Mar 31, 2016

No Andrew Wakefield, You're Not Being Censored And You Don't Deserve Due Process


“To our dismay, we learned today about the Tribeca Film Festival’s decision to reverse the official selection of Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe,” opened a March 26th statement from the film’s Director Andrew Wakefield and Producer Del Bigtree.

Disgraced former gastroenterologist and researcher Andrew Wakefield, known for a fraudulent 1998 paper linking the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine with autism, directs the movie which aims to “reveal an alarming deception that has contributed to the skyrocketing increase of autism and potentially the most catastrophic epidemic of our lifetime.”

A backlash erupted from the scientific, medical and pro-vaccine communities in the wake of an announcement last week that Tribeca Film Festival, with the support of co-founder Robert De Niro, who has a child with autism, would be screening the film.

“My intent in screening this film was to provide an opportunity for conversation around an issue that is deeply personal to me and my family,” says a statement from De Niro issued on March 26th. “But after reviewing it over the past few days with the Tribeca Film Festival team and others from the scientific community, we do not believe it contributes to or furthers the discussion I had hoped for.”

Vaccine opponents are crying conspiracy, with Natural News, a website notorious for promoting evidence-scarce scare stories and hawking worthless alternative health products, claiming that Tribeca pulled the film because of “totalitarian censorship demands” and “pharma-funded media science trolls.” The quack site’s co-founder Mike Adams, who is also an AIDS denier and 9/11 truther, writes that vaccine proponents “demand absolute obedience to the fraudulent narrative that vaccines are ‘safe and effective.’”


I won’t mince words. There is no big pharma conspiracy to push vaccines, and the only fraudulent narrative is that of Andrew Wakefield and his supporters. To screen the film at Tribeca would provide a false balance around an issue that doesn’t have two equal points of view. It’s simple, vaccine opponents fail every test of science and logic and their propaganda doesn’t warrant validation. “We were denied due process,” laments the statement from the Vaxxed team.


Due process? Due process clauses in the 5th and 14th amendments to the United States Constitution only apply when government is involved. This isn’t a court of law, and Andrew Wakefield doesn’t deserve such considerations for his anti-vaccine propaganda film. He doesn’t deserve a platform to spread anti-vaccine disinformation, after widespread panic in the wake of his fraudulent paper led to a sharp drop in vaccination rates and thousands of preventable deaths and countingfrom vaccine preventable disease.

In the meantime, there have been a whopping zero cases of autism caused by vaccines.


“We are grateful to the many thousands of people who have already mobilized including doctors, scientists, educators and the autistic community,” the statement continues. The filmmakers appealing to the “autistic community” is offensive; Wakefield and the anti-vaccine community don’t speak for people on the autism spectrum , a group of people with varied personalities, skills and symptoms associated with the disorder.

Zachary Premack, a 28-year-old student residing in Las Vegas, Nevada who was diagnosed with autism at age 13, says, “I’m autistic because of many possible factors, but not vaccines.” He adds, “I think Wakefield is thanking the autistic community because he wants to sound like he supports us, but he’s actually profiting off us.”

Premack explains, “I have struggled with my autism, but everything else about it has been a gift. It has helped me with my creativity and many famous scientists are on the spectrum, so maybe one day if I get my degree, it will help me to think outside the box and make the world a better place.”

“We have just witnessed yet another example of the power of corporate interests censoring free speech, art, and truth,” gripes the Vaxxed filmmakers’ statement.

Let’s be clear. This isn’t censorship. This is the power of critical thinking at work. This is the power of people, journalists and the scientific community explaining the truth, that vaccines are crucial for public health and that Wakefield’s film is no better than anti-vaccine paranoia propaganda, to Robert DeNiro and Tribeca leadership. Reason, logic and evidence spoke and Robert De Niro listened.

To paint Tribeca’s decision as a conspiracy, as censorship and, laughably, as denial of due process is a sham. Andrew Wakefield has already caused enough death and disease, and he rightfully doesn’t get a respectable platform like Tribeca Film Festival to further spread his destruction. There are plenty of fringe quackery platforms for that.

Kavin Senapathy’s book examining popular food myths, “The Fear Babe: Shattering Vani Hari’s Glass House,” with co-authors Marc Draco and Mark Alsip, is available now. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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