David Aaronovitch, recent chair of Index on Censorship, Orwell prize winner and Murdoch poodle (or possibly running dog) writing in the London Times wants to stop people saying things he does not like - so perhaps he will not like this article.
The problem with vaccines, is the more you are not allowed to talk about them the more dangerous they will certainly get. You can be fed lots of reassuring information by the surrogates of the people who manufacture them (the health agencies and mainstream journalists) but until ordinary citizens are listened to you will simply be engaged in an ugly strategy of social repression. It is not good enough to tell people when they have been hurt - or worse when their beloved children have been - that the agencies who did the hurting deny it. But for Aaronovitch the products are not mere fallible industrial products, they are simply beyond public criticism.
If anybody is expressing unreasonable faith it is he. If he thinks they are safe, what body of science is he citing, and where are the independent agencies? In the UK the licensing agencies are funded by the industry (the MHRA 100%, the EMA 89%), the chair of the vaccine recommendation committee (the JCVI) is director Oxford Vaccine Group which is commercially involved in developing many of the vaccines the committee recommends. These are all perfectly acceptable arrangements to a mainstream media in advanced decline, and no doubt to our lion of free speech.
In his latest article ‘Conspiracy theorists make monkeys of us all’ (The Times 5 July 2018) Aaronovitch employs all the old bad songs: people who doubt vaccine safety are unscientific and equivalent to those who doubt the theory of evolution; people who doubt vaccine safety are unpleasant right-wing types; people who opposed vaccine mandates in Italy (which incidentally we do not have in the United Kingdom) have caused measles to rise – when he might have focussed on government-pharmaceutical sleaze as the prime cause of their mistrust: the meeting at which Obama put Italian Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin in charge of global vaccine strategy, the secret deals she signed with GlaxoSmithKline. They probably also knew that she had made up fairy stories about 270 measles deaths among children in London. This was what last year the tens of thousands of people who filled the streets in Italy knew about, unreported by the Italian and global mainstream media, unreported almost certainly in the London Times – just to make them look like idiots. In these circumstances conspiracy was scarcely a theory. Oh yes, and to cap it all they are all “conspiracy theorists”.
And then, of course, there is the fact that Trump (who, of course, Aaronovitch does not like) met Andrew Wakefield (who, of course, has been “disgraced”). Aaronovitch, himself, is conflicted because he wrote two articles for the Murdoch press attacking Wakefield’s integrity following up Brian Deer’s second wave of Sunday Times allegations in 2009 just after the proprietor James Murdoch was appointed to the board of GSK, with a brief to help protect the group’s reputation. But he should know very well that the core Sunday Times allegations against Wakefield et al were shown to be false in the High Court in the appeal of senior author and clinician, Prof John Walker-Smith and were just eye-wash. Wakefield had been left technically guilty of things which were shown never to have a happened.
Aaronovitch should know apart from anything else, because even if he did not before, I drew it to his attention under one of his Times articles in 2013. When I recorded on Age of Autism that he had had the comments taken down, he came on Age of Autism and denied it. But whether it was an editor or the legal department who removed them he signally failed to answer the questions raised. So much for the recent chair of Index on Censorship. He might like to go and visit Vera Sharav’s L’Affaire Wakefield and tell us point for point where she is wrong. The he might earn some respect.
Meanwhile, it is not surprising that he would like everyone else to shut up.
John Stone is UK and Europe Editor for Age of Autism.