By J.B. Handley
It was October 2005. Generation Rescue had only been up and running for about 5 months, and we had 125 brave souls who had put their names, locations, and emails on our website to serve as Rescue Angels to help other parents (today we have more than 800) on their journey through biomedical intervention.
On or around October 10th of that year, I heard from a Rescue Angel Mom who was extremely distraught. It turned out that someone, most likely a member of the "ND" community, had blended a post they had seen from her on a message board, her Rescue Angel information, and somehow figured out where she worked. This person had contacted the Rescue Angel's employer and told them something to the effect of, "Your employee is a volunteer of this organization, believes and says a lot of scary things about autism [like that it's triggered by vaccines and is treatable], and why is she allowed to say and do these things and work here?"
This Rescue Angel mom had just been through a meeting with her employer, which I believe was a public school, where she'd had to respond to this anonymous mudsling, and she was understandably very, very upset.
I, too, was irate. The thought that people were trying to impact the livelihoods of our Rescue Angels was incomprehensible, and I felt personally responsible for the plight of this Mom, having created the group that got her into this whole mess.
Knowing that many of our enemies were avid readers of a public message board where we all congregated, I fired off a warning to the person responsible that read:
Dear N.D. folks monitoring this list:
I have no respect for your "movement".
You are now spending your time actively hassling our Rescue Angels. We are spending out time constructively engaging doctors to help our babies. If you don't like what we have to say, stop listening.
We will bring the full resources of myself and Generation Rescue to stop this. We will sue you for libel and we will go after your homes and assets. My lawyers live to investigate and sue people like you.
This will be your only warning.
My message is still up there on the EOH message board, it's message #17717 and you can read it for yourself. Now, you may disagree with the message I wrote, you may disagree with its tone, and you may disagree with my reaction to the situation at hand. But, at least you know the circumstances that surrounded the decision I made, and that's what I really want you to know.
I really want you to know and understand what happened and why I wrote the note I wrote because once you do, you can see what a profoundly dishonest and manipulative liar Paul Offit really is.
You see, this post from EOH, or at least an excerpt from it, actually made it in to Paul Offit's book, that book that will remain nameless, but the one we all know the name of. Yup, a piece of my post from EOH, the one where I was trying to tell the person hassling one of our Rescue Angels at work to back the hell off, made Offit's book.
But, you wouldn't know that from what Offit wrote.
You see, Paul Offit has a passage using a portion of this post, but it's used for an entirely different reason. Rather than try to explain, I'm just going to share the passage from the book that will remain nameless, on page 145:
"SEIDEL WAS ALSO APPALED BY THE GEIRS' AND JB HANDLEY'S constant promotion of chelation therapy as a cure for autism. In 2000, only a handful of children were chelated; by 2005, the number had purportedly climbed to more than 10,000 a year. On her Web site, Seidel pleaded with Handley to stop promoting a "therapy" that had never been shown to work and was potentially dangerous. Handley wrote back: "We are spending out time constructively engaging doctors to help our babies. If you don't like what we have to say, stop listening. We will bring the full resources of myself and Generation Rescue to stop this. We will sue you for libel and we will go after your homes and assets. My lawyers live to investigate and sue people like you. This will be your only warning."
Well, I'll be damned.
A post I wrote on a public message board regarding someone hassling our Rescue Angels was now a response to Kathleen Seidel? A response that never actually took place in an exchange that Offit manufactured from thin air? I threatened to sue her for challenging me on the "promotion" of chelation therapy?
I'll be damned again.
So, there it is folks. Offit made up a conversation that never took place and blended something I wrote on a public message board for an entirely different reason to serve his own purpose.
So, I ask you AoA readers, what would you do if you were me?
And, if you happen to be that Mom who was being hassled, please write me privately through AoA, I made need you for a deposition.
J.B. Handley is co-founder of www.generationrescue.org and a contributor to Age of Autism.