Rivera. She’s the one who thinks she can bleach autism away with something called Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS). What it is, in essence, is an industrial strength bleaching agent, 28% sodium chlorite in distilled water. Before being given to autistic children, it is frequently diluted in acidic juices, such as orange juice, resulting in the formation of chlorine dioxide, which is, as the FDA characterized it, “a potent bleach used for stripping textiles and industrial water treatment.” According to its proponents, MMS can cure almost anything: cancer, AIDS, and just about any other serious disease you can imagine. Over the last two and a half years, Rivera has popularized it (if you can call it that) among the autism biomed quackery underground. It’s a treatment that led to one of the greatest retorts of all time to parents subjecting their children to quackery, “Your son sounds adorable. Please stop feeding him bleach.”

Basically, Rivera claims that MMS kills “parasites,” as demonstrated by an anecdote that I like to cite whenever the topic of MMS comes up:

My 14YO son has autism. I’ve been treating him with a parasite cleanse system for 1.5 years (5 days on, 2 days off). He’s made some remarkable improvements, but every time I try to wean him off the cleanse, the parasite symptoms flare up. He is nonverbal and fairly low-functioning, so I don’t get any feedback from him as to how he is feeling. Last week, I started him on 1 drop of MMS then upped the dose to 1 drop, 2x a day this week. After about 4 days at 2 drops/day, he vomited once and had diarrhea all day. I am assuming it is the MMS . I decided to drop down to 1 drop/day again until he gets beyond this. He tends to have loose stools anyway, which I am guessing is related to this ongoing battle with the parasites. His gut tends to be very sensitive to anything I give him, so I have to go very carefully with anything new like the MMS . I am still giving him the other parasite cleanse (Systemic Formulas VRM 1-4). I would love to hear anyone’s ideas or insight into this. I am working with a homeopath who has done extensive research into parasite cleanses, but she has not researched MMS. I’m looking to get my son beyond these parasites once and for all. My homeopath and her colleagues are autism experts and do consults with parents from around the world. They have found that the children with autism who are considered “tough nuts” tend to also be parasite kids. With their compromised immune systems, it is difficult to eradicate parasites.

Not surprisingly, since 2012 Kerri Rivera has been a regular fixture at the yearly autism quackfest known as Autism One, because nothing is too quacky for that quackfest. Just last year, AutismOne advertised a bit of Bleach Enema Karaoke with Kerri Rivera.

You know what I see when I see someone like JB Handley go on about the “innovation” of the autism biomed movement, in which parents flit from quackery to quackery, seemingly willy-nilly? I see desperation. I see parents whose child is not “recovered” or “recovering.” If the child was “recovered,” all this quackery would not longer be deemed necessary by the parents. As despicable a human being as JB Handley is at times, it’s hard for me not to read this and feel a bit sorry for him. Far more than that, though, I feel sorry for his child. I’m also sorry for all the children of the parents who chimed in so proud and eager to tell their MMS stories in the comments of JB’s post, victims of what I consider to be child abuse, all of them.