“It is impossible to overlook the larger and direct dangers inherent in (Jenny McCarthy’s) position on vaccines,” wrote Karl Taro Greenfeld in Time Magazine last winter. “Yet it is equally difficult to ignore the emotional core of what she is saying: Listen to parents. If doctors won’t, then McCarthy will.”
The “parent as victim” meme is the donkey that pulls the anti-vaccine cart. McCarthy speaks lovingly of her “angry mob”. Generation Rescue founder J.B. Handley boasts of harnessing that anger to “bring the U.S. vaccine program to its knees.”
But last week, a member of the “medical establishment” was listening to parents at the annual AutismOne confab at Chicago’s Westin O’Hare. What happened next shows us that the “emotional core” of Jenny McCarthy’s angry mob is as hollow as its science.
A staff member of a western state department of public health was reportedly attending a session on vaccines and parental rights. According to one source, the speaker was advising parents how to apply for and receive vaccine exemptions. The session was interrupted by an AutismOne organizer who commandeered a microphone to announce that a state health department staff member was present, so parents should be careful about what was discussed.
A short time later four Westin O’Hare security guards entered the room, identified the staffer, and directed her to leave the conference facility.
On the way out, the ejected staffer asked to use the restroom. She was told that was OK, as long as an AutismOne volunteer accompanied her to the ladies room.
An email to an AutismOne conference organizer sent Thursday afternoon, asking for comment, has not been answered.
It gets worse.
Saturday morning, Chicago filmmaker and independent journalist Lars Ullberg was tossed out of the Westin O’Hare, a mere ten minutes after planting himself on a seat in a lecture hall.
“They wouldn’t even talk to me,” says Ullberg, who had paid to attend after being refused a press pass. “She (conference organizer Teri Arranga) just kept reading their ‘right to eject language.’”
The AutismOne website states “We reserve the right not to register any individual based on our own judgment. We further reserve the right to ask any participant to leave the conference if that person’s conduct substantially interferes with the participation of others.” Ullberg said no explanation was given for how his conduct (i.e., sitting in a chair) was interfering with others.
Prior to attending, Ullberg had received an email from Arranga, spelling out the conditions of his attendance that would make Dear Leader proud:
Autism One is not prepared to offer press passes to you or your crew. Although you and each of your crew members may pay the registration fee as regular attendees, subject to the usual terms of attendance, neither you nor your crew members are permitted to conduct any videography, photography, audio recording, or press interviews; furthermore neither you nor your crew members are permitted to quote attendees, presenters, exhibitors, volunteers, or staff in any manner that will be quoted, “on the record,” or used for public or private media or instructional purposes. Additionally, you and your crew members must identify yourselves accurately with your affiliations to those to whom you speak and also not mislead them to think that you are simply seeking information with which to help your child. Finally, you may not eavesdrop on private conversations between attendees. In summary, Autism One grants no permission to you or your crew to report on this conference or its attendees. Should we become aware that you are not following these guidelines, we will not hesitate to ask you to leave the conference.
“My hope was they would actually have a conversation with me,” says Ullberg, who says many of the presenters at AutismOne are making legitimate points. Apart from quack medical claims, some speakers addressed behavioral therapy, respite care, educational strategies, and other mainstream parent concerns.
“We can’t learn if we don’t listen,” he added.