You already know my opinion about the group that calls itself the Australian Skeptics. It is a misnomer for people who belong to the Australian Skeptics and their splinter group, Stop the AVN to call themselves sceptical. They are the least sceptical people on the planet since they only question anything that isn’t mainstream (they are to real scepticism as matter is to anti-matter).
You also know that many people who belong to both of these groups are abusive foul-mouths who can’t seem to complete a sentence or even string 2 words together without a liberal sprinkling of profanity. Many of these people will attack anyone they disagree with and regularly harass AVN members and anyone who has not vaccinated simply because of their belief that everyone should be vaccinated – end of story.
This sort of behaviour comes right down from the very top. From one of the ‘leaders’ of this movement – a person by the name of Peter Bowditch. I first came across this self-professed ratbag over 15 years ago. At that time, the AVN was active in trying to help a gentleman by the name of Alan Yurko get out of prison in the United States.
Alan had received a sentence of life plus 10 years for the death of his infant child from Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) and his story was one that touched many hearts both here in Australia and overseas.
There were so many things wrong with the case against Alan including the fact that his son actually died in hospital following a serious reaction to vaccination but, as still happens today, it was more convenient to blame the father than to examine medical procedures or health professionals so Alan got the blame and was thrown into prison for the rest of his life – plus 10 years (I could never work that out myself – would they really imprison a dead man?).
From prison, this extraordinary man started to research exactly what had happened to his baby and why his trial had gone so wrong. Within a relatively short period of time, he had amassed a huge support base from amongst the vaccination information groups and within the medial community. Everyone from pathologists to paediatricians to toxicologists to coroners looked over the court documents and said that the way in which his trial had been conducted was nothing short of fraudulent. His son’s internal organs had been replaced with those of another baby, the coroner had made many errors on his report and the child had been overdosed with Warfarin whilst in hospital, leading to internal bleeding which was then blamed on Alan Yurko.
In one of our very early newsletters, I asked our members to write letters of support to Alan who, at that time, was in solitary confinement in prison and really appreciated that little bit of kindness – especially from people living so far away.
I had only just gotten my first computer at about this time and email was still a new and exciting mystery to me. So when I received a very politely-written email from someone named Peter Bowditch asking me why the Vaccination Awareness Network (as we were called at the time when we were only operating in the area of Northern NSW) was supporting a child-killer, I took his email seriously and answered with the information I had about Yurko’s case.
In reply, I received an incredibly vile email (from memory) telling me that our organisation was supporting people who killed children so we must all be child killers too. Not only that, but he wrote to the warden of the gaol where Alan was imprisoned (and sent me a copy of that letter) stating that a letter-writing campaign was starting from Australia and asking if the warden could please stop any letters addressed to Alan from our country
I could not believe the cruelty involved in that sort of action and even though Alan Yurko was eventually cleared of all charges several years later, Bowditch still claims that he killed his son. Why? The answer to that question is only known to Bowditch who obviously feels that he knows more about this case then the authorities in the United States. To this day, he continues to call Alan Yurko a child killer and, as you will see, that judgement applies to anyone who questions vaccination or mainstream medical procedures as well according to Bowditch.
From that time in the mid to late 1990s to today, though Bowditch has written to me over the years, I have never responded to him. I did not want to have anything to do with an individual who would behave in this way so I simply ignored him and got on with what I needed to do. He has not done the same, having set up entire web pages to abuse me and anyone associated with the AVN.
Earlier this week, Bowditch wrote an article on the Mamamia website called The Anti-vaxxers reach a shocking new low.
In this article, he makes accuses me of doing certain things of which I am innocent and demands that the AVN change its name because he does not agree with us calling ourselves the Australian Vaccination Network since he considers us to be anti-vaccination despite all the available evidence to the contrary.
A day after the article appeared, I received a call from Howard Sattler’s producer at radio station 6PR in Perth asking if I would agree to be interviewed by Howard about this article and stating that Peter Bowditch would also be speaking. I agreed and wondered how the interview would proceed since I have heard how incredibly abusive Bowditch can be in this sort of situation. The only reason I agreed to participate in this show was because I know that Howard Sattler is a very fair-minded individual who is in no way opposed to vaccination but has – what is a very rare trait in Australian media – a strong commitment to freedom of speech and transparency in all issues.
I will put a copy of this interview below so you can download and listen to it and I strongly urge you to both do this and to share this interview with others.
Tomorrow, I will be writing a second blog highlighting all of the inaccuracies and incorrect statements spouted by this man (unlike Bowditch’s attitude towards myself and others he disagrees with, I will call them inaccuracies and errors – not lies) but today, I would like to ask you to read through a Twitter thread of a conversation Bowditch had with one of the AVN’s Facebook page members – a woman who has been seriously bullied by members of Stop the AVN.
In this thread, Bowditch (RatbagsDotCom) asks SAVNGodComplex (a woman whose sister was badly injured by medicine and whose child is vaccine-injured) about the sexual pleasure she and others who question vaccination get from dead babies.
I’m sure you will agree with me that this is an incredibly inappropriate conversation for a grown man to have with a woman whose only ‘sin’ is questioning a medical procedure.
During the interview linked above, Howard Sattler asked Bowditch about this Twitter conversation:
HS: Talking about abuse, (because Bowditch made the ridiculous claim that the AVN abuses those who vaccinate!) is your Twitter account RatbagsDotCom?
To which Bowditch replied, “It certainly is.”
HS- You’ve sent tweets off to people saying things like this: “How many dead children in a pile do you need to trigger a spontaneous orgasm?” Is that right?
PB – That’s right, yes. I’m waiting for them to answer that question. For some reason or other, they don’t.
Howard then went on to read through several of the other Twitter comments from this man (shown above). At no time, did Bowditch express the least regret or embarrassment about having spoken like this about caring parents.
Peter Bowditch has, for many years, held an esteemed and respected position with the Australian Skeptics. He has been a past President of the organisation and a regular guest at all sorts of events hosted by this group. He has had regular blog spots on, not only the Mamamia website (which deals, for the most part, with women’s issues, raising families and young children) but on other news sites where people have the right to know that the person who is setting himself up as an authority on an issue actually has a history of dealing with innocent people in this way.
Does Bowditch deserve respect? Does anyone who treats others in this way deserve anything but their disgust and ostracism? Should he be allowed to set himself up on blogs (especially blogs where women with young children will come across his rants) as an expert or social commentator on any issue at all?
Bowditch can claim that he cares about children and about the health of the community, but those claims become nothing more then hot air when you look at his actions which, to use a cliché, certainly do speak louder than any of his words.
Respect has to be earned and Bowditch has done nothing to earn the honours which he so obviously feels he is entitled to.
If I were involved with the organisations he is so active with – the Australian Skeptics and Stop the AVN – I would be kicking up a stink to ensure that the group disassociated itself from anyone who acts in such a shameful manner. Especially when there is no effort to apologise or make amends for this sort of abuse. Anyone can make a mistake, but when faced with the knowledge of how badly someone has acted, a person who has any conscience, any feelings of kindness for their fellow man, any remorse whatsoever, would unreservedly apologise for their actions. Bowditch has done none of this. Indeed, he seemed to be proud of his actions which is inexcusable!
Oh, and one last thing. For the first time since my initial email to Bowditch all those many years ago, I jumped in to the Twitter thread quoted above. I did not respond to Bowditch – but I did reply to the woman who I saw being abused and bullied so badly.
It was an ill-advised action on my part, but here is what I said:
I just could not believe any man treating a woman in this way – perhaps I was raised in a time when all people were expected to treat others with respect – whether they were male or female.
Bowditch’s response to me (though I did not address him at all – nor would I ever have contacted his wife and children though I hope he is kinder to them then he is to total strangers) was typical:
Memo to Meryl Dorey at the Australian Vaccination Network (28/4/2012)
Do not even suggest that anyone contacts my family. I realise that you have in the past harassed the family of at least one child who died of a vaccine preventable disease. But don’t start on me.
You might think you can get away with continual defamation of Australian Skeptics. You might think you can get away with continual lies about the activities of the members of Stop the AVN. What you will not get away with is involving my family in your insane campaign to harm children. If you don’t like me asking tasteless questions about dead babies then stop spending your days trying to increase the number of dead babies.
If you or any of your followers come near my family I will react and it will not end well for you. Don’t even suggest it in a joke. And if you think that’s a threat, think again. It’s a promise.
This behaviour is typical of the man and the abuse continues. Come on, Australian Skeptics and Stop the AVN! Do the right thing and get rid of any association you have with Bowditch and anyone else who behaves in this dreadful manner lest you be rightly tarred with the same brush.