At the start of 2004 I instituted a "kinder and gentler" policy for dealing with people with whom I might not normally be friendly. During 2004 the policy was reactive – I was kind and gentle when replying to critics. I extending the policy for 2005 to become proactive, and regularly reached out to people with whom I might not be in agreement.
I decided to reintroduce my Proactive Kind and Gentle Policy again in 2009. Under the policy, I write to people to ask them questions to clarify their positions or to point out problems with their arguments. By doing this I hope to establish a dialogue and to demonstrate my commitment to tolerance of their views. Here are the 2011 efforts at diplomacy and friendship.
Oh dear, look who's in trouble (8/1/2011)
Look who has popped up on the Australian site NotGoodEnough.com, dedicated to reporting poor customer service and other problems with those who sell things. Why, it's our old friend Meryl Dorey, erstwhile President of the Australian Vaccination Network and current peddler of cosmetics and other things designed to increase feminine attractiveness and self-image. All natural, of course, and almost certainly not tested on animals. It seems that Ms Dorey has joined the ranks of mobile phone companies, plumbers who "will be there right away", used car dealers, telemarketers and other sources of consumer aggravation.
I thought that Ms Dorey might not be aware of her arrival at NotGoodEnough, so I dashed off the first Kind and Gentle email of 2011 to her:
Dear Ms Dorey,
I'm not sure if you are aware of it, but Fountain of Beauty has received an Honourable Mention at http://www.notgoodenough.org/. I assume that the poor service was an aberration and that your business is now operating in the top echelon of customer service in Australia.
On another matter, I'm looking forward to sitting in the audience in a courtroom on February 14. My friends and I thought that showing support for you was better than sending roses, although some did mention that they might like to see a reminder of Valentines Day in Chicago in 1929. When I heard that you would be defending your actions against the OLG&R a song by Tex Perkins came into my head. I think you know which one.
Keep smiling. Things could be worse, and probably will be when the Attorney General's office gets around to actioning those memos from the HCCC and OLG&R.
An outbreak of common sense (15/1/2011)
You can't drive around with a child in your car unless the child is properly restrained in an appropriate safety apparatus. You can't carry your kid on the back of your bicycle unless the kid wears a helmet. You can't take your son out to sea fishing in a boat unless he wears a lifejacket. But if you are misinformed or terminally stupid you can expose your child to life-threatening diseases by refusing to have them vaccinated. Now at least one judge has decided that the welfare of children is important and overrides parental stupidity. This story appeared in several Australian papers on January 15, 2011 (but I read it in The Daily Telegraph).
Ordered to have vaccine
A Sydney mother has been ordered to have her five-year-old daughter immunised in a controversial Family Court decision.
The girls' father, who remarried and had another child, wanted the girl vaccinated against preventable diseases for her own wellbeing and the health of his other children.
But the girl's mother said her daughter was healthy and the risk of vaccine-preventable diseases was very small.
The couple, who cannot be named for legal reasons, separated before their daughter was born.
The court heard the father initially consented to the child not being immunised but claimed it was because he was desperate to establish a relationship with her.
The father now wants her vaccinated, producing medical evidence immunisation provided no unacceptable risks for his daughter.
He said if the girl remained un-vaccinated, she would be forced to withdraw from school during outbreaks of some diseases.
She would also be unable to spend time with any new children he had as she was not immunised against whooping cough.
The mother produced opposing evidence that the vaccinations were unnecessary but was criticised in the judgment for submitting evidence from an "immunisation sceptic", who made what the magistrate described as "outlandish statements unsupported by any empirical evidence".
Outside the court, National Centre for Immunisation Research & Surveillance research head Professor Robert Booy said immunisations prevented very serious diseases.
He said 97 per cent of parents had their children vaccinated and that immunisations formed a chain of protection around those vulnerable to infection.
"The only way we can protect the vulnerable, and that may be a newborn or someone with an immune deficiency, is to ensure other people are vaccinated," he said.
However the decision shocked paediatric chiropractor and author Dr Warren Sipser.
"It's a sad situation," Dr Sipser said outside court.
"I think it's dangerous to impose [immunisations] on anyone when there are two opposing viewpoints and when there is credible evidence they may do more harm than good," he said.
Why anyone would ask a quack calling himself a "paediatric chiropractor" for comment about vaccination is a mystery, but I suppose he was at the court to provide misinformation on the mother's behalf and was handy for the reporter to talk to. At least the reporter also talked to Professor Booy who was able to talk sense (and is a real doctor).
As expected, Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network had to have something to say about this.
Court orders rape of a child. Think this is an exaggeration? Think again. This is assault without consent and with full penetration too. If we as a society allow this crime to take place, we are every bit as guilty as the judge who made the order and the doctor who carries it out If anyone knows this family, please put them in touch with me – 99 9999 9999 – I would like to see if there is anything the AVN can do. MD
When even some of her supporters suggested that they might be uncomfortable with the rape analogy, Meryl Dorey offered the following apology. It further illustrates her complete lack of contact with reality.
To anyone who was insulted or hurt by my comparing the forced vaccination of a child against the custodial parent's wishes with rape, I do apologise wholeheartedly and without reservation.
I looked up the definition of rape prior to posting that comparison and in the dictionary sense of the word, it is accurate. But I do understand that this is a vexed issue and for those like the two who are dose to me and who have been victims of rape, the last thing I would want to do is cause them more pain.
Perhaps the term violation would have been better and in future, I will use that word. Because this mother and her child are being violated In so many ways if s hard to know where to start
I feel that the only proper response to this disgusting comment is a Kind and Gentle email to the lady herself. And I use the word "lady" loosely.
Dear Ms Dorey,
I didn't think you could demonstrate your detachment from reality any better than you did in your famous blog post about the genocidal mind-control microchips in the H1N1 vaccine, but you have succeeded. Your equating vaccination with rape not only shows that you are prepared to say anything at all if it reflects badly on vaccination but you don't care how disgusting you look while you are saying it. I'm not sure what you could do to be even more revolting to sane people, but I am sure you can rise to the challenge. I look forward to your next effort in the campaign to clearly distinguish anti-vaccination campaigners from members of civilised society.
Look for me in court on February 14. I will be the person sitting in the audience with a square of black silk on my head. Metaphorically speaking, of course – I wouldn't want to do anything that you could construe as a death threat.
Brave homeopath (19/3/2011)
I've had a bit to say in the past about homeopath Fran Sheffield and her business for extracting money from the gullible, Homeopathy Plus!. She ticks all the boxes – anti-vaccination, homeopath, overcharging for nothing worthwhile, ignoring regulatory authorities, ludicrous claims, ... Apparently she is now so ashamed of what she says and does that she has blocked me from following her on Twitter. (I think I was the first person to be blocked from her Facebook page, and all I did was post a link to the page about her here.)
I have sent the following Kind and Gentle email to Ms Sheffield:
Dear Ms Sheffield,
I notice that I have been blocked from following you on Twitter, and I also appear to be banned from posting anything to your Facebook page. I can understand why someone doing what you do would be a little sensitive about criticism, but surely if you are right and homeopathy can do all the things you say it can do then any criticism from me would make no difference.
You are free to read my web site at any time you like and if you send me comments I will publish them. You are free to join any public mailing list that I manage and post whatever you like to the list and you will not be moderated in any way (unless your messages expose me or anyone else to legal action). You have my permission to follow me on Twitter. You can be a fan or member of any Facebook page or group (or any other online forum) of which I am an administrator and any comments you post there will be left untouched (again unless they expose me or anyone else to legal action).
I have nothing to hide and I am not ashamed of what I say or do. It appears that you can say neither. Prove me wrong.
An exercise in vileness (25/6/2011)
A friend of mine sent me this photograph, taken at an exhibition directed at parents-to-be and parents of young children. It shows an anti-vaccination liar outfit that had somehow escaped my notice and which had decided to spread lies and misinformation to concerned and receptive parents.
I felt dirty and polluted just looking at it and thinking that the parents of even one child might have been deceived into endangering their children (and other children too, of course) by accepting even an iota of the lies in the literature being handed out by these vile people.
I decided a Kind & Gentle email was required so I sent the following to the expo organisers, copied of course to VAIS. I wouldn't want them to think I was talking behind their backs.
Organization: The RatbagsDotCom Empire
Date: Sun, 26 Jun 2011 15:32:23 +1000
Subject: Anti-vaccination "information" at the Brisbane Expo
A friend sent me the attached photograph, apparently taken at this weekend's Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo in Brisbane.
I find it quite disturbing that an organisation whose sole purpose in life is to spread misinformation about vaccines and thereby endanger the lives of children should be given a voice at an expo dedicated to educating parents. A brief perusal of the VAIS web site shows the standard list of lies about vaccines that appears on many sites run by people and organisations promoting the anti-vaccination agenda, and there are also many links on the site to these other places, as if repetition of a lie can make it true.
Children are dying in Australia now from vaccine-preventable diseases, diseases that we thought we had seen the last of. A significant reason for the re-emergence of these diseases is the activity of organisations like the deceptively-named "Vaccination Answers Informed Sources" and the Australian Vaccination Network.
Please do not allow VAIS or similar organisations to take space at future expos.
Parents who attend your expos deserve better than to be confronted with people offering advice that will put their children in danger of serious illness and even death. The children deserve better than having the greatest advance in children's health in the history of medicine denigrated and lied about by people with some inexplicable agenda against child and public health.
Vaccines save lives. Anybody who says otherwise has as much credibility as someone who insists that the Earth is flat. The difference is that belief in a flat Earth doesn't kill children.