It figures.

I’ve written a couple of times about a rally to be held tomorrow in Grant Park that would be hilarious were it not an indication of the threat to public health that the anti-vaccine movement represents. Actually, it is to some extent hilarious, mainly due to the anti-vaccine Poe-worthy “music” that will be the featured entertainment.

It was bad enough that the fair city of Chicago would be blighted with this nonsense–and Andrew Wakefield, too–but now the “American Rally for Personal Rights” (a.k.a. the Autism One anti-vaccine rally featuring disgraced and unethical British physician Andy Wakefield) is now metastasizing. There are now “satellite rallies” in Edison, NJ, New York City, and the Seattle Area.

I’ll just repeat again. Although the issue of how much power the state should have to compel vaccination is a legitimate political and social question, as I’ve pointed out before for Jenny McCarthy’s “Green Our Vaccines” rally and this rally, it’s really far more about being anti-vaccine than pro-freedom. The “health freedom” movement, of which the “no forced vaccination” movement is but a subset, is in reality far more about freedom for quacks to ply their quackery without any pesky interference from the government and for alt-med believers to use whatever quack nostroms or down whatever supplements they like, safety be damned.

Sadly, this week is likely to continue to be a very busy week on the anti-vaccine front.


  1. #1 Todd W.
    May 25, 2010

    Perhaps counter protesters with sings like:

    “Vaccines are already optional”
    “Mandatory vaccination is an anti-vaccine myth”

    Other suggestions?

  2. #2 weez
    May 25, 2010

    Antivax nutwackos should be allowed to be as biohazardous as they wanna be- as long as they reside in isolation wards and their diseased carcasses are incinerated onsite when they croak.

  3. #3 Emil Karlsson
    May 25, 2010

    Offit made a distinction between compulsory and mandatory vaccinations in his “Vaccine War” interview. Mandatory just means that if you choose not to vaccinate, you pay a societal cost (like not being able to attend a certain school). So vaccines are in some sense “mandatory”, but not compulsory (which the anti-vaxxers assert). May be nitpicking, but I find it to be a useful distinction.

  4. #4 Luke D
    May 25, 2010

    With any luck, it’ll rain.

  5. #5 Seb30
    May 25, 2010

    @ Emil Karlsson

    Thanks, it was something preying on the back of my mind. “They” keep using compulsory and mandatory indistinctly to complain how “we” want to stick them with needles against their will, but I know there was a difference.
    This is exactly as you say. And this is not nitpicking, it’s using the right word at the right place.

  6. #6 BlueMaxx
    May 25, 2010

    HOLD IT….

    you mean the ANTI-VACCINE Insanity…

    has …GONE VIRAL?

    Holy Poorly Reasoned Emotional Celebrity Objections, Batman.

  7. #7 Bob
    May 25, 2010

    Should the rally be protested?

    Also: tomorrow Chicago weather: cloudy with chance of thunderstorms

  8. #8 Todd W.
    May 25, 2010


    Perhaps protest is not the right word. What’s a good word for “offering correct information to combat the woo spouted by the antivaxer”?

  9. #9 Rene Najera
    May 25, 2010

    They were in Baltimore not too long ago, and I was going to go with my “All I got was not the flu” tee shirt, but the ethics committee caught on to my writing “shenanigans”. I’ve been walking on eggshells for over a month. Anyone that knows me knows I don’t like to walk on eggshells.

    I wonder if I can make it to Chicago if I drive all night? (I wouldn’t even go to New Jersey on a bet.)

    DISCLAIMER: I neither condone nor advocate for the destruction of Dodo Bird eggs to prove my point of walking on egg shells.

  10. #10 isles
    May 25, 2010

    How embarrassing for them that they have to go ahead with these rallies in the same week that Wakefield lost his license and a major study showed there is no benefit to delaying vaccines.

    Oh, wait, they’re impervious to embarrassment. When they’re wrong, it’s just proof in their own minds that the universe is tilted against them.

  11. #11 David D.G.
    May 25, 2010

    Everyone, sing along!

    “All they are saaaaayiiiiiing,
    is give disease a chaaaaaance.”

    ~David D.G.

  12. #12 Diane
    May 25, 2010

    fwiw: The “seattle” one isn’t actually all that close to seattle. This is nothing on the scale of the Chicago one, thank goodness. It’s just at a local library of a smallish town. Still, wouldn’t surprise me if this picks up in Seattle.

  13. #13 Sid Offit
    May 25, 2010


    Tus descargos de responsabilidad se hacen viejo y cansado. Cuando tienes el tiempo para trabajar si estas jugando con la computadora todo el dia. Yo deberia hablar con tus jefes

  14. #14 MI Dawn
    May 25, 2010

    Aww, Rene, New Jersey isn’t THAT bad. After all, I live here (although Orac left after we met….always made me wonder if I had something to do with it…LOL).

    Unfortunately work has been too busy for me to take a day off to counter protest. 🙁

  15. #15 dedicated lurker
    May 25, 2010

    Sid: Explique su usa de la computadora en la dia que su trabaje.

  16. #16 Doazic
    May 25, 2010

    How about “You’d all be dead if not for vaccines”

  17. #17 Sid Offit
    May 25, 2010

    lo siento, viejos y cansados

  18. #18 Todd W.
    May 25, 2010

    Let’s do try to keep the comments in the same language as the blog, out of respect for the readers.

    P.S. Sid, I rather enjoy Rene’s disclaimers. They show the absurdity of people trying to tie his personal opinions to his employers.

  19. #19 Rogue Epidemiologist
    May 25, 2010

    Applying their name “Americans for Personal Rights” to the anti-vax cause reminds me of how the Scientologists have their “Citizen’s Commission for Human Rights” as another front group against psychiatry.

    I’d love to see the rally be crashed by supporters of other personal rights, like the right for gays to marry, the right to have legal abortions without restrictions, etc. Dilute their message while promoting something that’s good, amirite?

  20. #20 Sid Offit
    May 25, 2010

    Explique su usa de la computadora en la dia que su trabaje.

    Estoy mi propio jefe asi que pudeo hacer lo que quieras con la computadora. Y yo quiero entender la mente de la vacunador y pasar tiempo con mis amigos de Respectful Insolence

  21. #21 dedicated lurker
    May 25, 2010

    Es el nombre de la jefe J.B. Handley?

  22. #22 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    May 25, 2010

    I’m all for rights, just don’t give responsibilities short shrift. That’s what these rallies do.

  23. #23 Sid Offit
    May 25, 2010

    Que chistoso. No. Senior Handley no es mi jefe. La verdad es mi jefe.

  24. #24 dedicated lurker
    May 25, 2010

    Si la verdad es su jefe, la verdad necesitara su encendido.

  25. #25 kb
    May 25, 2010

    This is OT, but I’d just like to say I like the way free internet translation sites give you ridiculous sentences. (I took French in school.) The best I got is, “Is the name of JB Handley’s head?”

  26. #26 dedicated lurker
    May 25, 2010

    My favorite was when someone called a phoenix a “bird of fire” and tried to translate it into Spanish. They got a phrase that literally meant “bird, you’re fired!”

  27. #27 Michael
    May 25, 2010

    My favorite is the translation of people’s names- if you try to translate an article from German to English, Mr.Mehlhorn becomes Mr.Flour Horn.

  28. #28 DLC
    May 25, 2010

    Fine, have your antivax personal rights, just don’t enforce your nutty views on the rest of us, or on your children, who do not have the ability to make up their own mind.
    But if one person becomes ill due to your malfeasance, you face civil and criminal liability. Because with personal rights comes personal responsibility. You want to endanger the public, you pay the price when it happens.

  29. #29 D. C. Sessions
    May 25, 2010

    Aww, Rene, New Jersey isn’t THAT bad. After all, I live here

    Funny (and totally OT) that — I was just telling $SON that he shouldn’t write NJ off. He may have a line on a job there for an NCG physicist that looks up his alley.

  30. #30 ChrisKid
    May 25, 2010

    I’m pretty sure I’m going, but I’ve promised my husband not to get myself in trouble, so I’m going to have to watch and stay quiet. He’s afraid I’ll get my head bashed in. Which I might if I follow my instincts.

  31. #31 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    May 25, 2010


    La verdad? No puede manejar la verdad.


  32. #32 dedicated lurker
    May 25, 2010

    Okay, the preceding comment is the best comment ever.

  33. #33 David N. Brown
    May 26, 2010

    Here’s some ideas for how any serious “vaccine objectors” can practice their choices without making themselves a danger to public safety:
    1. Spread yourselves out as thinly as possible.
    2. Don’t move into major urban areas.
    3. DO NOT recruit.
    4. Don’t publicize scientific claims about vaccine safety.

    If they abide by these rules, they can at least achieve the status of non-Muslims under Sharia law: detested and marginalized, but tolerated.

  34. #34 David N. Brown
    May 26, 2010

    Also, an utterly nasty but fitting way to deal with a rally like this: Bombard them with a catapult loaded with dead rats.
    Fight agents of pestilence with agents of pestilence!

  35. #35 Chris
    May 26, 2010

    dedicated lurker:

    Okay, the preceding comment is the best comment ever.

    De verdad!

  36. #36 Tsu Dho Nimh
    May 26, 2010

    I don’t mind comments in Spanish, but the grammatically impossible Spanish is annoying.

    Estoy mi propio jefe asi que pudeo hacer lo que quieras con la computadora.” I am my own boss and that way “pudeo” (unknown word, probably meant to be puedo (I can)) do what *you want* with the computer.

    Geez, y’all, if you can’t conjugate common irregular verbs correctly, stay out of the pozo genético.

  37. #37 Rene Najera
    May 26, 2010

    Sid, ¿que?

  38. #38 njk
    May 26, 2010

    kb @25:

    google translate is having a fairly easy time with the non-English comments. So easy that I suspect that’s where Sid is getting his Spanish to start with.

  39. #39 BlueMaxx
    May 26, 2010

    so today’s metaphorical comparison and reasoning lesson is:

    Real Spanish is to GOOGLE translator spanish


    REAL SCIENCE and LOGIC is to….. AntiVaccine rhetoric?

  40. #40 JohnV
    May 26, 2010


    “La verdad es mi jefe.”

    bwhahahaha thanks for the laugh 😛

  41. #41 gillian
    May 26, 2010

    i am confused. if you actually believe vaccination confers immunity and are vaccinated, what possible difference would it make to you if the person standing next to you had been vaccinated or not? you would be immune, and they would be sick. seems the reverse is demonstrated by the comments here, which are incredibly sick.

  42. #42 Scott
    May 26, 2010

    Vaccines are not 100% effective, and some people have particular contraindications that prevent them from getting vaccinated (e.g. too young).

    Which means that, yes, anti-vax foolishness is an active threat to kill others.

  43. #43 Poogles
    May 26, 2010

    “if you actually believe vaccination confers immunity and are vaccinated, what possible difference would it make to you”

    Two words: Herd immunity

  44. #44 Todd W.
    May 26, 2010


    As already mention above, vaccines are not 100% effective, so there is a small chance that even though a person is fully vaccinated, they may not be immune. And, as Poogles mentioned, herd immunity is important to protect those who cannot be vaccinated (too young, too old, transplant recipients on immunosuppressants, cancer patients whose immune systems have been wiped out by chemo, AIDS patients, etc.).

    Give a read to for a primer on some of the anti-vaccine arguments and why they are wrong.

  45. #45 Julian Frost
    May 26, 2010

    @Tsu Do Nimh #36:
    Pudendum is another word for Vagina, so “Pudeo” probably means…oh, never mind.

  46. #46 dedicated lurker
    May 26, 2010

    All my spanish was my own and not babelfished, however. Any crappy grammar is my fault alone. (I think I messed up a verb tense or two.)

  47. #47 Sid Offit
    May 26, 2010

    me puse una vacuna y ahora solo puedo escribir y pensar en espanol y caminar hacia atras

  48. #48 augustine
    May 26, 2010

    todd: “As already mention above, vaccines are not 100% effective, so there is a small chance that even though a person is fully vaccinated,”

    C’mon, Todd. To use the words 100% effective and vaccines in the same sentence is disingenuous.
    “The effectiveness of the vaccine was 44.0 percent”

  49. #49 Ender
    May 27, 2010

    He said that vaccines weren’t 100% effective – that’s not disingenuous – that’s a fact. If you think he’s being disingenuous you’re clearly stupid enough to use words you don’t understand.

  50. #50 Todd W.
    May 27, 2010

    Wow. Telling the truth, rather than making some claim that vaccines are 100% wonderful and shiny, makes me disingenuous. And I thought that augustine didn’t understand logic and science before!

  51. #51 Chris
    May 27, 2010

    It has been noted before that he is illiterate. His last comment is further proof.

  52. #52 Francois T
    June 6, 2010

    The rebuttal to this movement has already been done…in 1905!

    See Jacobson v Commonwealth Supreme Court of The United States. The case addressed this very question.

    The SCOTUS rejected a complaint against Massachusetts’s compulsory vaccination law that it said infringed the “inherent right of every freeman to care for his own body and health in such way as seems to him best.’’

    Whatever Jacobson’s right to care for himself, he had none to impose risks on his fellow citizens.

    It is settled law since then.

    The End!

  53. #53 Dr. Vanderloop. D.C.
    February 6, 2011

    What concerns me the most is the amount of research that is completed on these vaccines. I’ve worked for two corporations that made vaccines. What was considered success concerned me. A vaccine was considered successful if 30% percent of a group would show an antigen reaction when challenged with the virus or bacteria. Now that didn’t mean they could fight of the virus or bacteria, just that their would be an immune response. In viewing this, people are seeing why even though they got the vaccine, they are still getting sick. When I gave vaccines in the military, the personnel would ask me ” Why am I getting this shot? I’m going to get sick anyway.” I would have to keep my mouth shut. I’m really not fond of the what they use to kill the virus or vaccine and then inject into us. Their effectiveness is just not proven on large studies.

    Source: Houston Chiropractor

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