Nearly seven years ago now, two brothers burst into the editorial offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, where they killed twelve people and injured eleven others.
Charlie’s crime was to support the idea that it was reasonable to portray the Prophet in Cartoon form. This touched a raw nerve for some French people.
Nearly four million other French people, however, came out on streets across France with Je Suis Charlie banners, to show solidarity with the murdered journalists.
This attack was just the most lethal of a series of attacks on or threats to Charlie Hebdo since it began following the lead of a Danish periodical a few years before in publishing cartoons like this.
One of these previous attacks brought Nikolas Sarkozy out on the steps of the Élysée Palace to say that the right to publish cartoons like this was a value central to the Enlightenment and Western Civilization.
Charlie and Hitler
Charlie’s signature theme is widely portrayed as mocking Establishment power – whether the Catholic Church, or the French State.
More recently far from mocking the powers that be, Charlie seems to be doubling down on anyone who might think the Establishment had gone a bit too far with Vaccine Mandates for instance.
Its July 28 front cover this year features Hitler. Even he, who was anti-vaxx, according to Charlie would disown today’s antivaxxers.
Headlined: Hitler overwhelmed by antivax – Says “It’s hard to be quoted by idiots.”
This led Jean-Paul Bourdinard to write a letter to Charlie entitled Its hard to be vaccinated by idiots.
Charlie (aka Antonio Fischetti) offered a relatively good response to this heavily science oriented article.
We note with interest your debate with Jean-Paul Bourdinard about the science of Covid and its vaccinations. Science by its very nature embraces uncertainty rather than deals with certainties making it difficult for anyone who is anti-vaxx to claim they know for sure where the truth lies. At best we can attest to the integrity of our processes.
One of us is a journalist and one a doctor. Rather than journalists stepping back and reporting on the science, we think the journalistic and scientific missions share a lot in common.
This is especially true when it comes to clinical trials of treatments like vaccines and drugs and the harms of treatment. In both cases, people rather than spike proteins are the object of science and journalism in these instances. Establishing what has happened is a judicial process, not something an algorithm can contribute to.
Every randomized controlled trial (RCT) typically leads to 50 (ghost-written) publications in medical journals. In one of Pfizer’s trials of their antipsychotic ziprasidone (Geodon), a man died. His death was coded as ‘burns’. If it appeared in any of the 50 publications, it will have featured as burns, an apparent accident not ordinarily associated with a drug like ziprasidone.
With a little digging, both journalists and doctors could have gotten hold of the adverse event report companies are obliged to lodge in the case of a death or hospitalization. This reveals the man poured gasoline on himself and set fire to it in an effort to kill himself – something closely linked to drugs like ziprasidone. He took 5 days to die from his burns and was coded as death by burns.
Around the same time GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) began Study 329, a trial of paroxetine in depressed children. In the 1990s unlike now there were very few depressed children even in the USA. Recruitment from 6 famous university hospitals was slow and GSK added 6 more centres. As it turned out, the suicide event rate on paroxetine was very high from the first 6 hospitals, all coded as emotional lability, with very few on placebo. There were no paroxetine suicidal events from the second set of hospitals.
The second set, however, had 4 children who dropped out because of ‘intercurrent illness’. All were taking paroxetine. If someone drops out of a trial for intercurrent illness reasons and is not coded as having an adverse event, doesn’t die, or isn’t hospitalized, companies don’t have to write up a narrative about what happened.
One 15-year-old boy, we accidentally found out, had been arrested by the police and brought to hospital because he was out on the street waving a gun around and threatening to kill people. This behaviour is more likely to stem from an adverse response to paroxetine than anything else but in order to come to a valid scientific or journalistic judgment, about these events and the overall meaning of the trial, we would need to access the scientific data – the 15-year-old boy and the other three children and question them about the events and their subsequent medical history.
Establishing causality in medicine and journalism is a judicial process. The Study 329 stories, that led New York State to take a fraud action against GSK and the Department of Justice to take an action that was resolved for $3 billion, were broken open by investigative journalism.
Somewhat later, it became common in vaccine trials – Pandemrix and HPV – for patients to drop out with variations on the intercurrent illness theme. One must assume that something similar likely applies to current Covid vaccine trials. Unless we can see the data, interview the people, we don’t know what has happened. We have two people from two different Covid vaccine trials with significant neurological problems who have likely been coded as intercurrent illness, anxiety, or functional neurological disorder (hysteria).
Both of us have been writing about post-SSRI sexual dysfunction (PSSD) for several years. In the hope lives could be saved, one of us decided to lodge a petition with EMA and FDA asking them to require companies to alert people to this hazard in antidepressant labels. People with this devastating condition commit suicide or seek euthanasia because of the condition, or because they become acutely aware there is no research being done on the condition and no hope or a cure, or because of the ridicule they receive from doctors who deny having ever heard about it and say there is no mention of it in the close to entirely ghostwritten medical literature.
Nobody who has this condition wants to go public. EMA and FDA have likely tens of thousands of reports of the condition but have never acknowledged that treatment causes it because their processes strip people’s names off reports making it impossible to assess causality which requires interviewing people. We were able to get over 80 people with the condition to put their names in the public domain and over 30 of their doctors to write a letter saying they can see no other cause for the problem. This package was sent to EMA and FDA with a letter stating that people’s names were being made available in order that the regulator could make contact with them for the purposes of assessing causality.
Three years later we have had no reply from FDA. Three weeks later we had an email from EMA saying that in line with standard procedures all identifying materials had been removed from the material sent.
In the case of drugs like Accutane, isotretinoin, given to teenagers for acne, it is FDA’s proud boast they have not made a causal link between the drug and the over 1500 deaths reported to them. They couldn’t make a link because they don’t follow people up.
No regulator has ever linked a Covid vaccine to a death for similar reasons. The politicians and others tell us CDC in the US and EMA here are working night and day to find causal needles in haystacks when everyone can see they are faced with a haystack of needles.
This is where good journalism and good science should coincide.
Most journalists, if able to interview someone, are better able to decide if a vaccine or a drug is likely to have caused a problem than regulators dealing with paperwork.
What we are proposing is not an exercise in contesting the science but rather investigative journalists helping everyone else to do the science properly.
There is no question Covid is real, and no question it has killed a lot of people, and the majority of those dying of Covid in Intensive Care Units are unvaccinated. But for us to orient ourselves and our children in the face of this, we need to know what the original trial data look like and, unfortunately, we cannot leave it to companies or regulators to tell us. There are no issues of clinical confidentiality here that can be used to block access.
We need journalists who will find the injured and help us all gauge how often these injuries are happening.
Clinical trials do not give rise to commandments and vaccines are not sacraments – something that can only benefit and cannot harm. Even the Catholic Church these days recognizes a need for gluten free Eucharists. We need to resist the semi-medieval mindsets that plagues can give rise to and rather than engage in debates about how many spike proteins can fit on the head of a pin both journalists and doctors need to ensure that the stories of real people are heard no matter who is inconvenienced by that.
This was sent a month ago. To date there has been no response from Charlie or Antonio.
We sent Charlie and Antonio a copy of the Thacker article about Pfizer’s vaccine trials that shows what good investigative journalism can do. No reply.
For more on the horrors that are the vaccine trials see Albert’s Algorithm.
Cartuniverse or Metaverse?
Meanwhile in another part of the Cartooniverse what might be a meta-commentary on Charlie was playing out.
Michael Leunig, one of the world’s truly great cartoonists, who specializes in pricking pomposity and tackling Establishments had done exactly what Charlie is supposedly famous for and produced a cartoon that caused shock and horror and led to an assassination attempt (or at least a professional assassination attempt – he lost his job) – Chronicle of a Tyranny Foretold.
Exactly the kind of cartoon you might have expected Charlie to produce about vaxx-zealots – vaxx-jihadists.
Maybe Michael’s problem was the setting this cartoon appeared in was owned by the Chinese – who seem capable of censoring prestigious academic medical journals like the Lancet as well as other Western media outlets – and who may not have gotten the message about the Enlightenment or if they did they are even less bothered about it than ISIS are.
Whether taking on vaxx-zealotry, or the Chinese, or both, Michael’s cartoon is just the kind of creation that French Presidents from Nicolas Sarkozy to Emmanuel Macron would once have said is critical to the continuing amour propre of Western Civilization. You’d expect the staff of Charlie Hebdo to be out there with banners or to be preparing banner headlines reproducing this cartoon, and proudly proclaiming: Je Suis Michael (or maybe Michel).
Maybe the Kouachi brothers really did kill Charlie.
What Charlie is now doing is a semi-Islamic fundamentalist inciting of vaxx-vigilantes to seek out unbelievers and kill or injure them if they can get away with it or at the very least shun them.
It is rapidly becoming more difficult to decide if it would be better to live in Xi Jinping’s China, some Caliphate, or Albert’s Empire – where Joe Biden is currently front of house.
Perhaps nearly four million French people a few years ago missed what was going on in the cartooniverse or metaverse or whatever it is we live in these days.
Je Suis Charlie translated into British slang comes out as I am a Fool.
Prenez le Michel translated from Irish/British slang is I’m Mocking You.