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Freedom of Speech – Not in Australia!

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 4.12.41 PMHere is a topic that is sure to rankle more than a few individuals.

Vaccination.

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.

 

Further Reading

Comments

  • Meryl Dorey says:

    Thank you for being a voice of reason. I hope you don’t suffer as a result of your ethical stand on freedom of speech.

    The same individuals whose threats and bullying forced Dr Tenpenny to cancel her tour are also well-known for attacking any businesses or individual who dare to speak their minds on this issue. And they readily call anyone who believes in freedom of health choice ‘anti-vaccine’ though that is not a moniker most people who are skeptical of vaccinations would choose.

    We need to stand together to protect everyone’s right to freedom of expression or we can have no right to complain when our own rights are trampled on.

    I salute you for having the courage of your convictions and hope that many other natural therapists and healthcare consumers will likewise take a stand in support of free choice for all.

    Meryl Dorey
    Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network, Inc.
    Because every issue has two sides

  • gh says:

    Totally agree.
    The tactics of the pro-vaxxers involved is disgraceful. What are they scared of? If they are so sure that they are right, why do they censor? This should be brought out in the open and both sides should be able to state their case. This only gives the impression that the pro-vaxxers have no case.
    The big Australian media have also been a disgrace when it comes to vaccination. Pushing vaccination without any real journalism. Doing zero research. Though I suppose some would lose their jobs if they went against the grain. Especially with one of their bosses having ties to a vaccine manufacturer.

  • Dr Monica Prakash says:

    In response to gh, ‘pro-vaxxers’ are scared of people who would ordinarily vaccinate being swayed by Dr Tenpenny’s misinformation, choosing not to vaccinate, and enabling the reemergence of deadly diseases that we have worked so hard to eradicate. This is not a matter of opinion. Vaccination works. There is no evidence to the contrary. If you do the research, you know that already.

    • Peter Harris says:

      Obviously Dr, you have not taken the time to read Dr Tenpenny’s evidence !
      If you take your blinkers off, and take the time to read Dr Tenpenny’s evidence, you will find that there is evidence that vaccinations do not work.
      You state that it is “a matter of opinion.” No, it’s a matter of fact, again, if you take the time to read the evidence presented by Dr Tenpenny.
      What Dr Tenpenny has done, is spend years digging up the evidence, which the pharmaceutical industry likes to bury, and then present that evidence, looking at the bigger picture, as to why vaccinations are a failure.
      You could yourself Dr Prakash do the same, and do your own research, and you may well find the same outcome as Dr Tenpenny.
      But that will never happen will it, because it appears you, like virtually all other doctors, just worship your paymaster, the pharmaceutical industry, without question or scrutiny !

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