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Anti-vax film screening stirs passions

Paul Bibby

The screening of a controversial anti-vaccination documentary at Mullumbimby’s Civic Hall brought a string of angry complaints from vaccination advocates who said it should not have been shown at a Council-owned venue.

And one Byron councillor is set to formally move that the rules be changed so that such films cannot be shown at Council-managed halls in future.

But the group that organised the screening, the Australian Vaccination-risks Network Inc (AVN), defended its right to air its views, describing those who sought to cancel the event as ‘bigots’.

Around 100 people attended the Civic Hall on August 9 for the screening of Sacrificial Virgins, followed by a Q&A session with opponents of Australia’s vaccination regime.

The film questions the effectiveness the Human Papilloma Vaccine as a preventive treatment for cervical cancer, and asserts that it causes adverse reactions that are ‘blighting and even ending the lives of girls and young women across the world’.

When news of the film’s screening at the Civic Hall spread, Byron Council was slammed on social media and received a string of complaints.

One vaccination advocate stated on a public Facebook page that the council’s role in the screening had been ‘unconscionable’.

‘This film has been condemned by the federal health minister and all health experts,’ the man said.

‘That the showing is happening while they [the north coast] have a diphtheria patient in a local hospital is a disgrace.’

When councillor Paul Spooner became aware of the screening, he sought to have permission for the use of the Civic Hall revoked.

Cr Spooner, of the Labor Party, argued that Council should not support the Australian Vaccination-risk Network in any way because it was the subject of a public health warning issued by the Health Care Complaints Commission in 2014.

The Commission issued the warning following an investigation that found that AVN was responsible for disseminating misleading and incorrect information about vaccination that was likely to ‘detrimentally affect the clinical management or care’.

AVN rejects the findings.

Cr Spooner said the film was ‘anti-public health and against the public good, as verified by the HCCC’.

‘I don’t think it’s appropriate for an organisation that is subject to a public health warning to be using a Council-owned facility to peddle its misinformation.’

Cr Spooner did not succeed in having the screening cancelled, with Council’s executive team denying his request.

However, they did agree to put up signs at the Civic Hall indicating that neither the council nor the managers of the hall endorsed the film

Council’s acting director of Corporate and Community Services, Anna Vinfield, said Council’s guidelines stated that it was ‘important to uphold the principles of equity, accessibility and inclusivity providing for the whole community,’ when hiring out Council-owned venues.

Cr Spooner said he will now move to amend these rules so that films such as Sacrificial Virgins cannot be shown at Council venues in future.

He said, ‘In my opinion there is nothing “equitable and inclusive” about promoting gross ignorance and public harm.’

But the founder and current president of AVN, Meryl Dorey, said those who opposed the screening of the film were ‘acting out of ignorance’.

‘I call it bigotry because it’s the fear of something they understand,’ Ms Dorey said.

‘They are afraid that this information may change people’s minds, from supporting enforced vaccination to supporting informed choice about whether or not to vaccinate.

Freedom of speech

‘It’s the same as people who say we shouldn’t allow immigrants into Australia or those who used to say we shouldn’t allow black people into positions of power.’

Ms Dorey said that the screening was also about freedom of speech.

‘One of the managers of the hall said to me, “I may or may not agree with your views, but I support your right to express them in a public forum”. That’s part of living in a democracy.

‘I am shocked that anyone from Council would suggest restricting that right.’


27 responses to “Anti-vax film screening stirs passions”

  1. Tom Rayner says:

    Come on readers – We are supposed to be living in a country with freedom of speech.
    It is a fact – that there are those who live in our society – that have been affected directly, or indirectly through vaccination. They may be a minority in population number, but their pain and suffering that they claim has occurred due to vaccination needs to be discussed, so that those that want to make up their own minds, to have their own choice – can do so – rather than being herded like sheep to receive something they may or may not require.
    One has to question why we require to give our young up to 48 vaccinations, with those vaccinations not being tested to the same high standards as a new drug.
    One has to question why Japan, with one of the lowest vaccination population rates, has one of the best health rates – and laws where those affected by vaccination are suing those who gave it.
    Our bodies are not formed, to have vaccines that contain metal toxins, injected into our bodies, most without the consent of the owner of that body (baby/child)
    I am not against vaccination. It has had its place, and has its place now. I’m against Forced Vaccination – Freedom of Choice is important – not bowing to pharmaceutical companies scaring the population into stating it should be mandatory.
    I remember when Asbestos was deemed safe for us all – and now far more of our population die due to that Stuff Up than are at risk of dying through choosing not to vaccinate.

    • Cas says:

      Tom, well stated thank you

    • Liz says:

      All sounds fair enough, Tom, but in this instance the choice one person makes has repercussions for others eg the babies who no longer have the protection of herd immunity and their worried parents,/grandparents, the children whose parents make the choice on their behalf to deny them the benefits of vaccination. You can make a case that they still should have a choice but if it’s made on the basis of a whim, ignorance or misinformation – that’s a tragedy.

    • James says:

      Well said Tom …

    • Samuel says:

      Thank you Tom, that is a refreshingly mature response and entirely appropriate.

      It is a relief to read a comment like this on such a subject matter. One of the most disturbing experiences for me in the past on Vaccinations has been reading so many opinions in the comments section where readers have seemingly regurgitated an opinion without grasping the enormity of the entire subject and its consequences and this does not mean one has to be an expert in the fields being spoken of.

      If Western culture truly valued freedom it would value educating its populous so that everyone could make informed and educated discernments from an empowered and grounded centre rather than a fearful projected one. If this were to happen the world would move very differently indeed.

      To read Cr Spooners comments it comes across as someone defending a position out of fear rather than using defence for its only appropriate use I.e defending the people’s (yes, everyone’s) basic rights of speech.

      I am happy to read not all of council shared Cr Spooners opinion.

    • barry stoddart says:

      Thanks Tom you have said it all.

      Certainly mass medication when it is obvious that it is not safe for all is a pretty sad day for democracy.

      What is really surprising is the numbers of people keen to be vaccinated saying it is for their health.
      Those same people when offered healthy natural fresh vegetables and fruit proven not to have nasty side effects; and science again and again showing the ‘natural’ benefits including long life and strengthened immune systems; but no they opt for alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs and fast food.
      Could it be they are emotionally immature, lack rational thinking. And looking for a quick fix for their self poisoning lifestyle. Their chronic illnesses await the miracle needle of a new cure all vaccination.

      • barry stoddart says:

        Sorry to harp on the same point but seriously. Look at the passion displayed by the ‘pro-vaxxers’ and again look at the lifestyle of the pro-vaxxers. Well actually the vast majority of Australians.

        They live a life on the edge; teetering, struggling with chronic disease or in many cases ‘diseases’ do I have to name them?
        So why are they so passionate about vaccination when they have clearly lived a life with scant regard for their health. And now are crying about the health of the populous… fearful of the consequences of rampant spread of disease.

        Sorry to tell them there is a rampant spread of disease already. Chronic disease… but hey don’t believe me read the statistics.
        You may live longer than your great grandparents. But is a life of suffering a chronic disease worth living.
        Most of you are obese; that in itself is an obvious sign of a culture in decline. With a failed medical system reliant on failed medicines.

        We are in a crisis situation… all the attempts to fix it have failed and we continue at an astounding rate of decline.
        I mean our hospitals are overflowing with sick people… medical error is one of the biggest killers.
        Most of the hospital patients have self inflicted illnesses. Alcohol being the big one.

        But everyone is in denial and some even journo’s on the echo think it is cool to drink alcohol in excess. WTF.

        Surprise surprise some pro-vaxxers even use science as a guarantee for its efficacy. Clearly ‘good science’ can do that but so far it has not.
        Those same pro-vaxxers ignore the science that can actually keep them healthy through good diet and healthy lifestyle choices.
        Cheers and look after your selves.

  2. Tim Shanasy says:

    Science
    Science
    Science

    People who don’t believe in science, must have difficulty with all manner of scientific findings, which have propelled us out of the dark ages by giving us the sciences of…

    Metallurgy
    Physics
    Chemistry
    Electricity
    Electronics
    Computers
    etc. etc. etc. etc.

    Oh,, and Climate Science too..

    If there are any problems with vaccination, then let the scientists in that area of expertise, sort it out.

    Yes, big pharma exists, but that’s a whole other issue, unrelated to public health scrutiny.

    Without vaccination science, we’d still have an average lifespan of about 35 years of age.

  3. Neal Brown says:

    My wife’s nephew was a normal, healthy toddler. Vaccinated, got a fever, autistic. I guess that didn’t happen in 1984 / 2018 Newspeak. It must have been a bad carrot he ate.
    Who are all these people who now know everything about vaccinations because the minister of health said the science is absolute. Clearly not anyone who subscribes to the scientific method.

  4. Shakona Rose says:

    Am quite dismayed to read that Cr Spooner tried to block the screening of this film at the council hall. However very happy to hear that council executive team denied his request.
    As the manager of the hall said “I may or may not agree with your views, but I support your right to express them in a public forum”.
    Which is exactly the point. The community, the public have the right to be informed.
    One of the directors of this documentary was denied visa access into Australia for the screening at various places around the country. She was to be part of the Q&A.
    This clearly shows that the govt does not want the public to be informed by independent sources and sadly Cr Spooner has joined their bandwagon.

  5. Cas Hall says:

    Yes I thought we lived in democratic country. So we should have the rights to all views, and the rights I thought to freedom of speech and freedom of choice. But unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case, especially when it comes to our Health. The federal government have financially blackmailed many Parents/carers into vaccinating their children. As a single mum who chooses not to vaccinate my kids, I’ve been financially punished Why if vaccinations worked so well what are they afraid of. So if you choose to vaccinate your children they should be Ok! They shouldn’t get any “childhood’ disease from a non-vaccinated child or Adult??!! And is everyone aware that the federal government now no longer categories 19years old as Adults when it comes to the childhood vaccination schedule (financial blackmail) Gosh that is just weird don’t you think? And is every Adult in Australia vaccinated – NOPE (thankfully – unless you are health worker than again you get in serious trouble or forced to be vaccinated – No Jab No Pay) This all borders on going against our Rights under the Geneva Convention -???!!! That the Australian Government signed

    I’ve no issues with Parents or anyone who choose to vaccinate. I’m not anti-vaccination I’m pro-choice without being blackmailed or disadvantage due to my decision in a Democratic country.

  6. Sue says:

    Tom – this is not about freedom of speech, but about whether a Local Government resource should be used for the spread of dangerous misinformation.

    Our civil society rightfully has certain standards for public discourse. There would be similar outrage of a Local GOvernment venue were used to peddle racist or misogynist views – freedom of speech is not limitless.

    There is no restriction on the evidence-based debate of the benefits and risks of vaccines – journals are full of scientific studies looking at safety and adverse events.

    The fact is, many families are claiming “vaccine damage” for children with all sorts of health or developmental or behavioural issues that have not been shown to be caused by vaccines.

    Unvaccinated people are still dying in Australia – babies with whooping cough, adults with diphtheria. The only reason there aren’t more unvaccinated people sick and dying is that all the vaccinated people around them are protecting them.

    Outbreaks do occur in communities such as the NSW North Coast – where vaccination rates are notoriously low.

    That’s why freedom of speech has to be balanced against the public good. When outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease occur, it’s not antivaxers who have to contain them and help the sick and dying people – it;s the conventional health care system who actually understand and appreciate vaccination.

    And finally, the comparison by Ms Dorey, in the interview, of containing the spread of dangerous misinformation with restricting immigration or allowing “balck people” into positions of power is not only misinformed in itself, but frankly odious.

    Opposition to this misinformation comes from the most informed sector of the community – from pediatricians, public health experts and infectious disease specialists. It comes from knowledge, not ignorance.

    • Tom Rayner says:

      How can it be deemed misinformation?
      It is information – in which one can make a decision.
      Everyone needs to be able to hear both sides of discussion.
      To prevent one side from providing information is not right, whether the subject be racism, culture, sex, gender – you name it.
      In the UK there are 8 x the normal amount of reported side affects following HPV vaccinations – but we’re not talking slight side affects – we’re talking major life changing side affects.
      Co-incidence?
      You with your amount of information may say Yes. Others need information to make their own decision; Yes or No.
      The local council has a role to provide services for the community, whether that community has individuals that are black, white, blue, gay, straight, left handed, right handed, vax or even anti-vax.
      Freedom of choice – not forced medication of the masses.

  7. Robin Harrison says:

    Burning the books is never the solution. Reading them is.

  8. Ginty says:

    Paul Spooner needs to grow up and do some of his own research. Paul it’s a free democratic country and Paul there are vaccine injured children out there. That is how vaccine groups form when these things happen. Lies are told continually that vaccines are safe. For some they are not safe.

  9. Tom Rayner says:

    People need access to facts to make decisions.

    The fact is this is a court decision:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLnsfkNfmAA

  10. R. Whitling says:

    So Cr Spooner and others think that community debate should be stifled when they don’t agree with one side of the issue! It’s a slippery slope towards loss of freedom of speech. If you don’t like a debate, then avoid it and let those who are interested have their own chance to discern. The number of people supporting freedom of choice for medical procedures such as vaccinations is growing world-wide at a great rate. Many people reject the concept of mandatory medical procedures. It’s also because some vaccines can cause unacceptable harm to too many people.
    The theory of ‘herd immunity’ is nothing more than a theory. Herd immunity used to be the result of a significant proportion of the population actual getting certain diseases (eg. Measles, mumps, chicken pox), that are relatively benign in the western world, and hence gaining long-term/ life-time immunity. The big pharma industry would prefer to sell you vaccinations and a life-time of booster shots.
    Oh by the way, you can get whooping cough from a vaccinated person too. These vaccinated people can get whooping cough often with less obvious symptoms, and then expose others, such as babies and immune- compromised people.
    This is all out there in journals – check it out before you accept the government or big pharma’s word that every vaccine is an acceptable risk to your child. You may wish to be choosy which vaccines to accept, and which to reject, and exercise your right to freedom of choice.

  11. Brommers says:

    Sue, you have muddied the waters….it is EXACTLY about freedom of speech. You have taken it upon yourself to give this another direction and/or agenda and incorporate the issue of using local government venues as appropriate or inappropriate to YOUR beliefs. Your “leaning” is as blindingly obvious as the corruption and agenda of pharmaceutical companies. What fool honestly believes pharmaceutical companies have the general public’s interests at heart? They are a BUSINESS….they are there for SHAREHOLDERS. I wonder if this “economic theory” is ringing any bells? It’s a google search away…..try Pharmaceuticallawsuit settlements……before they change it all……This HAS to be balanced with the GOOD as well but of course, this division, this black and white continues unabated about the safety of vaccinations. You know why freedom of speech is not limitless (as you put it)? Because we live in fear of STUPID PEOPLE…….we don’t believe people with differing experiences/opinions to ours should have a voice. We consider them “below” whoever US is….THIS is nothing short of fascism at its most obvious, desperately disguised for “the common good”. Your “evidence-based” argument is hollow with the corruption of science by money. To say otherwise is totally disregarding “evidence-based” proof of the corruption of science by money…..and TOTALLY unscientific. Your “knowledge” does NOT account for wisdom either. There are SO many questions that need answering and here is not the forum – exactly the reason why these “screenings” or “meetings’ SHOULD happen. Perhaps people MIGHT get educated, and perhaps they MIGHT actually form their own opinions rather than regurgitating screamy people…….oh look…. a politician……

  12. Elizabeth Freeman says:

    Petrol companies paid scientists to lie and say lead was not accumulating in the environment.

    Tobacco companies paid scientists to lie and say that smoking did not cause cancer.

    Monsanto paid scientists to lie and say glyphosate (Round Up) was not harmful to humans.

    The sugar industry paid scientists to play down the link between sugar and heart disease, promoting saturated fat as the culprit.

    The Asbestos Industry and their scientists hired PR firms and payed politicians to hide the truth that they knew about for decades

    Vaccine manufacturers pay scientists to lie and say vaccines are safe and effective.

    The death toll from ALL of the above continues to rise.

    And you call me anti science?

    • Liz says:

      Yes, many use scientific opinion and data selectively, including climate change deniers and perhaps even anti-vaxers!

  13. Jack Michaelson says:

    Flat Earthers
    Anti vaxxers
    Climate Deniers
    Chemtrailers

    Maybe it’s the fluoride in the water, oh wait we don’t have that here.

  14. barrystoddart says:

    G’day Paul,
    Well Paul hate to sound condescending but really condemning an educational film about vaccination says more about you than the legitimacy of the film.
    Clearly you are not across the debate.
    As the deaths and injuries from Big Pharma’s push into the vaccination cash cow, increase into the thousands before it becomes obvious that regulations are really not working and like Big Banks we will have an emergency. Hopefully a change of Government may save us from the carnage. Corrupt banks are one thing but the true risk to the lives of our children by a clearly corrupt corporation is something else on an immense scale.
    You are in a position of power as a politician, albeit a minor one, this can go two ways for you. Sadly it looks like you will be on the wrong side of the equation come polling day.
    Fear is a winning ticket for corporations and politicians until we the public wake up to your game. These educational films are shining light onto the deceitful fearful propaganda peddled by corrupt corporations who fund the politicians who in turn set the pathetically inadequate regulations. Big Banks being the classic example.
    Will Big Pharma and Big medicine be next.

  15. Chas Says says:

    Give Spooner a break. He just following the ALP party line. So no need to research what he writes about.
    The ALP (Another Liberal Party) along with the LNP just voted to suppress dessent. No more street protests and no more dobbing in a criminal act if a politision is involved.

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