Antivaxers get litigious

So if anyone’s reading this on the actual website and not through a reader, you might have noticed that I have a few of these ‘widget’ things on the right side here. The first one is for a campaign by Sense About Science in support of science writer Simon Singh in his ongoing legal battles with the British Chiropractic Association. Here is what it looks like:

You can click on it to read more about Singh’s case, but the gist of it is that he said that the BCA happily promotes bogus treatments, because they do, and the BCA sued him. This all happened in the UK, where libel law is completely ass-backwards and the burden of proof is on the defendant(s) to prove that they’re innocent, instead of on the prosecution to prove guilt.

Anyway, now Rachael Dunlop of the Australian Skeptics is reporting that something similar is happening to Amy Wallace and her publisher at Wired for an article published a few months ago about the anti-vaccine movement. The pdf of the case is here.

Barbara Loe Fisher has a problem with Wallace citing someone who called her a liar, even though she is one. But that doesn’t seem to be in dispute here. Fisher seems to be much more upset that she wasn’t given an opportunity to say to Wallace pre-publication, “Nuh uh, I’m not a liar!” Seriously, just look at the pdf linked to above.

The antivaxers are actually starting to get pretty funny at this point. They skip over the whole point of suing for libel (i.e. proving intentional disinformation, material damages, etc.) and go right into their whiny political rants:

“The article does not present science concerning the risks or the informed consent rights issues that arise from mandatory vaccination but adheres to a bias in favor of the general safety of vaccines and a presumed medical necessity blah blah blah.”

So they don’t appear to have much interest in pursuing their case for the goal of actually winning it; and it’s being done in the US, where libel law is more reasonable than most other places. These two facts together add up to this being nothing but another SLAPP-suit by the alt med industry, just another attempt to frighten and silence critics. And the pattern recently with those kinds of things is that they reveal much more ugliness about the plaintiffs than they do about the defendants. Hopefully this case will fit in that pattern.

UPDATE: Case dismissed.

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