Letter to the State Library of Western Australia

Dear Mrs Allen,
 
I write to you with regard to a forthcoming seminar hosted at the State Library of WA on behalf of a group known as the "Australian Vaccination Network".
 
I would like to draw your attention, as no doubt a number of others have also done, to some facts around this group which should give the State Library of WA pause.
 
The AVN, and Mrs Meryl Dorey in particular, are fond of claiming the free-speech high-ground. Unfortunately, the right to free speech should not include the right to promulgate misinformation. The AVN are guilty of repeatedly supplying misinformation to members of the public and are, as I'm sure you're aware, currently under investigation by the NSW HCCC for their continued promotion of false health information. Their modus operandi - teach both sides, controversy, free speech - mirrors that of the modern creationists who wish to see dogma taught as science in schools, but unlike creationists, the AVN have the capacity to cause genuine human illness and death through their stated aim of destroying the current vaccination programme in Australia and worldwide.
 
To use a common trope, shouting fire in a crowded theatre is not part of free speech. Shouting fire in a crowded theatre when no fire exists can be considered, if anything, worse.
 
Mrs Dorey has mentioned, loudly and repeatedly, that the State Library of WA is a noted champion on controversial topics. I would like to point out that there is no scientific controversy here. What controversy exists consists of manufactured conspiracy theory, debunked 'research' such as the manufactured MMR findings of Andrew Wakefield, and mere conjecture. The controversy exists only in the minds of the anti-vaccination proponents, and their continued promotion of such misinformation should not be enabled via a respectable institution such as the State Library. I repeat: to provide the AVN your platform will lend a veneer of legitimacy that the anti-vaccination position does not deserve, and would tarnish the reputation of the State Library itself.
 
You can find more information on the views and methods of Mrs Dorey and the AVN at the following URLs:
 
http://www.antivaxxers.com/
http://www.youngausskeptics.com/category/avn/
http://scepticsbook.com/tag/australian-vaccination-network/
http://skepticator.com/search/Australian%20Vaccination%20Network
http://www.facebook.com/stopavn
 
The first link above includes full details of the pending investigation by the HCCC, and of the OLGR investigation into the AVN's charitable status. The others include much background on the AVN and the worldwide anti-vaccination movement, and should be considered a mere starting point.
 
I understand the library's stance on controversial topics but due to the AVN's "under investigation" status, I would suggest it is time to draw a precautionary line. Postpone the seminar pending the HCCC and OLGR's verdicts. Then, the question will be answered for you, one way or another. This decision does not have to be in the State Library's hands. Merely wait for the verdicts of the presiding authorities.
 
I close with a quotation from Mrs Dorey herself, sourced from the AVN's own mailing list, which should be sufficient to illustrate the extreme views of this group.

“There will come a time – I pray to God that it will happen in my lifetime – when those who have pushed vaccines upon innocent, helpless babies – doctors, pharmaceutical companies, government officials – will be proven to have lied and cheated these instruments of death into our children’s bloodstream. When that occurs, the outcry will be heard around the world and there will not be enough hiding places on the globe for these murderers to hide or enough money to pay for compensation. Of course, it will be too late for the babies, like this poor child, to be saved. But we will be able to take satisfaction from the fact that never again will anyone have to be pushed to poison their child because for once and for all, it will be known as poison and we will all wonder how it was we fell for the vaccine lie for as long as we did.”
Meryl Dorey, President, Australian Vaccination Network
AVN Yahoo group, 17 Dec 2008, message #36449

Unlike some of my compatriots in the skeptical community, I have not CC'd Mrs Dorey on this email, as I do not wish to provide her with my private contact details. She already has my private email address, and that should be sufficient for her. Please feel free to forward this message to Mrs Dorey if you wish, providing my private contact info is redacted. You should also feel free to respond with any questions arising from this email.

 

regards

Jason Brown

posted @ Monday, May 24, 2010 6:37 PM

 
 
 

Comments on this entry:

# re: Letter to the State Library of Western Australia

Left by RichardJ at 5/24/2010 11:43 PM
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Well done Jason, my email to Ms Allen was no where near as eloquant as that.

# re: Letter to the State Library of Western Australia

Left by Jason at 5/25/2010 4:54 PM
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In follow-up, I've escalated to the WA cabinet

Minister.Hames@dpc.wa.gov.au,
Minister.Day@dpc.wa.gov.au

To: Honourable Dr Kim Hames MB BS JP MLA, Honourable John Day BSc BDSc MLA

I write to you in your capacities as Ministers for Health and for The Arts.

I wish to draw your attention to the email below, sent to Margaret Allen of the State Library of Western Australia. There are plans to host a seminar by the anti-vaccination group "Australian Vaccination Network" on June 1st, and I'd like to draw your attention to their record of public misinformation, which has led to multiple investigations in NSW.

We are appealing to the State Library to withdraw their support for this seminar, but have so far received only form-letters in response from Mrs Allen, reiterating her commitment to host the group at this state facility. For this reason, I am appealing at a higher level.

To host the AVN at the State Library would offer a veneer of legitimacy and credibility to a group whose activities constitute a clear danger to public health, and in turn tarnish the reputation of the Library.

I appreciate your attention in this matter

Yours,

Jason Brown
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