Public Health Official Forced To Shut Up On Twitter, Blog For Daring To Speak Honestly

from the real-names? dept

We've been discussing lately the importance of allowing for pseudonymity, rather than requiring real names, and Todd McDermid points us to another reason why pseudonyms can be useful online. Apparently a guy named Rene Najera has been blogging and tweeting about epidemiology while at the same time being employed by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Apparently, he was quite good at it, and many folks found his posts and tweets to be useful and informative.

However, he recently got into a Twitter discussion in which he defended vaccinations. I recognize this is a touchy subject to some, but only to those who don't pay attention to what the science actually says (or those who ignore that the main report anti-vaccination folks use was later found to be fraudulent). Given the serious health problems created by parents now refusing to vaccinate their children due to clueless anti-scientific fear-mongering, you would think that a government Department of Health would be thrilled that one of its employees was defending vaccinations and talking back to someone who was arguing against vaccines.

Instead, however, it appears that after the guy he was arguing with sent a barrage of emails to higher ups at the agency, Najera was told to stop "all social networking activity related to public health."

Now, it seems there are two issues here. One, as the article points out, this shows yet another situation where the ability to blog/tweet/etc. pseudonymously might help. If Najera was doing that, the person he was debating with wouldn't have been able to bombard his employer. That said, neither platfrom that Najera seemed to mainly use (Twitter and Blogger) does require real names, so he could have gotten away with being pseudonymous on those platforms (and perhaps will come back some other time doing so).

I think the bigger issue is that a Department of Health would reprimand him for such actions and tell him to stop speaking about public health issues. Does the Department of Health really prefer that the actual experts stay out of these discussions, leaving them to those who aren't informed?


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    Gwiz (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 11:36am

    If he was doing this on his own time and his own equipment (I don't really know if that is case or not), can the Health Department legally make him stop with the threat of firing him? That seems like a stretch, especially for a government agency.

     

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    A Dan (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 11:40am

    They'll come

    You've said the magic words and will probably draw the wrath of the anti-vaccination crowd to this post. Everyone brace yourselves for the anecdotal "evidence" of post hoc ergo propter hoc that is soon to come.

     

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      chris (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 12:20pm

      Re: They'll come

      hay, my cousin's roomate's uncle got the flu vaccine and was subsequently abducted by aliens.

      the vaccine is just a tagging system so the aliens know who to grab. they use bees to distribute it as well. i saw a documentary about it with this hot FBI agent in it.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 12:32pm

        Re: Re: They'll come

        No they don't use bees to distribute it, they tested on bees first which is why they've been disappearing.

        Facts, straight them get.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 12:28pm

      Re: They'll come

      Hey, I'm mostly anti-vaccination, and I still disagree with what the department of health did here. As a government entity, it has no business restricting the free speech of his employees regardless of whether he is pro-vaccination or anti-vaccination.

      Though I'm sure big pharma would be interested in correcting this on free speech grounds :) They have the resources.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 12:29pm

        Re: Re: They'll come

        its employees *

         

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        btr1701 (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 2:41pm

        Re: Re: They'll come

        > As a government entity, it has no business
        > restricting the free speech of his employees
        > regardless of whether he is pro-vaccination
        > or anti-vaccination.

        Most government agencies have a "one voice" policy and employees aren't allowed to speak publicly about agency business without permission. That's certainly the case with my agency. There have been several instances where I've stopped myself from commenting here on TechDirt about things which could be construed to apply to our jurisdiction.

         

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          senshikaze, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 3:00pm

          Re: Re: Re: They'll come

          why not do it via anon. coward and at a starbucks then clear your browser history and cache. I don't see why your business having a policy about something should stop you from doing something on your own free time.

           

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            Trails (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 4:10pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: They'll come

            That's fair. What's more is that the purpose of those policies is to prevent the agency/organization from being construed to have the opinions of the employee.

            Doing it anon, in a way that cannot be tracked back to org, resolves that issue.

             

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            btr1701 (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 5:03pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: They'll come

            > why not do it via anon. coward and at a starbucks then clear
            > your browser history and cache.

            Because that's ridiculous amount of trouble to go to in order to post a comment on TechDirt.

             

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          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 3:04pm

          Re: Re: Re: They'll come

          "Most government agencies have a "one voice" policy and employees aren't allowed to speak publicly about agency business without permission."

          and that's a bunch of nonsense. Us taxpayers need to stand up against this nonsense and demand that the government do away with such ridiculous policies.

           

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        Pitabred (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 4:45pm

        Re: Re: They'll come

        You realize that "big pharma" barely profits from most vaccines, and the main reason they still make them is because the government protects them from litigation with a special fund? http://www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation/index.html

        Vaccines are a GOOD thing. They're a way to train your immune system to fight diseases without you actually having to catch said disease. And they're highly safe and effective, if you actually take the time to check out the science.

        Go ask someone who is crippled from polio whether they'd rather have been vaccinated or not. Or an infant in an ICU with whooping cough. Or a kid with measles. I really think that this whole anti-vaccination kick is because people have no clue about how horrific the diseases we're inoculated against can be.

        http://www.vaccineinformation.org/pertuss/photos.asp
        http://www.vaccineinformation.org/measl es/photos.asp
        http://www.vaccineinformation.org/polio/photos.asp
        http://www.vaccineinformation.org /rubella/photos.asp

        Go ahead. Look at all of those photos. Look at the abject terror in the eyes of chose children. And tell me that the infinitesimally small number of people that have adverse reactions to vaccines is worse than that. Don't say that it can't happen here... we stop getting vaccinated and it DOES happen here.

        /rant

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 5:34am

          Re: Re: Re: They'll come

          I really think that this whole anti-vaccination kick is because people have no clue about how horrific the diseases we're inoculated against can be.

          I really think that this whole anti-vaccination kick is because people have come to distrust doctors in general. I don't think [reasonable] people doubt that those big-name diseases are really bad if you catch it. It's less about "is polio really that bad" and more about "how do I know you're telling me the whole story" and "I survived childhood with 1/2 these vaccinations, why does my child need all this," and "is it really a good idea to be inflicting such an aggrssive schedule (often times a half-dozen vaccines within a couple months) to young children?"

           

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          Rose M. Welch (profile), Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 6:03am

          Re: Re: Re: They'll come

          Look at the abject terror in the eyes of chose children. And tell me that the infinitesimally small number of people that have adverse reactions to vaccines is worse than that.

          You're advocating an emotional approach to scientific decisions? Really?

           

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            Trails (profile), Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 10:40am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: They'll come

            Sorry what? That's cherry picking, and absolutely not what he said.

            His point is lots of sick infants from preventable diseases is worse than a small number of adverse reactions. This is rational, not emotional. Just because he referred to an emotion does not make the statement emotional.

             

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              Rose M. Welch (profile), Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 9:35pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: They'll come

              Sorry what? You're clearly seeing things that he didn't say.

              His point was that you should ask people to tell you their feelings about their health, and then use those anecdotes to make a medical decision.

              If he wanted people to make a rational choice, he should have given numbers and sources, not emotion, emotion, emotion.

               

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      Rose M. Welch (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 4:27pm

      Re: They'll come

      The whole second paragraph was just asking for an off-topic brouhaha.

       

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    Chris ODonnell (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 11:46am

    If was tweeting anonymously though he would be just another joker spewing his opinion over the Internet. The fact that he wasn't anonymous, that he was an accountable public official telling us the truth, is what made his tweets valuable, and quite frankly, made him dangerous in the eyes of the anti-vaccine crowd.

    I'm a supporter of anonymity online, but I don't think this is a case that really supports that issue. This is a case of public officials forgetting that telling the truth should never be discouraged.

     

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      Trails (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 11:57am

      Re:

      I agree. This certainly raises the discussion of within what contexts can an employer limit an employee's speech.

      More importantly, it raises questions around what the hell the Maryland Dept. of Health is thinking, in locking down an employee from advocating against a position which is both wholly debunked by science and KILLS PEOPLE.

      Aside, everytime I see you post, I think to myself "My god, Robin is posting on techdirt!"

       

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      E. Zachary Knight (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 11:58am

      Re:

      You are right. There are strengths and weaknesses to posting anonymously as well as posting publicly. You have to weigh those yourself when you speak.

      In this case, the person tweeting didn't see any reason why he should post anonymously as he was supporting the position of his employer. Unfortunately, his employer only saw that he was causing waves and made him stop. Sad.

      However, if he was bringing something to light that his employer didn't want public and that was detrimental or even just disagreeable to his employer's position, then posting anonymously would have been a huge benefit.

       

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    Ninja (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 11:46am

    The anti-vaccine ran out of arguments and got crushed. A sane and reasonable person would have reviewed their ideas and thoughts. A fundamentalist would try to silence the winning side.

    And unfortunately, fundamentalism won.

     

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    Dementia (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 11:55am

    Couldn't this very easily be construed as the government limiting an individual's right to express themselves? I mean, you do have a government agency telling someone what they can and can not say, and threatening their job to boot.

     

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    Trails (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 12:01pm

    Anyone in Maryland?

    Start writing your state reps.

     

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      Rick, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 2:12pm

      Re: Anyone in Maryland?

      I'm in Maryland, and sadly enough, this doesn't surprise me.

       

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        Trails (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 4:07pm

        Re: Re: Anyone in Maryland?

        I'm not surprised it doesn't surprise you. Gov't officials and bureaucrats in general value covering their own asses more than standing up for what's right.

        Anyway, surprised or not, run your anger up a flag pole, politicians are nothing if not panderers, let them know how to pander to you.

         

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    A Guy, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 12:06pm

    The government can definitely stop speech related to employment. The entire defense/security infrastructure relies on it.

    That being said, I doubt this would stand up to constitutional muster. If it was public information and he was blogging outside of the office, I believe he could challenge any disciplinary action in court.

     

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      Any Mouse (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 1:24pm

      Re:

      You're suggesting that health issues should be classified as state secrets. I want you to think about that for a moment.

       

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        btr1701 (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 2:47pm

        Re: Re:

        > You're suggesting that health issues should be
        > classified as state secrets. I want you to think about
        > that for a moment.

        Actually he said nothing of the sort. He clearly said he doubts this action would pass legal scrutiny.

         

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          Any Mouse (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 10:00pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          He contradicts himself in his post. He clearly said that they CAN do this. And so, I quote:

          'The government can definitely stop speech related to employment. The entire defense/security infrastructure relies on it.'

          So yes, he most certainly did say something of the sort.

           

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    David Kindler, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 12:14pm

    Bringing embarassment

    So, shutting him down to appease an anti-vaccine crusader is less embarrassing for a public health organization than having an employee defending their own mission publicly? Nice going political hacks in places of public trust. Any public health professional bowing to that faction ought to lose their credentials.

     

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    Harrekki (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 12:15pm

    not sure if it matters, but being from Maryland, I can tell you it is an employment at will state, and he could be terminated for no reason listed.

     

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    theDude, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 12:20pm

    autism

    My kid was diagnosed with spectral autism less the 24 hours after he had his very first glass of orange juice. I know for sure now that OJ causes autism!

     

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      Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 12:31pm

      Re: autism

      "I know for sure now that OJ causes autism!"

      Don't be stupid. I mean, really, orange juice. Hah hah!*

      My daughter was diagnosed for autism after being evaluated for autism. It's obvious that autism tests are the cause of autism!


      *Joke.

       

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      That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 1:28pm

      Re: autism

      That is what you get for using that raw organic orange juice from the damn Amish sneaking it in past the FDA blockade!

       

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      OC, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 2:34pm

      Re: autism

      "My kid was diagnosed with spectral autism less the 24 hours after he had his very first glass of orange juice. I know for sure now that OJ causes autism!"

      With or without a white Bronco?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 12:26pm

    "I think the bigger issue is that a Department of Health would reprimand him for such actions"

    While I, myself, am not a huge vaccine fan, the department of health is a government entity, it has no business restricting the free speech of its employees.

     

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    Lord Binky, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 12:31pm

    Better watch what I say

    Or someone will harass my boss and get me fired because they don't agree with me and cannot come up with any legitimate reasoning that further their side of a debate.

     

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      Rose M. Welch (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 4:30pm

      Re: Better watch what I say

      The sad thing? I read your title as 'Better wash what I say' and it still made sense.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 6:33am

        Re: Re: Better watch what I say

        Considering my frequent interaction with miners, it may be easier to just wash other's brains than wash my language.

         

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    Tom The Toe, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 12:32pm

    Keep the experts out of the discussion

    "Does the Department of Health really prefer that the actual experts stay out of these discussions, leaving them to those who aren't informed?" Sure Congress does this everyday.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 12:46pm

    Y'know, if they wanted to avoid further embarrassment, maybe firing an employee for an indefensibly stupid reason was a bad idea. Just sayin'.

     

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    joe, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 12:56pm

    So this guys free speech rights in advocating for vaccines is worthy of a defense. My free speech rights to not vaccinate my children is worthy of ridicule. Got it.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 1:09pm

      Re:

      The right of free speech is this:

      He has a right to advocate vaccines, and should be defended as free speech.

      You have a right to claim that vaccinations are the worst threat to the health of humanity ever, and that right of speech should be defended.

      You should have the right to call him out for facilities, debunk his views, provide proof, or even speak louder, and that should not be abridged.

      He should have the right to provide proof, debunk studies, yell louder, or write ballads to the worthiness of vaccines, and that right should not be quashed by anyone.

      And we the outsiders can point, laugh, mock, parody, insult, or satire the view of the anti-vaccine crowd as an excise of our speech, without fear of retribution.

      All tallied, the only one to be silenced, is 'him', where as 'you' get to keep talking your view without risk of loss of employment or livelihood.

      So forgive me if I seem unsympathetic when I ask this, but what exactly is your point?

       

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 1:13pm

      Re:

      Your extremely stupid and profoundly ignorant decision not to vaccinate your children endangers MY children and everyone else's as well. I do hope the state takes your children away and forcibly sterilizes you.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 1:24pm

        Re: Re:

        If your children are vaccinated then why are they being endangered. There have been some bad experiences with vaccinations in my family and will avoid certain vaccines because of it. I am not against vaccines but I am also not for taking everything without understanding the details.

         

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          Pitabred (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 4:49pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          You are exactly the type of person that benefits from widespread vaccination. There are some people with legitimate issues. The vast majority of us don't have them. The rest of us need to get vaccinated to protect those of you who actually do have a problem.

          The people who choose not because of autism or some vague "toxin" argument to are simply selfish and stupid.

           

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 1:28pm

        Re: Re:

        I do hope the state takes your children away and forcibly sterilizes you.

        I hope Jean-Claude Van Damme goes back in time and sterilizes your mom.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 4:59pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Claudette can't go back in time if he could he would have gone back to tell himself to not make the shitty movies he is doing today.

           

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        Pitabred (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 4:50pm

        Re: Re:

        You feel free to not vaccinate your children, and the rest of society should feel free to keep you quarantined so you can't spread disease.

        Have you ever read about Typhoid Mary? She was a real person. The same kind of asshole that you are.

         

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          Pitabred (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 4:51pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Er... my bad. That was supposed to be a reply to the great grandparent comment :( Sorry!

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 8:40am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Actually, Typhoid Mary was an asymptomatic carrier in a time when such things weren't known to exist, and she'd been given a clean bill of health by other doctors. What she refused was extra scrutiny above and beyond that, not a vaccine.

           

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 4:56pm

        Re: Re:

        ???

        No it doesn't, it puts at risk anyone without the antibodies to fight the diseases the vaccines are for, not the people already vaccinated otherwise it wouldn't be much of a vaccine would it?

        I all for bashing the anti-vaccination crowd but with facts, or was you joking and I lost the sarcasm in there somewhere?

         

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      PrometheeFeu (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 1:14pm

      Re:

      I know. It's outrageous. My free speech rights to punch people in the face is likewise ridiculed. Just because that guy used fancy words and letters and spread information instead of hurting people doesn't mean he should have more rights than me!

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 1:21pm

      Re:

      Umm, you have no idea what free speech is. We can add that to the list of "reasons to feel sorry for your children."

       

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      IrishDaze (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 1:28pm

      Re:

      This is about GOVERNMENTAL retribution because someone disapproved of non-threatening, non-defamatory speech. Remember that "Free Speech" is supposed to protect individuals from GOVERNMENTAL retribution.

      Just because those of us who hang out here are much more likely to agree with _actual_science_ (pro-vax) vs. anecdotes or superstitious hokum (anti-vax and autism "cures") and are occasionally snarky about it doesn't mean that your "free speech rights . . . are worthy of ridicule" -- It means that other PEOPLE find your MESSAGE worthy of ridicule.

      Seriously, return to us with your argument as soon as it's made public that there has been GOVERNMENTAL retribution for the anti-vax stance. I expect that would be a situation into which we could sink our teeth.

      I am not trying to be mean here, but pls understand that the governmental retribution the vaxer health official experienced is a metric-crap-ton worse than a group of glorified BBS users poking fun at anti-vaxers.

       

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      btr1701 (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 2:52pm

      Re:

      > So this guys free speech rights in advocating
      > for vaccines is worthy of a defense. My free speech
      > rights to not vaccinate my children is worthy of ridicule.
      > Got it.

      You vaccinating your kid or not has nothing to do with free speech whatsoever.

       

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      Rose M. Welch (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 4:30pm

      Re:

      No, your choice is being ridiculed, not your speech about that choice. Logic fail there.

       

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      Trails (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 4:31pm

      Re:

      You can say it all you want. You can make the unsupported and risky decision to not vaccinate your kids (this is not free speech though). I can mock you as a gullible fool, and shake my head at the unfortunate plight of your kids, put at risk by a parent/guardian duped by a fraud doc in the UK who manufactured data in an attempt to cash in on a lawsuit and subsequent panic, and now too stubborn to look at the facts rationally.

       

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 2:19am

      Re:

      No, you have free speech rights to say you don't want to vaccinate your children. Whether or not you actually have a right not to get them vaccinated, however, has nothing to do with free speech. Note also that MY right to free speech allows me to ridicule your position on vaccines. I don't feel too bad about doing this, as a drop in vaccination rates KILLS CHILDREN.

       

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      another mike (profile), Aug 29th, 2011 @ 1:15pm

      Re:

      Speaking out against vaccines is exercising your right to free speech. Not getting a vaccine makes you a threat to public health. Completely different situations.

       

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    FormerAC (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 1:01pm

    Is it about vaccines? Or a claim of defamation?

    Or is Mr. X just a jerk?

    Having read through the comments over at http://lizditz.typepad.com/i_speak_of_dreams/2011/08/a-public-servant-blogging-and-twitter-under-his -own-name-is-silenced-by-his-employers.html Mr. X (Rhett Daniels - he outed himself in the comments) says he is not anti-vax.

    He claims there it was a defamatory blog post by Najera. Mr. X went for the nuclear option and not only threatened legal action, but contacted pretty much everyone with any authority at Mr. Najera's work.

    In the comments on the blog post about this issue, Daniel's comes off as a real jerk, threatens and insults pretty much everyone in the thread.

     

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      Joe Publius (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 1:34pm

      Re: Is it about vaccines? Or a claim of defamation?

      Which is why troll posting is free speech. It lets us know who to avoid/ignore.

       

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      Lord Binky, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 1:36pm

      Re: Is it about vaccines? Or a claim of defamation?

      Either way it seems like harassment by Mr. X by dragging Najera's bosses/coworkers into this when it is Najera's personal blog/twitter. Either way it didn't prove Mr. X's argument right or wrong, it was just mean spirited and intended to harm Najera and simply a childish thing to do.

       

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      Any Mouse (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 2:06pm

      Re: Is it about vaccines? Or a claim of defamation?

      He also doesn't seem to understand anit-SLAPP laws, even though someone linked information to him.

       

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    identicon
    joe, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 1:50pm

    re: 25

    Your inability to spell the contraction of "you are" seriously endangers my children.

    Your kids must be banned from public education until you purchase and complete Government Approved Hooked on Phonics Vol 1. from your local Walmart.

     

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      Trails (profile), Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 10:42am

      Re: re: 25

      Grammar corrections and ad hominem attacks, the last bastion of those without a tenable position. Sir, I accept your surrender.

      When will you be vaccinating your kids then?

       

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    identicon
    A. New Psuedonym, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 2:12pm

    I participate pseudonymously in TechDirt discussions, and on other forums, about copyright, with emphasis on the music industry.

    My employer, a Very Large Organization, has an Official Policy on copyright issues which has been framed to placate the copyright holders. At work, I have a small role to play in enforcing that policy. Everyone involved in this process at my place of business agrees that these policies are insane and useless. However, for the sake of peaceable continued employment, it would be better not to have my Real Name associated with expressions of my honest evaluations of these issues.

    So, if I do sign up for Google Plus, I won't be getting involved in any copyright discussion there.

     

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      PrometheeFeu (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 2:41pm

      Re:

      I work for a company that licenses much content from copyright holders. Part of my job has included implementing DRM (I don't like it but the alternative is not being able to offer the content to users, so this is better) and other ridiculous restrictions from copyright holders. Copyright holders act as though this whole reality thing is just a fad that will go away soon enough. People who go negotiate with copyright holders often come back frustrated at not being able to say: "Your content is already on torrent sites! Why do you want us to implement all of these restrictions which will only bug people who give you money and in no way stop copyright infringement?"

      Bottom line: I'm not about to start discussing such matter with my real name as that might jeopardize my company's relation with the copyright holders and my job.

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 2:54pm

    actuallly..

    mikey if you check your facts, there IS scientific data showing much to be concerned about some vaccinations. Parents should do their own research before blindly letting the state inject them with whatever they want. History shows the government hasn't exactly put the public health first.

     

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      A Guy, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 3:17pm

      Re: actuallly..

      There is not "proof" of anything of the sort. There is some evidence that some people with previously damaged chromosomes, that can be tested for, shouldn't get all their vaccines on the same day.

      Other than that there is a fraudulent study written by an attempted scam artist to scare people out of getting vaccines for personal profit.

      Neither of these things qualifies as definitive proof.

      I know... don't feed the troll... but I cannot seem to help myself today.

       

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        Rose M. Welch (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 4:43pm

        Re: Re: actuallly..

        You're both wrong. The issue isn't what the data does or does not show. The issue is the data that doesn't yet exist. Some of the gaps are being researched, but the manufacturers have no liability and thus, no reason to waste money filling information gaps or improving vaccines at all.

        Also, the debunked study in question? It's a straw man, only cited by people who are blindly pro-vaccine. People who actually choose not to vaccinate usually do so piecemeal (weighing each medication and it's attendant risks) and have neither read that paper nor give a shit what celebrities have to say about health care.

        Last, but certainly not least, Mike's line about non-vaccinating parents causing actual public health issues is total bullshit. (Sorry, Mike. For once, you're wrong.) According to the CDC, immunizations have remained both steady and high and have not dropped, no matter what your favorite mainstream news source would have you believe about `plummeting' vaccination rates. Less than 1% of America's children are unvaccinated, and this number includes immunocompromised children who cannot be vaccinated.

        The real trouble is more likely to be the number of adults who haven't been re-vaccinated for things like pertussis (which may not help anyway, since it's been show to be mutating around the globe).

         

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          Almost Anonymous (profile), Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 9:47am

          Re: Re: Re: actuallly..

          """Last, but certainly not least, Mike's line about non-vaccinating parents causing actual public health issues is total bullshit. (Sorry, Mike. For once, you're wrong.)"""

          You seem to be referencing this line:

          Given the serious health problems created by parents now refusing to vaccinate their children due to clueless anti-scientific fear-mongering, you would think that a government Department of Health would be thrilled that one of its employees was defending vaccinations and talking back to someone who was arguing against vaccines.

          A slight future-tense modification makes it not "bullshit" and quite valid:

          Given the serious health problems that would be created by increasing numbers of parents refusing to vaccinate their children due to clueless anti-scientific fear-mongering, you would think that a government Department of Health would be thrilled that one of its employees was defending vaccinations and talking back to someone who was arguing against vaccines.

           

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            Rose M. Welch (profile), Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 10:10am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: actuallly..

            Nope, still bullshit. See, the number of parents refusing to vaccinate isn't growing. (According to the CDC, anyway, whom I trust to have the correct numbers. Other people may be listening to their sourceless news media instead, so whatever.)

            So, to FTFY:

            Given the serious health problems that would be created...

            Given the serious health problems that may be created...

            ...by increasing numbers of parents refusing to vaccinate their children...

            ...by a low and steady number of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children...

            ...due to clueless anti-scientific fear-mongering...

            ...for many reasons, including religious reasons, allergies, immune issues, valid concerns, lax parenting, and clueless fear-mongering...

            ...you would think that a government Department of Health would be thrilled that one of its employees was defending vaccinations and talking back to someone who was arguing against vaccines.

            ...you would think that a government Department of Health would be thrilled that one of its employees was defending vaccinations and talking back to someone who was arguing against vaccines, as long as they were acknowledging the fact that vaccination rates among children remain both steady and high, and the less than 1% of parents who chose not to vaccinate include those who do so for valid medical reasons.

             

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    Jesse Townley (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 3:28pm

    Crossing fingers for a spine to be grown...

    Ugh, I hope the timid bosses @ the Department of Health either grow a spine or are overruled by their bosses.

    Glad to see the ridicule of anti-vaxxers here. Their decision to not vaccinate impacts the rest of the population, and endangers the young, weak, and old amongst us.

    For instance, infants under a year old are too young to be vaccinated, so they're at risk if the area's vaccination level is below 95% (that's the % that pretty much guarantees measles won't spread in a community)

    This 2010 blog post talks about measles outbreaks in Vancouver, San Diego, & Switzerland:
    http://vaccinesandevolution.blogspot.com/2010/04/measels-outbreak-because-anti-vax-is. html

     

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    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 4:19pm

    If You Donít Vaccinate ...

    ... then you are getting a free ride from all those around you who are vaccinated. It is they who are protecting you from infection.

    Unfortunately, if too many people choose the free-ride option, then the whole protection system breaks down.

    Yes, there are risks from vaccination. But they are dwarfed by the risks from the diseases we vaccinate against.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 6:02am

      Re: If You Donít Vaccinate ...

      Yes, there are risks from vaccination. But they are dwarfed by the risks from the diseases we vaccinate against.

      I don't think that's what you mean; in our society currently, the risk posed by any of the diseases we vaccinate against is slim to none -- the vaccines are working, so it's unlikely that anyone (even the unvaccinated) will get them. The consequences of getting the diseases in question are monumental and staggering, but the risk involved takes into consideration the likelihood in addition to the consequence.

      Regardless, if vaccines work, then the vaccinated have nothing to fear from the unvaccinated. The ones who are endagered by other's choices are those who can't be vaccinated, because of medical problems or the like. Their only protection is herd immunity, and that's what breaks down when more people "opt out."

       

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        Trails (profile), Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 10:46am

        Re: Re: If You Donít Vaccinate ...

        Not entirely right. More growth opportunities for a disease means more opportunities for mutation. Unvaccinated people could produce a mutation current vaccines don't innoculate against.

         

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        lujlp, Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 8:09pm

        Re: Re: If You Donít Vaccinate ...

        Sadly, no. As more people dont get vaccinated and such diseases spread it also allows for a chance for such diseases to mutate into a different strain with is not affected by vaccinations.

        While it is true some are unable to take vaccines for medical reasons, for everyone else it should be mandatroy. You want to live in and benifit from a modern scociety? You have to help maintain that scociety

         

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          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2011 @ 3:53am

          Re: Re: Re: If You Donít Vaccinate ...

          You may have a fair point there, I'll concede that -- but I'd be strongly against mandatory vaccinations without some VERY strong protections and high standards for quality. Letting the Government (or anyone) freely inject me and my family with whatever they feel like on some vague "it's better for society" line isn't something I will stand for.

           

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    anarchic teapot, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 4:33pm

    Factual correction

    I think the bigger issue is that a Department of Health would reprimand him for such actions and tell him to stop speaking about public health issues.

    EpiRen was not reprimanded for posting about health issues AFAIK. What his employeur was unhappy about was it that easy for anyone to identify EpiRen and therefore, since he has an unusual name, his employer - so far, so good, but using department contact info available online the troll sent a threatening pseudolegal email to anyone he could hunt down who might be professionally connected with EpiRen. His employer decided he wanted no part of this shit and asked EpiRen to stop blogging openly.

    While this is disappointing, it is understandable. Dozens of people were affected by this idiot's action, and there are more interesting things to do in life than read ill-spelt delusional rants.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 5:02pm

    Mr. X seems ripe to join the Tea Party.

    "ē Authoritarianism: respondents believe that obedience by children is more important than creativity, and that deference to authority is an important value.

    ē Libertarianism: respondents believe there should not be regulations or limitations on expressions such as clothing, television shows, and musical lyrics.

    ē Fear of change/ontological insecurity: respondents sense that things are changing too fast or too much."
    http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-08-reveals-cultural-characteristics-tea-party.html

    That also seems a description worthy of the MAFIAA.

     

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    Wes Sumner (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 7:55pm

    Anti-vaxers make me LOL. Right before they make me shudder.

    There's been several investigative reports on PBS and the like about this bunch.

    They've basically put everyone else in danger is what it boils down to. In areas where there are "significant" numbers of anti-vaxers, diseases which are normally only still prevalent in the 3rd World are having outbreaks and killing people.

    Courts are also starting to prosecute these people if their children die from the preventable diseases. I believe criminal negligence and voluntary manslaughter were the latest successful charges brought against these nutjobs - anti-vax parents out in like Oregon or Washington State who let their daughter die because they refused to get her vaccinated.

    Pastafarians have more scientific evidence in support of the FSM being the Supreme Divinity than the anti-vax crowd have against vaccines.

    To be honest, vaccinations should be mandatory, period. I have no desire to live in a repeat of the age of Cholera, Yellow Fever, have my relatives go blind from measles, or have my son die because some jerkwad decided to be a DERP about a vaccination.

     

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      Any Mouse (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 10:15pm

      Re:

      I would actually like to see citations for your statements. If you've had your vaccinations, then those who have not are NOT putting your life in jeopardy. You've been vaccinated! Or are you saying the vaccines don't work? Please, back yourself up.

       

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        Almost Anonymous (profile), Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 9:40am

        Re: Re:

        Jeez dude, it's called herd immunity. You either know this and are actively trolling, or you've been living under a rock (and probably missed getting your vaccinations).

         

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          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 10:44am

          Re: Re: Re:

          And if you knew what herd immunity was, you'd recognize that it's not a concern for vaccinated individuals. If the vaccine works they have real immunity and don't have to worry about the disruption of infection chains that herd immunity brings.

          That is to say, herd immunity is about not coming in to contact with the disease, and that's irrelevent if you've been vaccinated.

           

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            Almost Anonymous (profile), Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 3:45pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I understand precisely what herd immunity is, and that it's not an individual concern (dur, herd?) EXCEPT insomuch as it's all of our concern to keep the "herd" strong. When individuals decide not to vaccinate, then they endanger the herd. I'm pretty sure that's what the OP meant, although I don't want to put words into his mouth.

             

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      Chris Rhodes (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 11:34pm

      Re:

      To be honest, vaccinations should be mandatory, period.

      Yeah! I want government to have the power to inject anything they want into me or my children, and not have any say about it! That's the ticket to a better world!

      (And yes, my kids will damn sure be vaccinated, but it will be because it's the right choice, and not because some douche-nozzle politician decides they get to micro-manage every aspect of my life and body.)

       

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 7:29am

      Re:

      I think I know what you're talking about, but I remember that the issue wasn't just that they wouldn't vaccinate her but that they wouldn't let her be treated by a doctor period; they thought God would save her if they prayed hard enough.

      Conflating religious nuts with people that have doubts about the effectiveness and safety of vaccines doesn't help your argument much.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 10:17pm

    Mike, you buried the lead:

    "Government Administrators Inconvenienced"

    That's why the guy had to stop.

     

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    Belrentacar (profile), Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 7:56am

    Anonymity is very important... I don't know how they think to force people to say their real names.. Their profit is going down!

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 8:13am

    "Does the Department of Health really prefer that the actual experts stay out of these discussions, leaving them to those who aren't informed?"

    Yes.

     

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    trish, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 11:18am

    pseudonysmism

    the art of knowing what to shut up about, whether you're a 14 year old girl or health department employee.

     

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