Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I am Bonnie Offit!! - Followup

There has been quite a response to JB Handley's ill-conceived rant over at AoA, titled Is Paul Offit's Wife Internet Troll/Autism Father "Sullivan"?. Quite a number of bloggers have taken up the "I am Bonnie Offit" mantel. A list of them can be found over at I Speak of Dreams.

Almost all of the responses have mentioned many of the same points, as summarized by this comment that, amazingly, made it past the editors at AoA:

Few problems, like if you follow the link you'll see liz isn't referring to Sullivan as "her" but to Holly Peete.
That Sullivan never got the financial information from Paul Offit but from another blogger called David Brown.
That your opinion that Sullivan knows to much for a simple parent runs contrary to the entire ethos of this blog in which parents always know best.
That contrary to your claim Sullivan writes frequently on issues effecting parents, in fact his most recent post is a response to an article entitled "Special ed students could bankrupt districts".
That all your points linking Sullivan to Offit are woefully nonspecific and could be applied to any of the anti-antivaccine bloggers.
That multiple people have either met or talked to Sullivan and confirm he is male.

Yet people are still taking this accusation seriously?

Posted by: Daniel | November 16, 2010 at 07:41 PM

In short, Handley made a number of factual and logical errors, but don't hold your breath waiting for him to post any corrections anytime soon.

But there is another layer to all of this. I already mentioned my thoughts that Handley's post was a pretty sorry attempt to provoke Sullivan and Bonnie Offit into outing themselves. I'll get back to this in a moment. Kim Wombles wrote a nice followup at Countering discussing the attitude and hypocrisy that exists at Age of Autism and leads into what I want to discuss.

Kim linked to Age of Autism's Facebook page showing some of the comments responding to JB's article. You'll find comments like, "What a f[censored for the kids] scumbag" and positing that Dr. Bonnie Offit is a "Tranny". Both on Facebook and on AoA itself, there are anonymous commenters complaining about Sullivan maintaining anonymity. What is really sickening, when you think about it, and as I've written before, is that Age of Autism moderates every single comment.

Let me say that again: every comment that you see on Age of Autism is read before it is allowed to see the light of a computer screen. Kim Stagliano, JB Handley and the other powers that be actually approve comments like that, even though they are in direct violation of Age of Autism's commenting policy:

We reserve the right to delete any comments sent to us at our discretion. Reasons include, but are not limited to:

• are abusive, off-topic, or use excessive foul language
• contain racist, sexist, homophobic or other slurs
• are solicitations and/or advertising for personal blogs and websites
• are posted with the explicit intention of provoking other commenters, writers or the staff at Age of Autism

The truly sad part is how many of the commenters actually buy into JB's butchered logic. Only a couple of AoA supporters have actually questioned Handley's post, and they have been attacked by the other regulars there.

Back to the whole "outing" bit. I would love for either Sullivan or Bonnie Offit or even both to identify themselves and watch the paranoid excuse-making that is sure to follow among the AoA faithful. I would love to hold JB to his word:

Bonnie Offit, or Sullivan for that matter, I have a simple offer:

If you can produce a dad with a child with autism with a remarkable grasp of the medical and scientific literature who blogs under the name Sullivan, a man who has an inordinate grasp of the details of your husband’s patents, lawsuits, published studies, and web habits, I will make sure that the pauloffit.com website is given to you and your husband for good.

In fact, if you can produce this father, I promise to never, ever publicly write about or utter the name “Paul Offit” again.

I would really love to see that. But then again, I hope that neither of them does actually reveal their identities, because I really do not want them to face the harassment that will undoubtedly follow. The folks at Age of Autism have a track record of inciting harassment of those who disagree with them, like Jake Crosby's attempt to get Orac in trouble for supposed conflicts of interest or their attempts to get someone fired from their job (I haven't received permission, yet, to talk in depth about this incident). Then there are the threats that Dr. Paul Offit and his family have received.

I would like to have the smug satisfaction of watching JB and his fawning followers squirm in the face of reality and truth, but I cannot, in good conscience, as Dr. Bonnie Offit or Sullivan to expose themselves to the type of vitriol and underhanded tactics we've come to expect of the die-hard, fanatical anti-vaccine evangelists.

Sullivan, if you read this, stay safe.


  1. Hey, Todd... Here's my side of the story from when they came after me about Desiree Jennings' case:


  2. Ren,

    Thanks for sharing your story. I hope a lot of people read it, because it really illustrates the kind of behavior we face when we fight their nonsense.

  3. JB Handley doesn't have the integrity to make good on his promise.

    By the way, LBRB is the original "silenced by AoA"


  4. @Sullivan

    Thanks for stopping by. And, yeah, unless someone could actually get JB to sign a contract (yeah, right!) that was legally enforceable, I wouldn't see him actually keeping his word at all.

    I figured that I was not the first to be silenced. Just goes to show how often AoA gags those with whom they disagree.


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