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Thursday, August 15, 2013


Joe Martino

Paul, it would be a mistake to assume that Baker is a lone voice. In reality he is one of a small but well-funded and belligerent group of HIV/AIDS denialists called Rethinking AIDS, which originally formed to promote the discredited views of University of California Berkeley professor Peter Duesberg. Although Baker has only been on the scene for five years or so, the group has been active for at least two decades.

Rethinking AIDS targets its misinformation to people living with HIV/AIDS and who are at risk. Such misinformation promoted by this group has resulted in countless preventable deaths, most notably in South Africa, where Duesberg and his supporters succeeded in getting the ear of former president Mbeki and his health minister during the early 2000s.

The "Office of Medical and Scientific Justice" functions as the legal arm of this group. The "chief science officer" of OMSJ is David Rasnick, who is a former president of Rethinking AIDS, and is generally recognised as Duesberg's right-hand man.

The lawsuit against Todd DeShong, as you have already worked out, is not merely a vehicle to try to silence an online critic of the AIDS denialists and to threaten other internet users who might wish to speak out about the Group and its activities.

It is also intended to force depositions which the AIDS denialists believe will confirm their conspiracy theories - most notably their belief that HIV/AIDS is not a real disease, but rather is an elaborate hoax perpetrated by the pharmaceutical industry in cohoots with the research community, every government in the world, and virtually every scientist, public health worker and HIV/AIDS clinician on the planet.

The suit is not only a travesty against the First Amendment - it is also utterly insane. It is also only one of a series of legal actions launched by members of this group over the past decade. They appear to be well funded for this kind of action.

In the most recent case prominent denialist Celia Farber unsuccessfully sued a critic, Richard Jefferys, in the New York Supreme Court. The judgment was affirmed, with costs, by the Appellate Court. Baker provided an affidavit supporting Farber that was unintentionally hilarious, and which was eviscerated by the Judge.

It is very clear that the denialists chose Todd DeShong to target with their legal strategy this time around because they thought he wouldn't have the resources to mount an adequate defence against their shenanigans. It is very gratifying, Paul, that thanks to your generosity and that of your fellow attorneys this kind of thuggery will not go unanswered.

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