Time to stop labelling others as “hate groups”

Shame on Ms Dorey and shame on anyone thinking that comparing the recent terrorist attacks on any legitimate group is even remotely acceptable.

I live in Paris and this week has been quite unsettling as we come to deal with the aftermath of a terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo that killed 12. Yesterday, there was a “copy cat” shooting of two policemen. Today, as I write this, there are two hostage situations unfolding in our streets.  It appears at least 6 are dead.  It seems that they all come out of the woodwork at times like this.

Around Paris, more security guards and policemen are visible and vigilant. All off-site activities at schools have been canceled for the remainder of the week and at my youngest son’s school, guards have been posted at the entrance. At my work, extra security has been added and the front door to our building is locked during office hours. As we were about to finish for the day, the senior manager send out an inter-office memo which included this line:

“At the risk of repeating myself, be extremely careful in your travels in the coming days, do not take any chances.”

So, you can imagine how upset I was to read that Meryl Dorey, a former president of the Australian Vaccination Skeptics Network, drawing a comparison with Wednesday’s attack on French magazine Charlie Hebdo. She told 3AW.

“The organisation that is pushing this censorship is a hate group and they are very much like the groups in France that have been carrying out these actions.”

Is it censorship? I don’t think so. Are pro-vaccine groups hate groups? No. And they are certainly not extremist terrorists.

As reported by us earlier today, anti-vaccination campaigner, Dr Sherri Tenpenny was forced to cancel Sydney and Melbourne shows.  The pro vaccination groups lobbied successfully with government officials, mobilized public sentiment and were effective in their campaign. They worked within the system and rallied the troops. They did not work in isolation, disguised and certainly they did not murder anyone.

I am pro vaccination. While I do not like much of the anti-vaccine rhetoric, I will defend their right to make their case. I would be just as outraged if the shoe had been on the other foot and it was a pro vaccination group that had made such a comment. That is what democracy and free speech are about. That is what the terrorist attack this week in Paris were against.

The autism and disability communities get in an uproar whenever the “r” word is used and rightfully so. There should be another uproar no matter what side you favour, when any advocacy group attacks another by implying that they are no better than terrorists. It is time to stop calling groups you dislike – hate groups. The term has some legal connotations and should not be used either lightly or to make a point. This includes labelling Autism Speaks. I am not pro Autism Speaks, but I am dismayed that there are some out there that feel quite comfortable calling them a hate group.

That is how prejudice, hatred, racism and ultimately violence begin. I say it is time to stop.

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One Response

  1. MasterpieceMaker August 10, 2015