April was a two-year anniversary for me.
You might say I’ve been sitting at home, waiting for the phone to ring, but nobody has called. And he said he would call. I feel SO cheap…
I’m talking about the April 9, 2015 appearance I was supposed to make at the Commonwealth Club of California with Dr. Brian Hooker and Dr. Judy Mikovits. We were “dis-invited.”
It seems we were the leading edge of a new trend sweeping the country in which the First Amendment and open dialogue are thrown away like yesterday’s trash.
Here’s how it happened.
On February 18, 2015 I was the master of ceremonies for a showing of the wonderful documentary film, Trace Amounts, at the Opera Plaza Cinemas in San Francisco.
One of the audience members was a delightful woman named Christie Dames, who fell all over herself when she found out I was the co-author with Dr. Judy Mikovits of the book, PLAGUE: One Scientist’s Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Autism, and Other Diseases. She quickly introduced me to her husband, Kevin, who was at the time Chairman of the Business and Leadership forum at the Commonwealth Club.
If you don’t know about the Commonwealth Club, it bills itself as “the nation’s oldest and largest public affairs forum” and they’ve hosted people like Martin Luther King, Jr., Teddy Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Gates. To say I was proud to be included in their company is an understatement.
The three of us fell to talking and within a short period of time, we had come up with a program. It would be entitled, American Whistleblowers, and include me, Dr. Mikovits, and Dr. Brian Hooker, the guiding force behind getting Dr. William Thompson of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to come forward with his allegation of a cover-up between vaccines and autism. Those revelations eventually resulted in the documentary, VAXXED: From Cover-up to Catastrophe.
There was even talk of getting Pentagon Papers whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg to introduce us.
It made sense for the three of us to speak together, since I’d written the book PLAGUE with Dr. Mikovits and had started working on the book, INOCULATED: How Science Lost its Soul in Autism, which relied heavily on interviews with Dr. Brian Hooker.
Here’s the actual text for:
“American Whistleblowers: The Promise and Peril of Science”: Thu, April 9, 2015 – 6:00pm
Judy Mikovits, Ph.D., Former Director, Antiviral Drug Mechanisms Laboratory, National Cancer Institute; Co-author, Plague: One Scientist’s Intrepid Search for the Truth
Kent Heckenlively, Attorney; Science Teacher; Founding Editor, Age of Autism; Co-Author, Plague: One Scientist’s Intrepid Search for the Truth
Brian Hooker, Ph.D., P.E., Associate Professor of Biology and Chair of the Science and Mathematics Division, Simpson University
Christie Dames, CEO, TechTalk/Studio – Moderator
Whistleblowers, from Daniel Ellsberg in the ’70s to Edward Snowden in recent years, have always received pointed public attention for exposing the internal dealings of our powerful political and military institutions.
But who shines a light on the convoluted realm of health care, a massive industry that brought in over 1.6 trillion dollars in revenue over the past year?
With health care choice at the nexus of our constitutional rights, and scares like Ebola and measles grabbing international headlines, how do we know we’re getting information that is truthful? Come hear about the scientists, lauded by some and maligned by others, who decide to go public with information that many in the industry don’t want us to see.
You can still see it yourself on their website: www.commonwealthclub.org/events/2015-04-09/american-whistleblowers-peril-and-promise-science
Ticket sales were a little slow and I suggested to Kevin that I could do some advertising in my community, but it might cause a backlash. Could he handle that? He said there would be no problem and encouraged me to advertise.
On March 25, 2015 I received the following e-mail from Kevin O’Malley.
Kent and Judy,
Unfortunately it seems that Kent’s blog two days ago set up a chain reaction that is causing some challenges with the Commonwealth Club, and we have come under a lot of fire from outside the Club directed at us.
Given the timing, and the challenging environment right now, the conversation has become a much different one than our program intended, and not one that will support getting the word out about your book, or any of our positive messages. As such, I am going to have to postpone the program and revisit how to best present this all at a later date.
This is a very tricky issue in a Public Affairs Forum, and it appears the Kent’s warning about drawing attention was correct. There is also concern about how we are framing the discussion, and the focus on whistle-blowers seems to have back-fired, and taken us away from our primary intent.
Please let folks know that we are postponing the program — and PLEASE DO NOT include any editorial comments about this in anything further you make public. Just let them know that we need to postpone due to a scheduling challenge. Any further editorial input around any of this will just make things worse; we need to let any outside attention fade away from what we tried to do here.
I tried to be a good little soldier.
Instead of me, they brought in Robert Kennedy, Jr. to talk about mercury. I even went to the damned Commonwealth Club that had “disinvited” us and wrote about Kennedy’s talk. But by July of 2015, with no response from Kevin or Christie about when we would be “rebooked”, I wrote about it.
Yes, I got criticized for talking about dissension in the autism community, but if this is how your friends treat you, why do you even need enemies?
To Christie Dames and Kevin O’Malley, I ask the following questions:
Has your cowardice in silencing me, Dr. Mikovits, and Dr. Hooker led to a healthier society? Have the rates of children with autism been cut because of your betrayal of the principles of a democratic society? Last week, Dr. Mikovits was featured on a program called The Truth about Vaccines and our book, PLAGUE, skyrocketed again to #1 on Amazon in Forensic Medicine (beating out the country’s most popular science writer, Mary Roach), #1 on in Virology (Beating out The Hot Zone by Richard Preston), #1 in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, and #1 in Disability Parenting.
These issues are NOT going away.
The Commonwealth Club is a disgrace to the principles of a free society when it offers a forum to people like us, then withdraws it in the face of public pressure. If we are so wrong, then bring others to challenge us. We are ready for the debate.
Dr. Mikovits endured jail, being forced into bankruptcy, her career ruined, and even now there is a standing order that if she sets foot on any federal laboratory grounds, she will be arrested.
Dr. Hooker was told that the head of the Centers for Disease Control asked his employees to gather all possible information on Dr. Hooker. But they stood firm. That’s what real courage looks like. I am honored that each of these brave souls trusted me to tell their stories to the public.
Christie Dames and Kevin O’Malley, you may be nice people, but you don’t have 1% of the courage shown by Dr. Mikovits and Dr. Hooker. Stay in your safe space. Let the real warriors win the war.
If you are so motivated, I would appreciate it if any readers of this article could call the President of the Commonwealth Club, Gloria Duffy, at (415) 597-6721 and say that we have waited too long for our program to be “rescheduled.” You can also email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is my intention to write a similar article to this one every April until the Commonwealth Club sees fit to remedy its mistake.