April 30, 2019
Measles hysteria–2019 style
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 704 cases of measles—divided between 22 states—have been confirmed in the United States since the first of the year. Despite the fact that CDC estimates that in 1962, the year before the licensing of the first (ineffective) measles vaccine, there were three to four million cases of measles in the country and no panic (only about ten percent of cases were even reported), this is being billed as an “emergency” requiring immediate action by various state and local government officials all over the country—most notably perhaps in my own state, New York, where Republican Rockland County Executive Ed Day has twice declared a state of emergency, the first time on March 24, when there were a total of four active cases of measles in the whole county, and Democrat Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City declared on April 9 that everyone who has not received the MMR vaccine in four Brooklyn zip codes must receive it or face a $1,000 fine and criminal charges. The city’s health commissioner claimed, “The point here is not to fine people but to make it easier for them to get vaccinated,” but did not indicate exactly how fining people and bringing them up on criminal charges would make it “easier” for them to do anything.
This all comes on the heels of a major push by government authorities to “crack down” on so-called anti-vaccine misinformation. Representative Adam Schiff, in particular, has made censorship his personal crusade. He wrote to the CEOs of all the major social media platforms and other influential technology companies encouraging them to take steps to actively suppress the free flow of ideas. In a letter filled with unintentional irony he wrote to Sundar Pichai and Mark Zuckerberg, the CEOs of Google and Facebook, respectively,
There is strong evidence to suggest that at least part of the source of this trend is the degree to which medically inaccurate information about vaccines surface on the websites where many Americans get their information, among them YouTube and Google search. As I have discussed with you in other contexts, and as you have acknowledged, the algorithms which power these services are not designed to distinguish quality information from misinformation or misleading information, and the consequences of that are particularly troubling for public health issues.
Repetition of information, even if false, can often be mistaken for accuracy . . . .
Additionally, even parents and guardians who seek out accurate information about vaccines could unwittingly reach pages and videos with misinformation.
The unintentional irony is, of course, the fact that “medically inaccurate information about vaccines” is promulgated and repeated ad infinitum by mainstream media all the time. Even the mantra that “vaccines are safe and effective” is medically inaccurate. According to a Harvard Pilgrim project commissioned by the CDC, 2.6% of all vaccinations given resulted in reportable adverse events, and the government’s own Vaccine Injury Table indicates that measles vaccine can—and does—cause anaphylaxis, as well as encephalopathy and encephalitis. For those who don’t know what that means, encephalitis is brain inflammation and encephalopathy is brain disease. The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program had compensated nearly 1300 families for brain injuries from vaccines when Hannah Poling’s family was compensated for her injury that led to her autism back in in 2008. (When approximately 200 of those families were tracked down and interviewed, 40% revealed that their children had autism.) To call products that can permanently destroy the neurological function of healthy babies “safe” is disingenuous at best, misleading and medically inaccurate at worst. “Safety” is clearly in the eye of the beholder; for parents witnessing vaccine-induced neuroimmune dysfunction in their children, vaccines don’t even begin to qualify.
To add to the irony, if parents really want to find accurate information, they have to make a point of looking well beyond the government-and-pharmaceutical-company-sanctioned pablum already being selectively offered by Facebook and Google algorithms. Facebook and Google have been automatically demoting vaccine-critical pieces for years. This practice is known as “shadow banning” and is currently severely hampering our ability to reach people with medically accurate information. Fortunately, there are many, many parents doing the work, and many more who are starting to wonder just what their government is working so hard to hide.
Proposed vaccine exemption removal legislation
But that doesn’t mean this censorship trend isn’t deeply disturbing. Just as happened back in 2015, when 147 people (predominantly adults) contracted measles associated with a trip to Disneyland, lawmakers across the country are buying into the media talking points and dropping bills written by pharmaceutical lobbyists designed to remove all vaccine exemptions, believing that by passing these laws they will be protecting children and promoting public health. The problem is that lawmakers are basing that belief on “medically inaccurate information.” In all likelihood the proposed solution to the problem of measles would do the exact opposite of protecting children and promoting public health.
Representative Schiff and I are in agreement on one point, it is imperative from a public health perspective to oppose medical misinformation.
To that end, James Lyons-Weiler, PhD, of the Institute for Pure and Applied Knowledge, and Kevin Barry, JD, of First Freedoms, determined that a series of Cornerstones of Freedom conferences were in order. These conferences are designed to bring people together to solve the dual problems of suppression of accurate medical information and legislation intended to further restrict the human right to decline non-emergency medical interventions with known serious risks.
Cornerstones of Freedom, Newark, NJ
I was lucky enough to attend the first Cornerstones conference held in Newark, New Jersey, on April 6. The one-day agenda was packed with a powerful line-up of vaccine-choice advocates, including attorneys Barry, Michael Sussman, Robert Krakow, Jim Moody, Mary Holland, and Patricia Finn, pediatricians Lawrence Palevsky and Paul Thomas, John Gilmore of Autism Action Network, The HighWire’s Catharine Layton and Anu Vaidya, and my good friend Karen Kain, mother of Lorrin, a girl so severely injured by her first and only vaccine that she never spoke or walked before dying of her injuries at the tender age of 15.
I say I was lucky to be there because watching the veritable mountain of manure being shoveled in the mainstream media and in legislative chambers all over the country can be extremely disheartening. The conference was exactly the boost I needed to keep doing what needs to be done if we can ever hope to regain some semblance of good health for our children and grandchildren.
It was clear from the conference just how pervasive and systemic the censorship is. Karen’s description of how Vaccine Injury Compensation Program petitioners are isolated from public view and actively hushed up, with non-disclosure clauses a frequent part of settlements, was bad enough, but she went on to tell us about a sympathetic reporter who, after assuring Karen that she would be allowed to tell Karen’s story fairly, was summarily fired before being able to publish.
Systemic suppression of good science
Catharine Layton reported on the defunding of credible, conscientious scientists who dare to report findings that do not support “the more vaccines the better” narrative. I’m already quite familiar with the systemic suppression of science, but Layton’s discussion of Spanish researcher Lluís Luján’s work on why sheep vaccinated against bluetongue are so sick was freshly infuriating. Like most scientists today, Lluján looked everywhere but the vaccine first, even though logically the vaccine itself was the most likely explanation. Finally, his integrity demanded that he look more closely at the vaccine, and what he found was horrifying. The sheep’s brains were riddled with aluminum, similar to what Christopher Exley has found in the brains of people with autism. Sheep injected with the aluminum adjuvant alone became antisocial and self-harming. And for the first time in Lluján’s distinguished scientific career, a journal was pressured to withdraw his peer-reviewed research.
Such stories are extremely dispiriting for those of us with science backgrounds who understand just how far such pressures pervert scientific understanding, which is why Dr. Lawrence Palevsky’s presentation on the scientific method and how it’s supposed to work was a heartening reminder that there are still some people who understand that science should be about following data to reveal truth, not to support a financial, social, or political agenda. I find it infuriating when people who claim to “fucking love science” parade an imposter as their purported paramour. Frankly, I wonder if most of these supposed “skeptics” would recognize science if it bit them on the butt. The alternative to cluelessness on their part is even more infuriating: They know they are championing a perversion of science and not the real thing.
Getting the message out
I’m sorry to say that I didn’t know Anu Vaidya, of The HighWire with Del Bigtree, before the conference. He blew me away with a short presentation on how to get around current restrictions on our messaging. His two main points were first that we need to reach young people where they are, and that is not Facebook and Twitter. So far we are not reaching them in the numbers that we need to in order to turn the tide. And secondly, none of us can afford to stick to our comfort zones. Vaccine-choice advocates get to know a platform and prefer to cling to it. Platforms’ rules, demographics, and algorithms are constantly shifting, and we must be flexible enough to shift with them. To that end Vaidya advocates “buying up real estate” on all social media platforms and using them all to amplify our messaging across as many demographics as possible. No matter how disgusted we are with it, leaving Facebook altogether is not a viable option, nor is ignoring Instagram. In my experience no one can be truly effective everywhere at once; therefore, we need to consciously and intentionally work together to amplify each other’s messaging working across all platforms at once. I made sure to introduce myself to Anu after his talk and get his card.
Lyons-Weiler, followed up John Gilmore, made some of the most salient observations of the day. As new communications technologies develop, they become existential threats to old technologies, which are controlled by those in hold power. Facebook and Google, are not just new companies; like television, radio, and the printing press before them, they are new communications technologies that are rapidly replacing the old ways that people exchange information. And like the communication revolutions of the past, this one is following a predictable pattern that starts with a Wild West free-for-all, then the initiation of regulation, before ending up being controlled by the oligopoly. While that’s a discouraging thought, it’s also an uplifting one. The free exchange of ideas is so valuable that new technologies will always rise to enable it. One reason this censorship issue is so important because policies enacted now may set precedent for technologies that we can’t even imagine yet.
Vaccinated vs. non-vaccinated?
The other major reason is that if the various state governments actually do pass these proposed laws, many people will be likely to comply with them–and that must not happen. Why? Because the best way to hide evidence of injury is to eliminate the control group. If everyone is forced to receive all the vaccines required by their state, there will be no child left who has not received many doses of powerful immune-modulating drugs we call vaccines. If everyone is vaccinated, it becomes nearly impossible to prove that the harms that result from vaccination. There can never be a true vaccinated vs. non-vaccinated study, and it’s game over for our children–game, set, and match to the pharmaceutical companies.
In the meantime, Facebook, Google, YouTube, and Twitter have become the new “town square,” which is why a federal court recently ruled that Donald Trump could not block Twitter users from his feed. The judge said that the social media platform is a “designated public forum.” Therefore, it follows that these companies are subject to first amendment considerations of free speech, and government in the form of Rep. Adam Schiff cannot legally suppress speech which is critical of government policies.
While I am reminded daily of stupid, evil—and successful—programs of censorship of the past—such as moving Jews into ghettos to keep information about what Nazis were doing to them from getting out or Senator Joseph McCarthy’s demonization of Communist ideas, with the subsequent witch hunt and blacklisting of anyone known to entertain them—it was impossible to attend the Cornerstones of Freedom conference and not realize that we have a powerful and extremely able group of attorneys on our side in this fight to retain first amendment freedoms in order to save our children.
One cannot help but be cheered knowing that Michael Sussman, Mary Holland, Jim Moody, Bob Krakow, Patti Finn, Kevin Barry—and last but certainly not least—Bobby Kennedy Jr. are on it.
~ Zoey O’Toole
Two more Cornerstones of Freedom conferences are planned for Ohio and Seattle in the next few months. Plan to attend if you can.
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For more by Zoey O’Toole (a.k.a. Professor), click here.