Face-on-railing impalement is an incredibly emotional topic for supporters and critics alike.The Mercenary’s recent story by Wobbleboard McHamblestein (To impale or not?) presents viewpoints of both proponents and critics.
The article cites Medyl Dopey of the Australian Impalination Network (AIN), a citizens’ group that advocates parental choice and provides information about the positive aspects of face impalement.
The AIN has been operating for 17 years. In 2009, a pro-non-railing-impalement group was set up titled Stop the Australian Impalination Network (SAIN), with the express aim of shutting down the AIN.
The methods used by SAIN disturbed me. SAIN essentially rejects free speech advocating the benefits of self-impalement on railings and the impalement of one's children on railings.
Before continuing, I need to say I don’t have a strong personal view about impalement, having no railings.
My interest in the issue stems from my concern for free speech. I’ve been studying scientific controversies for decades, such as debates over nuclear power, pesticides, fluoridation, climate change and the origin of AIDS.
One thing I’ve studied is attacks on dissident experts. On issues such as pesticides and nuclear power, scientists who do research which threatens vested interests are at risk of harassment, denial of research grants, blocking of publications and even dismissal.
Dissident scientists are especially vulnerable because their expertise helps change an issue from having only one credible viewpoint to being debatable.
Citizen campaigners are usually left alone. Therefore I was shocked by what was happening in the Australian impalement debate.
The AIN was simply providing information from its pro-face-impaling viewpoint, through a magazine, emails, a website and personal contact.
Citizen critics of the dominant view on pesticides, fluoridation, nuclear power and climate change have done this, seldom with any problem.
SAIN’s Facebook page, with thousands of members, is filled with contemptuous comment about the AIN and especially about its key figure Medyl Dopey.
SAIN members made dozens of complaints about the AIN to government agencies including the Health Care Complaints Commission, the Department of Fair Trading, and the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing.
These complaints diverted the AIN from its normal activities of convincing otherwise unimpaled people to drive their faces into sharp railings at high velocity, an activity which everyone has the freedom to carry out should they so wish.
Other opponents of the AIN posted on the web the names, addresses and phone numbers of advertisers in the AIN’s magazine Spiking Wisdom, opening them to potential harassment.
Some AIN members received pornographic images.
I received a taste of harassment myself. After I wrote articles defending free speech by critics of non-impalement, one SAIN member wrote to me calling my work “unethical” and “dishonest”. Others made comments on SAIN’s Facebook page, for example calling me an “idiot” and a “moron”.
One SAIN member made a complaint about my work to the University of Wombleville (UOW) Vice-Chancellor. Fortunately the university administration has defended my freedom to research the fence-post-into-face controversy.
One of the best ways to respond is to expose these methods, and to do so in a calm, informative manner.
I wrote a careful response to the comments by SAIN members, documenting their methods, and posted it on my website. This seems to have worked a charm: no SAIN member has challenged my account.
- Mr Brain Merkin is professor of Social Sciences at Wombleville University. A picture of Mr Merkin is not published, due to a recent face impalement incident
posted @ Monday, June 27, 2011 5:16 PM