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Anti-Vaccinationist Group Sues Dr. Paul Offit, Amy Wallace, And Conde Nast

Thanks to the always vigilant eyes of Liz Ditz, Ratbags.com is reporting that pediatric immunologist and vaccine developer Dr. Paul Offit, writer Amy Wallace, and Condé Nast (publisher of Wired magazine) are being sued for libel in US District Court by Barbara Loe Fisher, founder and acting president of the so-called National Vaccine Information Center.

Readers will recall that Wallace’s article on Dr. Offit and the fear and misinformation propagated by anti-vaccinationists was the centerpiece of a feature in Wired magazine aptly titled, “Epidemic of Fear.”

My short take: The lawsuit is an attempt to silence or intimidate those who speak out against individuals and organizations that threaten public health. When scientific facts accumulate that refute their views, the response is to file frivolous legal action.

Ratbags.com has posted a copy of the complaint here (PDF) that was filed December 23 in Alexandria, Virginia. Fisher seeks damages of $75,000.

As detailed on under item #20 on pg. 11, the complaint boils down to what is described this “principle [sic] attack on Fisher’s honesty”:

Offit was quoted by Wallace as saying, “She lies,” in reference to Fisher.

On October 25, I wrote a post singing the praises of Wallace’s article (original here) and the entire issue of Wired. Two days later, we wrote more, this time on the hostile, sexually-explicit comments made to Ms. Wallace by anti-vaccinationists following the lauding of Wallace’s article by the international science and medical community. An anti-vaccination organization followed up at Thanksgiving posting a “parody” photograph of Offit, Wallace, and others dining on a baby at the holiday feast.

Orac at Respectful Insolence puts this case in perspective in his post, “Suppression of speech through legal intimidation: Anti-vaccine edition.”

The incomparable Peter Bowditch provides his own analysis at Ratbags.com.

I encourage all bloggers who enjoyed Ms. Wallace’s article to be equally vocal in writing about this nuisance attack on her and Dr. Offit.

P.S. As I’m writing this post this morning, Good Morning America has a story on a study to be published today in Pedatrics that refutes the utility of “special diets” in helping children with autism. Watch for the response from those who advocate, or garner financial gain, from promoting such diets.

*This blog post was originally published at Terra Sigillata*


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