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Dachel Wake Up: Stowe Today's Weird Take on Autism Summit

Dachel Morning Wake UoBy Anne Dachel

Stowe Today:
"Del Bigtree has threatened to shoot people who disagree with him"

I can't imagine a more bizarre piece. The speakers scheduled for this event are courageous professionals, willing to speak out on a very controversial issue. Instead of including information on their views, Stowe Today portrays them as reactionary and violent.

April 27, 2017, Stowe (VT) Today: Summit at school concerns citizens

By Kayla Collier

A controversial autism summit scheduled for next month at Stowe High School is acting as a shot in the arm for school officials, who might rewrite their school-use policies.

The full-day seminar, “Hope and Healing for Autism and Neuro-development Disorders,” ignited concerns throughout the community because a number of area residents see it as a thinly veiled anti-vaccination movement hosted in a public school that requires all students to have immunization shots. The event is May 20. ...

According to superintendent Tracy Wrend, the school district has the option to limit public use, but it can’t limit it based on the content of the message without running afoul of federal free speech rights. ...

The current policy has been in place since 2005, and this is the only time Wrend can remember when an event butted up against the boundaries of free speech, public education and public safety. School officials were quick to point out that they do not, in any way, sponsor the events held at the school.

“Should allowing public use of our facilities change because the people who use it may not have positions aligned with school policy or the primary body of science?” Wrend asked.

The event organizer — Bradley Rauch, a Stowe chiropractor — insists that vaccinations are only a small part of what’s on the agenda for the event, which promises to “empower you with cutting-edge science and real-world information to make more informed decisions” about how to treat nervous-system disorders such as autism, attention disorder and dyslexia.

Speakers will include Jack Wolfson, Sherri Tenpenny, Andrew Wakefield, Del Bigtree, Sukhi Muker and Jeff Hayes....

Rosenbaum said she spent a lot of time researching ways to prevent certain events from happening at the school, but was unable to come up with a legal way to deny the seminar, except maybe on the security and safety front. The school’s public-use policy states that event organizers must “guarantee that activities will be orderly and lawful and not of a nature to incite others to disorder, and demonstrate on the application that reasonable security arrangements appropriate for the use have been provided for.”

Rosenbaum said some of the event’s scheduled speakers “inspire a level of passion that could heighten emotions.” And board member Emily Bradbury said she’s heard some of the speakers travel with armed guards. ...

Rick Weinstein, a Stowe resident, said one of the speakers, Del Bigtree, has threatened to shoot people who disagree with him. ...

“I don’t know if they’ll bring armed guards, but what if the speaker brings guns and shoots people?” Weinstein said.

Wrend said she wouldn’t have allowed the event if she had known the criteria for security couldn’t be met. She said school officials are trying to strike the right balance between public concerns and free speech.

“Language that advocates violence is not protected under free speech,” said Rosenbaum.

“The anticipated use of our facilities is not for advocating gun violence,” Wrend answered.

I posted this comment:

“Rick Weinstein, a Stowe resident, said one of the speakers, Del Bigtree, has threatened to shoot people who disagree with him.

“’I don’t know if they’ll bring armed guards, but what if the speaker brings guns and shoots people?’ Weinstein said.”

What in the world is happening here?

Have we reached a point where hysterical accusations are dealt as rational statements?

Why are we afraid of a presentation that challenges the claims of the vaccine promoters? What lesson are we giving our children?

Rick Weinstein’s claim about Del Bigtree is absurd.

Bigtree was an Emmy Award-winning producer who worked on the daytime talk show The Doctors for six years. He is both a filmmaker and an investigative medical journalist.

Bigtree gave up his job on The Doctors to work on the film, Vaxxed, about a whistleblower at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. William Thompson, who revealed in 2014 that his
agency ordered him to destroy study findings that showed a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

Seriously, this should be a big concern for all the residents of Stowe, including Rick Weinstein.

Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism


Jennifer Stella

Definitely speak up and out!
Letters to the editor may be sent to: [email protected].
Comments in support of the news coverage (they captured the school board meeting comments which is priceless), comments that add context in terms of who you are, why this event is important, and how the claims are ridiculously misleading /meant only to stop people from hearing what they need to hear, are appreciated.
There is also a petition circulating, might be fun to leave them some comments, too. Might as well keep them busy!
I sent in my own comment, Which was replied to. Both my letter and reply, follow. Note the links in her reply... this is the "evidence" they are using to support the claim that violence is to be expected....

Dear Ms. Rogers,

After reading your April 20, 2017, Front Porch Forum post and your petition, I feel compelled to respond. My organization, the Vermont Coalition for Vaccine Choice, was formed after parents and others with concerns about vaccination came together in 2012 in order to preserve parental rights. We are co-sponsoring the Hope and Healing event on May 20th at Stowe High School, and I have been helping Dr. Rauch.

Contrary to your attempts at painting us as such, our members are not militants. We are caring, thoughtful parents and healthcare providers who want what is best for our kids, our patients and our communities. Though we are repeatedly told vaccines are safe and effective, vaccine injury is quite real, and some families have chronically ill or disabled children at home as a result of vaccination. Our shared, core belief is that all persons are entitled to the basic human right of informed consent to any medical treatment, including the right to make vaccine and health choices on behalf of themselves and their children, without coercion or penalty.

While implying you would welcome a civil, thoughtful dialogue, your petition instead fosters division and conflict. Your characterizations of the individuals invited to speak are frankly slanderous and incorrect. They are not coming to foment violence or unrest, and have already paid dearly for speaking out about their concerns over vaccination and informed consent. They have important stories to tell, so why not come and hear them for yourself?

Only by respectfully considering a variety of different perspectives with an open mind will it be possible to have a thoughtful and productive conversation about vaccine safety, efficacy, and health freedom. We heartily welcome such a conversation.
Sincerely, Jennifer Stella

Thanks for getting in touch directly. I definitely do not seek to make a blanket statement about you or anyone who would be attending the Hope and Healing event. Of course I recognize that all people are trying to wade through the information and make an informed choice. I certainly think that as a society we need to have more transparent conversations about vaccines and how to support any family supporting a child with differences.

Where our opinions diverge, of course, is the execution of these values and what evidence we use to justify our position. I think we have made a very strong case that the speakers (Wakefield, Bigtree and Tenpenny and Jeff Hayes although we don't mention him in the petition) are not fit to use our public facility as a platform. It doesn't matter that you do not condone violence, there is documented evidence of Bigtree and followers of all of these speakers who use hate, fear and intimidation to further their viewpoint.

The petition moderator responded to your post on the petition with the following text. I encourage you to read the articles and try to understand where we are coming from.

Everyone cares for their children. I think we can agree that no matter how you feel about vaccines, you want to make the best choice for your family. But the proposed event does not invite people from all sides of the issue, and furthermore claims to not be about vaccines despite your organization co-sponsoring the event.

You can offer any platitudes you'd like, but the evidence is on tape is clear as day: One of your speakers, Del Bigtree, advocates for violence to support his own ends. And although you cannot control who supports your cause, there are many followers of Wakefield, Bigtree and Tenpenny that do use intimidation tactics and threats. This is indefensible. There is amble evidence that this event should not be held at a public school and that the community has a right to know who exactly who has been invited to their public facility.

I welcome you to read the following articles that support our claims:
Meet the Dangerous Fringe of the Anti-Vaccination Movement:

Security Stepped up at State Capital after Vaccine Bill Author Receives Death Threats:

Vaccination Protesters at Democratic Convention Compare California to Nazi Germany:

Anti-Vaccine Activists are Stalking and Threatening Lobbyists:

Anti-Vaccination Campaigner Sherri Tenpenny Cancels Australia Tour Due to Supporter Calling in Bomb Threats:

Again, we do not seek to make this an indictment on anyone who simply thinks attending your event will help them or their family. Our beef is with the speakers, their documented history of delivering misinformation and the specter of violence and intimidation that some of their supporters bring to their events and cause. The community does not want your/Brad's event at our school. Not even the school wants your event there. The fact Brad refused to move it after being asked is incredibly disrespectful to our stellar superintendent.


"Julia, are you the original author and owner of the petition? You mentioned a moderator." - JS
JR: "The moderator has chosen to remain anonymous."

John Tebbutt

Free speech will set you free to tell the truth and to recognise lies and deceit. Let the people decide.
This event must go on.

Bob Snee

The real important unanswered question is, when did Rick Weinstein stop beating his wife?

Paul Picha

good commentary, Anne

the follow-up summit should be billed: Confronting Science Hesitancy in Public Schools

I also noticed, the journalist writes "hosted in a public school that requires all students to have immunization shots."

but the journalist fails to mention that Vermont has both a Religious Vaccine Exemption and a Medical Vaccine Exemption

learn about Vermont's exemptions here:

Kathryn B

I can almost predict what will happen just from the article. They will hire "rabble rousers" to oppose the speakers and cause a bit of a dust-up. That will give the school district the right to refuse anyone in the future. What a set up.


I'm disappointed, Anne! Is Stowe resident Rick Weinstein lying, or *did* Del Bigtree "threaten to shoot" people???? I'm betting that Weinstein is lying....

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