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A hard case of harmful speech: should we ban anti-vaccination talk?

There are better examples of speech that causes harm than the ones we’re debating in relation to the Racial Discrimination Act. What about the anti-vaxxers?

While the government’s proposals to amend section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act have prompted considerable debate, it hasn’t been particularly useful debate — plenty of heat and not much light, as Tim Soutphommasane described it, and people taking more or less standard positions — the Left strongly opposed, middle-aged white men (like me) supportive.

One interesting feature is that Holocaust denialism has emerged as a totemic example of what is supposedly beyond the pale in public debate. Labor repeatedly challenged the government to explain whether Holocaust denialism would be allowed under the new laws, if enacted; this week, Fairfax asked us to be alarmed that the changes proposed by Attorney-General George Brandis would allow Holocaust denialism, according to advice to the New South Wales government.

Holocaust denialism is the vile ranting of anti-Semites, and no doubt profoundly wounding both to Holocaust survivors and their families. But Australia doesn’t have a problem of Holocaust denialism: whenever the issue has been raised, the same example is always cited. Europe has a problem with Holocaust denialism, yes — and it’s outlawed in Germany — but Australia doesn’t. We may have a problem with anti-Semitism, but it doesn’t take the form of Holocaust denialism.

Moreover, it is seem to be the kind of case that the government’s changes to 18C seem designed to address. It is offensive and deeply wounding, but it does not cause or urge direct and demonstrable harm in the way an anti-Semite urging violence against Jews would — the sort of speech that, by and large, everyone is in agreement should be prohibited. That may not be the case in Germany, where there are demonstrated links between Holocaust denialism and neo-Nazism, which may well lead to violence against Jews, but even in that instance we’re talking about an indirect harm.

As Soutphommasane has correctly explained, there’s rampant inconsistency in all this. The Abbott government isn’t racing to remove prohibitions on all language short of urgings to violence in Parliament, for example. It isn’t even racing to remove much more significant impediments to free speech, like defamation law.

But what sort of speech should be banned, if we agree that all speech short of that which leads to, or is intended to cause, actual harm, is permitted?

Let’s do a quick check of recent history. There was the Keating government’s assault on free speech, when it outlawed Albert Langer’s urging of voters to vote in a way that was formal but didn’t allocate preferences. Langer was later injuncted from campaigning about it, and was actually jailed for contempt of court. The prohibition was later removed and the loophole that Langer exploited was fixed, but not before Langer had spent three weeks in jail purely for advocating a particular method of voting.

And it was on the watch of then-attorney general Philip Ruddock that online discussion of euthanasia — or “counseling suicide” as it was described in legislation — was banned in 2005, primarily to stop the activities of Dr Philip Nitschke, who continues to be harried by authorities to this day because of it. Discussing euthanasia is plainly not the urging of harm on others, but informing people of options if they themselves wish to end their lives.

Ruddock also refused to remove the old crime of sedition from his overhauled anti-terror laws, despite a review he himself commissioned recommending he do so; indeed, Ruddock significantly expanded the offence of urging the overthrow of the government or urging violence within the community, removing conditions relating to intention and actual violence resulting from a statement. Labor dumped the offence entirely when Kevin Rudd became prime minister, and the Abbott government — so far — has not indicated a wish to restore sedition, however much it appears to want to return to the 18th century.

… there’s a particular form of speech in Australia that does, demonstrably, cause harm: anti-vaccination propaganda.”

That brings us to the example of Islamic extremist Belal Khazaal, jailed for 12 years in 2012 for cutting and pasting together a sloppy e-book of material supporting jihad. Khazaal was jailed because of one of the Howard government’s draconian anti-terror laws, s.101.5 of the Criminal Code, which makes it an offence to collect or make a document that “is connected with preparation for, the engagement of a person in, or assistance in a terrorist act” — even if it’s not intentional.

To his considerable credit, Chris Berg is probably the only non-lawyer to sound the alarm about what happened to Khazaal. “Words are cheap,” Berg wrote in 2012. “The Anarchist Cookbook provides more technical detail than Khazaal offered, and is free to read across the internet. Belal Khazaal may be a bad guy. He may deserve to be in prison … But if he deserves to be in prison in Australia, he deserves to be there for a greater crime than making an e-book.”

Khazaal’s case admittedly gets us close to the boundary of speech that urges people to harm others, even if “cake throwing” and “hitting with a hammer” sounds more like a Warner Bros cartoon than jihad. It’s the lack of specificity that’s the problem with Khazaal’s literary effort, since he urged violence against, well, most of the Western world. And, as Berg notes, it’s hard to say what particular harm has come from Khazaal’s work, especially given the source material is still available online. If you’re an incipient jihadist, it’s unlikely Provision in the Rules of Jihad is the dangerous material radicalising you.

But there’s a particular form of speech in Australia that does, demonstrably, cause harm: anti-vaccination propaganda. Unlike other forms of denialism, vaccination denialism kills. It has a provable body count, in terms of the number of children who die from preventable diseases either because their own parents have refused to vaccinate them, or because, despite their own parents doing the right thing and vaccinating them, they were exposed to an unvaccinated child while only partially protected, or because they were babies too young for their shots and they have been exposed to unvaccinated children.

To the extent that the lies of anti-vaccination campaigners influence a small number of parents to not vaccinate their children, it leads to the deaths of children from preventable diseases and leads to the illnesses and hospitalisation of others. It is speech that causes harm — and death.

On that basis, should anti-vaccination speech be banned? It’s a hard case: one is loath to add to the conspiracy theories and sense of persecution of people who are either sublimely stupid or who in their inner-suburban affluence believe they’re too good for vaccination, and don’t want to be part of any herd whose immunity is critical. Moreover, in many cases anti-vaxxers genuinely believe the lies they spout about Big Pharma conspiracies, autism and chemicals. None of them mean to cause harm; they just wilfully refuse to see the harm they cause.

A better response might be to stop facilitating denialism first before starting to ban it. The denialist “Australian Vaccination Network” was forced to change its name and recently (finally) lost its charity status. Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg has commendably raised the issue of making it significantly harder for parents to claim “conscientious objection” status. We should go further and ensure parents who, without medical approval (some kids can’t be vaccinated safely), refuse vaccination do not receive family tax benefits, as proposed by Kevin Rudd before last year’s election. The media — especially television networks — could stop pretending there’s a “debate” about vaccination. That might help stop the death toll inflicted by the anti-vaccination lobby better than banning what they say.

But it’s odd that we’re talking about other examples of harmful speech when there’s a much more pressing one right under our noses.

  • 1
    Posted Wednesday, 9 April 2014 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think it would be a good idea to ban discussion of the possible link between vaccines containing substances derived from peanut oil, and the recent rise of deadly nut allergies in children. If anyone knows of documents describing all the ingredients in children’s vaccines, so that parents can give informed consent, please post a link. Thanks.

  • 2
    Posted Wednesday, 9 April 2014 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Good logic. Being part of society involves accepting certain rules. We generally drive within the rules, behave towards each other appropriately, and reluctantly pay our share of taxes. Vaccination is a group responsibility, and is only effective with almost universal immunisation. Those that choose not to participate in a free service for community protection put everyone at risk.

    Climate Change Deniers and Sceptics are another group that peddles lies that threaten the safety of others. The storms and floods wreaking havoc about the globe are becoming more frequent and more severe as the oceans warm. More deaths will result with every year that we fail to act. Accepting the science, and failing to give these fruit loops the coverage that they don’t deserve, is long overdue.

  • 3
    Sammy Harry
    Posted Wednesday, 9 April 2014 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Would we also ban the class actions against vaccines?

  • 4
    David Hand
    Posted Wednesday, 9 April 2014 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Vaccination issues do not require any limitation on free speech.

    Though such opinion is demonstrably harmful, the countermeasures taken, forcing the name change of the lunatic fringe activist group along with its charity status, show that action is possible without the sledgehammer of limiting free speech.

    Getting schools and child care centres to enact policies requiring vaccination for attendees will stop the absurd fad in its tracks.

  • 5
    Posted Wednesday, 9 April 2014 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    I think somewhere a non sequitur appeared … ah, yes, the part where criminalising anti-vaccination speech would actually help anything. To be clear: I am a firm vaccination advocate. Would you ban these things … ?

    1. A grieving mother lashing out because her son’s vaccination caused debilitating illness (very rare, but it does happen)
    2. Discussion of the costs & benefits of something like the varicella vaccine, against an overwhelmingly mild disease (chickenpox) but with associated increase in a less mild disease (shingles)
    3. Reports of vaccine trials where the results were not great

    We’re a long way from terrorism here.

  • 6
    Hugh (Charlie) McColl
    Posted Wednesday, 9 April 2014 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    A few months ago, maybe a year or so, ABC Media Watch showed a greatest hits collection of Alan Jones’ quotes from around the time of the Cronulla riots. On the face of it, some of these quotes from Jones’ radio show would have to come close to hate speech. Has anyone ever considered whether these statements would be acceptable under a revised 18C?

  • 7
    Posted Wednesday, 9 April 2014 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Much of the 18C debate takes the position that the consequences of racial and religious vilification can be summed up by the phrase “hurt feelings”. Brandis bandies about this nonsense on a regular basis.
    In this article BK ignores the fact that racial and religious vilification has consequences for minorities in terms of economic empowerment. Try getting a lease, loan or job interview if your name is Mohamed, Ali or Fatimah. I’m tipping people with names like George, Andrew, or Alan don’t even consider the economic impacts on minorities of their words or actions.

  • 8
    Jeff McIlwain
    Posted Wednesday, 9 April 2014 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    some would say it’s the not the speech but rather the action of not-vaccinationing which causes the harm. if i tell you to jump off a bridge and you do it whose fault is it?

  • 9
    Jeff McIlwain
    Posted Wednesday, 9 April 2014 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    as opposed to the 18c business, where it is the speech itself which causes harm

  • 10
    Posted Wednesday, 9 April 2014 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    No-one draws a distinction between freedom of speech, which was originally the right to express a view freely, and freedom to publish, which would be the freedom to use technical means to amplify your speech in the public domain. Until the internet this didn’t matter as much as it does now, since publishing any view to massive numbers of people has virtually no cost. So you could ban dissemination of views via certain means - the internet - without impairing a persons freedom to hold them, or talk the leg of anyone who will listen per se.

  • 11
    bushby jane
    Posted Wednesday, 9 April 2014 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    I’m with Tim S. who really knows what he is talking about, as opposed to Tim W. who thinks ‘free speech’ is fine except if we be nasty to/about his male partner. There are lots of instances like anti-vaccination groups, such as anti-flouridation groups, who peddle untruths to support their stances that could be cited as Bernard has. Is he right? Don’t know, only that George Brandis contradicted himself by banning a book from somewhere in the past didn’t he? No credibility, all it’s about is supporting Andrew Bolt, who doesn’t even seem to realise what he was in trouble for.

  • 12
    Posted Wednesday, 9 April 2014 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    You’re suggesting that it should be made illegal to raise any questions or concerns regarding vaccinations?
    Perhaps that should be extended to psychotic drugs too, ‘cause if people don’t take them they may end up causing harm to others.
    And what about gun advocates, they need to be silenced as well.
    Wow, even if the vaccine debate was a black and white issue (which it certainly ain’t contrary to the opinion expressed above)you really believe that the govt has the right to tell us what we cant discuss, really?

  • 13
    David Brooks
    Posted Wednesday, 9 April 2014 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Naturally, had the writer been talking about “Freedom of the Press” the outlook would have been different. It is almost ingenious to lump freedom of speech with questions about vaccination: and not get either right!
    Clearly the two subject are deserving of separate articles. Let’s tackle the question begging.

    It is plain that some children react to vaccination, even to death. The postulations of the writer do not appear to protect them. They are, after all only a minority, and like all minorities, the aborigines, the jews, left handers etc., are disposable. And the State is renowned for taking care of those harmed by its actions, as are the companies promoted by the State! So the issue is settled. The herd mentality is promoted, but will it reign? The article below comes from, I believe, the most impeccable source. It is dated March 2014.

    “The developing human brain is uniquely vulnerable to toxic chemical exposures, and major windows of developmental vulnerability occur in utero and during infancy and early childhood.8 During these sensitive life stages, chemicals can cause permanent brain injury at low levels of exposure that would have little or no adverse effect in an adult.”

    And, it seems, Mr. Keane would like to shut up any opposition to his opinion. Even The Lancet? Mr. Keene, this is one of the reasons government hates the internet! It is difficult to stop people talking; do you really believe that making such talk illegal will stop it? Such talk will simply go underground, and there it is much more dangerous than in the open

  • 14
    Indiana Jones
    Posted Wednesday, 9 April 2014 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    In a similar vein, RN was giving air time to homeopaths at about 845 this morning.

  • 15
    Damian Thompson
    Posted Wednesday, 9 April 2014 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    I think that if they decide to not vaccinate - then medical care from the following disease should be charged at incredibly high rates to ensure that they then don’t do it again.

    Or, deny them any public health coverage at all.

  • 16
    Simon Mansfield
    Posted Wednesday, 9 April 2014 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    Dispensing homeopathics to people under 18 should be illegal other than when prescribed by a psychiatrist as a fancy placebo.

    I still find it ironic that almost everyone in Bryon Shire who does not believe in vaccinating their kids (apx 30% of local parents) votes Green when they bother to vote - and worries deeply about climate change - before getting in their poorly serviced 4WD that smoke burnt oil to tool out to Bentley to oppose CSG.

  • 17
    Jeff McIlwain
    Posted Wednesday, 9 April 2014 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    if you want to ban antivax propoganda then you also have to ban the bible, and koran, and torah, and news corp, and fairfax, and tv, and advertisements, and video games and etc.

    and the internet. actually, just ban everything it’s easier.

  • 18
    Posted Thursday, 10 April 2014 at 12:44 am | Permalink

    I have news for Bernard Keane. Opinions are like arseholes, everyone has one and very often full of shit! RE his opinion of some anti-vaxxers believing the lies they spout about big Pharma conspiracies, autism and chemicals well what qualifications or research does Bernard have to make this claim they are lies in the first place. I can tell Bernard categorically there is a mountain of evidence that there is conspiracies of big Pharma to make big money at the expense of public health, if you know where to look. These big Pharma have money to burn and can make sure that the truth is kept in a very dark place and if you are scientist or doctor who speaks out your career is over.

    Bernard also has the opinion that Holocaust denialism is the vile rantings of anti-Semite’s. Well I can say with some certainty that Bernard’s opinion is one not based on facts but rather consensus. If you look at facts the Holocaust is not what it is made out to be and the so-called Holocaust deniers are not denying it happened but are disputing the accepted, not proven and so-called facts and the many have attacked the few who have the guts to present other facts. Since when has telling the facts that certain people don’t like been anti anything.

    The other point is that since when do other people’s opinions like the anti-vaxxers whether right or wrong need to be regulated if it is not inciting hatred or harm. You argue it is causing harm but most likely know little about the complexities of this subject and people can make up their own minds and just like most opinions they are not conclusive so don’t imply they are.

  • 19
    Chris Hartwell
    Posted Thursday, 10 April 2014 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Simple Nev - the even more vast mountains of evidence suggesting the safety and efficacy of vaccinations. And the fact that the so-called evidence of a link between autism and vaccinations (specifically the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine) has been demonstrated to be falsified by Wakefield when no other researchers were able to reproduce his results.

    In reality, it’s like the climate “debate” - there are cranks claiming that, basically, “SCEINCE HASS BIN WRONG BEFUR!” as though that somehow invalidates research conducted. It doesn’t. There is no debate - there is evidence.

  • 20
    Posted Thursday, 10 April 2014 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Except as Bernard says, the anti-vax crowd has a measurable body count.

    I know I know, you’ve ‘looked at all the evidence’ and ‘worked it out for yourselves’ but you haven’t really, you’ve just decided you’re far too precious and self-important for science, facts, and so the rest of us just have to put up with it, and watch kids die from preventable diseases. Thanks!

  • 21
    David Hand
    Posted Thursday, 10 April 2014 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    This is a discussion about freedom of speech, and the anti-vaccination crowd has the right to publish their opinions. Banning them opens the door to much more dangerous limitations on free speech.

    There are plenty of options available to limit the negative impact of their views.

  • 22
    Marty Dubal
    Posted Thursday, 10 April 2014 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    We can all quote data and provide links for and against depending on our various convictions. But There is one single simple litmus test for the pros and cons of vaccinations.

    Research this Mr Keene: How many doctors allow their children to be vaccinated?

    Your article has been an irresponsible malicious expose against freedom of choice. I must say I never expected such hypocracy from a learned and respected journalist as your self. A huge disappointment.

  • 23
    Posted Thursday, 10 April 2014 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Nev7989: I’m an Infectious Diseases physician in public hospital practice (which is why I use a pseudonym). I’ve seen the consequences of your “opinions” about vaccines played out in the victims of the preventable infectious diseases and their families - something that dwarfs the spiteful ego of a pseudonymous arsehole like you. That you defend Holocaust denialism in the same rant is to be expected of a true bigot - someone who is so insecure about the validity their own opinion that they hide in anonymity, to scurry like cockroaches when the light of attention falls on them. You have no news for anyone.

  • 24
    Chris Hartwell
    Posted Thursday, 10 April 2014 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    @Marty - the correct form of your question is: “How many immunologists, or doctors otherwise extensively learned in the ways of the immune system, allow their children to be vaccinated?”

    I can cite an example of a neurosurgeon who refused her children being vaccinated. Being a neurosurgeon - an expert in one field - does not make her an expert in any other. What one might call an appeal to false authority.

  • 25
    Posted Thursday, 10 April 2014 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Chris: In public hospitals, even idiot single organ specialists (of whom there are a disturbingly high number) have to be vaccinated, so I presume your example works in private. The cited neurosurgeon is going to have an interesting time when (if) her kids have to mingle with others.

  • 26
    Posted Thursday, 10 April 2014 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    this article is by someone with no expertise in the area just runs the standard Big Pharma line with no evidence or science. just unsubstantiated statements and claims and blind assumptions.

    smacks of corruption, or stupidity (possibly someone who has had too many vaccinations :-)

    the world-wide Big Pharma vaccination industry is a massive possibly trillion dollar industry (paid for by us by our Govts) - and a lobbying and disinformation effort and budget to fit that amount of money.

    yet the real vaccination science going back decades does not support its effectiveness, and also shows the long term damage to individuals’ health (and deaths)

    there are none so blind as those who will not see.

    vaccination is not about your health or the health of your children (if only!): it is solely about MONEY. And how much more they can gouge out of our Govts and our taxes.

    if vaccines actually worked as we are told (otherwise why get them?), why would anyone who had vaccine get the relevant disease?

    only those unvaccinated would, and you could say ‘serve them right’.

    and isn’t it funny that the people who get flu most are those that have been vaccinated?

    and isn’t it funny (not) that those who have been vaccinated against whooping cough now get a more dangerous and deadly form of it?
    billions and billions given to greedy and corrupt global corporations for something that not only doesn’t work, but makes things worse

    the links below substantiate various facts, such as that vaccines don’t work, actually cause more disease, and massive health side effects.





    btw, have you noticed how much sicker and sicker and sicker our population is becoming? it seems these days the population spends half their time in a doctor’s surgery, not being made healthy, just being subscribed more and more drugs, incl vaccinations?

    so why are people and children getting sicker, getting diseases, so much more often, so constantly and frequently, than in the past?

  • 27
    Posted Thursday, 10 April 2014 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Blood hell, BK. Shake the tree and the nuts fall out. Well done. Nev7989, Dubal & Don provide more fodder for Lewandowsky et al. than either the climate or holocaust deniers. For once I agree with Hand - it is as important to put these idiots in the virtual stocks and pelt them with science as it is to hold Bolt, Jones and the rest of the Rupertarians accountable for their delusions of significance.

  • 28
    David Hand
    Posted Thursday, 10 April 2014 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Hey Don,
    I’m impressed that Crikey receives interplanetary correspondence to its comments section because you clearly don’t occupy the same planet as me.

    Here on Earth, tens of millions of people are healthier, live longer and have better lives than they otherwise would have because of vaccination. Smallpox has been eliminated. Polio is not far behind.

    I’m sad that on your planet people are getting sicker and sicker and sicker. Here on Earth, life expectancy has never been higher and vaccination has been one of the great enablers.

    Back on the subject Bernard Keane raises here however, if you visit Earth, you will be allowed to express anti-vaccination views because we have freedom of speech in most countries.

  • 29
    Posted Thursday, 10 April 2014 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Apposite for the conversation, and from a reliable source too:

  • 30
    Chris Hartwell
    Posted Thursday, 10 April 2014 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    @rhwombat - sorry, I should have clarified that she is an overseas neuro (US, to be exact) - I was trying to make a point regarding so-called Health Freedom and fallacious appeals to authority.

    But I am aware of the need for vaccinations in public health - I work in public health myself, admittedly in a non-patient-facing role.

  • 31
    Chris Hartwell
    Posted Thursday, 10 April 2014 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    David, we don’t agree on a number of subjects, but thank you for expressing more eloquently than I would a perfect response to Don.

  • 32
    Marty Dubal
    Posted Thursday, 10 April 2014 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Chris Hartwell.

    You cite one example. A neurosurgeon. I can cite hundreds and can possibly even stretch that to thousands of private practise GP’s let alone immunologists who will not vaccinate their children. Surely that tells you something.

    ” An appeal to a false authority ” That’s just plain ridiculous. These are people who deal with similar and related issues every day of their life and who are far more qualified to make informed decisions than you or I.

  • 33
    Posted Thursday, 10 April 2014 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Marty Dubal: since my direct response to you was moderated out of existence ( with 2 more waiting the same fate) I will again attempt to express my outright contempt for your “hypocracy” @#22.

    I have been a specialist physician in Infectious Diseases in NSW public hospital and academic practice (including managing HIV, transplant and other immunocompromised - and those with polio, varicella encephalitis, subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (the hideous consequence of measles) and pertussis patients) for more than 25 years. I did a PhD in host defence (that’s the immunology of infecion), and serve on the examining board and advisory committees for the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases at state, national and international levels. So I am well qualified to say that what you are stating is complete, unadulterated, sociopathic bullshit.

    I and every single one of my colleagues vaccinate our kids because we know too well what happens to children (and some adults) when blithering idiots like you (and your co-conspirators Nev & Don) succeed in convincing a susceptible parent of your poisonous paranoid lies. I know of no qualified, practicing doctor (excluding the ones who talk through your fillings) who does not vaccinate themselves and their children in the absence of a valid reason not to (such as hypersensitivity to a vaccine component, lymphoma, SCID, hypogammaglobulinaemia etc). If you know of any, then perhaps they might not appreciate you citing their names, as all of their colleagues would refuse to work with them, and many would notify AHPRA.

    Well done BK, for shaking the tree.

  • 34
    David Hand
    Posted Thursday, 10 April 2014 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    Hey Marty,
    You cannot name hundreds of private practice GPs who will not vaccinate their children.

    I challenge you to name 5.

  • 35
    Draco Houston
    Posted Thursday, 10 April 2014 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    Bernard really is a master troll :)

  • 36
    Drew Black
    Posted Thursday, 10 April 2014 at 8:19 pm | Permalink


    Show us evidence of your credentials. You can’t because you are an imposter spruiking lies and rubbish to taint people who have researched this matter to the hilt and exposed the vaccination rorts between Big Pharma, MSM and all ancilliary associated vested interests.

    You are a collaborator.

  • 37
    Drew Black
    Posted Thursday, 10 April 2014 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    David Hand.

    I don’t know about Marty Dubal, but I could present to you a list of links with a medical practitionners following of at least 500, but to publish their identities would be sacrilidge and something I would never even contemplate. Unlike you.

  • 38
    Colour Guard
    Posted Thursday, 10 April 2014 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Hi Draco, yeah, hahahaha, it looks like David Hand might have co-wrote this article with Mr Keene. Poor ol Beerhard, looks like he’s lost his way a bit. I take my eye off of him for just a second and look what happens…he succumbs to external influences just to curry favour. I feel sorry for him but I wonder what he really believes, hmmm.

    As for David Hand, well, I thought we got rid of him. Must have cut a deal with the Beach just to hang around. Something like that.

  • 39
    Posted Thursday, 10 April 2014 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    Drew Black: Thank you. I do indeed collaborate with my colleagues & patients, however I draw a line at engaging antivax cestodes - you do know how to Google if someone spells out the big words slowly and almost correctly don’t you? Never mind. Just go back to sucking your toes and trying to keep up with the other village idiots.

  • 40
    Posted Friday, 11 April 2014 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Pro-vaxxers, on scrutiny, are arguing from a position of religion and faith, not genuine scientific enquiry or examination of the evidence, especially over the last 30 years of heavy vaxxing — it’s almost identical to going along with the doctrines of the medieval Catholic church on inspection.

    The ‘anti-vaxxers’ most definitely do not have a ‘measurable body count’. Would you care to indicate what it is and how you arrived at a figure? Consider, for instance, that 92% of children who recently came down with pertussis in a wave in California were already supposedly vaccinated against the disease. That tends to screw your pseudo-scientific, unexamined, unconsidered, social consensus via brainwashing religious case right away, doesn’t it?

    There is a body count from vaccine adverse reactions, on the other hand. There has been a massive rise in a number of syndromes in infants and young children in the past 30 years, co-inciding with the introduction of the universal Hib vaccination, followed by the introduction of a number of multivalent jabs, more jabs, and at an ever younger age — because the ‘religion’ tells us that such invasive jabs are ‘perfectly safe’ — except when a child very obviously dies or is maimed by it. It seems that if you only maim or kill about 1-2% of the population you can continue to get away with it — which is equal to or greater than the problems caused by many of the wild diseases themselves, an exercise obviously conducted at great cost to the consumer and taxpayer.

    In particular, consider the following:
    - autism was only identified and described for the first time in the very early 1940s just after widespread diphtheria vaccinations commenced
    - we have a sudden uptick in SIDS from the 1980s, commencing with the HiB vax and the use of DTaP and DTP at very early ages — the SIDS spike occurs at exactly the time the DTaP is given in age, or within a month. It is suspected that vaxes regularly cause asthmatic and similar auto-immune respiratory problems in quite a few kids, causing suffocation in their sleep in the case of SIDS babies. The death rate from SIDS, a previous non-problem, is about 0.1% of all infants.
    - a few recent studies have shown that long term asthma rates in kids are halved by the age of 7 if you delay the DTaP vax events by even 1 month in infancy, suggesting 1) they cause harm, and 2) we really don’t know overall how much harm in that case
    - many parents report adverse reactions in their infants after the MMR jab, including the onset of regressive autism — now 2%
    - we have seen a spike in ADHD diagnoses, also arguably caused by brain inflammation and disorganisation in reaction to vaxes, as encephalitis is known to be caused by vaxes — now 8% of children
    - we have seen an uptick in serious allergies — now 11% of children. In particular to food proteins like peanuts and eggs — both these substances are used in vaxes — egg whites to produce deactivated pathogens, peanut oil as a convenient excipient. Injecting food proteins into people is known to sensitise them and cause allergies. In the 1930s there was a sudden rash of allergies to cottonseed oil — which just happened to be used at the time as an excipient in the diphtheria vax. As we know, these allergies can be life threatening.
    - we have seen an uptick in asthma — now 25% of Australian kids. A quarter of pigeonholes in preschools need an asthma puffer. The findings that asthma rates are halved by just delaying the schedule by a month have already been noted above.

    If any provaxxer genuinely makes a scientific enquiry into the epidemiology above, you would also hope they could use the ordinary scientific hypothetico-deductive method to guess at what the ‘environmental cause’ might be to explain all those syndromes, without casting about for unlikely excuses and reasons like ‘blaming the parents’ genes’ and ‘must be new pollutants’ when these things have never been a problem before in modernity.

    I suggest any pro-vaxxer who actually IS capable of scientific thought, if such a thing exists, to in particular study the role of aluminium used as an adjuvant in over-stimulating infants’ immune systems, crossing the blood-brain barrier and doing damage, etc — plus the longterm effects on Alzheimers. Remember aluminium is most definitely not a nutrient of any sort, it’s an out and out poison to the human body.

    You think injecting a bunch of immune stmulating substances into yourself is perfectly safe? And so safe you think it’s OK to subject infants to it? Regardless of how severe or trivial the wild disease actually is, or the real risks of even catching that disease in a society with good hygiene and sanitation, and the risks of having the worst possible outcomes from those diseases rather than taking a moderate course? Less than 0.1% of kids in the modern world contracting measles would ever die from it, and only when they have another concomitant serious illness or disability when you actually examine their records — something big pharma doesn’t want you to do.

    And then deny parents the right of choice and informed consent? You also want to violate the Nuremberg Doctrine and return to what you think of as a form of benevolent Nazism?

    I wasn’t in the wave of vaccinations in the 80s, I was a teen — but I remember the sudden announcement of SIDS cases in the community, something that had never been a problem before in our day. We also all caught measles, mumps and chickenpox, and I have never heard of a serious lifelong problem arising from having those diseases — short perhaps of the problem of shingles in old age. The only problem is, kids getting chickenpox jabs right now are also getting shingles right now, not in old age. The first measles jabs caused a nasty syndrome called ‘atypical measles’. Mumps jabs appear to be mostly ineffective, so you’re taking on all the risk for NO benefit whatsoever.

    You are being hoaxed by the doctors and big pharma on the risk profile of vaxes, and the balance of risks between a serious AR from being vaxed or the possibility of even catching the wild disease and then having long term problems from it.

  • 41
    David Hand
    Posted Friday, 11 April 2014 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Isn’t is great that this thread has soundly answered Bernard Keane’s question so we have advocates of opposing views sharing their opinions for all to see.

    It is a failing of the left that it attempts to silence those with differing views. It’s a great irony that “human rights” is doublespeak code for “shut the other lot up”.

    Though I differ from the anti-vaccination lobby in my views, I recognise their right to hold an opinion. I fear for their children though.

    The other thing I want to say is that it would be nice if the conversation was a bit more civil. There is a lot of personal vilification on this site from anonymous commenters who seem to think that calling others a troll adds value to the discussion.

    It doesn’t add any value at all.

    Though it is an example of free speech.

  • 42
    Minoah Cavente
    Posted Friday, 11 April 2014 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Thanks for that Sean, very informative, but I am not sure of why you include ” religion ” in the mix, unless you are infering a bent on either side.

    Religion, other than a biblical wholistic approach is an influence for both sides of the vax argument depending on the interpretation.

    ” If any among you are sick let the elders of the community cover you with olive oil and pray over you “

    The problem with this is who are the elders of the community and who do you trust to pray over you.

  • 43
    Drew White
    Posted Friday, 11 April 2014 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Huh!..Yeah, right Minoah. I wish somebody would pray for bernard keene (sp ).

  • 44
    Posted Friday, 11 April 2014 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Hand: Bit of a cleft stick you are in, isn’t it? Like climate change, vaccination denialism, as espoused by the passionate morons here (even the less illiterate, more pernicious ones like Sean) is self evidently a grossly anti-scientific cult view, used primarily to cement a sense of adolescent conspiritorial exceptionalism usually confined to the turgid pages of Ayn Rand and the US Wingnutosphere. That some of them can be labeled Left wing loonies creates a useful space for you to elide around the fundamental hypocrisy (please note the spelling Dubal - though undoubtably you will regard it as another example of the patriarchal oppression of the differently sentient) of the use of a similar lunatic science-decrying fringe sentiment (albeit much better resourced - thanks to the real corporate world rapers of the energy and extraction industries and their astroturfing) to attack the scientific consensus on climate change by screaming loudly and attacking scientists ‘cause it helps get Toady Rabbott and his band of corporate lackeys elected. Denialism - of vaccines, climate change, the Shoah or the limits of community tolerance for deliberately divisive self-serving demagogues like Bolt, Jones and Brandis is not free speech unless it allows itself to be called out as self-serving bullshit in an open forum - like this one.

  • 45
    Posted Friday, 11 April 2014 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Is Drew White a pseudonym for Meryl Dorey?

  • 46
    Posted Friday, 11 April 2014 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    rhwombat, all you have are UNRESEARCHED OPINIONS and your pointless remarks are therefore of course INVALID.

    Further, there is no left-right distinction whatsoever to be made here, more totalitarian-libertarian — except that ‘the Right’ are more likely to be doctors or big pharma executives or hold shares in a pharmaceutical company and are therefore all for promoting widespread vaccination programs for profit. The irony is that one of the least vaxing areas in Sydney are the eastern suburbs and the north shore — it seems the elites (and possibly intellectuals and creatives) may have heard a few whispers on the grapevine amongst themselves on real safety profiles and risks — as Barbara Loe Fisher of the NVIC points out — people can network better than ever now via social media and swap stories and even photographs.

    Interestingly one of the Murdoch kiddies is on the board of a pharmaceutical company and coincidentally Murdoch has been running a ‘no jab, no play’ campaign in his papers — although this represents a fundamental violation of the Nuremberg Doctrine and the right of informed consent to an invasive medical procedure which inevitably and unavoidably carries risks up to severe disability and death which cannot be determined in advance for any single recipient — aka Russian Roulette. Murdoch is known to never do anything that will not somehow profit him or his family personally — witness the NBN freeze and one-eyed Abbott support and cheerleading.

    Hence, attacking the AVN is pretty well irrelevant, as a big pharma-funded attack on free speech, as there is a huge number of vaccine safety websites out there internationally publishing much the same findings and epidemiology and warnings. However all these site have documented that they have been coming under attack from a big pharma-inspired campaign in the last 12 months or so.

    I will bet you a king’s ransom rhwombat has never actually perused the AVN site for any reasonable period of time or considered the contents or worked out a refutation for the articles published there.

    But certainly put the link up there so others can check it and consider the points that are being made, thank you.

  • 47
    Sammy Harry
    Posted Friday, 11 April 2014 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Editorial and big article in the Courier Mail. Oddly enough class actions about vaccines were not mentioned.


  • 48
    Posted Friday, 11 April 2014 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    The thing about vaxing your kids, along with many other medical interventions requiring informed consent, is that once your kid is vaxed, they can’t be unvaxed, once the damage is done in the form of encephalitis, auto-immune reactions, autism, asthma, allergy, ADHD or SIDS, it cannot be undone. If you are lucky, they may very slowly heal and get better over many years, possibly approaching 100% if you are very very lucky. Hence we see some kids hit with regressive autism at 18 months (just a ‘coincidence’ that it hits with a month of getting their MMR jab that ppl here want to make mandatory for diseases that are not particularly serious most of the time for most people) who very gradually get better over many years of childhood, obviously missing important educational milestones as they go and causing a world of worry for their parents and some very steep caring bills.

    Those collections of toxic aluminium, foetal cells, egg white, peanut oil, and numerous other adjuvants and bizarre substances being injected straight into your system past your protective skin layer can never be removed. We know they seem, in some cases, to stimulate an IgG response and invoke a form of immunity to some strains of disease — but what of the adverse reaction and side effect profile? Doctors are trained to tell every concerned parent with a kid having an AR from a vax that ‘it’s not possible, it’s just a coincidence’. Never mind when ‘bad batches’ are released and consumed to devastating effect before they can be withdrawn, never mind the frequent recalls made by governments of vaxes that prove to unsafe from the start, when certain flu vaxes rushed out for profit to the community turn out to cause convulsions and even permanent brain damage and illness, when 2% or more of kids get encephalitis from the vax (MMR), when kids die of SIDS at peaks of 2 and 4-5 months from suffocation straight after getting their DTaP jab.

    The Hippocratic Oath says ‘first, do no harm’ — that thing went by the wayside from Day 1 when the first cowpox vax was invented — look at the AR rate from the original cowpox/smallpox vaxing programs back in the day — they were horrendous! How soon people forget.

    There is a reason vaccinating health ‘professionals’ are being attacked in Pakistan, a country which has a problem with public sanitation and hence some disease types — where even there, vaccination advocates are being attacked because parents are noticing severe and disabling adverse reactions in their newly vaccinate children. It’s not superstition, it’s that they are not as cowed by authority and bullshit discourses as we in the West.

  • 49
    Posted Friday, 11 April 2014 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    TO be philosophical for a second, there are many definitions of religions from which we can select the meaning I intended.

    A religion refers to a set of variously organized beliefs about the relationship between natural and supernatural aspects of reality, and about the role of humans in this relationship. While religion is difficult to define, one standard model of religion, used in religious studies courses, was proposed by Clifford Geertz, who simply called it a “cultural system” (Clifford Geertz, Religion as a Cultural System, 1973). A critique of Geertz’s model by Talal Asad categorized religion as “an anthropological category.” (Talal Asad, The Construction of Religion as an Anthropological Category, 1982).

    The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with faith, belief system or sometimes set of duties;[3] however, in the words of Émile Durkheim, religion differs from private belief in that it is “something eminently social”.[4]”

    Fundamentally I use the word to mean a belief system that is adhered to without factual evidence being required, and that retains adherents even in the face of contradictory facts. The overarching authority behind some religions benefits from maintaining such untestable belief systems or actively opposed their being tests — witness the Catholic church and universities’ treatment of Galileo and Copernicus.

    Further, anthropologically, the original primitive role of shaman (sometimes known as the ‘medicine man’) was often as a tribal healer in the absence of any better science, so the role of religion and medicine has long between intertwined.

  • 50
    Marty Dubal
    Posted Friday, 11 April 2014 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    rhwomBAT -

    I may not be able to spell too well
    and maybe not even a story can I tell
    but for you I will continue to toll that bell
    in a hope it prevents you from going to hell