from the vexxing-anti-vaxxers dept
Any time we discuss the segment of our population that is still, despite all evidence to the contrary, pushing anti-vaccination conspiracy theories out into the ether, the comments section is inevitably invaded by these proponents. I know I can't stop it, so just go ahead and leave what I'm sure will be your well-reasoned, science-backed arguments as to why we shouldn't trust one of the most life-saving kinds of medicine ever invented.
That said, this is not a post about the plausibility that vaccinations are the reason for all the world's ills. It is instead a post about how the distributors of the upcoming sure-to-be smash hit film about the horror of vaccinations, creatively entitled Vaxxed, are also going around threatening people arguing against its message with defamation for pointing back at the filmmakers' own words.
Meet Fiona O'Leary of Ireland. Fiona is an advocate for autistic children, helping to run a group called ART (Autistic Rights Together) as well as a Tumblr page dedicated to dispelling the myths of autism and vaccines. On that Tumblr page and on social media, O'Leary has often set her sights on the makers and distributors of Vaxxed, including producers Polly Tommey and Del Bigtree. Included in her pushback, O'Leary points out some rather unfortunate comments both have made about autistic children, as well as interviews and videos in which Tommey in particular pushes religious faith to treat autism. Through it all are the calls for parents to not vaccinate their children.
The result of this work has been a letter sent threatening a defamation lawsuit.
Fiona O’Leary has posted the threats, from Cinema Libre Studio CEO Philippe Diaz, on her Facebook profile:
Wow you threaten to sue an Autistic Advocate and Mother to five children in West Cork! Why? Because I don’t want babies and children DYING from preventable diseases! Because I have had enough of your lies about Vaccines causing Autism! Because I am sick of how you exploit Autistic people! How dare you!
And the threat letter itself:
As always, a great rule of thumb applies here: if someone accuses another person of defamation without pointing out a single specific thing that is supposedly defamatory, it's a bullying attempt and should likely be ignored. This case appears to be no different. With all that O'Leary has said about the film and its producers, and with all that she's posted that includes responses to specific things Bigtree and Tommey have said and claimed, to fail to cite even one defamatory instance should tell you everything you need to know.
It seems that this video response in particular is what likely caused the threat to be sent. In it, O'Leary details how the two producers have compared autistic children to monkeys and dogs, threatened government officials, and even declared that firearms should be used to keep children from being vaccinated.
And now that the threat letter has been sent and then shared by O'Leary with her followers, and now that the press is picking it up, all of those comments are being shared even more widely than they would have been otherwise. It seems the Streisand Effect is taking the deplorable comments of these anti-vaxxers viral, because the universe does not lack a sense of irony.