Monthly Archives: September 2010

AVN still wants to fight with the experts

Everyone’s favorite joke the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) is hitting back against the New South Wales; Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) for issuing a public warning about the information that the AVN has been distributing. The public warning can be found here. The HCCC recommended that the AVN place disclaimers on their website to inform the public that they are an Anti-Vaccination Lobby Group.

Meryl Dorey, who runs the AVN and considers herself above jurisdiction of the authorities refused to comply with the recommendations of the HCCC which then issued the public warning resulting in a media storm around Meryl and the AVN. In a recent media release the AVN has stated.

The HCCC does not have the authority to recommend that the AVN put this or any other statement on its website. The AVN is not a health service provider in the usual sense: it does not provide clinical management or care for individual clients. Instead, the AVN is a non-government organisation providing a point of view on a matter of public debate.

The AVN may not provide clinical care to patients but it does take on the role of a public health educator and even holds lectures in public academic institutions such as the State Library. The AVN also claims to be a “Vaccine Safety Watchdog” and requests that members of the public report any adverse health problems to them.

The HCCC misunderstands the role of public debate on controversial issues affecting public health. In the vaccination controversy, different participants operate on the basis of different assumptions and values, for example about the importance of individual choice. The HCCC has adopted pro-vaccination assumptions and values. In other words, it has adopted a partisan position. That is not its role.

The HCCC is not a debate moderator. The purpose of their investigation was the asses and evaluate the accuracy of the information appearing on the AVN’s website. Science does not care for debate on matters of opinion science is all about verifying the evidence to confirm a hypothesis, personal opinion holds little value. Upon investigation the HCCC found that the AVN 

  • provides information that is solely anti-vaccination
  • contains information that is incorrect and misleading
  • quotes selectively from research to suggest that vaccination may be dangerous.

This is not opinion but is the result of thorough investigation into the accuracy information being distributed by the AVN.

By issuing a public warning about the AVN, the HCCC overstepped its mandate. By the logic of its stand, it might also investigate complaints against organisations presenting information and viewpoints about pesticides, climate change, nuclear power, stem cells, genetic engineering, nanotechnology and nuclear weapons, because, in each of these areas of debate, incorrect statements might pose a risk to public health and safety.

Not a single organisation presenting information on any of these topics is immune from scientific scrutiny. If any of them do provide misleading information in order to support a belief they are often exposed by regulatory authorities and the media. Perhaps the AVN have their head in the sand if they believe they are the only organisation to ever get busted spreading false information.

The complaints to the HCCC against the AVN are part of a systematic campaign to shut down the AVN and deny its ability to provide information about the disadvantages of vaccination. Those who have attacked the AVN have ridiculed and slandered AVN members, made false claims about their beliefs, made numerous complaints to a variety of official bodies, and made personal threats against individuals. The HCCC has allowed itself to be a tool of opponents of the AVN.

Yes, it’s true there is a campaign to shut the AVN down. Many people feel the social responsibility to speak out when they see anti-vaccination kooks spread misinformation and fear mongering in order to drive the rates of vaccination down. However no evidence can be found to support the AVN’s claim to have received death threats. Allot of people accused of threatening the AVN have asked for the evidence to be made public. So far the AVN has refused to provide supporting evidence for their accusations, this should not come as any surprise since the AVN seem to have a real problem with evidence.

Pope protestors march in London

On Saturday thousands of people marched in London to protested the visit of Pope Benedict XVI. The visit is being paid for by UK tax payers some of whom joined the 20,000 strong protest. The march whent from Hyde Park to Whitehall where the rally was held.

Andrew Copson from the British Humanist Association opened up the speeches.

It’s true that as a matter of national policy we don’t use our status as a nation to lobby at the UN against the human rights of women or the human rights of lesbian and gay people. It’s true that our state doesn’t use its recognition as a state to lobby against the use of condoms, even in places suffering epidemics of AIDS. It’s true that our country has never, as a matter of national policy, concealed the sexual abuse of children and frustrated justice for survivors of sexual abuse. But I don’t think this makes us a moral wasteland! And I’d rather be a citizen of Britain than of the Holy See. -Andrew Copson

The tide is turning against the Pope. When he isn’t protecting paedophile priests from the law he is fueling a third world AIDS epidemic. Or using the status of the Holy See to lobby against human rights. The public backlash against the pope should serve as a warning that people want justice to be done. This protest sends a clear message that allot of people do not approve of the Pope; and for good reason. So far the pope and his freakshow have gotten away with covering up paedophile activity but with the world increasingly becoming more secular these human rights abuses can’t continue forever.

Gillard wants prohibited debate.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard wants to talk about euthanasia, a topic that is banned from discussion under the Australian Government censorship regime.

Julia Gillard has opened the way for a fresh debate on legalising euthanasia after the Greens leader, Bob Brown, nominated it as one of his top priorities.

While three state parliaments wrestle with euthanasia legislation, the Prime Minister and Senator Brown are expected to discuss the Greens’ demand for the repeal of legislation preventing territory governments from legalising voluntary euthanasia. Sydney Morning Herald

Dr Philip Nitschke founder of Exit International has had his book titled The Peaceful Pill Handbook added to the Australian Governments ‘secret’ blacklist. The book is available online here and because our internet is currently uncensored we can access it. However a quick check of the blacklist shows that the (un-)Australian Government is very much against it’s citizens having access to euthanasia material.

Part of the ACMA Blacklist; is highlighted in green.

If you want to check the list yourself you can find it on The Sydney Morning Herald article “Web filtering pulls plug on euthanasia debate” also documents the governments anti-discussion stance.

So why does our Prime Minister suddenly want to discuss euthanasia. Certainly this puts her at odds with government policy. Still it’s good to see that some progress is being made.

Hopefully this will highlight how incompatible censorship is with a democratic society. Not even the PM will bow to the will of the censors, ironically her own party.

Web filtering pulls plug on euthanasia debate

Catholic Cardinal spits the dummy.

In the UK a senior cardinal of the Catholic Church has spat the dummy and accused the BBC of being bias in favor of Atheists. Because the BBC gives more time to Richard Dawkins than it does to the Church.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, claims that a radically secular and socially liberal outlook is tainting the corporation’s news and current affairs output, which is “utterly lacking” in professionalism and balance.

Cardinal O’Brien said disproportionate airtime was given to atheists such as Richard Dawkins, while mainstream Christian views had been marginalised. He said he was alarmed by a reduction in religious programming on the BBC and its failure to appoint a religion editor to mirror similar roles for the arts, science and business. The Australian

If the religious freak shows were more entertaining they might have better luck holding a crowd. It seems people in the UK are growing tired of the same old medieval bullshit that the Church has been repeating for hundreds of years. They want something fresh; like Richard Dawkins and Science.

The Catholic Church in particular has a long history of prejudice and it is nothing short of irony for them to spit the dummy when their inane rantings are now ignored by the mainstream media. These accusations of bias are unfounded since the BBC does give them airtime it’s just that they never come up with anything new If the BBC were to give them the same air time they give to science it would be endless reruns of unfounded bullshit, and that’s not what people want.