At various times I’ve touched on the anti-vaccine lobby manifesting a type of pseudo-neoconservative approach in sustaining an urgency of fear.
Scientific skepticism has proven a ready Enemy Of The People. Rolled out by antivaccinationists as existing to suppress our rights, free choice, free speech and even democracy itself. The rather vacuous notion that the scientific method is a flawed ideology appears a necessary sale. It is an essential component of the uncritical thinking peddled by Meryl Dorey and Co. that ultimately makes up evidence denial.
A certain PhD candidate reaching new heights in vaccine denial at the University of Wollongong is supervised by a professor who is not merely a member of the Australian (anti) Vaccination Network. His depreciation of the scientific method to just another “paradigm”, is embellished by a deft understanding of the devaluation of “targets” and the provocation of outrage and distrust in the eyes of onlookers. This last aspect lends itself splendidly to accusations of oppression, abuse, bullying, threats, censorship and corruption along the lines of Big Pharma and the Pharma Shill.
Apparently once having devalued critics and targets enough you can take risks with simple decency. Take this observation (August 24th) from Meryl Dorey, founder of the AVN Inc. Meryl has this year sought Apprehended Violence Orders from authors who wrote on the Internet what she deemed unacceptable. Hmmm. More on that later.
With mass vaccination, evidence supporting not only its efficacy but a thunderous victory in the risk-benefit equation is abundantly clear. To contend that there is a “vaccination debate” surrounding scientific evidence or the relevant disciplines is an exercise in intellectual dishonesty. Worse still, to continue to massage the staple arguments against vaccination is to risk the health of others across the entire community. Faced with the present evidence vacuum and obvious perpetration of such towering immorality, the antivaccinationist would be wise to apply pseudo-neoconservative philosophy.
In March 2004 the Central European University hosted a lecture on terrorism entitled, There shall be no Security without an Enemy: Terrorism, Neo-Conservatism and Modern Governance. Whilst clearly focusing on the danger of terrorism, it is this piece of the synopsis that relates to the ever-present conspiracy theory driving fear and distrust of vaccines:
Against a faceless and stateless enemy, modern powers could find themselves caught up in an uncontrollable spiraling that threatens their founding premises.
In Taking The Fight To The Enemy: Neoconservatism and the age of ideology (Lexington Books, 2012), Adam Fuller underscores the fear of the “Technocracy”. Those familiar with AVN supporter, conspiracy theorist Leon Pittard of Fair Dinkum Radio, will perhaps recognise his use of that term and also of “Scientocracy”.
You can catch Meryl and Leon chatting here.
Whilst antivaccinationists may not seek to convince us our way of life is under dire threat from a destructive enemy, the faceless enemy eroding the essence of our freedom, rights and way of life makes up much of their narrative. It is the cultural aspect of neoconservatism that manifests most notably in their conspiracy theories. You may be familiar with Health Fascism. Or Dorey and radio host Tiga Bayles likening Australia to a communist nation, claims of death threats to suppress vaccine truth, vaccines do not work, vaccines kill and injure and so on.
G.M. foods, fluoride in water, other “toxic” processed foods and medicines, hospital births, evidence based medicine and more are all open to a similar cultural slur. These areas are presented as a loss of our right to choose. “Health Choices” are under threat. As I noted above there is no sustainable argument that vaccines are unnecessary or possibly responsible for any of the chronic diseases antivaccinationists attribute to them.
The vast majority of parents can see through this. Yet there is always a case for trying to convince the public that it may be forced to do something – even if it would have chosen to do so anyway. This is ideal for devaluing “targets” and evoking outrage. Enter the ever-present lie of imminent “compulsory vaccination” which Meryl Dorey has been profiting from since February 2007.
A perfectly molded neocon’ fear that the enemy within is waiting to ensure you do what they want. That you do not say “no”. Except of course it is false. When pressed, Dorey defends by claiming it is health workers she is fighting for. But in reality Dorey has targeted the public with this irrational and unnecessary fear for years. Consider these slides from just over 5 years ago.
FROM MARCH 2008 – INVERELL FORUM
By Meryl Dorey
A typical example of this outright deception occurred courtesy of the AVN Inc., on the heels of Meryl Dorey losing her second vexatious AVO case this year. The first loss was on April 26th this year. On August 24th, Dan Buzzard defendant in the most recent case wrote:
The end result?
Case dismissed, costs application against Ms Dorey for just over $11,000. The system works.
Pleas for financial donations on Meryl’s behalf were predicted within social media. Yesterday this post appeared on the AVN Facebook page. See Update below:
Astonishing. The claim that Dr. Di Natale had claimed the Green’s policy and that of both major parties was for compulsory vaccination. Then a call for donations and membership. Immediately after that a call to write to local members to voice your outrage at this impending policy, because “we may be a minority but we will not be silent!”.
What I’d read in late June about Dr. Di Natale’s involvement in passing a Senate motion for the AVN to disband did not suggest he was a bloke careless enough to be passing headline secrets to members of the public. I tweeted yesterday with this link and the Facebook screenshot above, to which Dr. Di Natale replied earlier today.
Indeed. Dorey is now in need of money and the above indicates the lengths she is prepared to go to. Deceiving members – check. Deceiving the public – check. Dishonest raising of donation funds – check. Lying about an Australian Senator – check. Urging readers to waste time and annoy their local members – check. Advertising subscriptions for a defunct magazine – check.
One thing seems sure. There may well be no security in the pursuit of anti-vaccine ideology without an enemy.
That doesn’t bode well for public health.
August 27 UPDATE: Yesterday Stop The Australian (anti) Vaccination Network posted this revelation:
It has been brought to our attention that the following response from Senator Richard Di Natale was sent to AVN President Gregg Beattie in regards to the latest AVN grab for cash to fight the non-existent push for compulsory vaccination:
Dear Mr Beattie,
I am writing to you regarding recent claims by the AVN about my position on compulsory vaccination.
As I have made abundantly clear with the AVN in the past, neither the Greens nor I support compulsory vaccination.
The AVN’s recent claims about my views are merely the latest in a long and shameful history of malicious falsehoods. Your attempt to raise funds off the back of these claims is another low and desperate act by an organisation rightly condemned across the political spectrum and the wider community.
UPDATE 2: news.com.au – AVN Campaigner ordered to pay $11,000 in costs:
Greens health spokesman and doctor Senator Richard Di Natale has condemned a blog post by Dorey in which she claims he supports making vaccination compulsory and then appeals for donations.
The Senator has written to complain and told News Corporation “I take issue with the fact she has misrepresented my position and used to try and make money from the lie to fill the coffers of the AVN,” he says.
“Our policy is that vaccination is one of the most effective public health measures ever introduced, but in the end people have a choice whether to vaccinate their children but that choice should be based on accurate information,” Senator Di Natale says.
Ms Dorey declined an opportunity to comment on her loss in court yesterday.