ROBERT TINNELL: Greetings From The Lunatic Fringe
The seventies were a great time to be a kid. Anything seemed possible. By that I don’t mean so much cloning or a cure for cancer. I mean important stuff, like Bigfoot. Nessie. Visits from alien life-forms. Week after week, no less an authority than Leonard Nimoy himself appeared on my television, solemnly narrating case-after-case of paranormal and otherworldly encounters that, to my impressionable mind, were irrefutable.
Then, technology reared its ugly head. One-by-one, these quasi-cousins of Santa Claus began to disappear, picked apart by advances in computer science, digital photography, instant-access to massive amounts of research courtesy of the worldwide web, and not least, the growing cynicism that comes with age. Sure, some enclaves of paranormal-believers have held on – and even prospered – thanks to technology, particularly the ghost hunters. But in general, to be a believer in, say, UFO’s (and before the angry e-mails come in, I know, an unidentified flying object is just that – unidentified – and everyone should believe in that. I’m referring to spaceships carrying folks from other planets; Stephen Hawking messed me up on that) is to be marginalized. Visions of bearded, potbellied fellows in Area 51 ball caps spring to mind. In short order, these folks have been relegated to the margins, to the lunatic fringe.
Little did I know that one day I would be amongst their number.
It was not my belief in visitations by aliens from other worlds that consigned me to this intellectual wilderness. Rather it was my firm conviction that my son was rendered autistic thanks to something called thimerosal, a form of mercury, that was present in his vaccines (Note: there are also strong indications for some of these kids that the measles virus in the MMR shots is involved, as well as aluminum). I won’t go into mind-numbing detail about what he (and we) have gone through since his descent into the hell of autism – you can do that by reading my comic strip The Chelation Kid if you are so inclined.
What I do want to do is make you aware that with the government finally conducting some trials on the vaccine-autism connection, I’ve no doubt powerful interests (including Big Pharma and their various lap dogs) will be running a full-court press to marginalize those of us who dare to expose what has been done to many thousands of kids in the last several years. Let me lay a couple things on you: I don’t hate doctors and I don’t want children to be unprotected from things like polio or smallpox. The majority of the other parents of autistics I speak to feel the same way. A wonderful doctor saved my life. Another is helping us recover our son. By the same token, I don’t automatically defer to them as demi-gods. Going to school for a very long time doesn’t make you smarter than other people. It makes you better educated – to a point.
Despite the fact that since starting the strip, I’ve personally been tarred with a wide-reaching stereotyping brush, I’ll withhold from doing the same to the medical community at-large. In fact, I don’t even always agree with some of my peers’ assessments of medical professionals when it comes to the whole controversy. I think it’s a cheap shot to label that community as a bunch knee-jerkers beholden to orthodoxy and the status quo. Because in a lot of ways, they’re victims, too. Victims of something far more insidious than benign neglect or a short-attention-span or a focus on their particular field of medicine. Like these kids they are victims of the Big Pharma spin machine. The one that keeps telling you that a link between autism and vaccines has been disproved.
Look, you want to discount the anecdotal observations of parents who’ve had success treating their autistic kids through biomedical interventions, because you can only buy into the scientific method, I say “fine.” Hell, you’re probably right, strictly speaking. But ignoring a mass of peer-reviewed papers, based on studies conducted according to scientific-method, that very strongly suggest a causal connection between the vaccines and mercury, as well as the existence of an epidemic? Well, that’s flat out denial or ignorance or lying. Take your pick.
To all various and sundry who ridicule those of us who believe that autism is an epidemic and vaccines a major contributing factor in that epidemic, I have an idea. You don’t want to believe my claims about my son, about what caused his condition, and what treatments are recovering him, fine. I’m not a scientist and I don’t claim to be. I’m just a guy who writes a comic strip as way to deal with all the rage and sadness in my head thanks to what has happened to my son. Why not take some of the vitriol and faux-sympathy you’ve aimed at me and other parents who are just trying to save our kids, and focus it on the authors of these studies? All you need to do is go to www.generationrescue.org and click on the evidence link. You’ll find a host of data there that is quite compelling. Go ahead – get busy.
Now, in advance of the nasty e-mails I’m going to get about how we’ve always had this many autistics among us and how I should just love my son for who he is let me go ahead and respond. First of all, while there may have always been a number of high-functioning autistics among us – say the Thomas Jeffersons or Albert Einsteins – I never, never knew of any like my son. And now I know many, many like my son. Nonverbal kids who suffer terrible sensory problems and have zero social skills. Ask yourself: did you know of a bunch of nonverbal kids who ran around on their toes, flapping their hands when you were young? I sure didn’t. Of course, that’s purely anecdotal on my part so I guess you can strike that one out.
As far as my not loving my son for who he is – I’ve lived with a child who has consistently smeared feces on the walls, screamed in public, missed most developmental milestones, banged his head on floors to a scary extent, and he’s never called me “daddy” – I do love him for who he is – and I want to keep him alive and safe. Who wouldn’t? Kids like my son aren’t the Rain Man. They aren’t brilliant at math or music. They’re not simply shy. They’re bewildered, trapped kids who are at the mercy of the world if we don’t make every effort to recover them to, at the very least, a functional level of existence, and if we can’t do that we have to find a way to care for them – and at this rate, for their parents as well, since most insurance covers none of the treatments we find effective for our son. So like I said, these hearings are important to me, as I cling to the hope that some measure of the truth will emerge.
I for one just want these guys to answer a few simple questions – like, for instance, why are there no autistics amongst the Amish – who do not participate in the vaccination program? (Actually, they did finally find a few Amish autistics, but as it turns out, they were, in fact, vaccinated). Why did the autism rate jump dramatically in WHO countries – and not in those who do not participate in the vaccine programs? Why does a child need a Hepatitis B vaccine the day it is born – immediately subjecting its developing immune system to an assault? What do they expect – the kid’s going to run down to the corner and score some smack from a hooker? Why – if there’s no problem – did they agree to remove thimerosal in the late ‘90’s? And perversely, why do they continue to use it in the flu vaccine they push today? (Note: even worse, there are still existing lots of vaccines that contain thimerosal and will be through 2009.)
Why do these drug-makers and their government vaccine-pushers continue to hide behind manipulated, dubious science and the scientific-method, but refuse to employ the latter in a sincere attempt to disprove the link? Okay – enough – if any of this in any way strikes a chord in you and you want to know more just read David Kirby’s Evidence of Harm. He lays it all out with greater eloquence, handier facts, and less emotion than I do.
Slowly but surely we are recovering our son and we’re doing it through biomedical interventions, specifically through a process known as chelation. It’s working. Not because I want it to – not because I’m kidding myself or looking for someone to blame. It’s working because it’s working. Because my son is becoming more and more typical by the day. Because after just a short time on one new chelator he potty-trained – after seven years of diapers. I’m getting my son back and I’ve got a line of teachers and therapists who agree and who are convinced it’s because of the interventions and the effort to remove the mercury and other toxic metals he’s poisoned with. But that, of course, is merely anecdotal, and of no consequence.
So what do they do with guys like me? They marginalize us. Deposit us on the lunatic fringe. Ridicule me because I believe the government blew it back in the nineties and poisoned tons of kids – how dare I challenge their authority? Hmmm. I don’t know? I mean our government is so efficient and corruption-free and all-knowing – look what a great job they did on the Iraq WMD thing, right?
I’m not saying I’m ready to burn my copy of A Brief History of Time or anything, but from where I’m standing, my boy in the Area 51 hat is looking a little less dodgy. But then, thanks to the lies of the villains who poisoned my kid, I’m apparently as far out on the ledge as he is.
Robert Tinnell is the writer/director of such movies as Believe and Frankenstein and Me and has written numerous comics projects, including The Black Forest and The Wicked West with Todd Livingston and Neil Vokes, Feast of the Seven Fishes with Alex Saviuk and Ed Piskor, and Sight Unseen with Bo Hampton. Robert and Bo will be reuniting for the upcoming Demons of Sherwood Forest and will be joining Mark Wheatley in EZ Street, both coming to you shortly.