The annals of "I'm not antivaccine," part 24: Antivaxers threaten to dox Boston Herald employees over the newspaper's use of imagery much less offensive than what antivaxers use on a daily basis

Over the last few years, I've been doing a recurring series that I like to refer to as The Annals of "I'm not antivaccine." Amazingly, it's already up to part 23. It's a series based on an oft-repeated antivaccine claim that is either a like or a delusion (sometimes both), namely the claim made by antivaccine activists ranging from Jenny McCarthy to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the latter of whom is best known for making such claims after likening "vaccine-induced autism" to the Holocaust. (Indeed, RFK, Jr. takes denial to a ridiculous extreme by proclaiming himself not just "pro-vaccine" but "fiercely pro-vaccine.") Almost no matter who the antivaxer is, the refrain is the same: I'm not antivaccine. At the same time, they liken vaccination policy to Nazis, the Holocaust (with themselves as the Jews), waterboarding, and, most despicably, rape. You get the idea. Basically, antivaxers proclaim themselves as being "not antivaccine" but rather vaccine safety activists, even as they liken the vaccine program to all manner of atrocities and crimes like rape.

I was reminded of this by an article that appeared in the Boston Herald last week. More specifically, it was the reaction on the part of antivaxers to a bit of hyperbole that I found quite telling. Basically, it was an editorial, entitled Preying on parents’ fear, pointing out how antivaxers preyed on the Somali immigrant community in Minnesota. It's a story I've discussed several times now, even as recently as just last week. In brief, thirteen years ago ,the Somalis in Minnesota vaccinated their children at a rate even higher than native-born Americans living in the same area. Then, about a decade ago stories were published in the media about an "autism" cluster in the Somali community. Whether or not it was real was not known at the time. (Subsequent studies have shown no more Somali children being diagnosed with autism than American children living in the same area.) Antivaxers, however, are nothing, if not certain, and they were certain that the cluster must be real and that vaccines done it.

As the Boston Herald put it:

Skepticism about vaccines within Minnesota’s Somali community goes back a decade, the Post reported, after parents raised concern about possible higher rates of autism among their children (research later indicated that wasn’t the case).

But it seems that was all the truthers needed to hear. When Somali parents sought answers to explain autism, anti-vaccine activists were delighted to fill in the information gap. The disgraced British doctor who once reported a link between vaccines and autism — which was deemed fraudulent and cost him his medical license — has met with families, the Post reported. Even amid this latest outbreak, anti-vaccine groups have fanned the flames, making it hard for public health officials and doctors to be heard above the noise.

These are the facts: Vaccines don’t cause autism. Measles can kill. And lying to vulnerable people about the health and safety of their children ought to be a hanging offense.

I groaned and immediately really wished that the editors had chosen a different idiom to express their outrage. It should go without saying that I don't approve of calls for violence and never make them, but it won't. Any antivaxer who reads this will try to suck me into the maw of accusations being made by antivaxers now. I also didn't think that the editors of the Boston Herald were actually calling for antivaxers to be hanged. After all, I know that the term "hanging offense" is an idiom, intentional hyperbole used to make a point. You know that it's an idiom, intentional hyperbole used to make a point. I daresay that even antivaxers know it's intentional hyperbole used to make a point. The reaction was very much predictable, incredibly disingenuous, and utterly hypocritical, given the rhetoric routinely used by antivaxers. But, then, you knew that, didn't you? No, no one seriously believes that the Boston Herald is calling for the deaths of antivaxers, least of all I and certainly not the antivaxers piling on, but I knew that antivaxers, despite their history of even worse language, would seize upon this bit of verbiage as a pretext to lose their friggin' minds. Same as it ever was.

For instance, the wandering band of merry antivaxers over at the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism were really impressed with an "open letter" written by James Lyons-Weiler. After a rant about how, even though he's vaccinated his children and none of them has autism, he stands "with the parents who call for warnings against the current vaccine schedule, and by those who call for spreading them out, and for those who call for safer vaccines without neurotoxins like mercury, and aluminum" because he's "read the REST of the science," over 2,000 studies on autism. Never mind how ridiculous his claim is. If it takes an hour to read and digest each study and Lyons-Weiler spent 16 hours a day every day reading, it would have taken him 125 days to get through that many studies. Even if it only took a half-hour per study, it would still would have taken almost 63 days. Does anyone think that either Lyons-Weiler spent between 63 and 125 days doing nothing but reading studies or that he's so brilliant that he can digest a complex scientific study in much less than a half hour?

He also goes where antivaxers have been going over this editorial since it was published. But first he prefaces his deep dive down that rabbit hole with this:

The autism parents rank among the best people in the world to me. They don’t need protection from free speech about vaccine risk. Neither do the Somali parents. These parents are WARRIORS. They are smart, informed, educated, logical, and reasonable.

Unlike you, Rachell, they care. They are good people, taking the time to educate Somalis and other African Americans that they might be able to protect their kids from harm with vitamins.

Lyons-Weiler owes me a new keyboard, as I spit up my iced tea upon reading that. Let's just say that the antivaxers who have poisoned the minds of a vulnerable population against vaccines, leading to this year's growing measles outbreak among the Minnesota Somalis are anything but "informed," logical or reasonable.

Be that as it may:

Parents of children with vaccine injury who speak out have one and only one agenda.

To protect other peoples’ kids.

And each one of them, I’m sure, would line up at your gallows to be the first martyr in the war for our children’s brains, and our minds.

But, if you want to pick the trees, or construct the gallows, Rakkell, we won’t stop you.

Hang us, Raqueel. Hang us all.

One question.

Whatever will you do with all the bodies?

While you’re calling for death squads, the rest of us peaceable, civilized folks are discussing health directions in neurodevelopmental disorders, the future of immunity, and discussing vaccine safety science and science integrity and the size of the market for vaccine safety screening biomarkers.

Oh, and we’re all subscribing to the Boston Globe. Because they don’t condone hate speech.

Notice how hyperbole about "hanging offense" morphs into "calling for death squads." Also notice how it's turned into "hate speech." Not surprisingly, after recounting a number of antivaccine tropes, Kim Stagliano dons the mantle of victimhood and accuses The Boston Herald of calling for violence against antivaxers:

Really, this is just startling coming from Boston. Home of the Tea Party and Freedom Train. Boston. Massachusetts. Liberal to the core in so many ways. Protectors of the rights of everyone - except us. And calling for violence against families who choose to alter the CDC vaccine schedule.


Isn't it amazing how much can be read into a two word phrase? Antivaxers were just getting warmed up, though. If regular, run-of-the-mill antivaxers ramp up the crazy to 11, there's only one man who can double it to 22, cranking it up beyond the capacity of any crazy meter to tolerate. I'll give you two guesses who that man is. Oh, never mind. Regular readers know of whom I speak: Mike Adams, a.k.a. The Health Ranger, or, as most skeptics call him, The Health Danger. It didn't take him long at all to issue an "emergency action alert":

Earlier this week, the Boston Herald openly published an editorial representing the views of its entire editorial staff, essentially calling for government-run execution squads to mass murder scientists, journalists and naturopathic physicians who oppose mercury in vaccines. According to the Boston Herald, all these people should be “hanged to death” for daring to question the quack science cult of vaccine fundamentalism.

This was not an April Fools’ joke by the Boston Herald. The newspaper, which has now revealed itself to be a domestic terrorism group, deliberately intends to see people like myself murdered by the government in order to appease their pharmaceutical interests.

Now wait. A flippant bit of hyperbole about how spreading antivaccine misinformation among a vulnerable population should be a "hanging offense" has morphed even more. Now it's "calling for government-run execution squads to mass murder scientists, journalists and naturopathic physicians who oppose mercury in vaccines." Of course, the wag in me can't help but point out that the antivaccine misinformation spread among the Somalis was all Andrew Wakefield's discredited ideas, and those were about the MMR vaccine, which never contained thimerosal and therefore never contained mercury. Yes, it's a bit of pedantry, but it's a fun and necessary bit of pedantry that reveals just how far beyond reality Mike Adams will go to wind up his base:

The Boston Herald justifies this call for mass murder — a felony crime under U.S. law — by claiming that because a few dozen children in Minnesota caught the measles — a common infection similar to chicken pox — and that the millions of Americans who oppose government-enforced vaccine violence should all be mass slaughtered in a Holocaust-level execution event to somehow make up for it.

I have already begun the process of filing criminal complaints with the FBI and the Boston Police, but we also need bloggers, journalists, scientists and naturopaths in the state of Massachusetts who can file local complaints with law enforcement to investigate and potentially prosecute these Boston Herald domestic terrorists who are posing as journalists.

Because the Boston Police and the FBI don't have better things to do than to deal with a flood of complaints from a bunch of cranks about a newspaper exercising its right to free speech under the First Amendment. Of course, Adams tried the same thing with me, claiming that he reported me to the FBI for colluding with Dr. Farid Fata, the evil oncologist who bilked Medicaid and Medicare for tens of millions of dollars for giving patients chemotherapy they didn't need. Over a year later, let's just say I haven't been arrested or even questioned yet.

Hilariously (to reasonable people), Adams maintains his utter lack of self-awareness, as he calls for a protest outside the Boston Herald:

Notably, no one in the Washington Post, New York Times or CNN has denounced the Boston Herald’s call for the murder of vaccine skeptics. This is very nearly an implied endorsement of the murder, of course, which is consistent with the deranged, violent tendencies of the vaccine-collaborating (and pharma-influenced) media that continues to deny the existence of the Vaccine Holocaust.

Rally this Thursday in front of the Boston Herald

Now, Health Choice Massachusetts has announced a rally to take place at the steps of the Boston Herald this Thursday, May 18th, at 11:00 am.

Click here for the Health Choice Massachusetts Facebook page which contains details of the rally. So far, 110 people say they are interested in attending the rally. This number will no doubt grow between now and Thursday.

Hmmm. When I checked the page last night, there were 117 listed as "interested," but only 17 saying they'll attend.

Now here's where Adams gets vile, even for him:

What you might consider doing, however, is staging a MOCK HANGING of an “anti-vaxxer” who happens to be African American or another minority, in order to point out the inexcusable, anti-humanitarian stance of the Boston Herald and how such ignorance and violence against men and women has been carried out in the past to silence enemies of the establishment. Seriously: If you want to make some news, theatrically stage the Boston Herald’s proposed LYNCHING of an African-American “anti-vaxxer” in front of their offices to demonstrate the truth about how vaccines are violence against African-Americans. It’s true: CDC scientist Dr. William Thompson is on the record, testifying about the CDC cover-up of how vaccines disproportionately harm young African-American boys with an increased risk of autism.

No, the "CDC whistleblower" William Thompson is on the record saying no such thing. I'm torn, though. Half of me would almost like to see the spectacle of a bunch of white people (and, make no mistake, it's likely that any antivaxers who show up to this "protest" will be overwhelmingly white) staging a mock lynching of a black person, regardless of the reason. They're so clueless that they really don't know just how horrible the optics would be if they were to do that. The other half of me doesn't want to see such a shameful and hateful spectacle in which antivaxers pervert a horrific chapter in American history when lynchings of black people were commonplace to promote their own twisted cause. Yes, the latter half definitely wins this time.

Now here's where Adams' hypocrisy shows:

Bring your cameras to the protest! Natural News plans to publish photos of Boston Herald staff members walking to and from the building, their vehicle license plate numbers and other details, to the extent allowed by law. If you attend this rally, be sure to take photos and send them to Natural News for publication.

Yes, this is exactly what it sounds like: Intimidation and threats against people working for the Boston Herald. Where the Boston Herald only used a flippant, ill-advised idiom, Mike Adams is actually urging his readers to send him photos of Boston Herald employees so that he can publish them on his website, as well as license plate numbers and other identifying details. The only reason for being interested in license plate numbers is to allow Adams' readers to discover names and home addresses. Yes, Adams urges nonviolence, but he does so in a way that practically says the opposite:

Do not assault or attempt to intimidate Boston Herald staff members. Do not bring weapons like the insane Leftists at UC Berkeley. Keep your protest peaceful and non-violent.

Of course, Adams has a history of doing this very sort of thing, publishing an enemies list, but trying to leave just enough plausible deniability that he's trying to intimidate his enemies to silence. Does anyone remember the website Monsanto Collaborators? Basically, it was a website almost certainly created by Mike Adams (although he later called the site a "false flag" operation and claimed he had nothing to do with it). Adams is no slouch with violent imagery, either, being particularly prone to likening scientists to Nazis and blaming them for basically every evil in the world, including the Holocaust. Meanwhile, Elissa Meininger is publishing with a straight face two articles asking Vaccines – Are They the New “Crimes Against Humanity?” (Part 1) and Vaccines – Are They the New “Crimes Against Humanity?” (Part 2).

So let me get this straight. Antivaxers aren't "antivaccine," but they liken vaccine policy to the Holocaust, rape, torture, Nazi medical experiments, Sauron, sex trafficking, the Titanic, and more. They can unironically use violent imagery that implies that portrays anyone seeking to vaccinate one's child as a deadly threat against whom lethal force is justified (and even glorified in fantasy). All the while, they can claim they're "not antivaccine" and justify their rhetoric as being hyperbole. Yet, if a pro-vaccine advocate's speech or writing isn't perfectly genteel, suddenly antivaxers become the special snowflakes they accuse "pro-vaxers" of being. It's hypocritical and disingenuous as hell, but it's how antivaxers operate.

I'd take the outrage (which is actually faux outrage) of antivaxers over this editorial somewhat more seriously if they actually reined in their own violent imagery describing dark fantasies of persecution in which the CDC and pro-vaccine advocates finally face bloody justice when the antivaxers "win." This will, of course, never happen, because to antivaxers' violent imagery "is for me, not for thee." They can publicly indulge in dark fantasies of shooting health officials trying to vaccinate their children and that's OK, but should a pro-vaccine advocate make an ill-advised crack about a "hanging offense" suddenly it's a "hate crime."

ADDENDUM: Ginger Taylor has finally weighed in, and, as usual when she does, hilarity ensues. The lack of self-awareness is strong in this one, as she publishes an e-mail exchange between Boston Herald editor Rachelle Cohen and an antivaxer. Cohen, not surprisingly, has gotten a lot of hate mail, including (predictably, given her name) antisemitic hate mail, complete with a large volume of antisemitic calls and e-mails, leading her to observe drolly, "Discussions that begin with how sorry folks are I'm not headed for 'the ovens' [are] not likely to be fruitful."


It amuses me to no end how antivaxers so gleefully make my points for me. Ginger basically has to beg her readers to knock it off with violent imagery far worse than the poorly chosen quip about a "hanging" offense that she now finds oh-so-offensive, coupled with Nazi level antisemitism. Hilarity indeed. I'd almost feel sorry for Ms. Taylor, but she brings it on herself—with gusto—and her Dunning-Kruger arrogance of ignorance is off the charts.

ADDENDUM #2: The Massachusetts Attorney General has rebuffed Mike Adams complaint against the Boston Herald. This can only mean one thing: Lulz galore, except that it's too serious:

Following the Boston Herald’s call for anti-vaxxers to be “hanged to death”, Natural News issued an urgent action item for readers and fans to report the Boston Herald to law enforcement authorities. A wave of complaints hit the Boston FBI, Boston Police and the Massachusetts Attorney General, requesting criminal investigations into the Boston Herald for its unabashed call for anti-vaxxers to be executed in the same way black slaves were once lynched in America.

In response, as shown in the letter below, the Massachusetts Attorney General has declared it will not investigate the matter.

Of course, if you or I openly declared we were going to murder a journalist who worked at the Boston Herald, the investigation would be swift and highly publicized, but when the Boston Herald calls for the murder of people like us, the state government says that’s not worth investigating, and no other mainstream media outlet covers the story.

In other words, the Massachusetts government has just told anti-vaxxers that you must now take up your own self-defense against journo-terrorists, since the “authorities” in government refuse to apply the law to those who work at the Boston Herald. Your lives are now in danger. You are being targeted by the Boston Herald and any number of psychopaths who may be motivated by the Herald’s call for mass murder. The government has now declared it will do nothing to stop the calls for murder by “journalists” as long as they are targeting people who oppose toxic vaccine ingredients.

It’s time to start publishing the home addresses of journo-terrorists who escalate violence against concerned parents and independent scientists

This all explains why I plan to publish the home addresses of the journo-terrorists working at the Boston Herald, in order to warn local Bostonians that they might be living next to murderous, sociopathic mental health miscreants who are a danger to society. Since the Massachusetts government refuses to take any action to protect the public from these dangerous psychopaths, it’s obvious that we must take action to protect ourselves. The right to self-defense, after all, is one of the most sacred rights we possess.

Our non-profit division is also launching the public education site where journo-terrorists who deny that vaccines harm children will be named and shamed, providing a permanent record of their crimes against children and humanity.

So let's see. Editors at the Boston Herald use an ill-advised idiom to express anger at the evil done by antivaxers who misinformed the Somalis in Minnesota that the MMR vaccine causes autism. In response, antivaxers threaten to publish personal information about Boston Herald employees on NaturalNews in order to intimidate journalists to silence and allow antivaxers to find them, either to harass them or attack them. This is particularly hypocritical given how Adams has done everything he can to make himself hard to locate. One can only imagine how he'd react if someone managed to find his home address and cell phone number and publish it. I can't help but say again: Through their actions, antivaxers make my point for me better than I ever could.


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Gotta love how the Herald makes a dumb editorial comment that no one otherwise agreeing with the editorial would take seriously, while antivaxers have said (and threatened) much worse in all earnestness.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 16 May 2017 #permalink

Living at Fort Lewis WA where my father was a young M.D. physician, I caught the mumps and measles as a child -- no big deal. Now in my dotage I am surprised when outbreaks of the mumps sweep periodically through the campus of my University of Washington alma mater -- apparently because the students were not vaccinated in childhood. Although I avoid flu vaccinations out of personal preference, my important work at on artificial intelligence makes me glad to have been vaccinated against poliomyelitis and smallpox and the other serious diseases that could have cut short my life or health. (I last saw a doctor over thirty years ago, so I am being admittedly foolhardy.)

By Mentifex (Arth… (not verified) on 16 May 2017 #permalink

I expect the FBI gets a lot of these kind of baseless letters. I wonder what their procedure on that is.

I wish the Boston Herald hadn't used that language. But thanks for calling out the hypocrisy of the cries of outrage from a movement that has no hesitation using violent rhetoric.

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 16 May 2017 #permalink

Yeah, whoever wrote the editorial probably thought it was an appropriate idiom to communicate the harm antivaxers are doing, but in reality, even though it is obvious that no one is seriously calling for hanging antivaxers promoting misinformation among the Somalis, using such an idiom provided disingenuous and hypocritical twits like Mike Adams and the crew at AoA to jump all over this.

I guess they need to grab at whatever they can to mobilize their group and try to deflect the fact that the measles outbreak their movement directly caused is putting kids in the hospital.

The hypocrisy is especially obvious when some of them, thinking they're being clever, I'm sure, try to apply the idea in reverse to the people they hate, like CDC officials.

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 16 May 2017 #permalink

Wow, the hypocrisy.

How many times has AoA called for the death or harm to people like Dorit, Dr. Offit & others?

"Hanging offense" may be hyperbole, but it also has a historical basis. English law, on which US law is based, once provided a mandatory death penalty for the theft of goods worth more than 12 (pre-decimal) pence. The phrase was also used in the Old West, where it had an association with vigilante justice--ironically, the sort of justice Adams is advocating by urging the doxxing of Boston Herald employees, most of whom had nothing whatsoever to do with the writing of that editorial.

FWIW, the Boston Herald tends to be politically well to the right of the Boston Globe, which is considered the mainstream newspaper for points east of the Connecticut River.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 16 May 2017 #permalink

Well, now I know why Del BigTurd had some webinar on whether AVers should be hanged. I just couldn't bring myself to click on his link (nor post it here, either) because I can't endure any more neuronal apoptosis from watching AVers.

By Chris Hickie (not verified) on 16 May 2017 #permalink

@ Dorit

I'm not a lawyer; but wonder if as a result of not vaccinating a child, that child dies or develops a serious disability, e.g. blindness, from the vaccine-preventable disease, and the parents can make a case that their choice to not vaccinate was mainly made based on what was told them by antivaccinationists, could they sue the antivaccinationists and would they have a reasonable probability of winning the lawsuit?

While I understand that "hanging offense" does not mean actual hanging and I have been against the death penalty since pre-teen years, I wonder if giving clearly unscientific advise should have some criminal penalty. As an analogy, imagine a parent fails to put an infant in a car seat and the car is struck by a drunken driver. Obviously, the drunken driver is the proximate cause of any injury or death to the infant; but by not placing the child in a secure car seat, would the parent have, say, committed some form of criminal negligence and, if so, could that be applied to advice from antivaccinationists?

By Joel A. Harris… (not verified) on 16 May 2017 #permalink

I haven't found any applicable criminal laws in Minnesota - the child endangerment laws are specific to people responsible for the child. doesn't mean there aren't any, just that I don't know what they would be. Nor what the federal criminal statutes applicable would be - criminal law really isn't my area.

In both cars, an issue here is that the parents chose who to listen to.

I think a tort suit is possible, though not easy. You can apply this discussion here even more strongly.…

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 16 May 2017 #permalink

In reply to by Joel A. Harris… (not verified)

Ginger is flinging about a whole bunch of insanity in that piece.

If you took the Herald editorial at face value, they're advocating a law providing for the death penalty for harming children through antivax deception. Somehow Taylor gets from that a call to lynch, torture and assassinate "autism moms".

These people are well beyond bats in the belfry. They've got a whole Carlsbad Caverns full of creatures flitting around up there.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 16 May 2017 #permalink

I'll add my voice in to those saying the Herald's choice of words were inappropriate.

But the reaction to them is just off the deep end.

I did note that in Ginger's response, one of the emails sent to Ms. Cohen, in between a series of vile statements, referenced the incompetent study recently dissected here.

@ Dorit #2: I imagine the FBI spends very little money on toilet paper.

@ Joel #8: IANAL either, but I imagine such a suit would have a very difficult time succeeding because of First Amendment considerations. Spreading anti vax misinformation is not like yelling fire in a crowded theater. Caveat emptor applies; such parents also have access to correct information, and are therefore responsible for their own choices in what to believe.

The first amendment is not absolute. I address one way to deal
With it in my post above - highlighting that false statements of fact are less protected than other statements. Dr. Offit, whonis also not a lawyer but is right on this, addressed another line of argument here:…

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 16 May 2017 #permalink

In reply to by Panacea (not verified)

@ Dorit

Though I realize it is not the same, during the 1950s the tobacco industry criticized studies finding association of smoking and disease; but the industry also claimed they wanted to get at the truth and they funded their own studies, some extremely well-done. Their studies confirmed the association of smoking and disease; but they listed as the Principle Investigator one of their lawyers and because of "privilege" suppressed the studies. Of course, the lawyer wasn't the real PI. So, by promising to get at the truth, then intentionally suppressing it, since this led to 10s of thousands of unnecessary deaths and disability, e.g. chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, would there have been any legal grounds to criminally prosecute them?

As it is, the tobacco industry paid billions of dollars in lawsuits; but NEVER close to enough to hurt their bottom line and the immense harm they had caused and because many STATES became dependent on these monies in order to reduce taxes, the tobacco industry has been able to keep in business.

Antivaccinationist webpages often intentionally allow only one side to the argument. On numerous occasions I have submitted a comment that was not posted, e.g. one article claimed there had never been a single double-blinded randomized clinical trial of vaccines. My comment described the Salk polio trial of 1954-55, gave URLs and said I could supply many more examples. It was NOT posted. Though not the same as the suppression of studies by the tobacco industry, could this in some way be legally considered intentionally supplying misinformation? Especially when several of the antivaccinationist websites claim they just want to find the truth.

By Joel A. Harris… (not verified) on 16 May 2017 #permalink

You would have to point to a specific offense for criminal prosecution - and that would be hard, though not impossible, I think.

I agree that torts is a more promising route, though even that's not without its difficulties (again, see above).

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 16 May 2017 #permalink

In reply to by Joel A. Harris… (not verified)

Discussions that begin with how sorry folks are I’m not headed for the ovens’ are not likely to be fruitful.

A nice bit of understatement from Ms. Cohen, which shows the hypocrisy of the anti-vaxer's rhetoric. There is no way to have a rational discussion with somebody like that.

Also, given that anti-vaxers have routinely accused their critics of having Nazi tendencies, I need to get a new irony meter. The one that I was using just exploded.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 16 May 2017 #permalink

I haven’t found any applicable criminal laws in Minnesota

IANAL, but I would think that if there's anything actionable here, it would be in civil rather than criminal court. Which is, in the end, how the tobacco companies were forced to cough up (so to speak) the settlements in those cases.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 16 May 2017 #permalink

I clearly remember that the use of violent and disrespectful communication was frowned upon in kindergarten.

It's true, the most important lessons we learn are taught in kindergarten.

@ Orac,

Did you practice respectful insolence in kindergarten and were you ever sent to the principle's office?

By Michael J. Dochniak (not verified) on 16 May 2017 #permalink

The standard of proof is different in civil court. In criminal cases you must prove your case beyond a reasonable doubt. That's important when you're talking about a verdict that's likely to result in one losing their liberty.

In civil court it's the preponderance of evidence or more likely than not (Dorit please correct me if I'm getting this wrong).

Dorit made some great points, but civil litigation takes years, and often settles out of court with no admission of wrong doing. The parents might get some financial compensation, but unless they really get nailed for a big judgement, I question how much good it will really do.

Ironic that individuals who claim a severe vaccine reaction can file with the NVICP with no "out of pocket" expenses, while those who's children die or are crippled from Vaccine Preventable diseases are instead left with nothing but filing long-shot Civil Litigation.

Spreading anti vax misinformation is not like yelling fire in a crowded theater.

Please, just let it die.

"The observation that some speech is outside the First Amendment is true but irrelevant and unpersuasive absent specific explanations of how particular established exceptions apply to particular speech. The 'you can't shout fire in a crowded theater' bit is a reference to a rhetorical flourish in a subsequently overturned case that means absolutely nothing."

I'll defer to Popehat on criminal law, but he's wrong on torts. You can sue in torts based on speech that causes harm. In fact, there are several lines of cases that do just that.

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 16 May 2017 #permalink

In reply to by Narad (not verified)

Well, he wasn't actually talking about torts, so saying "he's wrong" is inaccurate. You can sue for certain kinds of speech in torts. It depends on the specifics.

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 16 May 2017 #permalink

In reply to by Narad (not verified)

IIRC, Lyons-Wheeler showed up at RI a while back prior to his stint at AoA.

Lulz is correct.

Srsly, the exaggeration about time spent 'studying' vaccines ( 2000 studies) is similar to the anti-vax standard of studying "14 ( 0r 15) thousand hours" which I've heard from several of the usual suspects.
If you did it full time- 8 hours a weekday- all year- it would still take QUITE a while. And don't these people work and clean their houses?

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 16 May 2017 #permalink

You can sue for certain kinds of speech in torts. It depends on the specifics.

I know what you're saying; Ken White uses more nuance here, which item I'll quote for those who might not go read the SR entry right away:

"[I]n 1964, faced with an Alabama defamation judgment against the New York Times for running an advertisement about abuse of civil rights protesters by local officials, the Supreme Court noted that the First Amendment obviously applies to private civil actions that employ state power. 'The test is not the form in which state power has been applied but, whatever the form, whether such power has, in fact, been exercised.' Because civil lawsuits aimed at speech invoke state power to attack speech, they are limited by the First Amendment. That doesn't mean that all civil lawsuits attacking speech are absolutely barred. It means that First Amendment analysis applies to them, and may or may not provide a defense to them.

"If you think about it even a little, this is the only sensible interpretation. Under a contrary interpretation, a state could pass a law saying that private parties could sue you for offending them, or annoying them, or for expressing certain political views the state disfavors. People could then use the coercive power of the courts to sue you based on those laws."

From the caption to the photograph that accompanies Orac's post: "I particularly like how he has an anatomy bust in the background. I've never seen such a thing in an actual functioning lab"

I was struck by what looks like a thermos parked on the bench to Adams' right (along with headphones and books). Having/enjoying your drink on a lab bench right next to test equipment does not strike me as desirable. What would an accreditation agency say?

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 16 May 2017 #permalink

I find it ironic that while the anti-vaxers have their drawers in an uproar over the term "hanging offense", they actually kept MN DOH employees away from a meeting of Wakefield and the Somali community with the use of armed guards!

While I have no problem with security, and while I think Wakefield probably does need a security guard, to use guns to suppress free speech is abhorrent.

By Gretel Hansen (not verified) on 16 May 2017 #permalink

Actually, I do believe Lyons-Weiler did read all those studies because I have his book. I badgered him, on twitter, until he sent me a copy for free. He cherry picked every single study he could find that had anything to do with autism and had his budy, Bernadette, help him write a book about it. He even makes outlandish claims, like the CDC ignored Geier and Geier's works. (eyeroll). I do think that, between the two of them, James and Bernadette did read all those studies. They just did not use critical thinking skills at all.

The autism parents are the best in the world comment made me very angry. I have a kid on the spectrum. I know many people who are on the spectrum or have kids on the spectrum who are provax and hate what James stands for. But, I know that this is how James makes his living. He lives off book sales, appearances, and donations from his "warriors." So, he is appealing to that awful group of loud antivaxers who think vaccines cause everything bad because this is how he makes a living.

Does this post count as some judo-like tu quoque argument, where our kind host points out that Adams et al, in observing and then screaming about the Herald's misstep, get buried in their own over-the-top past rhetoric and actions? In attempting to push the Herald's editorialist off the precipice, they seem to have forgotten how often they themselves have already plummeted. I won't go on to mention glass houses.

While I have no problem with security, and while I think Wakefield probably does need a security guard, to use guns to suppress free speech is abhorrent.

I think "abhorrent" is a bit strong here. A private event can exclude whomever the organizers wish to exclude, and the security hired is of no particular consequence, unless they start wildly drawing (presumably) legally held sidearms or something.

Mr. Dial-Up-The-Crazy-To-22 has now announced he plans to publish the home addresses of Boston Herald employees.

He's also indignant about a written response from the Mass. Attorney General's Office saying that the Civil Rights Division has decided not to pursue (?his?) complaint filed with the office. So apparently the AG is, like, OK with the mass murder of antivaxers. So bad, so sad. :(

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 16 May 2017 #permalink

Yes, I made a note of that in a second addendum. I'm starting to think that I might have more to say about Adams' plans than can fit in an addendum. The dude really is despicable.

I also changed the title of the post to reflect more clearly what Adams is doing.

Your second addendum does really make your point, and is concerning.

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 16 May 2017 #permalink

Mr. Dial-Up-The-Crazy-To-22 has now announced he plans to publish the home addresses of Boston Herald employees.

And apparently has veiny arms as well as ill kempt kitchenware. It's a Photoshop just waiting to happen.

I note that by perceiving themselves as having been told they should be hanged (or worse) by the editorial, they are admitting that they lie to 'vulnerable people about the health and safety of their children'. Ha!
You're so dishonest, you probably think this line is about yoooooo...

^ The "beta testing" bit is a nice non sequitur, though. Maybe that's what "Monsanto Collaborators" was all about, modulo marketing.

In other news on the anti-vaccine front:
Wakefield is apparently deep into a sequel to his laughable disinfo vid Vaxxed:

Article about the Stowe, Vt. chiroquack who has scheduled a group of anti-vaxxers to speak at his k00kfest ( he assures they and he aren't anti-vaccine... really... ):…

"Andrew Wakefield, known as the “Father of the Anti-Vaccination Movement,” was scheduled to speak but has since cancelled.

Dr. Rauch says Wakefield had schedule conflicts in the production for the sequel to his documentary, Vaxxed."

The revenue stream from TOS (The Original Scam) must be getting thin so what else to do?
Make a Part II. (Orac mumbling something about Electric Boogaloo?).

Have fun and prepare for round two of the derpicity of Quaxxed Part II.

One might point out to Adams that "hanging offense" has a very clear meaning of a law which carries hanging as an available consequence of a finding of guilt at trial for breaking the law. That is something quite remarkably different from lynching or advocating extrajudicial murder.

Does anyone else think that James Lyons-Weiler's repeated and deliberate mis-spelling of Rachelle Cohen's name smacks of a very specific type of disrespect? To me it feels rooted in racism, but I could be wrong.
Yet another example of how anti-vaxxers can't argue with facts so they go with insults.

By JustaTech (not verified) on 16 May 2017 #permalink

And lying to vulnerable people about the health and safety of their children ought to be a hanging offense.

subheading for follow-up:anti-vaxxers admit lying, fear courts will punish them severely
They might consider making a call for advice to that entertainer with the big nose and the big house.

Our non-profit division is also launching the public education site where journo-terrorists who deny that vaccines harm children will be named and shamed, providing a permanent record of their crimes against children and humanity.

That whole public shaming thing worked out so well for him last time.

By shay simmons (not verified) on 16 May 2017 #permalink

@MJD #18

Interesting question for Orac, whether he has ever been sent to the "principle's office". Not to be a grammar/spelling pedant, but a principle is a moral rule which informs a system of beliefs, so I would think Orac has plenty of contact with "principles". Too bad the antivaxxers have never been sent to that office.

How cool would it be if there really were a "principle's office" in schools, companies, and daily life, where we could send those who lack principles in hopes that they would learn some good ones.

Mr. Dial-Up-The-Crazy-To-22 has now announced he plans to publish the home addresses of Boston Herald employees.

He's threatening the safety of people in an industry that buys ink by the petapixel? Wouldn't he be better-off getting involved in a land war in Asia?

the public education site where journo-terrorists who deny that vaccines harm children will be named and shamed

AH, the joy of Alt Facts. "The Holocaust never happened, and anyway it wasn't as bad as my personal delusion."
I am struggling to imagine what is "educational" about a list of people who fail to support Mike with sufficient enthusiasm... I guess he is using the word in the sense of "re-education camps".

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 16 May 2017 #permalink


Actually, I do believe Lyons-Weiler did read all those studies because I have his book. I badgered him, on twitter, until he sent me a copy for free.

I've read some extracts of his book. To me it looks like he's taken the lazy method of googling for studies and skimming the abstracts, and if there is anything that can support (or be misrepresented to support) his antivax agenda he will cite the reference.

Does anyone else think that James Lyons-Weiler’s repeated and deliberate mis-spelling of Rachelle Cohen’s name smacks of a very specific type of disrespect? To me it feels rooted in racism, but I could be wrong.

Don't you mean James Lyon-Weener?

I see from the 2nd addendum that Adams still misquote the article, changing the original ill-advised hyperbole "hanging offense" into "hanged to death".

Clicking on the link to the Boston Herald and scanning the comments was very disturbing with nary a sane voice among all the craziness. Don't any sane people read that publication?

Thanks, Narad, for the link to the Supreme Court decision. It's hard to imagine just how bad things were in the 1960's, one hundred years after the end of the civil war, and how brave those students were to confront it.

By cloudskimmer (not verified) on 17 May 2017 #permalink

"... they may be able to protect their children from harm with vitamins."... VITAMINS?... And this is from a man who claims to have read all the research on vaccines.

By DANIEL GAUTREAU (not verified) on 25 May 2017 #permalink

Noted; that every time I reply to anything here, several regular posters are quick to point out how much smarter you all are than I. As much as I hate to fan the flames; I’m stuck on the irony of the Big Tobacco analogy.

Yet, I agree; the vaccine controversy is an almost exact replica of Operation Berkshire. Except that Big Tobacco does not equal “The Antivaxers”. And “BT” does not even equal “Big Pharma”.

To any lurking Antivaxers: Calling the regular posters here “Pharma Shills” only makes you look paranoid & it’s irrelevant: Pharma doesn’t handle vaccine damage control anymore because historically; the result is an epic fail that has come close to compromising the Immunization programs of several countries.

The Provaxers are correct: You cannot pull off a conspiracy that involves thousands of doctors, scientists, politicians & lawyers; that’s too many potential weak links & that is not what is happening. Nobody is paying off these thousands either; why would they? They do it for free.

BT “got to be right because their science got to be right” but their product was so harmful that it was an unsustainable position. The “PV” (provax) also get to be right because their science "gets to" be right.

And, of course; vaccines are not as dangerous as smoking.

That’s where the differences end. The fact that vaccination is compulsory & smoking is a lifestyle choice became irrelevant when the dangers of “ETS” (environmental tobacco smoke) was discovered. Having smokers in your home, workplace or favorite bar/restaurant was actually forcing non-smokers into “compulsory” exposure.

And that is when BT demonstrated what it "looks like" when you “get to be right” vs. actually being right (following quotes are from Philip Morris documents intended for both media & internal communications, made available at I will try to include document #’s since I can’t multi-quote):

1. You will identify & label your obviously inferior opponent. Attack of the “Anti‘s“ ensues:

“When we began our interviewing we were not aware of the diversity of opinions among the group we originally labelled "members of the antismoking movement."

"Since anti-smokers are only a tiny fraction of the non-smoking population, they need to legitimize their campaign. To do so, they have misled Americans about the health effects of tobacco smoke in the air, also called environmental
tobacco smoke (ETS)"(#xxxg0093)

2. The Anti's will be accused in headlines of assassinating science:

3. ... because they have challenged the science that gets to be right:

"Another common error involves confusing correlation with causation . No study has ever found proof that secondhand smoke caused cancer with certainty" (zyfh0093)

4. The Anti's & their inferiority become laughable & ominous, all at the same time:

"many substance condemners are not doing science at all, they are doing ideology, politics and material self-interest"

"we examined the documents published by the antismoking movement for obvious violations of the norms of science . We found much social bias and many violations of the norms of science" .

"We have all heard of creative statistics and creative accounting --- cooking the books . Certain members of the antismoking movement now add creative epidemiology to that list of such "creative" practices"

5. ... because all of the SMART people already know that smoking is about as harmful as apples & water:

"An apple for dessert sits on the pristine white table next to the anti-smoker's plate.The air is crisp. No smokers about.
This is the pure, unbesmirched atmosphere the anti-smoker demands. But our anti-smoker had better finish his meal quickly ... that is, if he wants to continue to enjoy clean air. His apple is giving off ethylene gas-enough gas to trick a pineapple plant into flowering,"

" there are many natural chemicals which are more potent
carcinogens than pesticide residues in foods . They said that the average daily intake of DDE, the principal metabolite from DDT, is no more carginogenic than the amount of chloroforn in one glass of tap water ."(zyfh0093)

6. Establish a few Evil Leaders of the uneducated Anti's & "call out" high profile people as being one of them:

"University of California San Francisco professor Stanton Glantz has now publicly admitted using the wrong data in his study of smoke-free bar ordinances, which analyzed the economic impact of bans in bars in seven communities in California. I don't know who should be more embarrassed, the University of California for continuing to employ Dr . Glantz, or the American Journal of Public Health for blindly publishing this man's work under the cloak of an obviously incompetent
"peer review process ."(rfy0090)

"FDA Commissioner Kessler -- who has aggressively sought to
expand the agency's powers and funding since his appointment in 1990 -- is "a zealous anti-smoker ."(rsny0094)

7. Add some "Woo":

"And disregard for objective grounds for regulation was not confined to environmental tobacco smoke. It also extended to other "imaginary risks" including electromagnetic fields, lead contamination, dioxins and "the innumerable scares of the month that are constantly put forth to inflame our collective
anxieties "

8. Suggest that "everything else" is to blame & twist the knife with an arrogant & ridiculous claim:

" we do not know all of the things that might affect lung cancer. As an example, exposure to radon, the gas that seeps out of granite rock, has only recently been associated with lung cancer. Statisticians can never be certain that they have asked all of the pertinent questions . In fact, most environmental tobacco smoke (ETS - the term scientists give to tobacco smoke in the air) studies omit many basic questions, even on factors such as diet "

"THE world's leading health organisation has withheld from puhlication a study which shows that not only might there be no link between passive smoking and lung cancer but that it could even have a protective effect ."(msby0090)

... And THAT is what it might "look like", if Big Tobacco & their "only right because you get to be" (for now) science was an accurate analogy for the Pro vs Antivaxer issue.

(If it looks like a duck & walks like a duck & sounds like a duck ... *quack quack* ...)


By christine kincaid (not verified) on 31 May 2017 #permalink