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The violent rhetoric of the antivaccine movement, “I didn’t really mean it” edition

It’s always nice when I learn that a target of my—shall we say?—Insolence takes note of what I’ve written. Well, maybe not always nice. Sometimes that notice takes the form of attacks, such as those by our good quack buddy Mike Adams, who’s been writing mean and nasty things about me for over three months now, although I do note that he’s become painfully, tediously repetitive. It’s as though he’s not even trying any more. Sometimes, however, it’s someone less ludicrous and more potentially dangerous. I’m referring in this case to Del Bigtree and Polly Tommey, the producers of Andrew Wakefield’s antivaccine “documentary” VAXXED that’s making the rounds in theaters across the country. To publicize the movie and its antivaccine message, the combination of (usually) Bigtree and Polley have been doing Q&As after screenings all over the country. During those Q&As, Bigtree and Tommey have been saying some pretty outrageous things. Tommey, for instance, said that she won’t judge parents who kill their autistic children, while Bigtree has frequently compared school vaccine mandates to the Holocaust, slavery, and apartheid and, most recently, was noted by Matt Carey and myself to have said something that could reasonably be construed as urging antivaccinationists to take up arms to resist “forced vaccination.”

Well, they’ve responded on Facebook. Before I get to their response, though, let me just remind you what they said. First, here’s Polley Tommey regarding judging parents who murder their autistic children:

Excerpt: Parents are taking the lives of their children already because they won’t leave their children in the world as it is today, and I for one will never judge them for what they did. I discussed the full context of the quote in my treatment of her despicable statements and included a link to the Facebook page with the full video.

Now here’s what Del Bigtree said:

…but now we’re watching the most powerful lobby in the country and in the world poisoning our children. And our government is helping them. What are we going to do about it? We have the power. But we have got to stop being afraid to talk about it. If you’re afraid to talk about it, your Twitters, your Facebooks, I don’t want to bring it up at my PTA meeting, I don’t want to at lunch or at Thanksgiving dinner, then I can imagine those same conversations were happening in Nazi Germany among the Jewish people. Let’s not talk about it. I don’t want to bring it into my reality. It’s still 20 miles away. I’m still allowed in this theater, not that one. All I have to get is this little star. All I have to do is to sign this little thing saying that I’m not going to vaccinate because I think they’re dangerous—and they are dangerous. I’m just going to sign this paper. I’m going to let them put me in a log. At some point, they have gone too far.

Do you think it’s a good idea to let the government own your baby’s body and right behind it your body? That is the end for me. Anyone who believes in the right to bear arms. To stand up against your government. I don’t know what you were saving that gun for then. I don’t know when you planned on using it if they were going to take control of your own body away.

It’s now. Now’s the time.

I don’t know how else that can be interpreted as a vague incitement to violence. Sure, as a pedant pointed out yesterday, it doesn’t rise to the Brandenburg v. Ohio standards of an imminent threat of lawless action to a specific person or persons, but it’s still pretty bad. Bigtree is basically asking all those antivaccinationists with guns what they’re waiting for if they believe that one purpose of the Second Amendment is to assure the ability of the people to resist the government if it ever descends into tyranny (which he considers “forced vaccination” to be). Whether Bigtree realizes it or not, it’s the same sort of coded appeal to violence that radical antiabortion activists use to inspire acts of violence against doctors who perform abortions.

Clearly, both Bigtree and Tommey—especially Bigtree—were stung by the criticism of their irresponsible statements. Clearly, at some level, Bigtree, at least, seems to realize that he crossed the line and went too far. But, as Matt Carey notes, he just can’t quite force himself to do the right thing and just apologize and take back what he said. Instead, he bobs and weaves and then digs himself in even deeper by trotting out even more ridiculous Holocaust analogies. I tell ya, I was so tempted to resurrect a certain undead Fuhrer to feast on his brain, but clearly there would have been nothing there for the Hitler Zombie to consume. So here, in its full context, is Bigtree and Tommey’s response:

I emphasize full context, because the first things Bigtree says, after some annoying banter about the “VAXXED bus,” that he and Tommey will be using to tour the US in support of their documentary when it is done, consist of:

  • Whining about being “taken out of context” (Bigtree) or having their videos “edited” (Tommey). Whatever.
  • “Trolls” who are “watching everything we say and trying to cut out anything they can use against us,” which he relates to politics as a behavior that forces politicians to stick to safe sound bites that “can’t be taken out of context.” Whatever.
  • Bragging about how they “shoot from the hip.”

He then claims that his words about guns were taken out of context but does concede that it wasn’t “exactly the best constructed statement ever.” He then goes on to disingenuously deny that he meant in any way that antivaccine parents should pick up their gun and start fighting. As I surmised, although he doesn’t admit it, he was just blowing a lot of hot air. He admits that he doesn’t own a gun, that he’s never owned a gun, and that he didn’t grow up around guns. He even went on about how he cared so little about guns that he didn’t really care when people expressed fear that the government was trying to restrict their right to own a gun because, well, such issues didn’t really concern him given that he didn’t own any guns and didn’t want to. Then he says:

But the truth is, then you get to a law that I care about, that I don’t want the medical industry enforcing their policies, their ideas, or their drugs onto my children or me, and I see that as a constitutional right. And then suddenly I start looking at gun laws again, you know, I didn’t stand up for those people fighting for their constitutional right to own a gun, to be able to hunt in a country that was designed to be free, and so all of a sudden I have an issue that I want people to take seriously. Maybe they’re like “I don’t care about vaccines.” And it reminded me of this poem that heard. I just want to read it real quick. Most of you have probably heard it, but ti comes out of Nazi Germany, I believe it was a pastor that wrote this. I think it’s really profound. What he wrote was:

First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

When they came for the Unionists, I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Unionist.

When they came for the Jews, I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

So what was Bigtree’s excuse? He claims he was standing up for the Second Amendment because he doesn’t think that people pay enough attention to each other’s concerns. What it sounded more like to me may not be what he meant, but one could also say that this was yet another of Bigtree’s not-so-well constructed lines of thinking. Basically, it sounded as though he claiming that he stood up for gun rights because he was hoping that gun owners would care about vaccines too. He hastens to add that he doesn’t think violence is the way to solve anything and that peaceful protest can bring about change, which he might actually believe. His statement still comes across as disingenuous given that his full statement in context was hard to interpret any other way but a call for armed resistance couched in a manner sufficiently vague that it falls just this side of Brandenburg v. Ohio.

Hilariously, Tommey at one point in chimes in about the “trolls” who, apparently, take their words out of context and edit them deceptively. Even more hilariously, she urges her audience to “come to us” for an explanation. It was at this point that irony meters everywhere spontaneously burst into flames and melted into a pile of plastic and copper goo, the only remnants of their cases and wires, given how the first trailer for VAXXED featured the dishonest editing of snippets of dialogue from different phone conversations to give the impression that this was one conversation. No, both Matt and I made sure to link to the entire video. I pointed out the approximate time in the video where the relevant conversations were. Both of us encourage you to watch the both videos in their entirety that we discussed, because, believe me, Polley’s justifying murder and Bigtree’s vague call for armed resistance were only the two worst things in those videos. There was so much more.

She also seems to think that she was being accused of actually advocating killing autistic children. It’s a lovely straw man, a straw man so massive that, were it to catch fire, likely it could be seen from the International Space Station. No one ever accused her of that. What we did accuse her of was saying she wouldn’t condemn parents who murder their autistic children. She still won’t. She bobs and weaves and ducks and dodges, but in the end she doesn’t say anything new, although she does talk about building respite homes for the parents of autistic children. All of this leads into a prolonged rant against—what else?—big pharma, particularly drugs used for ADHD, like Adderall, which they seem to view as the height of evil. Apparently, they view vaccines as a “gateway drug” to Aderall and psychotropic drugs. Clearly, Tommey and Bigtree seem to think that ther are currently jackbooted soldiers like the ones below waiting to burst into their houses and forcibly vaccinate their children at gunpoint and that pediatricians will soon be doing the same with psychotropic medications, because references to Nazis are sprinkled liberally throughout the video.

They're coming to vaccinate your children!! they're coming to vaccinate your children! At least, that's what Del Bigtree wants you to think.
They’re coming to vaccinate your children!! they’re coming to vaccinate your children! At least, that’s what Del Bigtree wants you to think.

Particularly irritating is Tommey and Bigtree’s rants about anxiety, how you have to “work through” your anxiety, and how you shouldn’t be “drugged” for it. I know people with anxiety. For clinical anxiety, you can’t just “work through it.” People with anxiety seeking medication have already tried to “work through it.” They can’t. That’s the problem. Medications are a last resort, not a first resort. They both recommend finding a “wholistic” doctor for anxiety and depression. Such advice will lead to someone who might have been saved killing himself.

The part that made me laugh the hardest was when Bigtree became quite incensed about VAXXED being characterized as a “propaganda film.” I rather suspect that bit of complaint was aimed at me, because I’m the one who has so consistently referred to VAXXED as a propaganda film. (Thanks, Del.) He argues that VAXXED can’t be propaganda because it espouses the “minority view” and propaganda is defined as supporting the system, the majority view. Uh, no, Del. There’s no such limitation on the definition of what constitutes propaganda. Propaganda is biased communication designed to influence people to its viewpoint, often using deceptive techniques, such as the misleading presentation of information, lying by omission, using loaded imagery and language, and even outright lying. VAXXED does all these things; it is antivaccine propaganda. It’s propaganda so blatant that it would make Leni Reifenstahl, were she still alive, blush.

The problem with Bigtree and Tommey is that they can make a fairly slick documentary, where they can shoot and edit things again and again to make the crazy less apparent. When they’re up on stage in a theater in front of an audience and have to speak off the cuff, their true beliefs come through. That was the problem for them; so they blame it on “trolls.” Well, I have a message for both of them: Fact-based criticism, evne harsh, sarcastic criticism, is not “trolling.” Calling it “trolling” is simply a transparent way to try to dismiss it without answering it.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

177 replies on “The violent rhetoric of the antivaccine movement, “I didn’t really mean it” edition”

After the way they use bullies, astroturf, and shills, you expect them to get trolls right?

[Tommey] does talk about building respite homes for the parents of autistic children.

Respite homes for the parents of autistic children, but not the children themselves?
If anyone wanted proof of just how they view autistics, that is solid.

I was very careful when creating my short video playlist of Bigtree and Tommey claims that context was retained. I knew they would claim to be misrepresented. Their claims are there for all to see. And where possible I think I linked back to the full, original Facebook videos.

It is truly sad that they refuse to see that their words could incite violence – against both autistic children, and against medical professionals.
They have followers who are so desperate to have someone, something to blame for their child’s challenges, that they play on that emotion.
They are no better than fake faith healers and snake oil purveyors, and infinitely more dangerous.
Sadly, they keep escalating their comments, and only they will be surprised when one of their followers takes their words and turns them into action.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

I didn’t find that quote very applicable since vaccines are mandated for everyone, not for specific minorities.

I think the pharmaceutical companies will be pressured to change adjuvants in response to social pressure. LPS and calcium phosphate seem like safe choices and elicit a favorable immune response. With a proper reformulation, I would think that there would be much less opposition.

Some would continue to argue over personal sovereignty of course, but that could possibly be overcome by introducing tax breaks for the inoculated.

Am I the only one who thinks that the imagery of Nazis forcibly vaccinating children is actually making it look as a point in favor of Nazis rather than a one against vaccines? As in, it is something that could be brought up in the vein of “at least they made trains run on time” if one was trying to whitewash Nazism. (I am aware they did not forcibly vaccinate, I only mean the imagery evoked by Antivax crowd).

@Fendlesworth

Which country has “vaccines mandated for everyone”?

Certainly not USA, Canada, UK, Australia, Germany, New Zealand, Japan…

# 5. It’s always surprised us in England that, with our socialised medicine, no vaccines are compulsory, and we still get higher coverage than the US.

Nor do we have a pediatric primary care service, which, you would think, might be more effective at communicating messages relating to child health.

You might also say that, broadly, we don’t allow advertising for prescription medicines, but vaccine policy people I’ve spoken to aren’t at all approving of mandatory vaccination.

The word documentary implies at least some basis in fact. Vaxxed is a different form of film: the crockumentary.

A crockumentary is a film which purports to be factual but is in fact a complete crock of shit. The canonical example of course ios the Burzynski movie.

@Fendlesworth:

I think the pharmaceutical companies will be pressured to change adjuvants in response to social pressure. LPS and calcium phosphate seem like safe choices and elicit a favorable immune response. With a proper reformulation, I would think that there would be much less opposition.

I’m afraid that’s an antivaccine talking point. Change the formulation and there’ll be less complaining. Experience doesn’t bear that out. Antivaxxers had a tantrum over a preservative, thimerosal. It was taken out. They still complained.
Changing the formulation will not stop the complaining.

He argues that VAXXED can’t be propaganda because it espouses the “minority view” and propaganda is defined as supporting the system

He is really trolling for the “Most Godwin points” achievement, isn’t he?
Nazi propaganda started in far-right wing newspapers, tabloids, and heck, in the form of a self-aggrandizing autobiography (which very recently was back in the News’ front pages, if people could kindly remember), all of that published before the Nazis became famous. Well, certainly before they became the “system”.

Propaganda could be defined as any piece supporting the views of the one producing it.
Frank Herbert, in Dune, extended the definition to include all forms of public relationship actions, even the ones based on the truth.

I believe it was a pastor that wrote this.

That’s Pastor Martin Niemöller for you, Bigtree. And remove your hat when quoting him, you little man.

OK, he was on live, and I shall confess I needed the powerful internet to get the Pastor’s name right.
Still, that’s a very self-centered take on the poem.

The poem, or various versions thereof, is easily found on the internet, or engraved in at least three public places in the US.
It’s not just about “we should hang together or we will hang separately”. It’s also about guilt, about “we let bad things happen to other people”, as in, to people which are not part of our social tribe, quite the opposite, actually.

Gun owners don’t fit the “opposite social tribe” definition. There are big philosophical overlaps between vaccine freedom and gun freedom.
More importantly, either group also don’t fit the “bad things happened”, certainly not in contrast to what happened in Nazi Germany.
So, as Orac said, that’s a very disingenuous quote.

If Bigtree was aiming to show his superior culture, let me say I’m not impressed. This poem is very good, but also very-well known.

French saying (variously attributed to Pierre Desproges, Jean Delacour and Françoise Sagan*):

Culture is like fruit jam on a toast. The less you have, the more you spread it.

* OK, I cheated, I went and checked the source for this. But that’s one of my points: I do try to check the sources for my beliefs and use them to refine my culture. I’m willing to learn. Some people are just willing to misled.

tl;dr: Bigtree is bullshitting us.

@ Fendlesworth/Stuartg

Which country has “vaccines mandated for everyone”?

We do have mandatory vaccination in France. All children should get DT and Polio vaccines.
However, medical exemptions are accepted.

The great Wiki (in the French version) tells me that Italy, Belgium and Portugal also have some mandatory vaccines (about the same ones as France), although Italy may be more like the US – vaccination is a prerequisite for school admission.

Julian [email protected]: To be fair [to both carers and carees], full-time carers really do need regular time-outs if they’re not to burn out themselves. I often wonder how much Cult of St Andrew recruitment is fed by disordered and delusional thinking triggered by prolonged high stress in turn caused by a lack of high quality state and/or private respite care, not to mention certain personality types’ inclination to make martyrs of themselves instead of ask for help while they can.

Which, of course, makes it even more sickening to watch the Wakefield circus of psychopathic Pied Pipers lead them all even further into hell for personal power and profit. And the harm this does to the forgotten autistics now right at the bottom of that festering pile… Me, I’m just hella glad I don’t live anywhere that semi-automatics are easier to get than anti-psychotics, because people have died and more will be murdered before these puppetmasters are through.

[email protected]:

Some would continue to argue over personal sovereignty of course, but that could possibly be overcome by introducing tax breaks for the inoculated.

Why? You don’t think protecting your own and others’ kids against crippling diseases is reward enough? Hell, why not ask for a pony and a blowjob while you’re at it? Spoiled infantile first-world millennials already think that’s the very least they deserve in return for gracing the rest of us with their wonderous presence. Pray tell us, who’s going to pay for this lovely new tax break of yours? ‘Cos last time I checked money did not just fall out of heaven.

Now here’s a counter-suggestion: Anyone who chooses not to vaccinate for any non-medical reason, which is their personal right, is required to pay a VPD Healthcare Tax in return. Those taxes go directly into a long-term fund which in turn is used to cover all costs to anyone else who is affected by a VPD, including time-off-work pay, acute hospitalization expenses, long-term disability care, and funeral costs.

People who vaccinate already pay their dues to our society by accepting the one-in-a-million risk of a serious reaction, which includes built-in compensation for those that do suffer genuine vaccine injury. So let’s see the antivaxxers put their money where their big mouths are for once and pay their share too.

Furthermore, an antivax-tax has the added benefit of ultimately making anti-vax a self-limiting movement, because the more people they recruit through their lies and manipulation, the more frequent and serious VPD outbreaks become, and the more that tax has to be raised in order to cover the increased costs of their success. Let’s see how loud they still are once taking personal responsibility for thousands of deaths and injuries a year.

They want it, they pay for it. I seem to recall that’s how things used to work, back in the hard old days before this modern entitlement culture. So let’s have more of that.

Am I the only one who thinks that the imagery of Nazis forcibly vaccinating children is actually making it look as a point in favor of Nazis rather than a one against vaccines?

I’m not sure I’d go that far, but I understand the sentiment. As Walter Sobchak said: “Say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.”

@Helianthus: There’s also the yellow fever vaccine, compulsory for people who stay in French Guyane for 12 months or more. Damn mosquitoes.

Fiona O’Leary has a petition up at changeDOTorg about Vaxxed addressed to the Attorney General of Texas.

This is very admirable but underscores (I think) what Brian Deer notes that the US pediatric primary care service does not do a good job at all communicating on vaccines–especially with respect to directly refuting anti-vaccinationist groups by name. I also agree with you, Brian, about advertising–go to the AAP web sites (AAP.org and healthchildren.org) and they are rife with drug company ads. This infuriates me because you would think this organization charges its 60,000 member pediatricians ~ $600 a year–which brings in 36 million a year in revenue.

Bigtree and Tommey will play their cat and mouse game with us (and you can bet Wakefield is glad he gets to sit above it all like some sort of guru), but they wouldn’t get to play cat and mouse like this if the bigger players in American healthcare called out these dangerous anti-vaccinationists (and anti-autists) for what they really are.

I’m afraid that’s an antivaccine talking point. Change the formulation and there’ll be less complaining. Experience doesn’t bear that out. Antivaxxers had a tantrum over a preservative, thimerosal. It was taken out. They still complained.
Changing the formulation will not stop the complaining.

Yep. Remove one “offensive” ingredient, and antivaxers will just move on to another.

Del and Polly have, unbeknownst to them, become Wakefield’s fall guys. They’re the ones putting themselves out there and not knowing when they ought to just stop talking, thus drawing criticism to them. Meanwhile, as Dr. Hickie notes, Wakefield gets to sit back and not dirty his own hands at all.

Polly and Del? You should probably just put the shovel down.

To be fair [to both carers and carees], full-time carers really do need regular time-outs if they’re not to burn out themselves. I often wonder how much Cult of St Andrew recruitment is fed by disordered and delusional thinking triggered by prolonged high stress in turn caused by a lack of high quality state and/or private respite care, not to mention certain personality types’ inclination to make martyrs of themselves instead of ask for help while they can.

Yes, all caregivers, be they caregivers for autistic or other special needs children, caregivers for elderly parents with dementia, or caregivers for anyone with a chronic condition, need a respite from time to time. I had no problem with Polly Tommey offering respite care to parents with autistic children, if she is in fact actually doing that (which I doubt). If that were all she were doing, it would be a valuable service. Unfortunately, she’s also peddling antivaccine pseudoscience and quack “autism biomed” treatments.

@has, my issue is not with Tommey’s comments about giving support to caregivers, it’s with the fact that she omitted the autistics from the equation.

There are some other dangers in their rant against anti-anxiety and anti-depression treatments. First, their advice to just “work through” the anxiety/depression will more likely drive those who suffer into further anxiety/depression as the person tries and fails to work through it. Whatever they do doesn’t work, which in turn causes more anxiety or depression.

The other risk is not to the suffering individual themselves. As Orac notes, they may reach the point of killing themselves, but where they have a child with developmental delays or disabilities, they also may (and some have) kill the child. By urging their followers to forgo real treatment, they’re setting up more and more situations where autistic children will be harmed. (But don’t judge those parents. Nope. As Polly tells us, we can’t judge them for doing something so unforgivable as hurting their own children.)

Julian Frost

“Respite homes for the parents of autistic children, but not the children themselves?
If anyone wanted proof of just how they view autistics, that is solid.”

The “respite homes” idea was an outgrowth of their work with Alex Spordalakis. They basically promise to start this project in the faux documentary they made about him “who killed Alex Spourdalakis”

Yes, the people who so failed Alex want to franchise their methods for other parents

Boggles the mind.

[email protected]:

I had no problem with Polly Tommey offering respite care to parents with autistic children, if she is in fact actually doing that (which I doubt).

Oopsie! [blushes] Color me childishly naïve for living in a country where full-time carers are only abjectly neglected, not full-time preyed upon too, or I’d have caveated myself a lot sooner.

But yeah, I have absolutely zero doubt that the Cult of St Andrew’s own unique definition of “respite care” means anything but. Think more like a weekend’s retreat at Jonestown, where you don’t get out again until you’ve willingly purchased your lifetime’s supply of Kool Aid in full. And if that sounds bad, just imagine what they’re doing to the left-behind kids in the meantime – ‘cos fuxxing Andrew Wakefield could openly bugger eight-year-old autistics upon the steps of Thoughtful House and his slime-filled psychophants would only declare it the greatest treatment since the Lupron Protocol.

As a person on medication for anxiety, those comment make me angry. “Work through” my anxiety? How? I can’t think my way through altering my genetics. Therapy helps teach coping skills, but it doesn’t change that my body’s “resting” state is much higher state of stress ana anxious arousal than the average person. But, it’s consitent with their anti-vax, ant-autism views — if you’re not neuro-typical, there’s some crazy alt. biomed method that will “fix” you.

Is Thug Health really a ‘movement’? I pegged it as one crank with an FB page, clearly doing ‘thug’ like white suburban teen rap fans do ‘thug’ – that is, not so much crackpot fantasies about a real armed resistance, but a form of figurative play-acting. I still have a t-shirt from a 90’s computer show with this image:
http://ep.yimg.com/ay/redlightrunner/publish-or-perish-lithograph-2.gif
(CU cartoon image of a woman’s face, smoking gun in her hand held high, American flag in the BG, caption “You can take my Mac when you pry my cold dead fingers off the mouse!”)
As Todd noted, the Thug Health author is just putting antivax smack-talk on stock photos of women-with-guns. Just a variation on the ubiquitous expression-by-hyerbolic/cheeky-photo-meme. And, well, the whole concept of Gun-Thug Health is such an obvious oxymoron, you’d only have to tweak one term in the slogans here or there to put these in The Onion

Yesterday, Orac asked: “How is Bigtree’s rhetoric any different from these memes?” It is different: i’s an order of magnitude MORE extreme because it’s not kitschy figurative theater. True, Del is ‘acting’, and spewing out hyperbole for show. But it’s coded as ‘real’ (as opposed to the meme’s use of obviously posed professional models on ‘fashion’ shoots.) He’s talking, in person, to other people who can read his vocal tone and facial expressions, and he appears sincere, serious, emotionally invested, without any possibility of winking ironic distance. The low-fi Periscope video only adds to the gritty authenticity.

This is Bigtree showing his Tabloid TV roots (as it were, sorry), by staging his own one man Nancy Grace / Geraldo conflict carnival. He’s not just the pump-priming producer, but the prodding, provoking host and the enraged to extremism guest, all-in-one. While he (and us) probably takes it as ‘just a show’, his audience here isn’t bored daytime TV viewers tuning in for vicarious pleasures of gawking at a freak show, but would be participants in the drama. We know that such folks can be riled into rash actions from the history of tabloid TV: vicious fights erupting on set; suicides and murders in the wake of tapings or airings.

Honestly. I doubt anti-vaxers fit the profile for potential violence against others. Frankly, the notion that pharma employees in Santa Rosa County have to worry about gun-toting anti-vaxers strikes me as comedy. A cadre of warrior moms might kidnap a pharma guy and force feed him mass quantities of GMOs or something. But it’s not West Virginia, and AVs aren’t anywhere near the psychology of radical ‘pro-lifers’ who hunt down abortionists. Of course, “it only takes one”, but I’d guess the odds of actual AV gun violence is down there with other terrorism as way WAY near the bottom of anyone’s probable-harm totem pole.

Which absolves Bigtree of nothing. He’s still inciting violence, being utterly irresponsible, courting danger. Even if no one follows through with an attack, that’s still not at all OK.

More importantly, I think we’ll miss the more significant danger of this rhetoric if we take it too literally. It IS metaphor in the end, and the audience is likely to act metaphorically, even if processing it literally cognitively. Sort of, “Well, I won’t pick up a gun and shoot someone, but I’ll do _____ instead.” Which is to say, the AV true-believers already think of themselves as warriors, and Bigtree’s stoking them to harden that stance. It doesn’t have to mean literal war to be trouble. If any AVs take to his message for more than one night of fever dreams, they’ll likely just give us more and more aggressive acts of ‘war’ of the sort they already do. Words mostly…

Words may not hurt flesh and bone, but there are more to people than their bodies, and word-harm can be grievous in it’s own way. What concerns me the most is that Del’s gun talk will harden the negative attitudes some parents have regarding autism. We won’t get an AV version of Shelley Shannon, but we’ll wind up with more Polly Tommeys. That’s more than bad enough.

[email protected]:

Why? You don’t think protecting your own and others’ kids against crippling diseases is reward enough? Hell, why not ask for a pony and a blowjob while you’re at it? Spoiled infantile first-world millennials already think that’s the very least they deserve in return for gracing the rest of us with their wonderous presence. Pray tell us, who’s going to pay for this lovely new tax break of yours? ‘Cos last time I checked money did not just fall out of heaven.

I fail to see why you had to drag millennials into this.

Anyway, Fendlesworth brings up a good point. Not with tax breaks specifically, but if insurance companies don’t offer incentives for the coverage of fully vaccinated children, they ought to. I’m pretty sure my employer’s medical plan covers the costs of vaccinations 100% (no copay or deductible), and that’s the least they should be doing.

Am I the only one who thinks that the imagery of Nazis forcibly vaccinating children is actually making it look as a point in favor of Nazis.

Probably not. Which is too bad. Vaccination and Nazi Germany have no relevance to each other, either way. There was nothing unique in ‘The Nazis supported vaccination!’ It would have been remarkable for any industrialized country NOT to. The Nazis also supported all manner of routine policies for modern nations. “You know who also supported the government picking up garbage! The NAZIS!!” Vaccination isn’t even on the Nazis very short list of arguably ‘positive’ innovations: freeways; affordable/economical/reliable small cars; banning tobacco advertising and smoking in restaurants; protecting endangered species…

Is Thug Health really a ‘movement’? I pegged it as one crank with an FB page

It is that, too. It was just convenient as a source of images. I included a couple images from other sources in my first post on this topic:

http://respectfulinsolence.com/2015/12/03/the-violent-rhetoric-of-the-antivaccine-movement/

Of course, the violent rhetoric goes beyond guns. For example, antivaccine activists like to compare school vaccine mandates to rape:

https://publichealthwatch.wordpress.com/2015/04/26/a-new-low-anti-vaccination-group-compares-immunization-to-being-raped-a/

http://respectfulinsolence.com/2014/09/30/anti-vaccine-not-pro-safe-vaccine-vaccination-described-as-rape/

I wonder if Tommey would get it if her statement was changed to refer to another group of people who may be difficult to care for. ‘Children are taking the lives of their parents with dementia already because they won’t leave their parent in the world as it is today, and I for one will never judge them for what they did.’ Her audience might be less willing to let that pass without protest.

[email protected]: Of course the audience would push back against it. After all, even bad men love their mamas (warning: TVTropes link). But the rhetoric we hear from certain anti-vaxers as well as the autism woo crowd suggest that many in those groups don’t consider people on the autism spectrum–including their own children!–to be fully human.

Probably not. Which is too bad. Vaccination and Nazi Germany have no relevance to each other, either way. There was nothing unique in ‘The Nazis supported vaccination!’ It would have been remarkable for any industrialized country NOT to. The Nazis also supported all manner of routine policies for modern nations.

Actually, if you want an area where Nazi Germany was ahead of its time, it was in cancer research and control. The Nazis were the first to link smoking with lung cancer, finding the epidemiological link well over a decade before the British reported it, and they acted on that knowledge, setting up all sorts of cancer prevention programs and smoking cessation programs. Robert Proctor’s The Nazi War on Cancer was an illuminating read for me.

They talk about a tour aboard a bus ( probably shrink wrap ‘painted’ with VAXXED! logos and images) HOWEVER I looked over the VAXXED! website and it seems that some theatrical runs have been cancelled or postponed.

( I seem to recall reading that Bigtree had a personal axe to grind against vaccines: can anyone fill me in?)

Eric,

The good old unter mensch ploy. It is so much easier to perform vile acts against unter mensch than to an actual person.

Apologies for the OT, but I’m not sure which thread to put this in, and it’s a news item likely to be of some interest to Orac and/or his regular readers.

Among the scheduled speakers at the Republican National Convention tonight (20 July) is allegedly successful small businesswoman Michelle Van Etten. Talking Points Memo has some background on Ms. Van Etten:

The RNC schedule doesn’t name Van Ettern’s business, but she is an independent contract employee with Youngevity, a company that sells thousands of products that claim to boost overall health and wellbeing. The company also makes far more dubious claims, like that its products combat cancer, rebuild bone mass and help with weight loss.

On Youngevity’s website, Van Etten is listed as a “senior vice chairman marketing director,” a position also promoted on her Facebook page.

Apparently Alex Jones (yes, that Alex Jones) is a fan, and Britt Hermes is a critic.

I’m mildly curious how a “senior vice chairman marketing director” could be an “independent contract employee”. Since the company in question is a multi-level marketing scheme, I suspect there’s some fraud going on (Ms. Hermes says it appears to be a pyramid scam).

@ Eric Lund:

Are cranks selling outrageously over-priced woo whilst courting conservative voters ( or anyone else for that matter)
ever TRULY OT @ RI?

I agree that changing ingredients would not change anything. Instead just like with thimerosal they would say that they were right about aluminum salts and if they were dangerous and used for so long why would they trust vaccines now. Removing thimerosal actually made things worse.
Another problem is that removing thimerosal did not change the actual formulations of vaccines so they did not have to go through new testing. New adjuvants would mean at least a decade of testing. Although there is nothing wrong with looking at new ones. Pharmaceutical companies have a good reason not to though.

I agree that changing ingredients would not change anything. Instead just like with thimerosal….

Indeed, the Dachelbot is now carping about increasing autism diagnoses in California, despite the facts that they were the first state to legislate on the subject and that Jake had invoked California to claim that he had “won” some sort of bet-like proposition over our host. (Not to mention Blaxill’s older comment that I’m too weak to look up at the moment.)

@Fendlesworth: the vaccines aren’t mandatory. What is being required is that you get the vaccines IF you wish to attend the public schools. You may still have medical exemptions, you may homeschool or send to a private institution that does not have a vaccine requirement.

A fraudumentary producer named Del
urged violence in a bid to compel,
…But with nazi tropes galore
…that his audience could only abhor,
His AV cohort gained entry to hell.

@Fendlesworth: the vaccines aren’t mandatory.

I took the original comment, viz., “I didn’t find that quote very applicable since vaccines are mandated for everyone, not for specific minorities,” in the sense that the relevant laws are of general applicability. This is why the reverse proposition – being in a “recognized” church for an exemption – doesn’t work, either.

I wasn’t being very careful with my language apparently. I think it is safe to say that most public schools have vaccine requirements (with exemptions); and that most children attend public schools.

New adjuvants would mean at least a decade of testing
Would the substitution of CaOH for AlOH as an adjuvant require further testing? CaOH is GRAS by the FDA.

Helianthus, Irene Delete,

Many thanks. I have to admit surprise. Are any other childhood vaccines mandatory (apart from medical exclusions) in those countries?

(Irene, sorry about your name, there’s a limited keyboard on this tablet)

@ Stuartg

We have a number of recommended vaccines (almost as many as in the US), but no compulsory vaccines other than the D, T and Polio. Plus yellow fever in Guyane, As Irène pointed out.
Health professionals may have the HepB vaccine mandatory, but I’m not sure how much it’s enforced. It was very strongly recommended for students scheduled to work on human blood when I started university in the 90’s.

Fendlesworth @5: LPS would not be my first choice of adjuvant. I’ve used it in the lab and it works incredibly well, if you’re not the mouse. If you’re the mouse it sucks.

Separately, not all adjuvants will work with all vaccines. Some Toll-like receptor based adjuvants actually block the action of DNA vaccines. (I wish someone had told me that *before* I spent 6 months on that project.)

Polly is looking for someone to blame – there is autism in her family and she desperately wants a culprit… sadly she is condemning children to suffer for her selfish needs “if their children aren’t autistic I will ensure they have other potentially devastating diseases.” or am I being too kind to the woman?

As can be said about AlOH injections in rats

The addition of Shaw and the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry on top of the “GRAS” trope is not promising.

In the past, I’ve looked quite a bit for info on aluminum adjuvants, and found remarkably little that reveals anything instructive. Pretty much everything just hand waves along the lines of “provokes better response”.

Many aluminum compounds, including aluminum hydroxide, have very low solubility in water (freshly made aluminum hydroxide is a floc). Some aluminum compounds (notably oxide, see “activated alumina”, – not sure about hydroxide) are quite powerful adsorbers. My suspicion is that aluminum adjuvants adsorb antigens on the surface of microscopic insoluble particles, causing both to remain at the injection site for much longer than antigens alone would, thereby prolonging the time that the antigens can provoke specific immune response.
Again, this is my suspicion, not anything for which I can cite specific support.

@ shay simmons

Does France permit homeschooling?

I was thinking not, but it turns that, yes, this is possible. About 25,000 children out of 12 millions, in 2014, apparently, according to this article in Le Monde (in French, sorry)

Schooling is mandatory in my country (since 1882), but there are private schools for those wishing a better/different education for their children, and their entry requirements may be different from public schools (maybe not openly, like the Waldorf schools in Québec, which were exposed as antivvax, after the Disney measles outbreak went all the way due North).

I think the French mandatory vaccination is not linked to school attendance. For practical reasons, and because the French state is big on centralization, there is a medical visit each year at public schools for each children, during which the vaccination status is controlled (at my time, we also had the anti-tuberculosis BCG as a mandatory vaccination – lovely memories, my inoculations never showed the proper red welt).

But even if French parents homeschool or send their children to a private school, I think they are expected to vaccinate their children. There have been a few parents on trial for being vaccine refusers, in the recent years. The charges were akin to failing to provide proper care.

GRAS or generally recognized as safe is not determined by FDA but by the user. This has come under fire and is FDA slowly changing how GRAS is determined and how it is defined.

GRAS or generally recognized as safe is not determined by FDA but by the user.

That depends on which bit of the CFR one is looking at. In any event, it still doesn’t apply to biologics.

Ah. So Bigtree wasn’t asking gun owners to rise up against the government when he asked them why they didn’t do just that. He was pandering to them in hopes of acquiring support from a group whose cause he really doesn’t give the slightest damn about, because only his cause is actually important. Which of course means he only cares what they can do for him, not what they can do together, which of course is completely consistent with his opinion on vaccines.

Well, I do believe one thing he said, and that’s that he shoots from the hip. He obviously puts absolutely no thought whatsoever into what he says, since what he’s said here is frankly insulting to Second Amendment afficianados.

As for Tommey — well. Her message is much more consistent. “Poor me.” It’s so hard and terrible to be the mother of an autistic child. So hard she has to find someone to blame for it, even as she refuses effective treatments and leaves her child vulnerable to disease, becuase the only jackbooted thug allowed around her kid is obviously herself — the child has no rights in her mind, and is at this point little more than a prop.

As far as working through anxiety, I wonder if they’ve ever told their children to just “walk it off” after getting a blow to the head or twisting a joint? Working through it only works to a point. And you’d really think Tommey would know that, seeing as how she has such a horrible burden in caring for an autistic child….

Becuase really, which is it? That you can just work through psychiatric disorders, or that they can be legitimately crippling? I don’t think she can decide that, though. Not without first acknowledinge her son’s humanity.

And of course the ultimate expression of that is in how she refuses to condemn the murder of autistic children. If she saw them as people, she’d condemn it. But she doesn’t. I don’t think she even sees the murderers as people. Like her own son, they are merely props that she can hold up to say “look how awful autism is! look what it drove these people to!”

Narad,

I should have said in the food products world. I should have been more precise.

It is troubling when the maker decides what is safe. Of course isn’t that what the naturopathic, homeopathic and supplement industries do?

@ Denice

I also like *schlockumentary*.

OT

There is a webcomic called Schlock Mercenary, and I am a fan. The epoymous character is a carbosilicate amorph alien creature. The “amorph” part should tell you what he looks like.

I have a bit of cognitive dissonance right now. For the fan, a schlockumentary sounds awesome.
OTOH, thanks to reading this webcomic, I have a very precise idea of what “schlock” looks like…

(for those curious about the webcomic – imagine Star Trek, but with a bunch of greedy ditzy mercs instead of explorers; start with books 10 or 11, or later, and beware archive binges; the author, Howard Tayler, is very prolific)

I should have said in the food products world.

Right, right, and I don’t know bupkis about how this works in the real world of the food industry, but what I was pointing to is that GRAS is often deployed (along with “proprietary formulations”) to state that vaccine labeling allows secret additions.

You know, like peanut oil (which is really ground zero of this particular clusterfυck).

Helianthus @62: I LOVE Schlock Mercenary! I’ve been reading it for … wow, 15 years. So yeah, major archive binges possible.

@Doug Some aluminum compounds (notably oxide, see “activated alumina”, – not sure about hydroxide) are quite powerful adsorbers. My suspicion is that aluminum adjuvants adsorb antigens on the surface of microscopic insoluble particles

Yes, think I you are correct

If you analyze the word “adjuvant”, you you realize that it simply means “accompanying” or “concomitant” and does not necessarily mean that it is immunostimulatory in itself.

Here is an ariticle of CaPO4 vs Alum as as adjuvant. In Europe, CaPO4 is used in diptheria and tenatus vaccines.

Apparently, the antigens are mixed with NaPO4 and CaCl and the pH raised to 7 to form a CaPO4 precipitate in which the antigens are embedded in the matrix.

This makes for a slow-release antigen depot.

To expand more on “Sir” Best,

He drank the psilocybin enriched battery acid version of the kool-aid and IIRC, I think I remember him being banned from AoA, not sure (as in flipping a coin probability wise).

Usually hang on Master Crosby’s blog.

Google John Best hating autism for hours of entertainment…

Fendlesworth, the whole hand wringing that Wakefield and Bigtree’s “documentary” is about the present MMR vaccine. Do us a favor and tell us what adjuvant is used in that vaccine.

Alain:

No. And the words ‘John’ and ‘Best’ are too common for Google to clue me in w/o more info. Can I get a hint? 🙂

First, _they_ came to arrest and try idiots who allowed their child to die a painful death while they fiddled with imaginary cures, and I said nothing – because as bad as child murderers are, a fair trial is still deserved.

Then _they_ came to tell me that Andrew Wakefield’s followers are a cult, and I carefully investigated, and found, hilariously, that the dupes do call their corrupt guru a figure comparable to Nelson Mandela and Jesus Christ.

Then, I watched _them_ come to criticize people who can’t bear to bring themselves to criticize parents who directly murder their children, and I did nothing – because no one has the right to be free from criticism.

Then, I watched as _they_ dared to investigate cancer quacks, and I did nothing, because I like having a free society where anyone who has the time and talent can expose a crook, even if they are a teenager, or a woman.

Finally, I decided that _they_ weren’t doing such a bad job after all, and I’d be better off worrying about their opponents – the anti-children activities who wish to kill for their right to give diseases to children, and who fantasize about show trials for teenagers who dare tell the truth – because that seems like a better use for my limited time.

Keep up the good work, saving lives and promoting truth, Orac – the more your opponents squeal in outrage, the more you know you’ve hit your mark.

@Chris Do us a favor and tell us what adjuvant is used in that vaccine.

The MMR appears to be adjuvant free, according to the usual definition of “adjuvant”.

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