It’s been a while since I’ve written about anti-vaccine activists and their doings because, frankly, I could do without the hassle. Whenever I write about them, or say something about them, or confront them online or in person, they get very, very nasty. Sometimes I worry about my safety and that of my family. But, alas, it’s a fight that must be fought because the lies and misinformation they spread really do hurt people. It’s about looking out for the public’s health.
The only exhibit I have at this moment on how nasty these folks can be is a letter from an anti-vaccine activist to a former CDC head honcho. I’ll first give you excerpts with commentary and then I’ll give you the screenshots of the scanned letter. And, before the accusations of impropriety start flying around, these documents were obtained through Pacer.gov, a repository of court-submitted documents… Public documents, that is. And this letter is part of a court case involving Brian Hooker, PhD, who is trying to obtain relief for the alleged injury against his son by vaccines.
Now, the letter:
“Subject: War Crimes In Your Fight Against Infectious Disease”
War crimes? Are we in a state of war? Well, if you are to believe some of the anti-vaccine groups’ rhetoric, yes, we are in a state of war. We are either approaching a Nazi-like state, or the Earth is being depopulated via vaccines, or something.
Doctor Hooker (PhD in biochemical engineering) then goes on to say that he has analyzed public and private/confidential documents in a study by Verstraeten et al. That study concluded that there was no causative link between vaccines with thimerosal in them and autism. Like others have done, Doctor Hooker claims that early drafts of this study were manipulated to cover-up an association (and a causative one) between vaccines and autism. This keeps coming up in the anti-vaccine chats, and it keeps being debunked. But let’s continue with Doctor Hooker’s letter and show you why I’m kind of concerned:
“I urge you to personally launch a broad investigation over the misconduct and poor science proliferated by your institution. With your current lack of action, you are causing irreparable harm to my son, (EDITED), who has been unfortunately chalked-up as collateral damage in the War on Infectious Disease.”
Now, the chilling part…
“I would urge you personally to review the Book of Matthew 18:6 and consider your own responsibility to all the children of the U.S. including my own son.”
Why is that chilling? Because of what that Bible verse reads:
“If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. (NIV)”
You draw your own conclusions on what Doctor Hooker intended to say in that message. That Bible verse was from Jesus speaking to his followers, warning them not to get in the way of believers (the “little ones”) believing (thus making them “stumble”), or face the consequences. I would guess that Doctor Hooker believes that Jesus literally meant children, however. Yet I am always concerned when anyone uses scriptures (any scriptures) as a rhetorical device. It makes me think that they see themselves as prophets or messengers from a higher authority (i.e. God), and that… Well, that’s not really a good thing, in my opinion.
Here is the letter:
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
About History of Vaccines: I am the editor of the History of Vaccines site, a project of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Please read the About page on the site for more information.
About Epidemiological: I am the sole contributor to Epidemiological, my personal blog to discuss all sorts of issues. It also has an About page you should check out.