AutismOne Generation Rescue conference expells registered attendees

2 Jun

Autism News Beat has this story in full in Listening to parents at AutismOne. AutismOne is a parent convention with a major focus on alternative medicine. To put them in perspective, Jenny McCarthy is a frequent keynote speaker and Andrew Wakefield was honored by AutismOne last year after it was revealed that his study was possibly tainted by misreporting of results.

If you recall, AutismNewsBeat was expelled from a previous AutismOne conference. He had just asked, respectfully, an important question of Hannah Poling’s mother (Hannah Poling is the child whose case before the vaccine court was conceded on the basis of vaccines aggravating an underlying mitochondrial disorder). To my knowledge, AutismNewsBeat has no been given a clear reason for the expulsion.

A filmmaker/Journalist was present at this year’s AutismOne. Lars Ullberg had applied for press credentials and was denied. AutismOne responded to this request stating:

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.

AutismNewsBeat asked AutismOne for details on why Mr. Ullberg was removed from the conference, but he has yet to receive a response.

I find the wording and possible intent of this sentence rather odd: ” Autism One grants no permission to you or your crew to report on this conference or its attendees”. If an attendee chose to be interviewed, would that not be OK? The conference appears to be speaking for its attendees.

In addition, a public health official was in attendance for this year’s AutismOne conference. This person also was asked to leave. According to AutismNewsBeat:

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.

Perhaps in the case of the journalist, AutismOne was afraid of bad press. But haven’t parent groups been asking for some time for people to listen to them? A public health official attends the conference in order to listen and is expelled.

Generation Rescue and Autism One appear to be working in a very defensive, entrenched mode. Internet chatter is mentioning closed sessions where Andrew Wakefield spoke. Closed sessions? Expelling journalists? Refusing permission for journalists to report on what attendees have to say–even if the journalist clearly identifies himself? Asking public health officials to leave for no apparent reason? Again, this comes across to me as an entrenched, defensive mindset.

3 Responses to “AutismOne Generation Rescue conference expells registered attendees”

  1. Joeymom June 2, 2010 at 13:45 #

    That sounds like a cult. I would think parents at a session on vaccine exemption would WANT a health department representative present to make sure the information was clear and accurate.

  2. David N. Brown June 2, 2010 at 21:38 #

    To add to that: In practice, a “cult” leadership is liable to be at least as paranoid about internal dissent as real or perceived external threats. Action ostensibly against the latter can serve the function of repressing the former.
    A question I have been raising: How many people actually attended Aut1? I wonder if efforts are being made to cover up that alone.

  3. Stephanie June 5, 2010 at 08:21 #

    I would think that a parent with even weakly developed critical thinking skills would find this behavior very suspicious and would wonder what they were hiding.

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