Quack Ban?

There’s been a bunch of articles about an upcoming series of seminars planned for a number of venues in Australia. These seminars feature well known anti-vaccination osteopath Sherri Tenpenny, author of Saying No to Vaccines. You can read some highlights from her here on Reasonable Hank’s blog. She’s the headline act, along with Norma Erikson, president of anti-vaccine group SaneVax. The seminars appear to be being run by Stephanie Messenger, who authored a (pretty terrible) book called Melanie’s Marvellous Measles.

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Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee

Stop the AVN have launched a letter writing campaign to let all hosting venues know the nature of the seminars that are planned. To quote the SAVN::

We at SAVN have resolved to write to the venues hosting these events to let them know the true nature of the lectures. You can expect anti-vax canards, homeoprophylaxis and SIDS is caused by vaccines, just for a start. We assert this tour represents a risk to public health and we will be making that clear to venue owners and politicians.

Please consider doing the same.

This is an idea I can get behind. Many venues simply take bookings without knowing the finer details of what they are booking, much like the venues originally booked by Julien Blanc last year, the self-professed “pick-up artist” who makes his living by telling men how to sexually manipulate and assault women. It gives the venue the right to decide if they will be a party to such an event- an informed decision.

I like informed decisions. It’s why I choose to vaccinate my kids. The evidence is there for anyone to read. What I don’t like so much is mis-information, which is exactly what Tenpenny and her cohorts are coming here to spread. For profit. It’s what they do. There’s the tickets, which range from $70 or so to just over $200.Then there’s the books, vitamin pills and other merchandise they sell online, like this astonishingly incorrect tee-shirt:

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Image Source (Fair Warning: It might make you mad)

There’s also another campaign being driven by the Mamamia website that is calling on readers to contact Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and the Minister for Health Sussan Ley to revoke Sherri Tenpenny’s visa and prevent her from entering the country. I read this article on Kidspot that wholeheartedly agrees that Tenpenny is a dangerous quack (and pulls no punches when saying so!)…but says that banning her from the country is going “too far”.

I can’t decide whether or not I agree with Kidspot on this one. The term “free speech” has been thrown around. A lot. But here’s the thing: Free speech is not protected by Australian law. It’s implied. But that’s it. We don’t actually live under the American constitution, as some folk seem to think.

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From the Mamamia article- comments section.

Even so, should free speech rights anywhere protect people who spread potentially harmful lies?

Realistically, the majority of people going to these planned events are going to be the already converted and preventing these events won’t necessarily prevent the continued spread of anti-vaccination ideas. There are other anti-vaccine proponents already in Australia and, of course, there’s always the internet; a place where confirming your worst fears and wildest conspiracies is only a quick google away.

In all honesty, the thought of Tenpenny & Co convincing even one family not to vaccinate their kids based on fear-mongering lies turns my stomach. These people espouse conspiracy theories as facts and claim that not only are vaccines ineffective and dangerous, but also that every single study showing otherwise is somehow falsified for the purpose of making money out of vaccines.

Yet they are literally making money from dishing out irresponsible, unscientific, unproven and potentially deadly advice. The danger of that aside- the hypocrisy is outrageous.

Want another tee-shirt with that?

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Source: Tenpenny’s online store.

Further reading on the subject:

Immunisation: Facts and Misconceptions

Vaccine Safety

World Health Organisation- Vaccines

6 Myths about Vaccination

Vaccine-Preventable Outbreak Map

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