Thursday, March 10, 2016

Stop Putting Bleach In Your Kid's Butt

Content warning: Discussions of child abuse including a very upsetting picture and strong language (because this subject makes me mad as hell)        

There are many things you wouldn’t think we would need a law for. Don’t marry your sister. Don’t molest chickens. Don’t make your kids drink bleach or give them an enema with bleach in it.

         But sadly, apparently, we do need laws for all these things.

         I alluded to this a couple of times in previous essays, and will probably continue to allude to it because … Crap on a cracker, guys, this needs to stop. For those of you who don’t know, MMS, or “Miracle Mineral Solution” is a solution sold by a conman named Jim Humble who thinks he is a god from a planet of gods orbiting Alpha Centauri sent to save humanity or some crap. (Basically, scientology that thankfully hasn’t gained traction with the celebrity set, yet.) MMS is sold to “cure” just about everything, from cancer to autism. It’s sodium chlorite and hydrochloric acid, which “patients” are meant to mix together and then dilute in water and drink or take as an enema. When HCL and sodium chlorite mix, it produces chlorine dioxide, a kind of industrial bleach used to strip textiles, take the brown out of wood pulp to make paper, and for surface disinfection. It is also used in water treatment in some districts, but in much, much smaller concentrations than "patients" are instructed to use. The author of this blog goes through some calculations that show that what’s being used by “patients” is over 3,000X the safe level for water treatment. Other investigators have taken it at these concentrations and taken the color right out of cloth,or dissolved meat at frightening speeds. I always used to say that if idiots wanted to use this on themselves they should go right ahead (I’ll get into why I say “used to” in a bit), but the really infuriating thing is that a terrifying number of people are using this in their children to “cure” their autism. This is led on largely by Kerri Rivera, a disciple of Jim Humble’s who claims to have cured her own son of autism and wrote a book about this protocol (which also includes a strict low antioxidant diet and use of a hyperbaric chamber) and offers personal Skype sessions for an exorbitant fee. She’s also currently in violation of a plea agreement prefaced on her not selling the damn stuff,but that’s neither here nor there, right? Probably just Big Pharma paying to have her smeared. 

The next section is where things get rough. Refer back to this bunny as needed.

If you think this stuff is harmless, I have some bad news. You can take a look at some screenshots from a support group of parents who use this in their children, with names redacted, by looking through the photographs in this Facebook group, just in case you weren’t planning on sleeping or eating for the next few days. If you don’t want to look for yourself let me sum up for you – screaming and crying, bloody stool, supposed “parasites” found in the stool that are actually pieces of the kids’ intestinal lining, screaming and crying, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation (sometimes a vicious cycle of the two), screaming, lethargy, acting out, hair falling out, gray teeth, oh and lots and lots of screaming. Did I mention the screaming? It amazes me that many anti-vaxxers will use the fact that little kids cry while getting their shots as evidence there’s something inherently wrong with shots, but will ignore the fact that children given this stuff apparently scream for hours on end afterwards. (MMS parents are almost exclusively anti-vaxxers – they think their kids have parasites which are causing their autism that they got from vaccines. Yes really. Some of the ones with the last vestiges of sanity remaining think their kids’ immune systems went wonky allowing for this infection, others actually believe parasite eggs are in the vaccines.)
Just a friendly reminder: The things on the right are actual parasites. The things on the left are proof against the just world hypothesis.

You may be asking, “Jesus Christ, why isn’t anybody doing anything about this?!” We’re trying. I’ve been aware of this for a little over a year. I know people who have been fighting it for over two years. I’ve called CPS on a few parents who had identifying information on their profile (most of them wisely lock it down, and many of them have left Facebook completely in favor of using more private forums to discuss how best to torture their children). Usually the social workers sound as though I’ve just called in about UFOs – which is understandable. Who does this to their children? At best, they believe me but unfortunately can’t do anything because I didn’t witness this with my own eyeballs (and understandably they can’t rush in every time somebody tells them someone said something on the Internet), and at worst they very clearly write it off as something that can’t possibly be real. Those of us concerned with this topic (mostly autistic people and their friends) have pretty much realized we can’t get anything done that way. So we’ve focused on raising awareness and contacting public officials – most of the time, I’m pretty sure our letters are thrown in the “kook” pile for that same reason. Nobody wants to believe people are doing this to their children. I certainly didn’t when I first found out about it. I still wouldn’t if I hadn’t seen the screenshots.

And just to be clear, I never feel good about calling CPS. I’m not a mean vindictive person who relishes the thought of making trouble for anyone. I know the kids will be upset when CPS shows up, and I actually hope the kids are not going to be taken away except in the most extreme cases. I hope that it will be a wake up call and an outsider can help them realize the awful thing they’ve done to their kids so they’ll fucking stop it. I know most of these parents aren’t cartoon villains who hate their children and are doing this out of pure sadism. It would make me feel better if I did – instead I have to grapple with the fact that actual human beings have it in them to inflict this on their own children. That these parents are both victims and monsters. Not that that means I have a lot of pity for the parents – not when their victims are their own children, many of whom are nonverbal and can’t defend themselves or ask for help. Now and again these “superheroes” (as they call themselves) complain about getting hurt by their kids fighting back or having to chase their kids down and all I can do is will the kids to keep fighting and pray they can communicate what’s happening to a mandatory reporter or a witness – a doctor or a teacher or a family friend who hasn’t drunk the cool-aid. Someone CPS will believe instead of a stranger calling from another state who saw the parents talking about it on a computer screen.

Probably not what any of these parents look like.

But I know that many of these children can’t call for help. It’s only a matter of time until a child is killed by this – an Australian tourist given MMS as a preventative for malaria died, and it’s surprising that children, with their smaller body size and being given this substance multiple times, haven’t succumbed yet. For all I know they have – most MMS users are secretive (some of the chatter on the forums and in the Facebook group is about how to avoid CPS and doctors) and if a coroner didn’t know what to look for, they might miss it. And even if they don’t die, they suffer. Most of them don’t have a voice – so it’s up to total strangers to be their voice for them. To try, desperately, to get someone involved who might be able to knock some sense into their parents, or move them to a safer situation if necessary. The first time I saw a screenshot of what, even to my non-medical eye, was very clearly a piece of intestine, fished out of a child’s stool and proudly shown off as proof of parasites, along with the mother’s description of how the little boy had screamed while passing it, I almost threw up. I literally didn’t sleep that night. I cried. I prayed. Ultimately, I decided to do something about it instead of just sitting around feeling bad that it was happening.

So we raise awareness. We send letters that get thrown in the kook pile. Every now and then we get a positive response – special shoutout to Senator Bill Nelson (D, FL) for taking time to answer my letter with a response that showed he actually had read the damn thing, or at least had an aide give him the highlights. We send information packets to special ed teachers and other mandatory reporters. We probably annoy our friends posting about it. We ask GoFundMe to take down the fundraiser for the legal defense of one of the major suppliers – and rejoice when the Feds convict him and sentence him to four years in lockup for repeatedly ignoring their warnings about distributing a dangerous substance with improper instructions for human use. We ask Amazon to take Kerri Rivera’s heinous book off their site (no such luck, so far). We endure insults and threats and all manner of verbal abuse from MMS devotees who insist it “isn’t bleach” (household bleach is sodium hypochlorite – for some reason the fact it’s chlorine dioxide instead of that somehow makes it automatically safe to consume) and who accuse us of being Big Pharma shills trying to suppress the cure. We call into an Internet radio show when the host features Kerri, unaware of the pain she inflicts, leading her to cancel the interview. We let the venue for conferences about this stuff know what kind of horrors the people they’re hosting perpetuate, to no avail at all.

And it is tiring. The victories are few and far between but sweet when they happen. Sometimes I want to throw in the towel. There’s a lot of nights I’ve stayed up arguing with idiots or double checking information when I wanted to be asleep and I almost quit. Then I remember – those kids need everyone they can get in their corner. To fulfill the blog’s requirement for at least one geeky reference, I draw on strength from my favorite TV show. At the start of the sixth season of DS9, Kira and Odo were behind enemy lines on the space station, which had been overrun by the evil Dominion. Kira becomes complacent about the situation until a Vedek (a priest in the Bajoran religion) makes a dramatic display of opposition against the Dominion, making Kira realize something very important – “Evil must be opposed.” And so I keep doing it, even when everything seems to say it's a lost cause.
All though I like to think we make the same statement in a more productive and less melodramatic way.

And sometimes it’s harder than others. This week, The Fifth Estate squandered a perfect opportunity to shine a light and send the roaches scattering. When they ran their “exposĂ©” on MMS, they spent far too long on the “balance” portion of the program, talking to people claiming to have been cured of cancer or to have cured their kids of autism. They talked to experts saying it’s dangerous, but didn’t take advantage of the wealth of damning screenshots offered to them by the anti-bleach community, so that any conspiracy theorist watching it definitely only saw great testimonials and those meanie government officials and autism advocates trying to hide The Cure™ from us. I know this, because if you brave the comment section, in addition to the other con artists and bleach pushers being their typical asshole selves, you'll see the evidence of how I spent the weekend arguing with an older gentleman in the comment section of the YouTube video of the segment who seemed very defensive about the safety and efficacy of MMS. This man, one Don Wesley, refused to look at negative sources I sent him and accused me of being a liar and working for the devil (and promptly deleted the comments where he did so). 
I mean .... not that working for the devil wouldn't be tempting ...
At first I thought this gentleman was a distributor, but as I slowly discovered, he’s simply a desperate old man who only found out about MMS from this segment and thinks it might cure his ALS (Lou-Gehrig’s disease). Or else he’s a very effective con artist who is planning to claim it cured his ALS to hawk it to people – he did keep asking for my real name and location which creeped me out. Either way, I immediately started beating myself up, wondering if my words had been too sharp, wondering if I could have persuaded him not to take this stuff if only I’d been gentler from the start, even though I took care to never let myself get too angry or mean even before I realized what was actually going on with him (assuming of course it was genuine). I finished the weekend feeling like I needed a stiff drink instead of feeling like anything of value had been accomplished. Great fucking job, Fifth Estate.

And that’s why I said I can’t even say, “Well if adults want to use it on themselves they’re welcome to, but they shouldn’t use it on children …” anymore. These bastards are conning little old people and the terminally ill who don’t know enough science to know when they’re being snowed out of their money at the end of their life. And unlike most snake oil cures, this one is actively harmful. So … good job, MMS hawkers, you’ve managed to somehow be even worse than your average “con artist who bilks the dying desperate for a cure.”

So, basically, fuck this shit, is what I’m saying. If you’re in the states, you can find a letter here, which you can personalize for your representatives / senators. (If enough people send it, it might stop getting thrown in the kook pile.) If you’re in another country, consider contacting your own representatives about the issue since MMS is, sadly, international. If you are ever in contact with special needs children, be on the lookout for symptoms (gray teeth, a rash on the bottom or around the mouth, inexplicable smell of bleach, bowel problems, and jaundice being the most prominent). If you have elderly parents, be aware that people are trying to sell this crap to them. Send good thoughts / prayers / whatever else to the kids out there suffering from this and hope their situation improves. And finally, support science education so that maybe at some point we can have a generation of people who won’t fall for this crap.

And most of all, don’t fucking shove bleach up your kid’s ass. (And don’t put it up your own ass, either.)       

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