Thursday, July 10, 2008

More denialism and fear-mongering from vaccine-o-phobes

The following article appeared on Judicial Watch's website on June 30, 2008.

The article, from this website that claims it is interested in "promoting the integrity, transparency, and accountability in government, politics, and the law," is basically yet another conservative watchdog group's attempt to discredit the HPV vaccine, Gardasil.

It states, "Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, today released a report based on new documents obtained from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, detailing reports of adverse reactions to the vaccination for human papillomavirus (HPV), Gardasil. The adverse reactions include 10 deaths since September, 2007."

First, saying that Judical Watch "uncovered" these reported adverse effects is extremely misleading. Saying something is "uncovered" implies that it was hidden from public view, and implies that the government and/or pharmaceutical companies are trying to hide something. As Judicial Watch states, all VAERS records are provided to the public openly.


The more I read conservative "reports" and "news articles," the more convinced I become that they are the biggest paranoid conspiracy theorists out there.

To be clear, as part of the mandated Vaccine Adverse Effect Reporting System (VAERS) that pharmaceutical companies are required to participate in, any and all reactions, illnesses, and deaths that occur within a specified time frame of receiving the vaccine should be reported and investigated. These deaths can include, for example, a girl who receives Gardasil, and one week later dies in a car accident. Because she died within a week of getting the injection, it must be investigated as a potential adverse effect of the vaccine. Same goes, for example, for a girl who received Gardasil, fell off her bike, and is now in a coma in the hospital.

For example, in its article, Judicial Watch lists as one example of an adverse effect:

"Information has been received from a physician concerning a female patient who on an unknown date was vaccinated with a dose of Gardasil. Subsequently, the patient experienced a coma and is now paralyzed. At the time of this report, the patient's outcome was unknown. VAERS ID: 303188-1"

Um. I am truly saddened to hear about anyone in a coma. Yet, I cringe at the words "...who on an unknown date was vaccinated with a dose of Gardasil."

Like, how long ago did she receive Gardasil? And how much longer "subsequently" did she experience a coma? And what, exactly, happened to her in the meantime? When I was a toddler, I was given my childhood vaccines before kindergarten. Subsequently, I became a lesbian.

I'm sorry, but leaving out important details like dates, something I learned in Journalism 101 is THE single most important factor in telling an accurate, true, unbiased story is shoddy journalism at best. At worst, it is deliberate dishonesty. I haven't ever been to Judical Watch before, so I have no idea what kind of reputation it has among reputable news sources. But I am starting to place it in the dishonest propaganda category like AFA, FAF, and David Benkof.

As the VAERS website clearly states in its FAQ section, "The fact that an adverse event occurred following immunization is not conclusive evidence that the event was caused by a vaccine. Factors such as medical history and other medications given near the time of the vaccination must be examined to determine if they could have caused the adverse event. It is important to remember that many adverse events reported to VAERS may not be caused by vaccines."

As for the fainting and/or seizure episodes the Judicial Watch article discusses, let's consider this: a girl comes into the doctor's office who doesn't eat breakfast that morning (being a typical teenager), thus she already has low blood sugar, and then has a vasovagal response to the injection and faints. Most times, reactions like this are more so a result of hypoglycemia and anxiety/fear of needles (because the same thing happens during blood draws), than from whatever is in the actual vaccine.

Anyway, I have never seen more public outcry against a vaccine than this one. Sure, the vaccine denialists are out there, and have been since before Gardasil. But never have conservatives been so outspoken about vaccines until Gardasil. (and so willing to misrepresent the truth and the statistics). Coincidentally, it is one vaccine that deals with women and sexuality. Hmm...

The amount of hate some people carry is just sad. To supporters of Gardasil, let's all work together to fight unfair misconceptions and lies about the vaccine.

12 comments:

David Benkof said...

Given that you criticized me in a vague way today, I thought I'd check out your blog. Frankly, I'm just stunned by the hypocrisy of your mission statement. You're "here as a supporter" of "diversity and tolerance" and you "believe in the ideologies of acceptance." Yet you also "have a strong distaste" for organized religion, and you want people (like me, perhaps) to leave our beliefs in organize religion "at the door before venturing to" your blog.

What, exactly, do you believe "diversity" and "tolerance" and "acceptance" are, if the huge numbers of people who value belief systems like Judaism and Christianity are expected to leave our values and ideas "at the door" when we encroach your turf?

I really don't understand what you think diversity, tolerance, and acceptance are.

Jane Know said...

David,
Let me explain it to you. Basically, what I mean is that I don't needlessly attack entire groups of people based on mischaracterizations and false generalizations/stereotypes of them. That is tolerance and acceptance of diversity. I don't go around writing and publishing articles all over the internet criticizing marginalized groups of people. I've read your latest "apology," as well as your dialogues with Fannie, and every article you write about gay people is full of lazy "gay male" stereotypes, without any evidence.
Like several other anti-gay groups and individuals, that is shoddy, unfair, deceitful journalism. So spare me the "you're intolerant because you don't tolerate intolerance" spiel until you can become a little more honest.

Jane Know said...

And David, let me clarify, since you are the only person who seems to misunderstand my "about me" section. By all means, believe whatever you want to believe. But don't hold the rest of the world accountable to your own religious ideology. That is what I mean by leaving your organized religious beliefs at the door. It is futile to try to argue with someone who doesn' t have your religious beliefs (like myself) if your MAIN argument stems from religion.

All I'm saying is that your opposition to gay rights is pretty openly based upon religion, if I'm not mistaken. That is fine. Of course that is fine. You are entitled to believe what you want, as every American is. But when, because of those religious beliefs, you want to hold the rest of the country to those beliefs, that is an infringement on their right to choose their own worldviews and ideologies.

So yes, you can leave your religious arguments at the door because I grew bored of religious arguments as a basis for deciding our nation's morality a decade ago.

The same way our government and schools supposedly are separate from religion, I also wish to make this a space where people can dialogue without being held accountable to this or that person's religion. A space where we can logically and scientifically discuss issues without resorting to religions that not everyone shares. Science is universal. Logic is universal. Religion, obviously, is subjective and personal. By leaving religion at the door, everyone has the same footing to discuss an issue.

Otherwise, the discussion is pointless and quickly turns into a debate about different Biblical misinterpretations. Yawn.

Now it just seems as though you are stretching for ways to call me "intolerant" as your own little Weapon of Mass Projection.

David Benkof said...

I'm glad we've both had a fair shake at expressing our viewpoints. I am completely comfortable letting the users of the Internet decide if you indeed support diversity, tolerance and acceptance, or if you're just saying that to distract people from the fact you are actually rather narrow-minded and shallow.

The only other thing I want to say is that the following statements represent, to me, a rather silly mode of thinking:

• don't hold the rest of the world accountable to your own religious ideology. That is what I mean by leaving your organized religious beliefs at the door.

• when, because of those religious beliefs, you want to hold the rest of the country to those beliefs, that is an infringement on their right to choose their own worldviews and ideologies.

• Religion, obviously, is subjective and personal. By leaving religion at the door, everyone has the same footing to discuss an issue.

I would respond to them, but it appears that within a week a major West Coast daily newspaper will be running a 700-word opinion piece of mine on why such arguments are unbelievably intellectually weak. Thus, I'll refer you to that column once it's published.

Thanks for letting me share, even though I believe in organized religion.

Jane Know said...

David, your juvenile, obviously not-at-all thought out response is typical of your lazy, dishonest journalistic style. I shouldn't be surprised by your lack of effort to appropriately respond to anything I addressed. And frankly, I'm not.

For the record, I never said I would censor anyone or refuse to let them comment on my page if they support organized religion. I said, don't expect me to respond to any such arguments because they are boring, lame, overused, and grossly misused, especially by people such as yourself in order to a.) get money or b.) oppress marginalized groups to have more power.

And from the looks of most dialogue I have seen regarding your articles, most people can see right through you. You aren't fooling anyone, David. You call me a hypocrite, but I'm not the one trying to gain money and notoriety defaming a group that I allegedly used to belong to and support.

Good luck with your latest opinion piece. We are all entitled to that much, no matter how dishonest, hurtful, stereotypical, and distasteful they are. Toodles.

Fannie said...

"I would respond to them, but it appears that within a week a major West Coast daily newspaper will be running a 700-word opinion piece of mine on why such arguments are unbelievably intellectually weak. Thus, I'll refer you to that column once it's published."

Oh goody. I can't wait to read the latest defamation of the gay community. Religious values are fun.

Jane Know said...

It's funny... I predict in the future David will have a gay "relapse" like so many "ex" gays before him, and be spotted in a bathroom or bath-house having hot gay male sex and end up having to apologize to the entire gay community for the harm is he *trying* to cause us. Too much sexual repression is a bad thing. Obviously. With David as our example here.

David Benkof said...

Jane-

It is interesting that when I let you have the last word on the substance of our most recent conversation, your reaction is that I show a "lack of effort to appropriately respond to anything I addressed." If none of us ever says "fine, you may have the last word, I think both perspectives have been fairly represented," then the debate can go on forever. But OK, if you want to pick one or two points you'd like me to respond to, I'm happy to do so.

I do not appreciate your suggesting I am "ex-gay," since there is no evidence I have ever so identified and in fact I have openly condemned much of the goals and techniques of the "ex-gay" movement, especially within Judaism. But yes, of course you need to believe I will go back to the bathhouses, because a GayThink worldview cannot handle the possibility that someone with primarily male-oriented attractions would ever take a moral stand and say "No! I am better than my libido. I will pursue marriage with a woman." Most gay men believe they are a slave to what gives them an erection. I am proof we are not, and that is very, very disturbing to people with the "God made me gay so I have to have gay sex" worldview.

By the way, I just found out my piece on "don't impose your religion on me" is set to run on Wednesday in a major California newspaper I'll name once it happens. I'll try to swing by Fallacy Findings to give you the url. Have a good Sunday.

David Benkof said...

Update - Due to some disturbing information I recently learned, I am no longer openly supporting the man-woman marriage movement. I have stopped blogging at GaysDefendMarriage.com and MarriageDebate.com. I no longer see a reason to keep secret the paper that is running my column on Wednesday - it's the San Jose Mercury News. If you have any questions or comments *not* related to marriage, I'd be happy to respond, but I'm no longer comfortable pushing man-woman marriage like I used to be.

Jane Know said...

Wow, all the drama...

John said...

I, for one, would love to know what this disturbing revelation is.

Jane Know said...

I don't know why he is so surprised that he found something disturbing about the anti marriage equality movement.