Respectful Insolence

One of my favorite novels of all time is George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. When it came to imagining the end to which totalitarianism could take us, no one before or since has written a more compelling book about living under such a regime.

One aspect of Oceania, the fictional totalitarian state ruled by Big Brother, that still stands out when I think about the book is how Big Brother dealt with inconvenient news and history. In the book, Winston Smith, the protagonist, works at a government agency called the Ministry of Truth (also called Minitrue), one of the four Ministries that translated Big Brother’s policies into practice. The Ministry, in order to make sure that all history agrees with the government version and that any prediction Big Brother makes about events is validated, is engaged in a constant “reimagining” of history. For example, if the government makes a prediction that turns out to have been incorrect, employees like Smith at Minitrue would rewrite every old newspaper, news account, and book mentioning the prediction to bring them in line with what actually happened and make it look as though Big Brother had been correct all along. Or, if Oceania switched alliances in its seemingly endless wars, history would be rewritten to state that Oceania had always been allied with its current allies and always been at war with its current enemy. Meanwhile, every document reflecting the old, “incorrect” version of history would be gathered and placed down chutes leading to huge incinerators. These chutes were colloquially known among Ministry of Truth employees as memory holes. The idea is that, if there were no physical evidence to back up memories that do not jibe with official government pronouncements, people would tend to realign their memories to agree with what they are told.

I think I’ve just seen an attempt by HIV/AIDS denialists to emulate the Ministry of Truth and create their very own memory hole.

Recently, I wrote about the tragic death of HIV/AIDS denialist Christine Maggiore. When HIV/AIDS denialist Celia Farber wrote an “explanation” for what “really killed” Maggiore (it was a “radical detox treatment,” not AIDS, don’t you know?), I looked at that claim, too. Not content with unintentionally giving strong evidence that, whether it was AIDS denialism or outright quackery, woo killed Maggiore, Farber dug herself in deeper by posting an e-mail by Christine Maggiore dated December 19 that seemed to indicate that Maggiore had been ill a lot longer than was “convenient” for denialists to admit and had suffered a clinical course of illness before her death that was very consistent with Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP)

Over the last couple of days, some readers pointed out to me that the link to Celia Farber’s second post, the one in which she republishes Christine Maggiore’s e-mail of December 19, no longer works. There is now an explanation on Dean Esmay’s blog for why: Farber admits that she took it down. I can’t help but think that she knows she did harm to the cause of HIV/AIDS denialism by republishing that e-mail which, quite frankly, only served to confirm in my mind (and that of many others) that Maggiore very likely did die of an AIDS-defining pneumonia, probably PCP. After all, in the three or four weeks prior to her death, she had become progressively short of breath, complaining that even minor exertion made her so. Her lungs were clear on physical examination, but she asked for an X-ray nonetheless. Why on earth would she do in the face of a normal clinical examination that if she weren’t worried about PCP? Surely she was aware that one of the characteristics of PCP is a progressive shortness of breath with minimal exertion accompanied by no abnormalities in breath sounds on physical examination. Also, the clinical course was about right, around three weeks of gradual deterioration. Moreover, she was still dehydrated as many as two weeks after her “detox cleanse,” which makes it hard to blame the cleanse for persistent dehydration. Many cleanses often include vigorous oral rehydration regimens to help “flush out” the toxins, and in any case if she were healthy she should have been able to rehydrate herself in a matter of hours or, at most, a couple of days.

In any case, predictably, Farber lays on the inflammatory rhetoric:

I took down the post I wrote the other day in which I re-published an email from Christine Maggiore, in her own words, about a week before she died suddenly and unexpectedly at home, on December 27.

I want to contribute toward a much needed silence. Things will work themselves out, truths will emerge, whatever is, is.

I don’t want to bring anything loud or contentious to Christine’s memory, or provide a feeding ground for those few vultures whose egos remain tied up in their insatiable death wishes, not only those they projected onto Christine, but onto all HIV positive people they wish to enslave with their cult of fear, and deprive of the fundamental human right to make their own choices.

I guess Farber counts me as one of those “vultures,” if she’s seen my posts, that is. Of course, I had no desire to see Maggiore die. Her death saddens me. It doesn’t sadden me as much as the death of her daughter did, but I was nonetheless still saddened.

Also note the typical “health freedom” rhetoric, though, beloved of believers in pseudoscientific health claims like HIV/AIDS denialism. To cranks like Farber, it’s apparently not enough to say that doctors are wrong about HIV and AIDS. Rather, evil motives have to be attributed to them, such that in Farber’s fantasy world doctors aren’t just sincerely mistaken but still wanting, in their “misguided” way, to save HIV+ patients. No, to Farber, doctors wanting to prescribe HAART to HIV+ patients must be evil and want to “enslave” patients in a “cult of fear” and deprive them of the right to make their own choices. These physicians must be demonized and despised as the enemy.

What a load of hooey. Or, if you prefer, a steaming, stinking, burning turd of stupid left on the doorstep of science-based physicians.

Maggiore was free to refuse HAART. She was an adult, after all, and, as far as I’m concerned, competent adults can refuse therapy for pretty much any reason, rational or not, or even for no reason at all, as long as they are made aware of the likely consequences and their decision does not endanger others. Maggiore was also in a monogamous relationship with a man who knew her HIV status; so it’s not as though she was risking spreading the virus to the unwitting through her continued refusal to take HAART or, presumably, to use condoms. What I cannot abide is when adults deny their children effective therapy in the name of irrational and pseudoscientific beliefs. Adults can do close to whatever they want with their own bodies, but they do not have some sort of divine right to endanger their children with pseudoscience, which is why I was so harsh on her for not having taken HAART when she was pregnant with EJ and for blithely breastfeeding when not doing so would have significantly decreased the risk of transmission of the virus to her child.

Worse, Maggiore aggressively spread her gospel of “happy happy joy joy,” “don’t take that HAART; it’s a product of evil big pharma seeking to enslave you” to HIV+ people. “Really,” she all but said, “you’ll be fine.” Well, a lot of people, including her daughter EJ, weren’t “fine,” and Maggiore herself is no longer “fine.” She is dead. Maggiore was lucky in that she was clearly an outlier, having gone at least 16 years without an AIDS-defining illness, but, if she did die of AIDS, she was nonetheless still within the range of normal variability for the virus’ progression from infection to AIDS. In any case, it is quite possible to be saddened by Maggiore’s death and at the same time point out that she had dedicated her life to a dangerous pseudoscience that kills. Indeed, that dangerous pseudoscience appears very likely to have ended up killing her.

I particularly like this bit of relativism:

I defy anybody to find a single communique from Christine Maggiore in which she reveled in the deaths of her attackers or their friends, who have died in the hundreds of thousands, following orders, taking the drugs. There are deaths on all sides; The answers light up like fireflies, then vanish. Who among us can claim to know what is really happening? All we can know, all we can control, is who we are as human beings, how we treat others, and especially how we treat those who think or believe different things than we ourselves do.

I defy Farber to find a single communique from skeptical bloggers like myself “reveling” in Maggiore’s death. Certainly, I do not, even though I do blame her for the entirely preventable death of her daughter.

Yesterday evening, I learned that it wasn’t enough for Farber to throw one post down the memory hole of HIV/AIDS denialism. She went and did an even more blatant Minitrue with another post. The first post, originally entitled What Killed Christine Maggiore, it’s now been–shall we say?–reimagined as Christine Maggiore, Pure Spirit. Gone are all the references to Christine undergoing a “radical detox” regimen three or four weeks prior to her death and that it rendered her so weak that she could not fight off a routine pneumonia, and gone is Farber’s original statement that she’d like to see an autopsy to determine what really killed Christine Maggiore. All that remains is a syrupy glop of praise ladled on thick, sweet, and stultifying.

Unfortunately, for Farber, on the Internet, memory holes do not work, and attempts to rewrite history à la Minitrue almost inevitably backfire. Indeed, some of Farber’s own allies don’t appear to have gotten the message. For example, Science Guardian reposted Maggiore’s e-mail, and Fintan Dunne reposted the entire text of What Killed Christine Maggiore. Clearly Farber realized that her two posts had not only failed to refute the claim that Maggiore died of AIDS, but had actually added support for that contention! More damning behavior is hard to imagine. Indeed, the more I read from Farber, the more convinced I became that Maggiore almost certainly died of an AIDS-related pneumonia.

Meanwhile I and many others have saved the text of the two posts and are ready to repost them again if some of Maggiore’s supporters realize what a mistake they’ve made and start trying to use the memory hole as well. I guess that, in the Internet Age, Orwell was probably wrong, which is fortnate. What is unfortunate is that he was right–prescient, even–about other things, particularly about how massively language can be distorted to serve ideological purposes. HIV/AIDS denialists have learned that lesson well; it’s just that this time, in this case, they screwed up.

Comments

  1. #1 tom p
    January 7, 2009

    But why not say that her death is a Good Thing?
    She murdered her daughter and voiciferously incited others to recklessly endanger their own lives and those of others. The world is a better place for Maggiore being dead, and I was very happy to hear the news of her demise. It’s just a shame that she’ll never be prosecuted for murdering her daughter, although I suppose her partner could be prosecuted for neglect in allowing her to actively pass on the HIV to the poor girl.

  2. #2 Dale
    January 7, 2009

    Maybe because her death isn’t a ‘Good Thing’?

    She was wrong about HIV and AIDS and the relative value of mainstream medical treatments versus alternative treatments but surely you don’t believe that she or her husband intended their daughter to die?

  3. #3 MKandefer
    January 7, 2009

    Tom P,

    You would do well to remember that our cognition developed to be very good at finding patterns, even when patterns don’t exist. It’s horrendous when it comes to applying the laws of statistics without a formal methodology for doing so. It is also subject to bias. Most damaging is probably our intuition that a cause should immediately result in apparent effects. This is probably rarely the case, but it’s not hard to understand why individuals should think it is intuitive.

    I’m not an expert on HIV or AIDS, but I imagine some symptoms don’t manifest themselves immediately after being diagnosed. Christine Maggiore seems to be one of those rare individuals that led a relatively healthy life for an individual suffering from AIDS. Even when symptoms did manifest themselves that should have been attributed to the disorder, other more immediate changes in lifestyle could be blamed. Her thoughts might have immediately jumped to the food she ate, the new medication she was rescribed, or recent CAM therapy attempted.

    Those who advocate for science based medicine understand that the scientific method is a useful corrective measure to prevent such sloppy thinking from taking hold. However, not everyone realizes this, and it’s hard to deny one’s own personal experiences as being accurate. As such, I don’t think it is reasonable to be happy to hear of someone’s demise who was just relying on the cognitive abilities she was born with and developed (probably through several misinformation sources out there touting HIV/AIDS denialism). Yes, it is tragic what she put herself through and her daughter, but I don’t think it’s anything to celebrate.

    For more on the above, I recommend:

    Bausell, R. Barker (2007), Snake Oil Science: The Truth About Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Oxford University Press, New York, NY.

    Gilovich, Thomas (1991), How We Know What Isn’t So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life. The Free Press, New York, NY.

  4. #4 Jake
    January 7, 2009

    I really don’t think you can prosecute someone for neglect because they didn’t forcibly prevent a mother from breastfeeding her child, or force a pregnant woman to take drugs, however much that increased the chance of transmission.

  5. #5 Evinfuilt
    January 7, 2009

    No one has a right to kill. So even though she did kill her daughter, we would have no right to want her dead for it. I think she suffered mentally for what did to her child, and in a way commit suicide by not admitting her fault and getting help herself.

  6. #6 Mike
    January 7, 2009

    One reason to be saddened by this senseless death is that alive, she might have recanted and seriously set back the woo masters. Unlikely as that was, her death takes any hope of that away. And without an autopsy, the possibility of any direct ammunition to cudgel the denialist bastards is gone. All we have is the surmise of folks like Orac working from indirect data. I do pity the loss.

  7. #7 Mu
    January 7, 2009

    What surprises me is that slapping your kid as a corrective measure gets you in all kind of trouble with Child Protective Services, but publicly bragging about infecting your kid with HIV and having it die of AIDS is quite obviously not an offense, neither for the local DA or CPS.

  8. #8 dt
    January 7, 2009

    I have to wonder, what was she thinking? There you are, HIV positive, knowing that the majority of the world’s best medical minds and scientists say HIV will eventually weaken your immune system and opening the way for opportunistic infections like PCP, knowing that the consensus of opinion and pathology findings showed your daughter died of PCP, when you become increasingly breathless yourself and find you have severe bilateral pneumonia.

    So what do you do? Go to someone who can assess your illness properly, or someone who doesn’t belive in the HIV paradigm either? And when the treatment for pneumonia doesn’t seem to be working, what do you and your husband do next? Or do nothing, and hide away in the safety of your family home? Certainly looks like this is what she did, but I am struggling to understand why.

    It’s almost like Christine realised she should sacrifice herself on the altar of EJ’s memory and her own denialism. No way was she going anywhere near a doctor who could diagnose her, treat her and save her life. The lie had to die with her, there was no way she would let the “enemy” get the information they needed that would prove her whole raison d’etre was a lie. Very reminiscent of deliberately scuttling your ship and steadfastly remaining on the bridge as the waves swamp over you.

    Better death than dishonor.

  9. #9 Robert C
    January 7, 2009

    As an ex-denialist, I can completely understand how this whole thing happened — but I can also understand why it’s so difficult for others to understand. I’m sure Christine did not deliberately kill her daughter. She was deeply, deeply entrenched in psychological denial which was bolstered by the world of HIV denialism of which she was an integral part.

    I’m sure she did feel some guilt and regret about the death of her daughter, but, really, the only way to counter that was by becoming even more entrenched. It happens.

    I was in denial for seven years when I was diagnosed with PCP. You’d think that would’ve woken me up. But, no. In spite of that diagnosis, I still refused a t-cell count and still refused to believe anything was wrong with me. I ran even more toward the denialists for the reinforcement I desperately needed. The only thing that finally stopped me in my tracks was being diagnosed with multiple OIs and almost dying a few months after the PCP diagnosis. If Christine had survived this — or, if she had gotten much sicker and survived — maybe, just maybe, she would’ve woken up. But, still, she’d have the death of her daughter on her conscience, and I don’t know if anyone could really deal with that.

    The denial that some HIV positive people have (and I believe the HIV negative deniers are a different breed entirely) is a psychological response to fear. It’s an entirely irrational fear — at this point with all the medications available — but it is a deep, deep fear nonetheless.

    I’m not excusing it — we’re all still responsible for our actions. But I believe this type of deep denial is not going to be understood truly by someone who hasn’t gone through it and recovered.

  10. #10 Rfall
    January 7, 2009

    Now I have to go re-read 1984–it’s been a long time, and your summary of some relevant parts makes me want to see how close it is to modern reality.

    That said, I’ve been thinking over the last year or so–particularly in conjunction with the 2008 election and the politics around it–that the single most important characteristic of the modern Internet is that the “memory hole” no longer works well, at all.

    In the past, if it wasn’t to be found in a newpaper’s morgue, or a TV station’s video vault, it existed only in people’s memory–notoriously faulty storage devices.

    Now, with Google caches, The Wayback Machine, etc., if it’s up on the web, even for a few minutes, it’s a part of discoverable history. Audit trails become a part of the public discourse; mistakes are laid bare for anyone with a browser to see; attempts to “change history” become harder and harder.

    Until recently, I would have said that the most important thing about the Internet was the fact that it enabled “many to many” interactions, and removed the monopoly of broadcasters/newspapers to set the agenda for discussion.

    I still think this aspect is very important, but if not for the unalterable memory the Internet makes possible, that ability to interact would be much less valuable.

  11. #11 Interrobang
    January 7, 2009

    The rhetoric in that one passage quoted intrigues me, particularly this part — “who have died in the hundreds of thousands, following orders, taking the drugs.” You’d almost suspect that one of the unstated premises here is that science-based medicine has been saying that HAART will keep HIV from killing you, when as far as I can tell, the consensus is that HAART won’t keep HIV from killing you, but it will let you live a hell of a lot longer than you would live otherwise.

    Actually, I do think there’s been a bit of a rhetorical problem there, particularly regarding the use of terms like “survival rate,” which mean something very different to medical professionals than they do to laypeople who haven’t done a lot of homework. That is, if I read some of the writing on the prognosis of HIV with aggressive intervention from the perspective of someone who only uses the lay meaning of some of the terms, it can look as though the SBM writers are saying that HIV infection, if treated with HAART, won’t actually kill you.* Then, when people take the drugs and die anyway (albeit much later than they would have otherwise), you get someone who thinks along the lines of what Farber’s saying up there.

    Perhaps someone ought to make the precising definitions more explicit, in order to avoid throwing the confused into the denialist camp altogether?

    _____________
    * This is not actually what I think; this is me assuming the perspective of the naive reader for discourse analytics purposes.

  12. #12 Rogue Medic
    January 7, 2009

    I do not revel in anyone’s death. Christine Maggiore is dead. Except to the gullible, her death appears to be from AIDS complications. Similar to her daughter. I do appreciate that this may be a good thing, at least in convincing others to receive treatment and to avoid risky behaviors.

    I have treated far too many AIDS patients. I lived in San Francisco in the late 80′s and early 90′s. I moved to NY and dealt with the same patients. Some people would yell at me for not intubating the terminally ill AIDS patients – and we did not have standing orders for sedation, back then. The medical director never criticized my decision. The receiving hospitals did not intubate these patients, either.

    They were terminal. Nothing was going to cure them. The life prolonging treatments would only prolong their suffering. I would not act differently if the patient were my mother, my child, or Christine Maggiore.

  13. #13 BSE
    January 7, 2009

    Robert C – I have actually found your posts on your ex denialist life to be really informative. For the last six years I have been carrying the fall out of a friend who was a denialist who died (PCP) at the age of 38. I wrote to maggiore at the time asking her if she would be kind enough to explain to me why he died if HIV did not cause AIDS. Predictably she did not respond. The feelings that those of us have been left with are similar to that of discovering a friend has killed themselves, that feeling of “Could I have done more?” The answer is that of course I/ We could not because his belief was so strong. He did become an ex denialist though, in the final few days before he died. That experience, and that of his parents begging us to get him to change his mind and start the meds, will haunt me for a long time.

    Maggiores death and certainly that of her child, has given me no satisfaction at all.

    Seeing Farber do the damage that she has done on this subject however, is a different matter entirely…

  14. #14 Dangerous Bacon
    January 7, 2009

    Farber: “I don’t want to…provide a feeding ground for those few vultures whose egos remain tied up in their insatiable death wishes, not only those they projected onto Christine, but onto all HIV positive people they wish to enslave with their cult of fear”

    Actually, “vultures” is a somewhat accurate term for critics of AIDS denialism, as they are tearing holes in a rotten idea – one which, unfortunately is not yet dead.

  15. #15 Mike
    January 7, 2009

    If I remember my 1984 correctly Farber would be something termed doubleplusungood, right?

  16. #16 trrll
    January 7, 2009

    I’m sure she did feel some guilt and regret about the death of her daughter, but, really, the only way to counter that was by becoming even more entrenched. It happens.

    Yes, this kind of denial is common, and understandable, in patients who have a serious disease that is not causing immediate symptoms, but that will ultimately kill them unless they undertake treatment that is likely to entail unpleasant side effects and changes in life style. It is also not uncommon in people with cancer, and many of them die of it.

    It is particularly sad that Maggiore’s denial also probably killed her daughter, and doubtless made her own denial more intense, because to set it aside she would have had to accept her own guilt in her daughter’s death.

    Her story is a tragic one, and I can’t find it in my heart to be angry at her, or happy for her death, even though in proselytizing the doctrine of HIV denial she doubtless indirectly contributed to the suffering and death of many others. In the end, she was her own victim–or more accurately, a victim of the HIV virus. One can only hope that her death will help others to see their own denial for what it is, and that her dying will somewhat offset the harm that she did, however unintentionally, in life.

  17. #17 Michael in New York
    January 7, 2009

    Pardon the uninformed question, but what is “woo” in this context? I tried to Google it but got nowhere. Just a generic term for quackery?

  18. #18 Chris
    January 7, 2009
  19. #19 Azkyroth
    January 7, 2009

    She was wrong about HIV and AIDS and the relative value of mainstream medical treatments versus alternative treatments but surely you don’t believe that she or her husband intended their daughter to die?

    They were adults of sound mind with a wealth of information available to, and being aggressively provided to, them. They should have known better, they DID know better, and there is no defensible excuse for their failing to act appropriately on that knowledge. There is no meaningful difference between what they did and the conventional form of “intending” their daughter to die. Willful ignorance is always a premeditated crime. Willful ignorance resulting in the death of another person is murder.

  20. #20 Tony
    January 7, 2009

    You do realize that these people are just plain nuts, right?

    A small fraction of a percent of any population have this unique combination of massive cognitive dysfunction coupled with just enough functionality to send emails and converse in a seemingly intelligent manner. I’m sure there is a DSM-IV diagnosis for each of them: Casey, Maggiore, etc.

    I have great respect for Orac and folks like Nick Bennett who have the patience, congeniality and compassion to engage these morons without going verbally Billy Jack on them.

    Kudos.

  21. #21 Robert C
    January 7, 2009

    BSE: There probably was nothing you could’ve done for your friend. There was nothing none of my friends could’ve said to me to change my mind. If they had, I would have cut them off. In fact, I did cut some off — and cut myself off from them when I started to get sick those last few months. I knew if they saw me, they’d know something was dreadfully wrong and confront me. Some friends I lied to — and told them I had actually tested negative again — just to get them off my back. I went to different doctors so as to avoid confrontation.

    So, there’s nothing you could’ve done, I don’t think.

    I do think, however, there might be a *few* people who will come to their senses with the death of Maggiore. We may never know, but I think her death will rattle some people enough — but probably not many, unfortunately. It’s sort of something you have to experience yourself, and unfortunately, a lot of people do not survive the experience.

    If it’s any consolation, I’m here! And, I know there are others who woke up before it was too late. And there are certainly a lot fewer still in denial. The HEAL meeting here in NYC used to get a decent crowd every Wednesday at the LGBT Center — but for the past several years they’ve dwindled to a once-a-month meeting in the back of some restaurant where you have to knock on a door to gain entrance (according to their website). Sounds pretty small to me.

    So, it’s better.

  22. #22 Seth Kalichman
    January 7, 2009

    I agree that some people who have been misled by the denialists may now see the light. When Christine Maggiore told someone to question their diagnosis and look toward alternatives who would not listen to her? She was after all alive and well. She was saying what anyone would want to hear. But now she is dead and her own message dies too. The most entrenched denialists will never give this up. They can’t. But people who had been vulnerable to denialism before will be less likely to dive in now. The death of Christine Maggiore hurts the cause. The denialists are already making her a martyr, but that is more for themselves that others. And then there are the growing numbers of people who like Maggiore are falling ill after following a path of denialism. They are all over Brian Carter’s MSN message board and I have posted just a few in my latest blog posting. I agree that it is getting better.

    ACTUP SF is gone
    Continuum, gone
    Culshaw retired
    Bialy, pretty much gone
    David Crowe not proven to exist
    Mbeki out
    Manto gone
    Rath found unlawful in courts
    Public awareness is growing, e.g., Law & Order denialism episode
    Maggiore dead
    HEAL wounded
    Serge Lang dead
    Bauer being Bauer

    Things are better, but still pretty bad.
    http://denyingaids.blogspot.com/

  23. #23 Hanna
    January 7, 2009

    Orac:

    I remain thrilled that Christine Maggiore is dead. And there should be no shame in wanting to rid the world of people who carelessly cause life-threatening harm to innocent souls around them.

    Christine Maggiore was no virologist – she didn’t even have a college degree. It was hubris in multiple orders of magnitude that drove her to use what she did have – charisma and persuasion – to entice those who were desperate and far less sophisticated with mental manipulation tactics to refuse the very monitoring and treatment. They paid with their lives – never mind how many others they infected in their denial.

    As for what Christine Maggiore did to her own daughter Eliza Jane. I’ll remind you that willful neglect is just as evil as actionable abuse.

    You make a distinction between a mother who shoots her child in the head from a mother who refuses chemotherapy for a child with early Hodgkin’s lymphoma despite the high cure rate.

    I make no distinction whatsoever. On the contrary, dying from a bullet to the brain is FAR more peaceful than the agony of untreated PCP. I imagine that child went through hell before she died. And Maggiore waited until EJ stopped breathing before having her admitted to the hospital. Talk about a day late and a dollar short!

    I don’t believe Christine Maggiore WANTED EJ to die but the evidence proves she was faced with two ugly outcomes:

    A) Either have Dr. Jay Gordon re-examine EJ when she didn’t improve, knowing he might put the pieces together of a protracted illness and the potential for immune deficiency in this child or
    B) Shop EJ around to new pediatricians who were unable to access illness progression and minimize risk of HIV result and subsequent action.

    She chose B – the lesser of two evils, knowing it could end her child’s life.

    Truly, what’s uglier than that?

  24. #24 DLC
    January 8, 2009

    Sometimes I wonder if my old chat sessions on AOL will come back to haunt me when I run for President in 2012.

  25. #25 Patrick
    January 8, 2009

    The cause of death should be listed as suicide if the meds could have stopped her from dying…and murder for the cause on her child.

  26. #26 ekchung
    January 8, 2009

    DLC, are you Rod Blagojevich? Because if so, I really don’t think you should run in 2012, old AOL chat records or no. And get a haircut, please.

  27. #27 Andrew Dodds
    January 8, 2009

    DLC -

    You think you have problems.. imagine 20-30 year’s hence, when the combination of camera phones, facebook, internet postings and goodness knows wheat future tech means that political candidates will have their entire life up for public examination.

    We could hope that it’ll lead to more mature politics since everyone will have skeletons in their now-transparent closet. Not that I’ll bet on it..

  28. #28 Dianne
    January 8, 2009

    Sometimes I wonder if my old chat sessions on AOL will come back to haunt me when I run for President in 2012.

    Just remember: It can’t be the deep, dark secret that your opponents drag out if you brag about it.

  29. #29 Paul Murray
    January 8, 2009

    I defy Farber to find a single communique from skeptical bloggers like myself “reveling” in Maggiore’s death.

    Sigh. I’ll bet there’s more than one familiy member of someone who died of aids after beliving all the denialism, who has posted something unkind on a blog about Christine Maggiore’s death from AIDS.

    When your kid dies from playing with a loaded handgun that it found in a gun-nut’s home, it’s hard not to feel a tiny bit of schadenfreude when that gun-nut – or some other – dies in a gun accident of their own.

  30. #30 Sara Conner
    January 8, 2009

    Children are not “its”. The “sympathy” here is contrived and pretentious, the kind I’d rather not receive at all. Why bother showing others how much you care, when you really don’t? That’s worse than showing no remorse whatsoever.

  31. #31 Joey
    January 8, 2009

    remorse?
    for christine maggiore?
    or remorse for the hundreds of thousands of hastened deaths by AIDS denialism?
    remorse?

  32. #32 Chris
    January 8, 2009

    Sara Conner said “Children are not “its”.”

    Maybe it is lost in the comments, but who here referred to children as “its”. I also just looked at it again, and the only emotion I see is scorn and anger at the action of the HIV/AIDS denialists.

    Did you post that comment on the wrong blog entry?

    Since my mother died when I was a child I know one never really recovers, there is always a void. My sympathies, and they are very real, are for the surviving son. I required professional psychiatric help during my middle school years after my mother’s death. If there is a child who could benefit from real counseling, it would be her son.

  33. #33 Sara Conner
    January 9, 2009

    Chris,

    Paul Murray said: “When your kid dies from playing with a loaded handgun that it found in a gun-nut’s home,”

    Sounds like a dog.

    Joey,

    I don’t care if you show remorse or not. I’d venture the guess you cannot furnish any evidence to your claim regarding “murder by denialism” either. Don’t worry though, I suspect epi spin will follow soon – much like surveillance aimed at charter schools or pockets of people that don’t like to overvaccinate.

    I’m speaking to those that hide under the guise of sympathy for the loss of life while simultaneously drawing smug conclusions over Maggiore’s cause of death. Oddly, the very same skeptics that are so eager to connect the dots in this death scream coincidence at the notion a child would suffer a reaction and die following a vaccine. It does not appear that the same skepticism is being applied across the board.

    Sara

  34. #34 Chris
    January 9, 2009

    Where is the “sympathy” in that quote!?!?

    False or otherwise?

    Where is a child consider an “it” in that quote!?!?

  35. #35 Robster, FCD
    January 9, 2009

    Sara, he or she is sometimes referred to as it.

    But, unlike you, I welcome our robot overlords.

  36. #36 Tracy W
    January 9, 2009

    Why bother showing others how much you care, when you really don’t? That’s worse than showing no remorse whatsoever.

    No, it’s better than showing no remorse whatsoever. In order to make the effort to show other people that you care, you have to at least be aware and to care that you should be feeling something, which shows some human feeling. There is an old statement that “hypocrisy is the tribue vice pays to virtue” – meaning that a hypocrite at least knows that they are behaving badly by the lights of their society.

    Although I don’t know why Sara apparently thinks that most of the commentators on this post should be expected to show any remorse on AIDS denialism, given that few of them appear to have done anything to encourage such denialism. Sympathy appears far more appropriate in this case than remorse, except for people who actively encouraged Aids denialism.

    And furthermore, I strongly suspect that Sara has decided that the sympathy here is contrived and pretentious because she doesn’t like the factual arguments, not because of any actual evidence.

  37. #37 Mike
    January 9, 2009

    Sara, you twit:
    much like surveillance aimed at charter schools or pockets of people that don’t like to overvaccinate

    By this I guess you mean vaccinate at all. I also suppose you think the measles outbreaks all over the world after the anti-vaxxers started wooing is just a coincidence.

    As for the ‘it’ comment: If you do not know the sex of a child you could very clumsily say ‘he/she’ or you could use the gender neutral ‘it’.

    Get a life and get your kid(s) vaccinated just like you were. Moron.

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