Today was the vaccine denialists’ day to rally for so-called “health freedom” in Grant Park in Chicago. This gambit is popular among the certifiably insane whose views are so utterly stupid and debunked that they dishonestly try to appeal to Americans’ sense of democracy and fair play even though reality isn’t up for a vote. Creationists have their “academic freedom” rhetoric too.
But it really just boils down to what I call the “I’m just sayin’…” gambit or, for those who have seen the film Thank You For Smoking, the “Ice Cream Freedom” gambit:
As Nick Nailor explains in the film clip above, this is just a tactic used to distract people from the real debate.
But as for the ‘health freedom’ rally in Chicago, Mr. Andy Wakefield, fresh off his losing his license to kill, I’m told was the keynote speaker. There were also satellite rallies in Edison, New Jersey, Washington, and New York City.
But I wouldn’t worry too much. I went over to the NYC rally. I was planning on just recording whatever speech they had planned and trying to get some short interviews with people without coming out as a critic of their views. But when I found the place, they kept one of the doors open to the outside and I could plainly see that there were only about ten people in the room. This was a half hour after it was supposed to start and I hung out outside for a little while. No one else seemed to show up, so I didn’t even bother to go in. I just left. Now maybe this just wasn’t very well publicized. Or maybe they just don’t have the numbers we all feared they had.
So if we were able to get 400 people to attend the North East Conference on Science and Skepticism (NECSS) this year and all they could muster in NYC for their big event was ten people, I think we’re in pretty good shape.
So far I’ve only read one in depth report of what actually went on at the Chicago Rally, and from that account, it sounds like the vaccine denialists have a worse case of “Nazi Tourrettes” than Glenn Beck.
But here’s also an hilarious report from a skeptical group that attended the Chicago rally…and got their pictures taken with Mr. Wakefield…while handing him a note telling him what a scumbag he is:
Dear Andrew Wakefield,
I know that you truly believe that what you are doing is helping people and that the ends justify the means, but I just want you to know that the things you are doing – the actions you have taken in the past have hurt people – killed people. Your work has scared and manipulated parents into not vaccinating their children, putting them and their entire community at risk, all in the name of safety. Children have died because of you. I just want to make sure that you fully understand that.