A reaction to factual stories on vaccination (Part 1).
A week ago, Amy Wallace (website) (twitter) wrote an amazing piece for Wired Magazine about vaccinations, the fear mongering of the anti-vax groups, and how it puts us all in danger. If you haven’t read it yet I suggest doing so first here.
Earlier today she decided to post in her twitter account about the reactions received to this story. Due to the formatting used on Twitter, I have decided to reformat her tweets and post them here in a more easily readable layout. The only changes I have made have been the adding of paragraphs (something not possible in 140 character tweets) and the occasional full stop, comma or space. Other than that, the section in block quotes below is directly as they came from her twitter stream.
I wrote the cover story in the November issue of WIRED: An Epidemic of Fear http://bit.ly/htnoy
Check out my piece in Details http://bit.ly/179mV6
WIRED and I are answering readers’ questions on vaccine safety. See: http://bit.ly/15XC4u
Here’s one on thimerosal: http://bit.ly/VTYmD
Here’s another on the mumps: http://bit.ly/YSgs8
And for all you who were wondering: A summary of who I am…: http://bit.ly/3839M2
It has been a week since my Wired cover story on vaccines and autism was posted online. I have never gotten so much feedback on a story. I’ve been a journalist for more than 25 years. In that time, I’ve written for national newspapers and magazines on contentious topics such as affirmative action, the death penalty, Mickey Rourke. Never have I experienced such an avalanche of letters and emails.
Many people who have written me have wondered about the vitriol I must be fielding. Over the next few days, I’ll be writing about that here.
So far, I’ve heard from 251 people in response to this story: http://bit.ly/htnoy The article profiles Dr. Paul Offit, a pediatrician and immunology expert who has spoken out against anti-vaccine groups.
Here are some of the questions I’ve been asked: “Do you believe in anything?” “Do you have children?” “You went to Yale?”
I’ve been called stupid, greedy, a whore, a prostitute, and a “fking lib.” I’ve been called the author of “heinous tripe.”
J.B. Handley, the founder of Generation Rescue, the anti-vaccine group that actress Jenny McCarthy helps promote, sent an essay title” “Paul Offit Rapes (intellectually) Amy Wallace and Wired Magazine.” In it, he implied that Offit had slipped me a date rape drug. “The roofie cocktails at Paul Offit’s house must be damn good,” he wrote. Later, he sent a revised version that omitted rape and replaced it with the image of me drinking Offit’s Kool-aid. That one was later posted at the anti-vaccine blog Age of Autism. You can read that blog here: ageofautism.com/2…
I’ve been told I’ll think differently “if you live to grow up.” I’ve been warned that “this article will haunt you for a long time.” Just now, I got an email so sexually explicit that I can’t paraphrase it here. Except to say it contained the c-word and a reference to dead fish.
But here’s the thing: of the 251 people who have written me from Spain, the U.K., France, Slovenia, the Netherlands and all over the U.S. 190 of them said they were grateful to Wired. Those people included numerous parents of autistic spectrum children and autistic adults. And scores of pediatricians. In all, only 55 of the people who wrote said they disagreed with the piece. (Six others asked questions, but didn’t indicate their feelings).
Why is this important to note? Because one of the reasons people don’t speak out about this issue, as we note in the story, is fear of retribution. In his book, Autism’s False Prophets, Dr. Offit writes about scientists who have been intimidated into staying silent about autism/vaccines. If scientists – who are armed with facts and trained to interpret them – are afraid, can it be any surprise that a lot of parents are, too?
Tomorrow, I’ll begin quoting from some of the most eloquent letters I’ve received, both pro and con.
Have something to add? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or join in the conversation at #vaccine
Part 2: Quotes from most eloquent letters.
Part 3: Feedback from people with ASD.
Part 4: Comments from the article.
Part 5: Comments and feedback.