Dr Sherri Tenpenny: Bound for Botany Bay, until…

dr tenpennyMy wonderful late husband, George Maxwell, MD, was the professor of paediatrics at University of Adelaide. As I recall, he had full faith in childhood vaccination. But if he were alive today and saw the new research on vax, I think he would do a turn-around.
He’d be sad that his teachers at Edinburgh did not tip him off to the fact that Edward Jenner, who fired the first ‘shot’ in 1796, was a con artist. All doctors today stand to be embarrassed by this, but let’s just get the embarrassment over quickly.

As for the visit to Oz of a doctor named Sherri Tenpenny, George would certainly approve of her offering her opinion on vax, even if it were diametrically opposed to his. Isn’t that what science is all about? If her message were harmful, George would be licking his chops at the thought of combatting her ideas.

Interview on 2CC Canberra: Ken McLeod and Meryl Dorey

Sherri Tenpennyby Meryl Dorey

As mentioned in the last blog post, Canberra Radio 2CC interviewed both Ken McLeod from Stop the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network (SAVN) and myself regarding the up-coming vaccination seminars with Dr Sherri Tenpenny.

SAVN admins appear to be a little bit embarrassed by Mr McLeod’s ‘performance’ on the program and the usually resourceful admins were unable to find the audio file for this interview. When a member of the Facebook group asked if Ken McLeod had been interviewed on 2CC, SAVN admin, Katie Brockie Kate Squires (correction by admin) replied:

It did indeed happen. Our own Ken McLeod was on as well, but was hoodwinked by Ms. Dorey’s appearance. Not sure if there’s a copy of audio. 

Well Katie, never fear! We have a copy of that audio and have transcribed it for your reading pleasure! And perhaps, while we’re at it, you can explain how I hoodwinked Mr McLeod when he was interviewed before me and was able to say whatever he wanted to say without interruption?

Freedom of speech? Not in their Australia!

SAVN has been trying their hardest to get Dr Tenpenny’s visa to enter Australia revoked and to bully the venues where she will be speaking to break their contracts to host these talks.

It is obvious, listening to Mr McLeod, that SAVN has no respect for personal rights or freedom of speech. He is also not above bending the truth in order to besmirch the reputation of the good doctor.

Below is a transcript of the interview which took place on January 7, 2015. I have provided a copy of the text to the presenter, Mr Rod Henshaw, and if he provides me with any corrections, I will be sure to update this blog. I do not believe there are any errors in this text however.

Interviewer: Rod Henshaw (R)

Interviewees: Ken McLeod (K), Meryl Dorey (M)

R:              A number of Australian doctors and expats … experts I should say, not expats. Well, maybe they’re expert expats, but a number of Australian doctors and experts are calling on the federal government to stop a prominent anti-vaccine campaigner from entering the country. Sherri Tenpenny is the author of the Saying No to Vaccine and is due to begin an Australian speaking tour in March, but Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is currently receiving advice on the issue, but Ken McLeod is from the Stop the AVN organisation. Ken, thanks for joining us.

K:              Oh, good afternoon Rod.

R:              Why shouldn’t we let Sherri Tenpenny into the country?iStock_000011256677XSmall

K:              She’s a very effective campaigner against vaccines and that’s not a good thing. She claims that vaccines are responsible for mass murders, including the Sandy Hook School massacre, that vaccines cause SIDS, autism, they disconnect the brain from the universe, etc, etc. We’re afraid that the end result of her tour is that some well-meaning parents will be conned. Sherri Tenpenny is not your average ratbag, she’s in a class of her own. We’re frightened that if enough parents are deceived the end result is misery, extra stress on the health department budgets, occasionally death and so on.

R:              But aren’t you underestimating the average intelligence of the average Australian in this case? I mean, aren’t you … there’s two questions I’ve got here, but that’s a first one. Are you … aren’t you assuming that the parents can’t pick and choose for themselves and work out what’s right and what’s wrong?

K:              You’re quite right. Most people, and I’m saying right up there in the 90% of the population can follow good advice, but there is that small number who can be dissuaded and that’s been proven in the statistics and that percentage of it is the number of people that we are worried about.

R:              But we do hear people from other walks of life coming out with totally outrageous things and we’ve heard it with Muslims in this current climate and all that sort of thing. Now, this doesn’t really differ too much from there because we can actually say well you’re an idiot, we don’t believe you, go back home if you want to and all this sort of thing, but at least we give them the right of free speech which you don’t seem to be willing to give … to extend to this person.

K:              That’s right. Yeah, it is a very difficult issue and I would say that your right of free speech ends where it has any effect on … an effect on the health of my children.

R:              Yeah, is that really the answer? You haven’t really answered the question. You’re saying she can’t come because we don’t agree with what she’s saying and you put a few very vibrant examples there, sure, I give you that, but still she’s surely entitled to express those opinions if she so desires and we’re so entitled that we can say bugger off, go home, we don’t want you and we don’t believe you, but let’s hear you first.

K:              Oh well, the problem is of course that in … what you might call an opinion is actually a disproven fact. She shares things that are clearly untrue, disproven by the science, and it wouldn’t matter if no one was hurt. So Australia has a proven track record of barring entry to people who can cause disharmony or endanger public health and I’m referring to Julien Blanc, the chap who ran seminars on how to seduce women and just use them for sex, David Irving, the Holocaust denier. We would say that Miss Tenpenny is up there in that league, but we do recognise that this is an incredibly difficult decision for the minister. We should … we are saying that the minister should, at the very least, deny Tenpenny a working visa, which mean that there would be no speaking fees, no payments, no entry fees, etc, etc.

R:              Okay, I am playing devil’s advocate with this, as you can probably tell (both laughing), but I am serious about the democracy thing, I mean, it reminds me of an old line out of one of those BBC television series, I forget which one, where they say democracy is fine, but why give it to the people? And it comes back to …

K:              (Laughing)

R:              … my original thing is couldn’t … shouldn’t we be …

K:              Yeah.

R:              … trusted enough to make our own minds up on this?

government-lies-truthK:              Yeah and that is the problem. I mean, if we’re discussing the existence of aliens and flying saucers and so on no harm is done, but where someone is using misinformation to persuade parents not to vaccinate their children and being very, very convincing about it, we think, you know, there’s a barrier there. There’s a bar that has to be brought down.

R:              Okay, well we’ll have to leave it there. We do have somebody from the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network, but I’ll put you on hold just in case you want to have a listen and we’ll go to her and then … but in the meantime I do thank you very much for your time this afternoon.

K:              Yeah, thanks Rod.

R:              Thanks Ken. Ken McLeod is the … from the Stop the AVN organisation and, as I mentioned, we do have somebody from basically the other side of the coin, if you like. Meryl Dorey is founder of the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network. Meryl, good afternoon.

M:            Good afternoon. Thank you.

R:              I don’t know how much you heard of that. Do you have a comment, a response?

M:            Oh, well I heard much of it. I don’t know how long Mr McLeod was on, but I heard some of the things that he claimed that Doctor Sherri Tenpenny was saying and it reminds me of a statement made by, I think his name is Goebbels, tell a lie long enough and often enough and it becomes the truth because what Mr McLeod was saying was not what Doctor Tenpenny has ever said. She has never claimed that vaccines cause mass murder, she’s never linked them with Sandy Hook, this is all just an attempt to smear her and personally …

R:              But can …

M:            … I think that if …

R:              Just before you go any further, I got to play …

M:            Sure.

R:              … devil’s advocate with this one too. How can you say she hasn’t said them? Can you prove that she hasn’t said those sort of things, those statements … made those statements?

M:            Well I’ve been following Doctor Tenpenny for over 20 years. She is above all an extremely moderate and intelligent person. All of her information comes from peer-reviewed journals. She has done over 20,000 hours of research in mainstream medical journals to gain the information that she shares with people who come to listen to her, so I would be very strongly … I would say very strongly that she’s never said any of those things. You know, if Mr McLeod has any proof of that let him prove it, let him show it.

R:              He seemed pretty …

M:            Until he does that …

R:              … straightforward and pretty strong with his views on that …

M:            He …

R:              … so I don’t think … I think … in fact, I would just suspect that in the court of law the defamation laws might come in if he’s wrong.

M:            Well, I hope they would too. I really do hope they would, because I don’t think that people have a right to tell lies about other people …

R:              That’s what I’m …

M:            … simply because ….

R:              That’s why I’m questioning whether he would actually go so … be so silly as to make those sort of statements if he couldn’t back them up.slander

M:            Oh, he’s done it before, so … I mean I have no doubt that he does not have the information to back that up. Like I said, let him prove it. If he proves it I will apologise and say sorry Ken, I was wrong, but I’m pretty confident that I won’t have to do that and what I want to say about this whole situation is that Australia is a democracy and in a democracy we have the right to disagree with each other, but we should also be defending others’ rights to say things that we disagree with. Australian parents are intelligent, they are very concerned about their children, they have every right and every ability to make these decisions for themselves after looking at both sides and asking appropriate questions from both sides. This …

R:              Meryl, it does come back … it’s incumbent on me to come back to say how can you prove that not vaccinating your children is going to be a good thing when we know so well that there is so many research papers and there has been so much documented evidence that kids do die unless they’re not vacc … unless they’re vaccinated?

M:            Okay, now first of all we have documented evidence as well. There is science on both sides and both sides … we don’t tell anyone that they shouldn’t vaccinate. Nobody tells anyone that. Doctor Tenpenny does not tell anyone that. All the AVN says is that there are risks and benefits to vaccination and it behoves all parents as responsible adults to get both sides of this information before making a choice for their children. The woman who is organising this series of seminars actually lost a child because of vaccination. My eldest child was vaccine-injured. Many parents who have chosen to look into this issue only did so after seeing one of their loved ones either die or suffer a serious reaction to a vaccination. We were not told that these things could happen. All the AVN is saying is that you need to get this information so that if your child has a reaction you know how to respond, you know what to do. You have a choice; vaccination is not compulsory. Everyone has the right to make this decision and it is wrong for any government, any medical community, to suppress, actively suppress, information that is sourced from peer-reviewed, mainstream medical literature that discusses the known risks and side effects …

R:              Well Immigration Minister …

M:            … of vaccination.

R:              Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is currently receiving advice on this issue, as I mentioned. How do you reckon he’ll go? Do you reckon …

M:            I have no idea.

R:              Do you think that there is a weight of evidence on the side perhaps of the people like Ken McLeod? And I will add that he is only one of a number of Australian doctors and experts who are calling on the government to stop her coming over here in the first place; it’s not just him.

M:            Okay. Ken McLeod is neither an expert nor a doctor. Ken McLeod is a member of a hate group called the Australian … Stop the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network. Their founder had an AVO order against them for making threats against myself for having phone calls coming from their home making threats against myself. This is the sort of organisation that they are dealing with. If the Minister for Immigration is making a judgement based on the law he will allow Sherri Tenpenny … Doctor Sherri Tenpenny to come to Australia. If he is making an emotional decision based on peer-pressure brought about by these people then he probably won’t and if he doesn’t it’s going to be a shameful situation for Australia. We should all have the right to speak our truth and people can listen to it. If they don’t want to … not listen to it if they don’t want to and they can also argue it and discuss it. I have been trying for many years to set up a public debate on this issue with everyone from the health minister on down and they continually refuse to present their information to the general public to let them make a decision. The parents of Australia are capable of doing this, they should be allowed to.

R:              Okay, you make a fairly strong argument. Then again, so does Ken, but as you say Ken has got to back that up and …

M:            Yes.

R:              … it’ll be interesting to see where it goes. So if he’s wrong and you’re right why don’t you serve him with a legal notice?

M:            Well, it’s not my name he’s smeared here, but I certainly think that Doctor Tenpenny would be interested in hearing what he has said, especially since she can prove that it’s not true and he has to prove that it’s true. He can’t just go about saying things like that without the proof to back it up.

R:              Yeah. It’s only one flaw there in Australian law … defamation law, truth is not necessarily a defence, that’s the trouble, but I think …

M:            Yeah.

R:              … you’re on the path there, you could be … it could be a very interesting result in court when both side … where both sides are presented accordingly.

M:            Thank you for the opportunity to speak here.

R:              Thank you Meryl.

M:            I appreciate it. Bye bye.

R:              Bye bye. Meryl Dorey, founder of the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network. On 2cc. It’s 3:42.

Please note: Blog posts are opinion pieces which represent the views of the authors. They do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of the AVN National Committee. The AVN is a forum, support and information organisation and outlet for discussion about the relative benefits and risks of vaccinations in particular – and medical procedures in general. We do not provide medical advice but believe that everyone has the opportunity and the obligation to do their own research before making decisions for their families. The information we provide (including your personal review of the references we cite) should be taken in conjunction with a range of other data, including that obtained from government, your health care provider and/or other medical source material to assist you in developing the knowledge required to make informed health choices.