Anyone who has followed Ben Goldacre‘s excellent Bad Science blog or read his column with the same name in The Guardian will know that Ben doesn’t suffer fraud and charlatanry and ignorance. Sadly he has suffered–literally–by being hounded legally by the harmful cretins and liars whom he pillories verbally.
Last year Ben and the newspaper were sued by Matthias Rath, a loony or fraud who has sold vitamins to AIDS sufferers in South Africa, falsely claiming that antiretroviral drugs are part of a genocidal scam by pharmaceutical companies and that the vitamin pills produced by his own company can cure AIDS. Although Rath dropped his case and The Guardian was awarded costs, it cost Ben money and a chapter had to be cut from his book, also called Bad Science (ISBN 978-0-00-724019-7).
Recently Ben was so incensed by a broadcaster, Jeni Barnett, who used her radio program to make ignorant and harmful statements about vaccines, that he reproduced the whole thing online. Soon he had copyright lawyers breathing down his neck asking him to remove the clip. At the same time, Jeni Barnet produced this entry and this one on her blog, tucking the megaphone behind her back and trying to turn herself into a poor, maligned victim.
His response: he has asked other bloggers each to take a small section of the broadcast and to reproduce it with commentary (this is allowed under the “fair dealing” principle of British copyright law, similar to the American principle of “fair use”).
The response from the blogosphere has been prompt and satisfying. There have been umpteen blog entries taking up Ben’s challenge. The issue has been taken up by the renowned scourge of quackery, David Colquhoun, in an entry on his “Improbable Science” blog. Gimpy has not only responded to Barnett’s feckless maunderings, he also helpfully displays a list of other responses.
In short, the blogosphere is white hot over this, and rightly so. In September, the newspapers reported that MMR takeup amongst five-year-olds in London was below 50%. according to figures compiled by the NHS. Measles is a killer.
“The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.” –John Gilmore