I’ve met a lot of great people online and in person since I decided to jump into the “vaccine wars” back in 2009. Back then, I didn’t have a clue as to how evil and vile the anti-vaccine people out there (also in person or online) can get. In the first few months of me countering the anti-science arguments of the “antivaxxers,” I was accused by them of all sorts of things. There were threats of lawsuits, threats to my employment, and threats of physical violence.
It was kind of my fault. I never hid my identity from them.
Another person who was very active in the online discussion fora on vaccines was a woman by the pseudonym of “lilady.” Lilady was a retired public health nurse, someone who had seen first hand what vaccine-preventable diseases could do and what vaccines did to bring those diseases under control. Through our conversations via numerous emails, we’d coordinate on how to respond to the truly whacky ideations of so many anti-vaccine bloggers and the merry band of lunatics who follow them.
She never backed down from a fight, even when a particularly nasty troll named herself “lielady” and commented horribly libelous things at lilady on different blogs. Other, more prominent anti-vaccine bloggers — people who consider themselves “autism advocates” — publicly accused her of all sorts of things… All because she defended the science behind vaccines. All because she stated time and time again what we all know to be true about vaccines: they save lives and they don’t cause autism.
Lilady passed away last month, suddenly. We “science mobbers” didn’t find out about it until a few days ago. She faded away from commenting and was dead a few days later. Just like that, she’s ceased to exist.
Then again, she’s still alive in all those comments she leaves behind. On my blog and others, she tirelessly made science-based comment after science-based comment. Always truthful. Always giving the right response to the right bit of bullshit that someone had to spew about vaccines.
The internet doesn’t forget, and neither will we. When antivaxxers did their worst, she did her best. Rest in peace, lilady.