Andrew Wakefield is not going away, but if yesterday’s anti-vaccine rally in Chicago is any indication, his audience is growing smaller and smaller.
About 100 anti-vaccine activists turned out to hear Wakers and nine other speakers on a sunny day in Grant Park. If you add event volunteers, vendors, press, speakers, skeptics, and curious bystanders, the crowd numbered less than 200. As Kevin at LBRB says, it was a bit of a damp squib.
Like any good public speaker, Wakefield started off with a story:
About 15 years ago a mother from London approached him and said “Do not judge me too harshly Dr. Wakefield, but when I die I am taking my son with me. You see, I’m all he has. I’m the only one who loves him.”
“I didn’t judge,” said Wakefield. “I was moved by the love that a mother must have for her child that she would take his life rather than have him fall upon a society that really didn’t give a damn.”
Having established street cred, Wakefield went on to assure his fans that vaccines are way more dangerous that the diseases they protect us against, and they are not being adequately studied for safety. So Wakefield, disgraced and defrocked medical doctor and spiritual guru to American’s floundering anti-vaccine movement, will soldier on, and continue to do the studies that the medical establishment is afraid of. Or something like that.
The crowd also heard from financial analyst and amateur immunologist Michael Belkin, who played electric guitar and sang Vaccine Gestapo. He was introduced by a speaker who claimed “vaccine safety” is the defining issue of our day – forget global warming, social inequality, radical Islam, and the season finale of Lost. The real tragedy is that too many children are protected against too many diseases. Fortunately we have a talented songwriter to whip the masses into a frenzy. Lucky audience members snagged free copies of Belkin’s CD, which featured two other ditties: We Don’t Want Their Flu Vaccine, and Keep Your Mandates Out of My Body. Here’s the cover art:
Vaccine trial lawyers hit some low notes of their own. Attorney Robert Krakow, who draws his sustenance from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, pretended to lead anti-vaccine activists in The Fish Cheer. He stopped at F, and quipped “That’s what the government can do with its vaccine program.” Referring to his salad days of prosecuting drug crimes in Manhattan, Krakow confessed “I should have been going after the real drug pushers” – meaning the CDC, AAP, FDA, etc.
Note to Attorney Krakow: Technically speaking, vaccines are not drugs, they’re “biologics”. But we get it – you’re mad.
For a time, Wakefield stuck close by Attorney Jim Moody, another vaccine-court regular, not surprising given that so many of the ethical charges against Wakefield stemmed from his cozy relationships with trial lawyers. Here’s Wakefield and Moody catching some rays.
Rally organizers clearly expected much larger crowds, as evidenced by dozens of anti-vaccine signs still unused by 5 pm, when the park started to clear out. A sign-in sheet listed about 35 names and email addresses. Hundreds of free bananas remained unclaimed, and most of the vendors’ tables that lined one side of the quad remained empty.
Meanwhile, the rest of city carried on as normal. In this case, that was a good thing.
Here’s a terrific account by a skeptic who attended the rally.