I’m pretty hard on anti-vaccine activists. I know that. One in particular provokes my ire because of his particular brand of loutishness, intimidation, and stupidity. I’m talking about, of course, J.B. Handley, founder of Generation Rescue and blogger at its propaganda arm Age of Autism. As much as JB and I detest each other though, on rare occasions (of which this appears to be the first) I’m forced to admit that JB actually did something right.
Five months ago, JB wrote a hilarious bit of detection work in which he concluded that a blogger by the ‘nym of Sullivan was, in reality, Dr. Paul Offit’s wife Bonnie. The twists and turns of bizarre logic he used to come to this conclusion were so hilarious that he inadvertently created a new Internet meme for a time: I am Bonnie Offit. In his original post, he challenged Sullivan thusly:
Bonnie Offit, or Sullivan for that matter, I have a simple offer:
If you can produce a dad with a child with autism with a remarkable grasp of the medical and scientific literature who blogs under the name Sullivan, a man who has an inordinate grasp of the details of your husband’s patents, lawsuits, published studies, and web habits, I will make sure that the pauloffit.com website is given to you and your husband for good.
In fact, if you can produce this father, I promise to never, ever publicly write about or utter the name “Paul Offit” again.
I’m waiting, Bonnie, and I have a funny feeling I will be waiting a very long time.
Well, two days ago, Sullivan “outed” himself, revealing himself to be Matt Carey, the father of an autistic child and one and the same as Sullivan. As a result multiple bloggers, including me, challenged JB to put up or shut up, to make good on his pledge. None of us really expected that he would. Indeed, the comments of our posts were mostly filled with people wondering what excuse JB would use to weasel out of it.
That’s why we were all surprised by JB’s post this morning at AoA:
In a previous post, I speculated that Sullivan was actually Bonnie Offit, wife of a not-to-be-mentioned vaccine millionaire. Mr. Carey’s personal outing of himself renders my speculation incorrect.
As many ravenous members of the dark side I’m sure have mentioned, I also made a simple promise that if Sullivan was NOT Bonnie Offit, I would not utter said name of said leader of the Dark Side.
I also offered to give up the website www.pauloffit.com
Apparently, Mr. Carey is a parent of a child with autism. Matt, if you’re reading this, note that I really have no interest in writing about or attacking other parents, and you can expect similar treatment. My enemies are the AAP, CDC, and the vaccine makers themselves, as well as their well-paid minions. Since you don’t appear to be in any of those camps and have a kid just like me, I don’t have the heart.
Later, he states:
‘Nuff said, in the world I live in, a deal’s a deal, even if you took five months to get here. Just email me, plenty on the dark side know how to find me, and we can work out the details.
I was floored. On the other hand, it makes a sort of sense. Despite the amount of misinformation, intimidation, threats, and bullying that eminate from JB on a regular basis, I sense he does think of himself as a man of his word, although I’d be willing to bet that if Matt were not a father of an autistic child JB would have found a way out of honoring his ill-considered pledge. If you’re an enemy, anything goes; if not, well, the embarrassment and shame that would come from having defenders of science-based medicine reminding him of a broken pledge would have been just too much.
One thing I noticed, though. While JB is to be commended for agreeing to turn over the domain pauloffit.com as part of honoring his pledge, even as he honors one part of his pledge, he’s not completely honoring his entire pledge. Remember, he said, “I promise to never, ever publicly write about or utter the name ‘Paul Offit’ again.” From a strictly legalistic, pedantic point of view, I suppose JB could say he’s honoring his pledge simply by not mentioning Dr. Offit’s actual name, even though he’s continuing to slime him as a “ot-to-be-mentioned vaccine millionaire” and “leader of the Dark Side.”
Sorry, Mr. Handley. That might be honoring the letter of the agreement, but it’s sure as hell not honoring its spirit. Apparently honor only goes so far with you when it comes to Dr. Offit. Still, JB’s definitely doing much better than the AoA sycophants, toadies, and lackies in the comments, one of whom wrote:
JB — you have no hard proof that Matt Carey is Sullivan. If the ID of an anonymous internet blogger could be proven, our Deer friend Rebecca (aka Becky) Fisher would have been outed long ago.
However, if you insist on taking Carey at his word (which is more than he has ever done for us), you said you’d give up the website www.pauloffit.com, but you did NOT state who you’d give it up to. Certainly not Matt Carey or anyone defending the vaccine program. I’m sure you’ll find plenty of advocates of safer vaccines who would be willing to take over, pay for and host www.pauloffit.com right after you give it up.
As for never saying Offit’s name again, that’s easy enough. Simply refer to him as Dr. Proffit. There should be no confusion about who you’re referring to.
Stay classy, AoA minions. Stay classy. Even on the rare occasion when your Dear Leader is trying to do the right thing (even though he can’t resist getting another dig in at Paul Offit), you try to undermine him.
ADDENDUM: More comments from AoA minions follow. Gotta love how some of them seem to have less sense of honor than apparently JB does (assuming he goes through with his deal and stops his “not-pology”-like mentions of Dr. Offit à la Valdemort as “he who must not be named” or “you know who.” Check it out. First, we have someone going by the ‘nym “face the music”:
www.pauloffit.com is listed near the top of page one when “paul offit” is typed into the google search. That’s worth a lot of hits as you know if you follow the stats on the site.
When you weigh the morality of breaking a deal with the devil vs. the morality of allowing many, many more parents to be given Paul Offit’s propaganda, what’s more moral? Proving to a scoundrel you’re good on your word or protecting children?
Using the truth about Paul Offit as a bargaining chip seems immoral to me. It’s too late to undo that decision, but it’s not too late to do the right thing by the people visiting your website.
In fairness to the thousands who will continue to go to www.pauloffit.com, you should renege on the deal and face the music of another angry article from Matt Carey calling you a liar. Better that than even one child’s brain being damaged (or life ended) as the result of a parent being propagandized on the website that you started.
Then there’s “pass the popcorn”:
“If you can produce a dad with a child with autism with a remarkable grasp of the medical and scientific literature who blogs under the name Sullivan”
Such a person has not been produced. The person who blogs as Sullivan has not demostrated a remarkable grasp of the medical and scientific literature. In fact, he has no grasp of the medical and scientific literature as it pertains to the vaccine/autism link. The proof is all over the LBRB website.
Uh, no. Matt’s understanding of the medical and scientific literature far surpasses JB’s.
In all fairness, one commenter does seem to get part of it, sort of:
“I think it’s a simple way to demonstrate courage, conviction, and integrity in the things you write.” [JB referring to blogging under one's real name.]
It also invites those who have a looser interpretation of morals and/or reality to take unnecessary, unsubstantiated and sometime unnerving pot shots at someone’s private life.
With some taking an almost virtual jihad-ist position against anyone who questions the dogma, privacy seems prudent.
Indeed. One wonders whether JB feels similarly about the many pseudonymous commenters on the AoA blog itself! Personally, I would point out to JB that I blog under my own name elsewhere and have even criticized him there. He never, ever shows up there, but if I post the same version of the post here, frequently he does. Clearly, JB much prefers addressing the pseudonym (and whining about it) than addressing me directly. I wonder why…