Respectful Insolence

Beauty and the antivaccine beast

The last couple of days have been very busy, as you might have guessed from my brief (for me) post on Tuesday and my—shall we say?—appropriation of a post to use for yesterday. Today’s going to be the same, but for more pleasant reasons than having had to go out to dinner with a visiting professor and being out until 10:30 PM and slaving away at grant applications. Last night an unexpected surprise arrived. Well, it wasn’t a surprise that it arrived; it was a surprise that it arrived yesterday, as I hadn’t expected it until today, and a couple of weeks ago I hadn’t expected it before the end of the month.

I’m talking about by brand new iMac, baby!

Yes, after six and a half years, it was finally time to retire my old desktop workhorse, a Mac Pro. It’s actually amazing how long that particular computer remained not only useful but as fast at some tasks (for example, video rendering) as newer computers. Alas, it couldn’t be updated to the latest Macintosh OS (Mountain Lion), and it’s so old that it doesn’t even have Bluetooth (which was optional and for which I had no use in 2006) or wifi (which was considered unnecessary in a high-end desktop computer at the time, which was presumed to be directly hooked up to an Ethernet connection). Indeed, I’m on my third laptop since the one I had when I first got the old Mac Pro. In fact, I use my laptop so much that I wondered if I actually even needed a desktop anymore, but the limitations of laptops with respect to storage of media meant that I couldn’t store my multi-TB media library. Also, because I’m constantly working on grants and papers, I am increasingly feeling the limitations of a 13″ screen when it comes to having multiple documents open. Laptops are fine for text and tasks where I don’t need multiple windows open at the same time, but a big screen is just so much more pleasant when making figures, writing papers, and the like.

So when the new iMacs were finally announced, they were so…beautiful that I figured it was time to retire the old warhorse and get a sleek, powerful new iMac. So I took the plunge and got myself a 27″ iMac, and it arrived yesterday. When I got home from work, blogging couldn’t compete. I did something that I really enjoy doing: I set the computer up from scratch, so that I didn’t transfer six and a half years of digital schmutz in the preferences and other system files that had built up over the years. (I don’t remember the last time I did a clean install of the OS.) The task is almost complete. All applications have been installed from original software discs, which taught me something about the impending obsolescence of optical drives, given that only three software packages that I have are even on disks anymore. The rest I downloaded, while I copied my may GB of files from my old computer over my wireless network. All that remains is to transfer my iTunes and iPhoto libraries over, which I can do tonight after I get home from work. My new machine will then be ready to rumble with the grant I’m currently working on.

Oddly enough, the aluminum-encased smooth and thin beauty of our new iMac reminded me of something—or perhaps I should say someone—that is anything but slim or beautiful. Does anyone remember John Best? He’s what can best be described as a rabid antivaccinationist (trust me, I’m being kind) whom I first encountered back in 2005 when he started commenting on my old blog. He would occasionally comment on this blog early on after I first moved over to ScienceBlogs, but over time his appearances fortunately became rarer and rarer. I finally banned him. That’s not to say that he doesn’t occasionally show up, but he rarely gets through because I recognize his style and I know the IP addresses he tends to post from.

In any case, if there’s anything you need to know about John Best, it’s all there on his blog Hating Autism. Here’s fair warning: It takes a strong stomach to bear the hatred, insults, and frequent reference to autistic people as “brain damaged” and other derogatory terms, all accompanied by broadsides against vaccines (which he blames for autism, of course), big pharma, the government, and, of course, vicious attacks against people whom he views as enemies.

People like Australian blogger Phil Gluyas.

What I didn’t know is that Phil had sued Best for defamation. What I just found out is that Phil won his lawsuit, which arose thusly:

9 The present proceedings arise out of a long running dispute, which the plaintiff has had with the defendant concerning the causes of autism. As I stated, the plaintiff himself suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome. That condition is considered to be part of the autism spectrum. Persons who suffer from Asperger’s Syndrome do not suffer the cognitive or developmental deficits, which commonly affect those with autism. However, like autism, those with Asperger’s Syndrome have social deficits, and, in particular, they have difficulty empathising or being able to interact appropriately in social situations.

10 The defendant has maintained websites, and contributed to websites, on which he has published a number of entries concerning the causes of autism. In essence, the defendant maintains that all forms of autism are caused by mercury poisoning, and that they can be cured by a form of treatment referred to as chelation. The plaintiff has challenged that view, and has contended that conditions on the autism spectrum are congenital and are not susceptible of a cure.

11 The defendant’s responses to the plaintiff’s views have gone well beyond the bounds of ordinary discussion and intellectual debate. The items posted by the defendant on the internet, concerning the plaintiff, contain an extraordinary level of invective and personal denigration, which, in some measure, have been repeated in two letters which he has forwarded to the court in response to the proceedings served on him.

And here are some examples:

(a) (Exhibit G).- An entry entitled “Phil Gluyas’ history of brutality” which was uploaded by the defendant on the website www.philgluyas.com on or about 3 February 2010.

(b) (Exhibit L). An entry entitled “Severely deranged mental case sues me again” uploaded by the defendant onto the website www.hatingautism.blogspot.com (“the hating autism website”). The plaintiff downloaded and read that entry in December 2010.

(c) (Exhibit M). The entry entitled “Phil Gluyas of Australian Football abuses autistic women” dated 11 April 2009 uploaded by the defendant onto the hatingautism website.

(d) (Exhibit N). The same entry entitled “Phil Gluyas of Australian Football abuses autistic women” uploaded by the defendant to the website www.philgluyas5.blogspot.com (the “philgluyas5 website”) and dated 23 November 2009.

(e) (Exhibit O). The entry entitled “Is Phil Gluyas the next Adam Lanza?” uploaded by the defendant onto the hatingautism website on 20 December 2012.

(f) (Exhibit P). The same entry “Is Phil Gluyas the next Adam Lanza?” uploaded by the defendant on the philgluyas5 website dated 3 January 2013.

(g) (Exhibit R). The entry “Pneumonic plague averted in Melbourne” uploaded by the defendant on the philgluyas5 website on 3 November 2009.

(h) (Exhibit S). Various entries by the defendant as part of comments in relation to the “Youtube” video “I am autism”. Those comments were uploaded by the defendant over a period of a few weeks leading to 23 November 2009 (when the plaintiff downloaded them from the internet).

And:

31 The plaintiff relies on three imputations in respect of exhibit M (the entry “Phil Gluyas of Australian football abuses autistic women” on the hatingautism website) and exhibit N (the same entry on the philgluyas5 website). Those imputations are:

(a) By analogy with Hannibal Lecter, Phil Gluyas is a mentally unwell person who poses a serious threat to the physical safety of others.

(b) A medical authority determined that Phil Gluyas was so physically dangerous to others, as a result of a medical disorder, that he was banned from working anywhere in Australia.

(c) Phil Gluyas suffers from a serious mental disorder that causes him to be violent towards others.

32 I am satisfied that the two entries, published by the defendant, conveyed each of those three imputations of and concerning the plaintiff. Immediately beneath the heading of each entry, is a photograph depicting the character Hannibal Lecter, from the film Silence of the Lambs. That character was a psychopathically violent and dangerous individual. Underneath the photograph, the defendant stated:

“Phil Gluyas is a severely deranged man from Australia who likes to abuse people with autism, especially women. Gluyas was found to be so dangerous to his co-workers that a medical authority proclaimed him to be mentally unfit for employment anywhere in Australia.”
33 The photograph and that passage, alone, are sufficient to give rise to each of the three imputations. However, the balance of the article reinforces and repeats each of the imputations. The defendant then referred to the fact that the plaintiff umpired Australian Rules football. He stated:

“What might happen with Gluyas umpiring if some autistic woman happens to wander onto the field? With his history of being medically banned from all work places in the country, I shudder to think what this lunatic might do to a disabled person that he could get his hands on.”

Sadly, I don’t know if Phil will ever be able to collect the damages awarded ($50,000) from Best. Even if there weren’t the issue of collecting damages from a judgment made by an Australian court from a U.S. citizen, which would be daunting and expensive, there’s another issue. I highly doubt that Best has the money. Still, it’s good to see that Best has been slapped down. On a practical level, I doubt it will have much effect, but it is a moral victory.

Now back to my grants and my new iMac. It’s a case of beauty for some perverse reason reminding me of a beast. The difference between the fictional beauty and the beast is that this particular beast has no redeeming characteristics that I can find, nor any potential that I can discern for ever changing in such a way as to redeem himself and become worthy of the beauty.

Comments

  1. #1 LW
    January 24, 2013

    Now you have me yearning for a new computer.

  2. #2 Renate
    January 24, 2013

    I’m still not yearning for a Mac.

  3. #3 Todd W.
    harpocratesspeaks.com
    January 24, 2013

    Re: Macs, I will admit that they are very pretty machines. Apple has done amazing things at making them thin and sleek. Still don’t care for them (or their price tag), though.

    Re: Best as The Beast. Although an apt comparison, it is flawed in one respect: The Beast was capable of reforming himself and becoming a handsome prince. I see no such prospects for Best, who is vile through and through. As a character comparison, a Tolkein orc seems more appropriate.

  4. #4 Shay
    freezing my assets off in the Midwest
    January 24, 2013

    Best popped up on Slate.com earlier this month but apparently has been flagged and most of his comments deleted.

  5. #5 Anj
    January 24, 2013

    Amazed not that the lawsuit was won, but that Gluyas went through the ordeal of filing it.

    Props to him.

  6. #6 Adam
    January 24, 2013

    Best sounds like a really nice person.

  7. #7 tgobbi
    January 24, 2013

    When I mentioned to an acquaintance that I’m a Mac user, for some unfathomable reason he commented that Macs are computers for people who shouldn’t be using computers. He had no comment when I asked him to explain and justify the statement. This was around the time “Jeopardy” aired their contest in which the program’s two biggest money winners competed against a computer (and lost). During the several days of the competition, there were many shots of the audience which was comprised largely of computer professionals and geniuses. Guess what kind of laptop was largely in evidence. Yes indeed, Apple was very much in evidence. That must mean that the top geeks shouldn’t be using computers…

    I’ve used both PCs and Macs and I’m a confirmed Mac person, never having owned anything but. Macs do everything I need them to do and they do it a lot easier and with fewer glitches than PCs.

  8. #8 novalox
    January 24, 2013

    Hmm, a Mac sounds good, but can’t afford it.

    On the news about john best, he gets what he so richly deserves.

  9. #9 Denice Walter
    January 24, 2013

    In other anti-vaccine news:

    John Stone ( AoA) sends an angry letter to a journalist who interviewed Mr Gates and did not provide ‘balanced and informed reporting’. Gates is not doing “G-d’s work” it seems by providing vaccines to impoverished communities in Africa- he is harming them. He mentions the situation in Chad.

    Alison MacNeil ( TMR) ponders what life would be like for her family if her son had not been “vaccine injured”. In this “parallel universe” everything would be spectacular: they would have a better house, a better car and a retirement account. They would take fabulous winter vacations and her career ( as a therapist!) would be successful. She would also look better, being more fit. Although they have acquired skills and learned teamwork, she reels at the “unfairness” of it all.

    These anti-vaccine advocates- like Kim Stagliano recently streaming ire at a public figure and John Best above- seem to vent anger on a regular basis at people who are more successful than they are and blame all of their woes on vaccine injury, the medical establishment and the governmental-media cartel.
    It’s easier than looking at yourself I suppose.

  10. #10 Agashem
    South of New Dublin
    January 24, 2013

    I am sorry I read this today. I had no idea there were such hateful people out there. Well, I did but I could pretend I didn’t as I didn’t have a name. Now I am sad.

  11. #11 Chris
    Neither here nor there...
    January 24, 2013

    Orac:

    Laptops are fine for text and tasks where I don’t need multiple windows open at the same time, but a big screen is just so much more pleasant when making figures, writing papers, and the like.

    Dear hubby uses two large screens in the basement lair. Though he is a software engineer, and on the two days a wee when he telecommutes he hooks his work laptop to the the system with a hardware switcher (connects both screens and keyboard). He requires lots of screen real estate. His desk at work just has the screens and keyboard to hook to the laptop.

    Then when he is not working he uses both screens for his online gaming. And when I am working finances on the desktop next to his I sometimes get confused if he is talking to me, or the other people on the online game (he sometimes gives me new of one, who is an old college friend).

  12. #12 Chris
    In the land of typos...
    January 24, 2013

    “days a wee” should be “days a week”

    and

    “gives me new of one” should be “gives me news of one”

    I need more coffee.

  13. #13 MedTek
    January 24, 2013

    Quack Errol Denton ought to read this and take note.

    http://storify.com/jobrodie/tweets-from-fightracism2-1

  14. #14 dandover
    Ogling the iMacs in the Apple online store
    January 24, 2013

    Orac, I have that same Mac Pro (the original, from 2006). I added bluetooth and upgraded the video card and memory in 2011. And let me tell you, I am certain that it still has a few more years left in it. I’m a software engineer, and that thing can still compile circles around much younger hardware that I’m forced to use at work. Also, on the rare occasion that I have time to do some gaming on it, it still rocks the Casbah. So I have no plans to abandon mine any time soon. My only complaint is that Apple didn’t make Mountain Lion compatible with it, so that pretty much means I’m done updating the OS on it.

    The new iMacs sure are pretty, though. They leave me wondering, “Where’s the computer??”

  15. #15 Narad
    January 24, 2013

    Even if there weren’t the issue of collecting damages from a judgment made by an Australian court from a U.S. citizen, which would be daunting and expensive, there’s another issue. I highly doubt that Best has the money.

    The more serious issue would seem to be that although recognition of the judgment would proceed at common law in New Hampshire (the state not having adopted either the 1962 or 2005 Recognition Act), Best didn’t defend the action, so there would appear to be open issues of law, such as jurisdiction. It might be possible to be granted comity in the abstract, but I doubt it if there’s anything that would require a do-over.

    In some sense, if it had a chance of being enforceable, it might be amusing to in effect sell the judgment to local counsel; you don’t have the $50k in the first place, so you might as well just extract what can be gotten from Best (and cause him to defend the action) and give it to someone else in legal fees, but it seems like it would be hard to find takers for such a deal. And all of this ignores finding his assets and the possible application of the SPEECH Act (which seems weak but might fly).

  16. #16 TLPG
    January 24, 2013

    Thanks for the kudos and review, Orac! I have some financial details of Best that I won’t reveal here, but I will say that he can pay the debt. The question though remains about getting to that point of payment as has been insinuated. I’ve already spoken to a couple of government agencies and got nowhere (Rockingham County Attorney and NH Attorney General offices).

  17. #17 Matt Carey
    January 24, 2013

    “I need more coffee.”

    Too much and you will have “days of wee” ;)

  18. #18 ken
    January 24, 2013

    @Denise @#9
    The situation is critical in Chad. Of course they need vaccines but they also need CLEAN WATER.
    http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/chad_61754.html

  19. #19 Chris
    Neither here nor there...
    January 24, 2013

    Clean water is nice. Which is why it is one part of this foundation’s programs. So is not having a child get tetanus.

    So, ken, which vaccine in the American pediatric schedule is only available with thimerosal? Don’t mention influenza, because half of them are thimerosal-free.

  20. #20 novalox
    January 24, 2013

    @ken

    And what are YOU doing about it? Nothing, I suppose?

    That’s one of the funny things about anti-vaxxers. One of the claims is that clean water helped to bring down disease (of course a lie, since some VPDs do not need to have water as a disease vector, etc.), but then when asked about donating money towards helping get clean water into Africa, Asia, and other poorer countries, none of them have donated as much as a cent to any charity helping to get clean water.

    For the record, I am not rich by any stretch of the imagination, but have contributed a few dollars here and there to help build water pumps from The Water Project .

    And besides, john best probably doesn’t care about poor Africans either, which would suit his personality perfectly.

  21. #21 ken
    January 25, 2013

    @novalox -I am retired on a small budget-I donated to the Native American Rights Fund, St. Joseph’s Indian School, Greenpeace,Earthjustice,Humane Society,ASPCA, Covenant House, Meals-on-Wheels, Salvation Army, Housing Works and local church.
    I sign petitions for liberal causes and voted for Obama.
    Good nite.

  22. #22 Chris
    January 25, 2013

    Ken, I commend your charitable contributions. Mine are often to the library and the charity that provided my son several years of intensive speech therapy for free. Too bad you never answered my question. I hope you at least clicked on the link in my comment.

  23. #23 Darwy
    Røde grøde med fløde
    January 25, 2013

    @Ken

    Why can’ they have both? Clean water AND vaccines? As has been pointed out; many of the VPD’s that are killing children in developing nations do not use water as a vector – namely measles.

    Why can’t we help them get clean water while vaccinating them? Wouldn’t that be even better?

  24. #24 herr doktor bimler
    January 25, 2013

    Ken, I commend your charitable contributions.

    I also comment you and encourage people to follow suit. Your contributions matter more than annoying one another on comment threads.

  25. #25 flip
    January 25, 2013

    It’s odd that various (alleged) abuse cases with footballers is a common occurrence here in Australia, and yet I’ve never heard news reporting of Gluyas. One wonders why…. or not really given who the defendant is.

    With his history of being medically banned from all work places in the country,

    I’ve never heard of this possibility. I wonder how I can get myself banned from work ;)

    I don’t even know how it would work. If you are unemployed or under-employed the only way a government official or doctor would know is if you volunteer the information. If you need medical benefits, again, you’d have to submit forms. If you do need medical benefits, you need a doctor’s certificate and potentially access to your medical records. If you are on medical benefits you can still earn money, but it has to be reported while you’re on benefits. I can not think of any way – off the top of my head – that you would be prevented from earning money, even with a medical disability.

    In fact, the only thing I can think of would be a prevention from working with children, which usually requires a police check.

    I now wonder if there is any kind of rule that prevents someone from undertaking any kind of employment whilst on a medical disability pension or not…

    Of course, that’s avoiding the obvious: if one is so violent and such a threat to the public, then how is this person not already in jail?

  26. #26 Todd W.
    harpocratesspeaks.com
    January 25, 2013

    @ken

    By the way, it seems that in addition to better water, Chad is also in need of better mental health care. The post-vaccination reports of illness appear to be a case of mass psychogenic illness (h/t to Liz DItz).

  27. #27 Mac Mama
    planning my escape from fly-over country
    January 27, 2013

    I just got a new MacBooK Air, 15″ which replaced my 2006 model, which replaced my first laptop, which replaced my Ruby, which replaced…..well, so it goes as I’ve always had some type of Apple computer.

    I’m not rich–I’m not even well off. I just save up and make it a priority. I had to get the external CD drive, though, because I still have music to put into iTunes and I still get them from Netflix.

    The big screen is enticing, but I really can only afford one Mac at a time.

    Enjoy your new toy!

  28. #28 Mac Mama
    January 27, 2013

    oops–it’s a 13″ (even with the new backlit keyboard, I make typos).

  29. #29 Alain
    Mens are from Mars, Women from Venus and Computer are from hell
    January 28, 2013

    Last friday, I was playing in Linux with UEFI (Universal Extended Firmware Interface) and while fatfingering on my usb key to enable the UEFI firmware in my system, I nuked the windows partition and a system rebuild is in order :)

    Stay tuned for a blog post.

    Alain

  30. #30 Narad
    January 28, 2013

    I really don’t know what I’m going to do when the current Apple hardware dies (well, finishes dying). OS X is simply not what I had hoped for, for something coming out of NeXTstep.

  31. #31 Politicalguineapig
    January 28, 2013

    Computer question, anyone know a good software sub for Kodak’s program? I need to get some pictures off my camera and the software vanished from my computer-and so did any way to download it again.

  32. #32 TLPG
    January 29, 2013

    Flip, I was kept out of the public service by a report by the now defunct Commonwealth Medical Officer who ruled me unfit for appointment with the public service. And if you can’t work for the public service, you can’t work for private enterprise. What stops me from working is discriminatory conduct that right now is legal. Best claimed it was for an entirely different reason – and you’re right. If I was violent like that I would indeed be in jail. That’s the core of defamation claim and it was successful. I’m not violent.

    My ability to earn is restricted by the legal discrimination. It doesn’t eliminate it altogether (as I do umpire Australian football and get a bot if money for that) but it restricts it. Evidence was given to the court by my psychiatrist to this effect, and he believes I’m done and will never work again for this reason. I’m not quite as pessimistic especially as the effect of the CMO report is now zero at long last so I can approach the public service again – where discrimination is not a prevalent as it is in private enterprise. But I do have base routine and relative autonomy situations to fit and my current lifestyle that developed as a result of the CMO’s actions make has no room for working at the moment.

    Just to clarify all that.

  33. #33 flip
    January 29, 2013

    Thanks @TLPG for clarifying. That makes much more sense, and I’m sorry that you’ve had such problems.

  34. [...] on his blog, Orac announced to the world that he bought a new iMac. I hope he’s happy. I hope he’s happy because, according to [...]