The American Rally for Personal Rights – bit of a damp squib

27 May

Yesterday was the American Rally for Personal Rights (an anti-vaccine rally) held between 3pm and 5pm in a park in Chicago, US. In attendance was ex-doctor Andrew Wakefield in whose honour the rally was held.

Hoping for thousands, the organisers got what looks like a hundred or so (click for full size).

including one young man (A certain J. Crosby, Age of Autism Editor) who carried the sign ‘Autistics for Wakefield’

I’m not entirely certain who the autistics were. I mean I see Jake but no one else. Also in attendance were Wade Rankin, Erik Nanstiel, Boyd Haley, Bob Krakow and Jim Moody and for ‘name’ anti-vaxxers that was it. No Jenny McCarthy, No Jim Carrey, No Generation Rescue, No Age of Autism bigwigs (aside from young master Crosby of course).

Of course for bloggers such as I, this is a tad disappointing. There’s not really a lot to talk about when nothing much happens, nobody of any consequence shows up and the whole thing resembles a rain-soaked firecracker.

On the bright side, there were The Refusers who I’m pretty sure would’ve been good for a very hearty laugh. Aside from that – nothing really to tell. The sun was out, some anti-vaxxers waved a few signs around and the world collectively yawned.

See ANB’s take on it, he actually attended the rally himself.

19 Responses to “The American Rally for Personal Rights – bit of a damp squib”

  1. Kwombles May 27, 2010 at 17:50 #

    Well, that would explain why there was so little feedback from the crowd (I watched the first hour of the rally and blogged on it, then had all I could stand and took my kids outside to swim instead–it seemed a better way to spend my time). Knowing now how small the crowd really was, it would have been interesting to have watched Wakefield speak to this small a group.

  2. AutismNewsBeat May 27, 2010 at 18:36 #

    “The Refusers” is one guy with an electric guitar. During the sound check, he sang a few bars of what I presume is a work in progress, “Vaccine Uber Alles”. Also available for weddings and bar mitzvahs.

  3. Kev May 27, 2010 at 18:54 #

    He sounds like a charming guy :S

  4. isles May 27, 2010 at 20:13 #

    I don’t know what a damp squib is, but somehow it just SOUNDS appropriate. Particularly satisfying that they spent months planning this and then these skeptics so elegantly gave them the nyah-nyah on two days’ notice.

  5. Kev May 27, 2010 at 20:16 #

    Damp squib ;)

  6. Prometheus May 27, 2010 at 21:37 #

    I’m sorry I couldn’t make it – I had an important appointment with my garden.

    It sounds as though the vaccines-cause-autism movement is slowly coming apart – the rally was smaller than some family reunions I’ve seen in Grant Park. Given that this was a “featured event” at the Autism One “conference”, the small turnout bodes ill for the movement.

    On another site, I saw a picture of a rally participant wearing a t-shirt saying “Autism: it’s no mystery. It’s the mercury.” Clearly, the leaders of the movement haven’t been able to get all of their followers “on message” – what happened to “too many, too soon”?

    A “keynote address” by a disgraced and discredited physician (Andrew Wakefield) to a “crowd” of a few hundred with musical interludes by a one-man-antivaccination-band is something that “South Park” would consider too “over the top”. Yet, that is exactly what happened.

    One of the signs that a group or movement has lost its direction is when they become a self-parody. That time is now, for the vaccines-cause-autism movement.

    Prometheus

  7. brian May 27, 2010 at 22:06 #

    If they provided refreshments, what flavor Kool-Aid was served?

  8. Ruth May 28, 2010 at 00:55 #

    This is getting to “This is Spinal Tap” level. Perhaps appropriate for Wakers

  9. Squillo May 28, 2010 at 15:42 #

    “Also available for weddings and bar mitvahs.”

    ANB wins the internet today.

  10. Liz Ditz May 29, 2010 at 12:35 #

    Curt Linderman Sr’s view of the rally:

    The inaugural American Rally for Personal Rights was a huge success! Everyone involved, from Louise Kuo Habakus to the large number of volunteers that spent months on conference calls and logistics, worked tirelessly to ensure this success. Timed to coincide with the Autism One Conference being held at the Westin Ohare in Rosemont Illinois, The American Rally for Personal Rights was attended by over three hundred individuals and 300 + computers logged on and watched online……

    While some websites run by unscrupulous individuals decided to misinform the public with the low estimates of those attending the mid week rally, numbers were essentially where we had expected them to be and this is apparent when you consider that the Chicago officials would have been riled had we underestimated the number and significantly more had shown up for the event. With more than 300 logins for the web based rally, the number of those viewing via the web should be placed at over 1500 considering that I know of a number of rally parties springing up….worthy numbers for a first time event.

    Man. You can’t make this stuff up.

  11. Kev May 29, 2010 at 13:26 #

    Curt can.

  12. Sullivan May 29, 2010 at 15:15 #

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/d4v3r5/4643547553/in/set-72157624145575804/

    The link above is to a panorama of the event. Note the perimeter of the field with the tables. Note the small crowd far from those tables.

    I gather that the editors from AoA were busy promoting their own books elsewhere.

  13. AutismNewsBeat May 29, 2010 at 21:44 #

    Those were vendors’ tables. Maybe 20 total. All but three were empty.

  14. David N. Brown May 31, 2010 at 22:15 #

    ANB,
    Vendors not showing up is a more striking development than the small crowds. Turnout is very hard to predict, and it would be understandable for planners to overestimate turnout and/or “overprepare” for numbers beyond serious expectations. But vendors should be a known quantity, and should be willing to see things through (especially if they paid to get in). I can testify from recent experience: A week ago, I had a table for a complete dud of an exhibition at an area comic book store, and I’m pretty sure there were at least as many vendors as customers.

    It would seem most likely that a number of vendors signed up for the rally and then punched out,which would be a rather extraordinary measure.

  15. Jimmy Crakcorn June 6, 2010 at 22:38 #

    Sorry your zeolite stand at AutismOne didn’t work out. Better luck next year.

  16. Chris June 7, 2010 at 00:19 #

    Oleg looks like a copy cat of Valentin Mikhaylin.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tweets that mention Autism Blog - The American Rally for Personal Rights – bit of a damp squib « Left Brain/Right Brain -- Topsy.com - May 27, 2010

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kev and Liz Ditz, Liz Ditz. Liz Ditz said: "Huge" anti-vaccination rally expected to attract thousands, attracts 10s inc. speakers skeptics http://bit.ly/cOTC79 #autism #vaccine [...]

  2. The Skeptical PWNage of Darth Wakefield & His Anti-Vax Woosters Continues « The Skeptical Teacher - May 28, 2010

    [...] This UK blog notes the lackluster attendance at the rally despite Wakefield’s “star powe… [...]

  3. Collection of Anti-Vax Rally Articles « Le Café Witteveen - May 28, 2010

    [...] A Brit calls it a damp squib. [...]

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