It’s been a bad week for anti-vaxxers.
After the upcoming Australian tour of American osteopath and anti-vaccine campaigner Sherri Tenpenny was leaked by opponents, Australians were outraged. We don’t tolerate anti-vaccine campaigners too well down here; see the destruction of the Australian Vaccination – Skeptics Network (AV-SN) for evidence of that. The good folk at Stop the Australian (anti) Vaccination Network (SAVN) have worked tirelessly for years to put a stop to the misinformation and financial shenanigans of the AV-SN and by all appearances their work is done. I am assured that they are ready to continue their good work should the zombie that is the AV-SN rear its ugly head again, but even Meryl Dorey admits that membership (or, financial support from supportive parties, once a large proportion of the AV-SN’s income), is no longer their focus. Could it be that Ms Dorey knows that the AV-SN is so on the nose that even she accepts that their support base has been all but wiped out by the exposure that SAVN wrought down on them?
Anyway, I digress. Sherri Tenpenny is an American osteopathic physician who was raised unvaccinated by her anti-vaccine parents and missed the whole third grade of her schooling due to vaccine preventable and other illnesses. It’s a shame she didn’t learn about science, evidence and the peer review process in her training, but then again, anti-vaccinationism is more like a religion than a position a person arrives at via science and evidence. It is a position anti-vaxxers hold on to ferociously despite the mountains of good evidence that proves them wrong. They don’t care about evidence, they only care about their position. Ms Tenpenny definitely fits this mold and holds some truly bizarre beliefs about vaccines. Reasonable Hank provides some insight into Ms Tenpenny and the tour here:
Once news of her visit down here was leaked, SAVN and the pro-vaccine community swung into action. Letters have been written to ministers requesting her visa be disallowed and to venues asking they reconsider hosting the anti-vaccine events. Then the media got wind of the campaign and it was all down hill from there for Tenpenny and the organiser, Stephanie Messenger. Ms Messenger holds equally bizarre beliefs about vaccination and is the author of several idiotic children’s books including “Melanie’s Marvelous Measles”. Reasonable Hank collated all the media coverage here and you might find the Diluted Thinking investigation of the businesses / charities linked to the tour interesting as well. At the time of writing the media coverage count sits at 32 news items, none of it has been positive for the anti-vaccine campaigners.
At this stage, six event bookings at five venues have been canceled by venue management, two venues have not commented, and Rydges Hotels are citing “freedom of speech” as their reason to honor their booking. This wont end well for Rydges, you can contact them here to share your thoughts on their stance. It has been confirmed that the venues were misled about the nature of the events, with the bookings being made by a “charity” of Stephanie Messenger’s called “Get Rid of SIDS Project Inc”. This “charity” is set up to “promote the prevention or the control of diseases in human beings”. I can find little information about the activities of this “charity” except that they sell cot mattress covers telling parents they prevent SIDS. That’s a whole other issue, and considering that Ms Messenger asserts on her website that “SIDS in Australia mostly happens at 2, 4 and 6 months – some will definitely be vaccination deaths!”, I hate to think what this “charity’s” activities actually involve.
Ms Tenpenny, Ms Messenger and the rest of the anti-vaccine community have learned something they should have already known, and they have learned it the hard way. Australia will not take their nonsense lying down. Australians will tackle them and their dangerous misinformation head on. We don’t like people lying to parents for profit or endangering children. Anti-vaccine campaigners will never have it easy in this country. Take heed.
Now, who better than grumpy cat to have the final word for this post?
Updated to add: Ms Tenpenny’s tour of Australia was canceled, due to the backlash against her and the venues planning to host her. Australia stood tall and said “No you don’t, not here.” I couldn’t be more proud of the way the community swung into action on this. Well done to all involved, particularly SAVN for taking the lead, and having set a previous example of how to deal with anti-vaccine campaigners by their excellent work dismantling the Australian Vaccination – Skeptics Network.