Damn! That’s another irony meter blown. And it was the industrial version too.
Readers of Orac’s blog will already know that anti vaccinationist and founder of the The National Vaccine Information (sic) Center Barbara Loe Fisher is suing Dr. Paul Offit, Amy Wallace, and Condé Nast for libel, for their very reasonable (and factually correct) article in Wired about the anti-vaccine militia: An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All. As Orac wrote, suing people who you disagree with, instead of presenting evidence to support your case “sums up the attitude of all too many anti-science activists. They can't win on the science; so they try to suppress criticism through legal action.” And as Orac wrote, Fisher’s selection of Virginia as the state to file her suit, means that the suit will not be thrown out under a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) statute – one designed to prevent lawsuits designed solely to silence debate – because Virginia doesn’t have such a statute. (Hum. Funny how she chose Virginia to file the suit when the three defendants live in Pennsylvania, California and New York.)
So why did my industrial strength irony meter blow? Well, Barbara Loe Fisher just wrote a piece on the Age of Autism blog, entitled 2010 Needs A Fearless Conversation About Vaccination. Well, yeah, because we’d all love to have a conversation free of the fear of a freaking lawsuit from Barbara Loe Fisher and her anti-vaccination loon friends. It takes some serious chutzpah to call for a fearless discussion on your pet subject in the same week that you took out a lawsuit to silence the opposition.
Fisher’s post is quite astonishing. In it she lists all the things she says people were scared about in the last decade – basically it’s just terrorism, but she draws it out by listing weaponized smallpox scares and bioterrorism, but also manages to include her pet project – vaccines. So does she mean the false scare stories about vaccines – the false claims that they cause autism, or other problems? You know, all the anti-vaccine scaremongering that has been covered on this blog and elsewhere? Well, no. Of course not. Get a load of this:
The Decade of Fear began on September 11, 2001, a day of indescribable loss that marked the ending of so much. Among the losses was the end of a civil and substantive conversation about vaccine safety that had taken shape during the previous two decades 4 but which - after September 11, 2001 - was hijacked by fear. [My bold.]
Zing! Vaccines linked to 9/11 in one step. (I hope she paid Rudy Giuliani his royalty.)
Hopefully, 2010 will be the beginning of a fearless and fierce search for the truth about health and vaccination that will enlighten us all.
Yeah, “hopefully” scientists reporting the facts will be able to do so without fear of intimidation. Unfortunately the new decade hasn’t started out with that hope, thanks to Fisher and her lawyers. Of course, what Fisher really means is that she should be free of fear to promote her anti-vaccine nonsense. People who disagree with her though – that’s another matter.
As a final irony in the “and fierce search for the truth” arena, I tried to leave a comment on Fisher’s blog pointing out quite politely that the conversation about vaccines might be more fearless if people like Barbara Loe Fisher didn't sue people who publicly disagreed with her. Guess what happened. (No prizes.) It never made it through moderation. I guess Fisher has found a way to deal with her fear of contradictory views – she just ignores them.
It’s only January 7th and we already have our first nomination for a 2010 Golden Woo. Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.