Freedom of Speech – Not in Australia!
Or more specifically the now cancelled Australian tour of US anti-vaccine activist Dr Sherri Tenpenny originally scheduled for February and March 2015.
The dust is beginning to settle on the intensive media attacks on Tenpenny and it’s time to take a moment to reflect on these recent events.
Let me be unequivocal here – Emeds viewpoint is neither pro or anti vaccination. What we do advocate is being pro-information. We believe that by providing two sides of a debate an individual via informed consent can make up their own minds.
In this instance the debate was clearly not evident.
Has freedom of speech in Australia taken a hit?
There was a strong emotion- driven rush to ban Dr Tenpenny (from both left and right sides of the political fence) by the majority who disagreed with her.
Should we as a society be willing to censor purely because we disagree?
Censoring people and information sets an extremely dangerous precedent.
The apparent trend is if you disagree with someone, start an online petition / hashtag campaign / social media blitz to have them and their ideas “banned”.
In Australia we are fortunate enough to be able to object to differing opinions – opinions which people are allowed to have. This opinion doesn’t have to be accurate, it can be ignorant and misinformed.
Free speech is vital for democracy, science and academia in order for a society to progress. Differing opinions can be matched with calm, factual, scientific and effective public education to counter those opinions in order for people to make an informed choice.
Guaranteed that people who were planning on attending Tenpennys’ lectures had already found and followed the information on the internet. Disseminating anti-vaccination information is near impossible to control in the digital sphere, despite the wishes of the majority.
Does this not galvanise anti-vaccination advocates and give them a larger platform, portraying themselves as persecuted victims or even fighting against conspiracies?
In a statement the Australian organiser of Dr Tenpenny’s tour, Stephanie Messenger cited that “pro-vaccine extremists had made continual, anonymous threats of vandalism and violence and that organisers could no longer guarantee the safety of attendees”.
The press release noted that “anti-free-speech terrorists” had threatened to bomb venues and commit other violence against venue owners, all of whom cancelled bookings for Dr Tenpenny’s seminars in the past month and that “pro-vaccine extremists have been sabotaging the venues and have threatened to disrupt the normal business operations of the locations during the meetings”.
Allowing people with dissenting opinions to talk, opens up a debate in the public arena which in turn educates and results in informed choices.
This mob mentality is a worrying trend that paints Australia as a weak, reactive country. By barring people like Dr Tenpenny who have a differing and unpopular opinion from entering the country, freedom speech in this country has taken a hit.
- Vaccine Resistant Strain of Whooping Cough Discovered – How to Protect Your Child This Winter
- Gardasil Shocker: Japan Withdraws Support for HPV Vaccine
- Another Attack On Alternative Medicine
- Fluvax Guilty of Causing Fits in Children
- Important Information on the H1N1 Vaccine