Two weeks after millionaire vaccine industrialist Paul Offit verbally abused me at the University of Pennsylvania, he gave a talk about his book “Deadly Choices” at the Washington D.C. Chapter of the Center for Inquiry – an umbrella organization for several pharmaceutical industry front groups that call themselves “skeptics.”
CFI's pharmaceutical ties run deep. Dr. Jonathan Tobert – retired Merck scientist who developed the first statin drug – sits on CFI's board of directors. Prior to his appointment to the board, he had already supported the organization for 30 years according to CFI's website. For 24 of those 30 years, he was employed by Merck until retiring from the company in 2004 to join an FDA panel through that ever-revolving door between government agencies and the pharmaceutical industry. CFI president, bio“ethicist” Ronald Lindsay, headlined a recent conference with bio“ethicist” Arthur Caplan, director of the Penn Center for Bio“ethics.” Caplan chaired GlaxoSmithKline's bio“ethics” advisory panel for three years and is vehemently opposed to vaccine choice.
“Friends of the Center” for Inquiry could attend Paul Offit's talk free-of-charge, but I'm no friend of the center, so I had to pay an entry fee. After signing my name, I was all ready to hand over my money when I was asked:
“What's your name?”
After I answered, I was told:
“I can't take your money. I can't let you in. I'm going to have to ask you to leave.”
“Because the speaker is uncomfortable with you being here.”
“Can I get your name?”
“My name is Simon, you can speak to Melody. She's the executive director.”
I would later find out that his name is Simon Davis, treasurer of the Center for Inquiry's Washington DC Chapter (CFI-DC).
Simon left and brought back Melody, executive director of CFI-DC.
“Hi, I'm Melody Hensley! Are you Jake?”
“Yes,” I said.
“I'm sorry, we cannot let you in.”
“Because this is a private event sponsored by a private organization and we have the right to refuse entry to whoever we want.”
“I totally respect that right, I just want to know why you want to refuse entry to me.”
“Because we don't want a disturbance.”
“I'm not the one who disturbs his talks.”
“That's fine, but I'm going to have to ask you to leave.”
Online, I noticed Melody Hensley repeated Offit's libel of me on Twitter:
I should probably expect a Google alert soon from anti-vaccine blogger and Paul Offit stalker for not allowing him into the event.
When another attendee asked why I was barred from attending Offit's talk, CFI-DC treasurer Simon Davis replied (while the attendee was recording (click here to listen at 2:23) him, ):
“He follows him to events and just makes him very uncomfortable and there are police reports. This is the first time we've ever had to deal with this. It's more than just a disagreement, he fears for his safety.”
“Yeah, really. I mean, there's suspicion of a mental diagnosis, there's police reports – so that's the story with him.”
“Are you sure what you're saying is true, 100%? Police reports?”
“That's what he's told me.”
No police reports were filed against me at the places where I saw Offit speak – Penn, Yale and NIH. I guess I can also discount Offit's two-time “apology” to me following his claim that I do not have Asperger Syndrome, but “paranoid schizophrenia,” given that he told the CFI-DC treasurer of a suspected “mental diagnosis” to bar me from the talk.
Although I was not there, I did learn from someone who attended that Offit said he was all for getting rid of the Vaccine Injuries Compensation Program. This too, was recorded (click here to listen at 3:24.)
In stark contrast, Offit told American Medical News four years ago that the VICP was an advantage for vaccine makers, since it shields them from personal injury litigation. It was after I brought up the American Medical News story to Offit at Penn last month – reminding him of his financial motives – when he replied:
“Get the fuck out of here! Piece of shit!”
I guess that's why Paul Offit changed his stance, although he was not the only person to contradict himself that day. The Center for Inquiry barred my inquiry of his book based on lies apparently told by Offit himself. Barring me from the talk contradicts what CFI claims on its “About Us” web page:
“No topic should be placed off limits to scrutiny...”
Unless the topic is millionaire vaccine industrialist Paul Offit, in which case skepticism is fair game for censorship, even by “skeptics.”
Jake Crosby has Asperger Syndrome and is a contributing editor to Age of Autism. Jake is a 2011 graduate of Brandeis University with a BA in both History and Health: Science, Society and Policy. He currently attends The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services where he is studying for an MPH in epidemiology.