Anti-vaxxer threatens scientists with “lynching”
I have posted here extensively about the obvious, more prosaic effects that the anti-vaccination movement has on public health. It is clear to most people right now that it is the unvaccinated who are spreading the measles outbreak throughout the United States, for example. This is shown at the CDC website which clearly demonstrates that 90% of those stricken with the disease–the number of cases is now at a 15-year high–were unvaccinated or had unknown vaccination status (1). In addition, unless you live under a rock, you are very familiar with the recently exposed “Pox Party” movement, which includes shipments of viruses using the mail, as I have blogged about a few times previously. You can also see a primer on this idiocy at the link below (2), which another blogger, Mike the Mad Biologist, quite justifiably likened to bioterrorism (3). The latter is a concept I’ve been thinking a lot about with regard to the anti-vaccination movement, though from a slightly different angle.
Recently, the rhetoric of this movement has been ratcheted up a notch. We all know that Dr. Paul Offit, probably the most well-known proponent of vaccination in the United States, has received many death threats from anti-vaccinators who disagree with his opinion (4). Offit is without question one of the most knowledgeable people on the planet about vaccinations, and yet for his good work his life is threatened. Although to him it probably didn’t feel that way, these events used to be fairly isolated. But threats and violent statements from the anti-vaxxers have been increasing of late, mixed in with a creepy cult-like vibe.
Below I discuss the latest and most disturbing diatribe that I have witnessed to date, via a link posted on Dr. Sherri Tenpenny’s Facebook page (5), which led to a blog post entitled “String the Bastards Up” (6). This is not the first time Tenpenny’s page has included threatening posts or messages by her acolytes; on Friday, September 23rd, a poster wrote what appeared to be a bomb threat about the group “Get Vaccinated Ohio”, as follows:
TAKE A LOOK AT THIS
SEE IF THERE IS ONE FOR YOUR STATE?
I’M GETTING READY TO BOMB THEM !
Why a physician would allow posts like this to remain on her Facebook wall is utterly incomprehensible. Regardless, the latest post was written by a fellow calling himself “Dr. Marc Sircus”, a name I had not encountered before in the Annals of Antivaxxers. “Doctor” Sircus’ author section on his blog reads:
I hold the honorary title of doctor of Oriental medicine and was one of the first nationally certified acupuncturists in the United States over 20 years ago. I have distilled divergent medical systems to an essence that provides a roadmap toward a unified medicine.
In other words, his credentials are questionable at best. Nonetheless “Dr. Sircus” shared his amazing knowledge of vaccination with the world on November 12, 2011. Here are some extremely disturbing quotes from the blog entry, in which the good doctor calls for the murder of physicians and scientists who support vaccination.
For all those who are for the death penalty, my message will be clear. I am calling for the conviction and the worst possible punishment under the law for certain people in government who are in the medical field. There seems to be no limit to what our present society will accept. We are letting the bankers and the shysters on Wall Street destroy western civilization, allowing them the fattest paychecks on earth as a reward. And we are letting doctors in white coats inject poisonous heavy metals into babies and paying them well for it.
Well, okay, at least here he is calling for a trial before scientists are executed. However, Sircus goes on to say that everyone who works for the CDC deserves to be “lynched”. In case you don’t know, the Merriam-Webster definition of lynching is, “to put to death (as by hanging) by mob action without legal sanction”. It’s really rather frowned upon here in the United States.
They say there is a sucker born every minute but I think things have gotten out of hand. Before I go into detail about what has been clear to many of us for years I want to bring the image of the case of a monster who commits mass murder and torments children and their parents. In this case we have a group of them who deserve to be lynched and they work for the federal government at the Centers of Disease Control (CDC).
Sircus goes on to spew misinformation about vaccines that has been debunked by many, many researchers, and then goes on to say:
So you can understand why I think these people should be lined up against a wall.
No, I can’t, Sircus. One of his commenters takes these threats to the obvious next level:
I love the fact you are trying to hold these people who have done indescribable harm accountable. But, one of the reasons they get away with this, is people are reluctant to name names. Do name them. Put their names on the Internet, in forums, on websites for all to see. If you know who they are, name them. Let all the world see their crimes. They escape because they can remain anonymous. Their colleagues, their families, their professional connections, should all know what they do. Let them be named!!!
Thankfully for scientists at the CDC and others in the United States who publicly support vaccination, Sircus apparently lives in Brazil. Let’s he hope he doesn’t take a page out of the pox party playbook and start using the mail system to make his revolting point.
In conclusion, the anti-vax movement has of late been increasing this type of rhetoric all over the internet. Sircus might be dismissed as a single loon with no influence whatsoever. But the increasing number of examples of this type of language on the web may, some day soon, reach the ears of a person who can and will resort to violence, spurred on by people calling themselves “doctors”. As a whole, the anti-vax movement is a group of people united by an ideology which is strong on emotion and weak on rationality. I hope I am wrong, but I sense a change in a certain subgroup of anti-vaxxers that is nothing short of chilling.