Monthly Archives: February 2014

House of Numbers: A Censorship Perspective

This post may seem like a slight deviation from The Purpose of This Site. It is not. I am currently defending my own First Amendment Rights in Federal Court against AIDS Denialist Clark Baker. I think it is important to highlight another current example of AIDS Denialists abusing the legal system to silence another critic. ~TD

Recently the producers of the AIDS Denial film House of Numbers (HoN) began to censor the Free Speech of U.K. Scientist Myles Power. Myles made an excellent series of videos debunking much of what is presented in the film. Over a period of several weeks Myles had posted 5 videos to his youtube channel Myles Power (powerm1985) which has over 22,000 subscribers.

Within two days of posting video #5 starring AIDS Denialist Du jour and Conspiracy Theory Theologian Liam Scheff, video #5 was taken down. It turns out Liam Scheff had filed a False DMCA take down of the video citing Copyright Infringement. Because Liam Scheff holds no rights to the film what he did was illegal. Liam could have faced civil as well as criminal charges under penalty of perjury.

Liam withdrew the allegation one day later but it was not because he realized what he did was cowardly or morally reprehensible: It was so that the legitimate copyright owners could file the DMCA instead. About one day after Liam withdrew the DMCA, the producers Martin Penny and “Knowledge Matters” filed a new DMCA and down came video #5 once more. Two other videos came down next. But they did not stop there. They filed another DMCA against another video. It seems they staggered these filings so that youtube would delete Myles’ account for good.

I am not close to this issue so I am not going to report on the specific controversy. I am going to focus instead on the censorious history of the film itself and the prominent role of Liam Scheff. Since Liam instigated this disgusting display of cowardice, I think it only fitting that I highlight his hypocrisy regarding his role in promoting the movie. As you will see, Mr. Scheff has been extremely vocal about expressing his First Amendment Rights in relation to the film.

The movie House of Numbers (HoN) was released in 2009 and was screened at numerous festivals around America and the U.K. At several of these festivals there were Q&A sessions as is often the case with documentaries. 

Boston Festival

At a screening in Boston there was one such Q&A Session scheduled and detailed by Bay Windows reporter, Ethan Jacobs. The organizers asked Director Brent Leung to be on the panel. Mr. Leung declined and opted to stay in the audience. It seemed strange the he refused to participate, especially because he had participated on such panels in the past.

Kevin Cranston, head of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Infectious Disease, served as moderator, and Cranston invited Leung to participate as a panelist, although Leung elected to remain in the audience. 

But the melee that ensued seems to reveal the duplicitous reasoning behind his decision. From the detailed reporting by Bay Windows, it appears to me the supporters of HoN may have wanted to manufacture a controversy that the panel was stacked against them.

A panel discussion about a controversial AIDS documentary,House of Numbers, descended into a screaming match April 21 at the Boston International Film Festival, with both the film’s director, Brent Leung, and other members of the audience shouting down and attempting to drown out the remarks of Dr. Daniel Kuritzkes, an HIV expert and Harvard Medical School professor who was interviewed in the film. 

In the middle of Kuritzkes’s speech Leung and several other audience members shouted over him, “This is not a panel!” and, “Where’s the panel?” The shouting reached a fever pitch when Kuritzkes began reading a list of names of AIDS denialists who allegedly died of complications from AIDS. 

Screaming was not sufficient for our Defender of Free Speech, Liam Scheff. He stormed the stage and forcibly sat at the panelist table and refused to leave.

As Kuritzkes began reading from a prepared statement two members of the audience who appeared in the film walked down to the front of the theater, sat beside Boswell and Kuritzkes at the panelists’ table and refused to leave. Those audience members, Christian Fiala, an Austrian gynecologist, and Liam Scheff, identified in the film as a freelance journalist, both claimed that they were forcibly joining the panel to provide balance…Fiala and Scheff remained seated at the panelists’ table for the rest of the program. 

This was not sufficient for Mr. Scheff. He did not agree with the reporter, Ethan Jacobs. (As you will see below, Mr. Scheff has a history of chastising other reporters and accusing them of bias and worse.) Mr. Scheff, exercising his Free Speech, wrote a letter to Mr. Jacobs and Bay Windows printed it. In the letter Scheff accuses Jacobs of shoddy journalism at the least:

The Tuesday night screening of House of Numbers turned into a “Crazy House’” indeed! But you’ve reversed the scenario in your reporting. (See “Crazy House,” April 23)

I’m sure you left those details out for some good reason.

and maybe even libels him:

And finally, is the AIDS industry honest? Is it even slightly honest? And are you in the bag for all things AIDS? I think based on your “report,” we know the answers to at least some of these questions.

Aside from Mr. Scheff’s attempt to shame the journalist, he also tries to set the record straight about the panel. Scheff admits that he and others in the film including Director Leung were invited to come to the Festival by the organizers.

… the reality was that those of us in the film, who were invited from far and wide to the festival, were also told, as was Mr. Leung, the director, that we were all to be on a bi-partisan panel – a panel open to the “establishment,” and its critics.

We were told that we were to be part of an open discussion about some the controversial statements revealed in the film,…

But once they got there, well, it is at this point that Mr. Scheff becomes a little less direct about why they were left to scream from the audience and storm the stage:

So, when your “expert” arrived on the scene to “debunk” the movie — a film that had been accepted to a festival — we who were in the film thought we were going to be part of an open discussion. After all, this would have been the same consideration shown to your “expert,” who was also in the film. But he was given center stage, the rest were excluded and, to use your word, “silenced.” The room was shut down…

Mr. Scheff would have the readers believe that they came to the Festival accepting a direct and explicit invitation from the organizers to participate and be part of the panel. But when they got there they were “excluded” and “silenced” and “the room was shut down”. It is contradictory and just doesn’t make sense. Were they Punk’d Ashton Kutcher style? Obviously the room was not shut down: They were inside. They were not silenced: They shouted down the panel. They were not excluded: Scheff and Fiala were on stage, albeit forcibly, but on stage.

Nashville Festival

After a screening at the Nashville Festival Director Leung and his supporters showed their hypocrisy according to this report by Jim Ridley:

“Raising questions is what a film festival does,” Widelitz says. At the post-film panel, though, he says the filmmakers “didn’t help their case,” either with their handpicked panel (which tilted the opposite direction as Boston’s) or their “aggressive” treatment of audience members who disagreed.

In the comment section of a different report by Jack Silverman about the screening of HoN at the Nashville Festival, Liam Scheff’s hypocrisy is on full display. Early in his comment Scheff compares the Ugandan Nevirapine trials to the Tuskegee Experiments. Then later, without a hint of irony, rips into the news source at which he is commenting for comparing HoN with “Triumph of the Will” (Nazi propaganda film):

“The attack your paper is fronting, comparing an investigative piece such as “House of Numbers,” which features dialogue with the top of the mainstream speaking in detail about the limits of their work – comparing this with “Triumph of the Will,” for example (see Jim Ridley’s recent piece) is pure hate speech, demonstrating the hysteria-driven loathing and fear the industry piles upon any who offer fair criticism.”

Please read the entire, disturbing comment. Scheff spews hate and vengeance with aplomb and skill. He accuses the reporter and the paper itself of being less than objective, even accusing them of libeling those who in Mr. Scheff’s opinion, accurately investigate and report on “AIDS Inc’s murders and failures.” Unfortunately what is really on display is Scheff’s own lack of objectivity. The hypocrisy would be funny if the rant were not so emotionally scarring and devoid of humanity.


Liam Scheff is so concerned with his own Freedom of Speech that he appears on panels, forcibly in at least one instance, and writes and publishes Editorials and comments. But when it comes to those same rights for others, Mr. Scheff resorts to potential criminal behavior by filing DMCA take downs of videos that he has no actual copyrights. Where is the justice in that?

HIV/AIDS Denial In The Court: A Losing Strategy

When Craig Lamar Davis was found guilty in January 2014 it was the latest trial loss in a string of trial losses for Clark Baker and his HIV Innocence Group. This was the fifth trial and the fourth loss for Mr. Baker. The “win” of Sgt. Tarence C. Dixon may not have actually been won using “junk science”  that is the foundation strategy of the HIV Innocence Group. According to Dr. Seth Kalichman who has worked closely with the military in another case lost by Mr. Baker:

“The military case that Clark Baker boasts winning was actually thrown out of court. People close to the case have told me that the judge’s ruling had nothing to do with OMSJ testimony delivered by Nancy Turner Banks and Rodney Richards. In fact there were technical factors regarding the alleged assault that resulted in the dismissal.”

That statement by Dr. Kalichman also comports with another article about the case interestingly written by AIDS Denialist Terry Michael:

“There was no testimony in the trial from any of the women disputing Dixon’s claim that he used condoms. There also was no testimony from any of the women that they had contracted HIV from Sgt. Dixon.”

Until I can corroborate the above statements, I will acquiesce this win to Mr. Baker. But losing 4 out of 5 trials is not good and certainly does not bode well for this type of strategy.

When Mr. Baker does suffer defeat in a trial he is quick to place blame on the judge or jury.

  • In the case of Andre Davis, the judge was a racistI doubt that Judge Metz wants to be known as the judge who released a black AIDS-infected man to defile Cincinnati ‘s white womenfolk… His opponents in the next election would have a field day!
    by OMSJ 11/23/2011 6:48:23 PM 12:48 PM
  • In the case of Nushawn Willimas, the jury was racistIt’s easier to put him away than explain to their white neighbors why they released him into their white community. After thirty years, this is the first time I’ve ever blamed racism for a conviction.
  • In the case of Craig Lamar Davis, (discussed in this current post) the jury was stupid:  Clark Baker You’re right, Rocky. We always prefer a court trial (judge only) but Turner and Davis wanted a jury. We had no idea that Davis’ doctors would admit that they never diagnosed him – or that the jury would ignore such a salient fact. Although the burden was on the prosecution, we PROVED Davis’ innocence and the jury didn’t care. You can’t fix stupid8 hours ago · Like · 5

The above statement by Mr. Baker is telling for a reason other than his bitter refusal to take responsibility for the loss. Notice he says: “we always prefer a court trial (judge only)…”  Despite the fact that Mr. Baker has also lost at least one trial that was “judge only” he acknowledges that it is easier to fool one person than it is to fool twelve.

Trying a case with such a controversial tactic is quite rare. The only other case I know of outside of Mr. Baker’s failed attempts is the Parenzee Case in Australia. That case was a colossal failure for the defense using the anti-science tactic. The judge in that case humiliated the so-called “experts”. That case also led to a huge rift that fractured the AIDS Denialsts causing two groups to emerge: The Perthians and The Deusbergians. That rift exists to this day. It grows steadily wider and is evident from time to time at the facebook page of ReThinking AIDS where periodic fights erupt.

The Winning Strategy

While Mr. Baker fights a losing battle using a failed strategy, the rest of the country is making strides using the opposite strategy: 30+ years of solid science. In 2013 a bill was introduced to REPEAL these discriminatory HIV Criminalization Laws that only serve to further HIV stigma. The bill was introduced in the U.S. House on May 7 and in the Senate on December 10.  The language of the bill is pertinent to Civilian and Military cases alike. Part B of the bill specifically states:

(B) A determination of whether such laws, policies, regulations, and judicial precedents and decisions demonstrate a public health-oriented, evidence-based, medically accurate, and contemporary understanding of— (emphasis mine)

(i) the multiple factors that lead to HIV transmission;

(ii) the relative risk of HIV transmission routes;

(iii) the current health implications of living with HIV;

(iv) the associated benefits of treatment and support services for people living with HIV; and

(v) the impact of punitive HIV-specific laws and policies on public health, on people living with or affected by HIV, and on their families and communities.

This bill is the result of years of hard work and dedication by many individuals and groups alike. These are reputable groups that focus on the actual science of HIV.  Mr. Baker may have asserted that OMSJ Victories Raise Humanitarian Complaints but that is ridiculous and laughable. As I pointed out, real AIDS Activists have been aware of the dangers of these detrimental laws and have worked for years to change them long before anyone ever heard of the HIV Innocence Group. When these laws are changed it will be a result of laws coming into alignment with the solid science of HIV and not because some bargain basement PI fooled a judge or two.

Darren Chiacchia UPDATE: Clark Baker with Office of Medical and Scientific Justice Silent on Appeal Loss

Back in October of 2011 Clark Baker listed the case of Darren Chiacchia in the win column at his HIV Innocence Group website. But as I reported in November of 2011 this win had nothing to do with the strategy that is the foundation of HIV Innocence Group. Mr. Baker discusses this strategy at length at his website under the topic: Winning Criminal HIV Cases. Mr. Baker states that HIV science is “incoherent gibberish”, the evidence for HIV is built on “scientific misconduct” and that HIV tests are fraudulent and cannot be used to diagnose a patient because they test for antibodies to HIV and not the virus itself. On several occasions Mr. Baker has made the outrageous claim that in all the cases he has reviewed, no doctor has ever competently diagnosed their patient with HIV because of these worthless tests.  Mr. Baker contends “…no one – not even the so-called experts – have the training or expertise to competently diagnose an HIV infection.  To do so requires HIV tests that are designed to do nothing more than market HIV as a disease.”

The Darren Chiacchia case, however, did not come down to the HIV science or if the defendant was or was not HIV positive. This case, as I pointed out in November of 2011, was won by a legal precedent set in a previous case and the definition of intercourse in the Florida Statutes. In Florida the definition of intercourse is penile insertion into a vagina. The Chiacchia case involved two men (and the precedent case involved two women) so this definition did not apply. The State of Florida decided to appeal this decision in Chiacchia and in May of 2013 Chiacchia, and subsequently Clark Baker, lost the appeal. This appeal is discussed here and here.

The pertinent conclusion from the appeal ruling is: “Accordingly, the trial court’s dismissal order is reversed, and this matter is remanded for further proceedings.” This means that the case should no longer be considered a win for HIV Innocence Group at least not until the ruling in the “further proceeding” is known. Of course I never considered it win for them because it was not won using the tactics and strategy of disproving the science of HIV.

It was a solid win for Attorney Baron Coleman but he may well lose in the next round if he reverts back to the anti-science tactics as he alluded to in this 2011 article when discussing the outcome had there been a trial:

“First off, Darren is innocent. He has maintained that he is innocent. We maintain that there is nothing that the state would be able to produce and no person able to testify that Darren was or is HIV positive,” Coleman said. “I have not seen anything that shows he is HIV positive. I have not seen the smoking gun, doctor’s report. I don’t know what Darren’s status is and that’s not for us to prove.”

It also troubles me that this appeal decision came down in May of 2013 and Mr. Baker has never mentioned it. It is now about 9 months later and still no word from Mr. Baker. But it does further underscore Mr. Bakers established pattern of lack of transparency and his reluctance to report anything that might undermine the allusion of success he has crafted.

In November of 2013 there was another appeal in a Florida HIV case that also utilized the precedent set in the original case. That appeal also expanded the definition of intercourse from the Florida Statute. This may only be settled by the Florida Supreme Court. If this statute is ultimately proven to be too narrow, I wonder if any other cases will be subjected to review. If so, another of Mr. Bakers supposed wins may be in trouble. The case of Shan Ortiz also utilized that definition of intercourse and not the anti-HIV science. That is also why I do not consider it a win for the HIV Innocence Group.