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Anti-vaxxer threatens scientists with “lynching”

November 14, 2011

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
POISONED MEDIA!
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.

(1) http://www.cdc.gov/measles/outbreaks.html

(2) http://www.kpho.com/story/15896021/cbs-5-investigates-mail-order-diseases

(3) http://mikethemadbiologist.com/2011/10/31/pox-parties-and-bioterrorism/

(4) http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/13/health/13auti.html

(5) http://www.facebook.com/vaccineinfo

(6) http://blog.imva.info/world-affairs/string-bastards

From → vaccines

17 Comments
  1. Great post. I covered this as well:

    http://reasonablehank.com/2011/11/13/im-anxious-and-confused/

    I like yours better :)

  2. Thanks Hank, and thanks for the link to your blog. I will be following!

  3. About a year ago I had an extensive discussion about the merits of national vaccination programs with several friends of mine. None were violent or extremist as those described in this post; but the misinformation (“neurotoxic additives”, “sanitation not vaccines saves lives”, etc.) and style of argument are the same. You can find a summary of the discussion at http://opinionsquestions.blogspot.com – you may be particularly interested in a forthcoming posting (to be published on Friday, November 18, 2011), which will be a review of the Vaccine Safety Manual. It’s a reference text for those in the anti-vaccination crowd that like a scientific veneer on their cherished beliefs – and, for me, is an excellent primer on the tools of rhetoric, propaganda, and misdirection.

  4. Great, thanks! I look forward to your upcoming posting. I agree about the misinformation and will be posting further about these issues as well.

  5. Tennpenny is an enormous joke. Too bad her followers are cultish about their views. I hope none of these threats ever materialize. But what if they did? What would happen? (Yet more food for thought as I continue to write “The Poxes”.)

    • Thanks for your comment Reuben. By the way, I have been reading The Poxes but for some reason I haven’t been allowed to comment. I really liked the last installment. Feel free to post a link here for my reader!

  6. Sircus’ blog is a veritable rats’ nest of woo and narcissistic whackjobbery.

    Bicarb of soda as a cancer treatment, anyone?

    • Too right, anarchic teapot. There is some stuff there that is almost as scary as death threats against scientists. I do not know how the quacktacular Sircus has been off my radar until now.

  7. I have just posted my review of the Vaccine Safety Manual: http://opinionsquestions.blogspot.com/2011/11/book-review-vaccine-safety-manual.html. It’s frightening that people take this book quite seriously. I imagine it is responsible for many people refusing to vaccinate their children.

    Your thoughts and comments are welcome – please let me know what you think, and share the link if you like what you read.

    • Your post was excellent, L. Rosenblood. I tried to post on your page but couldn’t for some reason.

      • I’m glad you liked the post.

        I’m not sure why you were unable to comment; others have done so successfully. Perhaps it was simply a faulty page load.

        • I don’t know. There are several sites where I’ve been unable to post comments. I am sure it’s something I’m doing wrong. Anyway, it was a really well-written post.

  8. Thanks very much! Now I have some vacation reading material.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Anti-vaccination attorney to lose license for professional misconduct? « SkewedDistribution
  2. Anti-vaxxer Sherri Tenpenny: “Doctors and Public Health officials are the enemy” « SkewedDistribution
  3. Tenpenny blames vaccines for Newtown shooting « SkewedDistribution
  4. What happened to Tenpenny’s Facebook page? « SkewedDistribution

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