I’ve been writing about antivaccine loons for a long time, and during that time I’ve seen them propose some crazy ideas. The other day, I came across one proposing what might well be the craziest, most irresponsible idea I’ve ever seen from an antivaccine activist. It comes from our old friend Kent Heckenlively. Heckenlively, as you might recall, started out over at the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism but, for whatever reason, left the blog to write somewhere else. Amazingly, that “somewhere else” turned out to be the website of one Patrick “Tim” Bolen, whom I just mentioned yesterday because of his hilariously conspiratorial take on Donald Trump’s new CDC director. Basically, I can’t figure out if Heckenlively left because Age of Autism decided he was becoming too far out there even for AoA or whether he left AoA because he felt it wasn’t antivaccine enough. It’s hard to tell. Either possibility isn’t good. However, either possibility is not inconsistent with his fantasies of being Aragorn leading the armies of Gondor and Rohan in a last stand against Sauron’s forces at the Black Gate of Mordor and his even darker fantasies of seeing “justice” done to all the scientists and doctors who support vaccines.
This time around, over on BolenReport, I learned of his latest proposal, that of a Five Year Moratorium on Childhood Vaccines. He’s even started a WhiteHouse.gov petition, something I wasn’t sure still existed since Donald Trump became President. And, yes, Heckenlively means moratorium. He introduces his petition on BolenReport with the sort of apocalyptic, histrionic language we’ve come to expect from him:
One in six US children has a learning or behavior problem. One in ten has asthma. One in ten has ADHD. One in thirteen has a food allergy. One in fifty has autism. Thirty five hundred children a year die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Seven hundred and fifty thousand children suffer from seizures.
All of these problems can be traced to the toxic witches’ brew of vaccines, that recent evidence has shown to be contaminated with unsuspected chemical and biological agents. As our understanding of science gets better, we now understand that the vaccine program has been an unrestricted experiment in immuno-therapy on our children and they are suffering the consequences.
The authorities in charge of our government and science have done NOTHING to stop this crisis.
It is time to DEMAND action.
We must IMPOSE AN IMMEDIATE FIVE YEAR BAN ON ALL CHILDHOOD VACCINES AND FIX THE LEGAL AND SCIENTIFIC PROBLEMS WHICH HAVE LED TO THIS DISASTER FOR HUMANITY.
That’s not all. In Heckenlively’s world, not only are vaccines a “toxic witches’ brew,” but they’re downright evil:
This is about the fate of the human race. Every single one of us. If you do not care about the future of humanity, you have lost your soul. Maybe permanently.
In another age we would freely speak the name of the force that would allow the destruction of humanity. That name would be evil. It would be Satan. It would be Lucifer.
I believe it is high time we abandon the namby-pamby humanism which allows people in positions of authority to avoid responsibility. To allow this harm to children to take place for a single day more is EVIL.
So let’s see. I’ve seen Heckenlively compare vaccines and autism to Sauron, the near all-powerful dark lord in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, fantasizing himself, Walter Mitty-like, to be Aragorn, the heir of Isildur and rightful king of Gondor, the only one who could unite the disparate nations of men to battle the threat of Mordor. We’ve seen him liken pediatricians, CDC scientists, and the public health establishment that promotes vaccination to Nazi war criminals, with him as the one dispensing “justice” to them for what he views as their “crimes.” Now we’ve seen him characterize vaccines as Lucifer, Satan, evil seeking to destroy humanity. I’m not sure how much more ridiculous or disturbing Heckenlively’s rhetoric can get, but I’ll give him one thing. At least he’s honest about being vaccine. No “I’m not antivaccine, I’m a vaccine safety activist” for our Kent! No, no, no.
So what’s Kent’s great idea? What, exactly does his WhiteHouse.gov petition demand? Behold! He’s toned down the language, but only somewhat, which should go a long way to convincing whatever poor White House staffer has to deal with his petition that he isn’t certifiable. Fortunately, he’s only gotten less than 3,000 signatures, and he needs 100,000 to get a response from the White House. Still, let’s see what he wants:
American children are in crisis with an explosion of once-rare neurological problems like autism and seizures.
Recent scientific evidence has shown massive contamination of vaccines with unsuspected chemical and biological agents. Other evidence shows dramatic differences in in health outcomes between vaccinated and un-vaccinated children. In order to remedy this we ask the White House to:
ONE: Impose a five year moratorium on all childhood vaccines from birth to age eighteen.
TWO: Repeal the 1986 National Childhood vaccine injury Act and return vaccines to the traditional civil justice system.
THREE: Perform large scale studies of vaccinated and un-vaccinated children.
FOUR: Ban direct pharmaceutical advertising to consumers and allow such advertising only to medical professionals
Proposals two through four are standard antivaccine “demands,” particularly the demand for a “vaxed/unvaxed” study that is unnecessary and would require far more resources than cranks understand and, depending on how it’s designed, potentially highly unethical. Proposal four isn’t even that bad. (Leave it to someone like Heckenlively to insert one reasonable idea into a list of horrible irresponsible ideas.) However, proposal one is pure insanity. It’s so bad that I doubt even most antivaxers would be down with it, because I doubt even they would want to leave every child in the US born during the next five years unvaccinated.
The results, of course, would be highly predictable: Outbreaks galore of vaccine-preventable infectious diseases. It would almost certainly start with the measles, one of the most contagious, easily transmissible infectious diseases in existence, and pertussis, also highly contagious. There would be more and bigger outbreaks until measles is once again endemic. Would we reach levels of measles that were routinely observed before the measles vaccine was first licensed in the 1960s? Probably not. After all, there would still be a lot of vaccinated people around from before the “moratorium.” However, it would be bad. Real bad. Basically, it would be, for the children affected for five years, getting close to turning back the clock 60 years. Hell, it’s possible that even polio would make a comeback if we stopped vaccinating against it for five years. Heckenlively’s proposal is so utterly irresponsible and potentially disastrously harmful to children that it’s hard to believe that anyone would seriously propose it.
But, hey, this is Kent Heckenlively we’re talking about. Yesterday, eh even doubled down on his proposal, while at the same time trying to sell his books:
Let me be clear. I intend to hurt pharma because they have not acted like responsible human beings. I mean to turn BIG PHARMA into little pharma.
And I believe those in pharma are SO STUPID that they are going to help me in this mission.
ACTIVATE THE LIST-SERV OF PHARMA MOUTHPIECES! MULTIPLE EDITORIALS USING THE EXACT SAME WORDS MUST APPEAR IN DIFFERENT PUBLICATIONS AROUND THE GLOBE ON THE EXACT SAME DAY TO FIGHT THIS WHITE HOUSE PETITION!
Just so there’s no confusion, Kent Heckenlively, co-author of PLAGUE and author of INOCULATED is calling for a FIVE YEAR MORATORIUM ON CHILDHOOD VACCINES. As long as the mainstream media gets that point correct in every article they write about this effort, I promise to fight you with half my brain tied behind my back.
If you leave out the fact that I’ve written TWO FABULOUS BOOKS which extensively detail the scientific corruption around these issues, I’ll take you on with the full force of my intellect. And it won’t be pretty.
No, it won’t be pretty, but not for the reason that Heckenlively appears to think. Seriously, if Heckenlively wants to engage in a battle of intellect, all I can do is respond: “Bring it!” On the other hand, I don’t like battling unarmed opponents. Yes, I feel conflicted.
Heckenlively finishes by “calling out” various figures to respond to his appeal. The list is long and utterly risible. It includes figures as fringe as Mike Adams and a variety of antivaxers many of you have at least heard of before, if not become familiar with. It includes mainstream vaccine scientists. It even includes Paul Offit:
Head of infectious diseases at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and chief public vaccine defender. Did I mention that I worked for Crystal Jiang’s team at Lawrence-Livermore Labs, the group who found your vaccine was contaminated with pig viruses? Yes see, I know science has the tools necessary to uncover the contamination in our vaccines. They just need to find the political will. (Included for the same reason as Lipkin.)
Of course, for supposedly having worked with her Heckenlively appears not to be able to spell Dr. Jaing’s name correctly.
Spelling aside, I wonder if Mr. Heckenlively means this study? Basically, using next generation sequencing techniques doing what we like to call “deep reads” that detect a lot of minor variants, it purported to have detected in Rotarix porcine circovirus-1 (PCV1), a highly prevalent nonpathogenic pig virus that has has not been shown to be infectious in humans. Of course, what Mr. Heckenlively fails to mention is that after that study was published use of the vaccine was suspended by the FDA pending further investigation. After the investigation, the FDA found that the PCV posed no threat and that it was safe to use Rotarix. A subsequent study found no evidence that PCV was detectible in ileal tissue samples of vaccinated children. Ironically, Laura Hewitson, an investigator who briefly became a hero of the antivaccine movement after she published a risibly bad study purporting ot show that the thimerosal preservative in vaccines caused harm to baby macaque monkeys and then did a followup study that failed to find anything of the sort. Both studies were unconscionable, unethical wastes of precious primates.
The even more hilarious thing is that Rotarix isn’t even Dr. Offit’s rotavirus vaccine. Rotateq is. Truly the Dunning-Kruger is strong in this one. [Note added from comments: Also, Dr. Offit works at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, not Pittsburgh. Silly Mr. Heckenlively. Silly me. I should have spotted that flub myself.]
That little detour aside, Heckenlively even appeals to Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, and Rep. Jason Chaffetz. (Apparently he doesn’t know that Rep. Chaffetz resigned as of June 30.) He even appeals to Milo Yiannopolous. I kid you not! His rationale? This:
Okay, the gay conservative author of DANGEROUS, one of the best selling books in the country and a GREAT READ, has absolutely NOTHING TO DO WITH VACCINES. But as possibly the only person in the country more viciously attacked than the parents of vaccine-injured children, I thought I’d take a chance and see if I could get a response!
Of course, there’s a reason why Yiannopolous is “attacked.” He seeks it out by intentionally saying outrageous things that could be considered hate speech. I don’t think Yiannopolous would help Heckenlively’s cause, but Heckenlively is deluded and starstruck enough to think that it will.
Lest you think that there aren’t more out there like Heckenlively, just peruse some of the comments after his first and second posts. There’s ranting against big pharma and its “eugenics” program that includes vaccines. (Vaccines: Worst. Eugenics. Program. Ever.) One commenter even says that vaccines kill more children than the diseases they prevent. (At least she admits that vaccines prevent disease.) One of them even posted a link to a federal class action lawsuit and criminal complaint against “mandatory vaccination”. It’s hilarious reading. Here’s a little taste:
I, being a layman and non-expert in the fields of biology, immunology, immunization, inoculation, vaccination, corporate greed, corruption, abuse of governmental authority or violation of oath of office, cannot produce my own empirical evidence to prove why vaccines can be unsafe and why individuals and parents should have a right, defined in whichever manner, to decide when and if vaccination is a better choice for such individuals or their family members and whether to vaccinate or not. I can only come to my own conclusion using true mental openness to consider all the available and relevant information at my disposal using real, objective, unobstructed, unbiased and non-partisan critical thinking to come to a conclusion as to whether vaccines, in any form, degree or recurrence should be allowed to be injected into me and my family members. And I have concluded that vaccines have an actual risk of injury that is not worth taking, as they can be detrimental to our overall health as described herein.
Huh? If Ricardo Beas, who made this complaint, is a layman and non-expert, how is it that he has sufficient information to make such sweeping condemnations of vaccines? He trusts the “experts” who are “unbiased”:
Therefore, I defer to the experts in the field of vaccination theory and reality, in particular those without financial or other interests in the promotion of vaccines and mandatory vaccination, to show proof of such dangers of vaccines by citing such sources in the text and footnotes of this complaint as my proof that (a) vaccines are not safe, (b) vaccination should not be mandatory and/or compulsory, and that (c) coordinated and speedy legal action should and must be taken against all involved Criminal Participants. I adopt herein all footnotes, exhibits, noted internet articles and videos by reference and incorporation.
Not surprisingly, these “unbiased” experts whom Beas cites include Andrew Wakefield, Toni Bark, Nancy Banks, Jay Gordon, Tetyana Obukhanych, Lawrence Palevsky, Russell Blaylock, Leonard Horowitz, Suzanne Humphries, Boyd Haley, Philip Weeks (a naturopath, of course!), Sherri Tenpenny, Theresa Deisher, Lucija Tomljenovic, and other well-known antivaccine crank “scientists” and physicians.
So, basically, we have an antivaccine activist demanding a moratorium on vaccines for five years until all his concerns that can never be answered are answered and another antivaccine activist who is making frivolous criminal complaints against Tom Frieden, Julie L. Gerberding, Paul A. Offit , William Thompson, “other CDC employees,” Dorit Rubinstein, Merck, and…oh, forget it. What’s even more amazing is that they both apparently believe not only that what they are doing is justified but that they will be met with anything other than richly deserved ridicule.