Recently Kathleen Yazbak recalled her involvement in the film:
“Our family's autism journey has been challenging and humbling, like that of the many who have tread the same path. We were fortunate to have the ear of an amazing screenwriter [Tim Prager] who also dug deep with his own independent research of the situation and engaged countless others so this story could be told and the movie created. It is our hope that parents and grandparents try to make a difference in the dialogue about autism.”
When it was first screened the British radical investigative journalist, Paul Foot, wrote in the Guardian:
“Last week's Channel Five programme Hear the Silence about the MMR controversy was one of the best dramas I have seen. It was not just a moving true story, beautifully acted. It was also a shocking indictment of the medical establishment. A group of parents were confronted with the fear that their children had become autistic after having the triple vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella. A responsible authority should surely take such fears seriously and deploy the full extent of scientific research to testing the fears, if only to allay them. The reaction of the authorities was exactly the opposite.
"The one senior doctor who took the parents seriously, Andrew Wakefield, had his research stopped and was effectively banished to the US. Despite his record as an often published scientist, he was widely smeared. Legal aid for the parents to sue the government was cut off.
"On the programme, the two sides confronted each other. On the parents' side there was anguished concern, backed by sober science from Wakefield. On the other was outraged impatience, led by two slightly fanatical GPs, including Evan Harris, the Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West. He insisted there was no link between autism and MMR, and loudly failed to prove that this was so. Instead, he went some way to proving the time-honoured medical principle that doctors know everything, and patients nothing."
Also now available are the two banned episodes of the popular BBC drama series written by GF Newman, Judge John Deed, which deal with MMR. It is fascinating to think that a decade ago the BBC was still just open enough to produce such establishment sceptical dramas, but also what they were rapidly becoming.
AoA contributer Martin J Walker has written the following note:
“In all the recent controversy about the BBC, and the controversies which came before, and before that, it is never mentioned that the the Corporation has for decades pursued policies of strict censorship in line with corporate and governmental ideology. In my work, in relation to alternative medicine, I personally have become aware of this practice in relation to the subject of cancer treatments and more recently with respect to the controversy over the MMR vaccination and the case of Dr Andrew Wakefield.
“The most blatant censorship engineered by the BBC was in two episodes — One Angry Man and Heart of Darkness — of the BBC drama series Judge John Deed which were banned internationally by the BBC after one showing. Exactly how the corporate pharmaceutical pressure was exerted within the BBC, is difficult to discern. The two episodes which were banned were about MMR vaccination.
“However, the two episodes are now available on You Tube
“The series was devised, written and produced by one of Britain's most notable dramatists Gordon Newman who came under immense pressure to take any mention of MMR or even vaccination out of his scripts. I was one of the two script advisors for the series. Many of the British parents wanted themselves to see the episodes a second time and pass on the reference to other parents and were shocked and angry when the episodes were banned and taken out of the box set on retail sale. Now everyone, internationally, has the opportunity to see them.”
Martin Walker’s extraordinary account of the hearings against Wakefield and colleagues can still be read on the CryShame website . Also visit the Slingshot website where Martin’s many and various publications can be purchased including ‘Silenced Witnesses I & II’ in which parents give their account of the MMR affair SlingShotPublications.