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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 4/22/16

Vexed by Vaxxed

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As everyone also knows, within 48 hours after announcing the screening of Vaxxed, DeNiro was pressured into removing the film from the festival schedule.

Really, who the hell has the power to slap down Robert DeNiro? At Tribeca!

Well, first of all, the Immunization Action Coalition (IAC)--a kind of ideological SWAT Team, funded in part by pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Pfizer, etc.--certainly played a crucial role. The IAC is an ideological flying squad, on call to stop discussion, or, as supporter Alison Singer puts it, "to respond to every incident however large or small"[that] allows people to think that there's something still to be discussed." Ms. Singer insisted that, by pressuring DeNiro to pull the film, "science won," "This is not about free speech," she said, "this is about dangerous speech".We don't discuss whether the world is flat or round any more."

Predictably, the New Yorker's "anti-denialist" defender of GMOs, Michael Specter, pitched in, proclaiming: "It's shocking"It's comparable to Leni Riefenstahl making a movie about the Third Reich " The fact that a respectable organization like the Tribeca Film Festival is giving Wakefield a platform is a disgraceful thing to do."

More cogently, in the context of a film festival, documentary filmmaker Penny Lane ( Our Nixon) chimed in with an open letter denouncing the film as part of "the anti-vaccination hoax" that "knowingly spread[s] dangerous lies," and called for the festival to cancel the film's screening. When she got that desired outcome, she gushed about how pleased and "amazed" she was to witness this "momentous and significant" moment in American film history: "This is completely unprecedented"Has a documentary film ever been pulled from a festival lineup once revealed to be a fraud?"

Whoopee. A controversial documentary revealing primary evidence of a government agency's deception of the American people on behalf of Big Pharma hounded out of America's iconic liberal film festival. Helluva thing for a filmmaker to celebrate. Completely comfortable allowing audiences to see certain films and prevent them from seeing others. No legislation necessary.

Consider Specter's "if Leni Riefenstahl made a movie about the Third Reich" remark. Guess what? She did. A few, in fact. And I'll bet film festivals show them all the time. And I'll bet that if anyone tried to browbeat a festival to pull Triumph of the Will, Penny Lane would be in high dudgeon urging the organizers not to cave to the pressure. So, yeah, this little act of censorship, in which liberal cultural workers anathematize a film criticizing a pharmaceutical company and a government agency, more than they would a film glorifying the Third Reich, is indeed a momentous moment in film history. We should all let that sink in. Triumph of the shrill.

It's not--It never is, is it?--about free speech, you see, it's about "danger" and the roundness of the earth.

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Former college professor, native and denizen of New York City. Blogging at, from a left-socialist perspective. Also publishing on Counterpunch, The Greanville Post, Medium, Dandelion Salad, and other sites around the net. (more...)

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