Here’s why I want to debate you, Jennifer Margulis

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On Friday I wrote about Jennifer Margulis’ pride in being singled out as one of the birth blogger buffoons.

Margulis wrote on her Facebook page:

A midwife who just requested my friendship on Facebook pointed out that I made the hit list of a notorious internet troll yet again! I am in good company with Ricki Lake and Jen Vbacfacts Kamel…

In response, I publicly offered to debate Margulis:

… I’ll debate you in print on natural childbirth, homebirth, vaccines, whatever you prefer. We can publish the debate on both your blog and mine so there will be no chance of altering our words. Then everyone can vote in the comments sections about who was more persuasive.

I’ll be waiting for your response, but I’m not holding my breath because I could turn awfully blue (just like those hypoxic homebirth babies). You’ll never agree and like Jennifer Block, Henci Goer, Ricki Lake, et al. you’ll run in the opposite direction as fast as you can.

You know as well as I do that you would be eviscerated and publicly humiliated in no time at all, so you won’t dare agree.

Margulis took 24 hours to think about it and respond thus:

Jennifer Margulis 5-3-14

Amy Tuteur I would be delighted to debate you on the topic of your choice. I’m astonished and delighted at your invitation, since you have dismissed me as a “clown” and a “joke” in your latest blog post! But no worries, if you’d like to spend time exchanging ideas with a “clown,” I’d be glad to. Let’s find a neutral public space to do a live televised debate. I am not interested in a popularity contest (you win for having the most vociferous and best organized blog commentators out there), but I am interested in shedding light on these issues and helping women and their partners make informed choices about their health and the health of their children. I look forward to a rational debate that will not include words like those in your invitation like “eviscerated” and “publicly humiliated,” or the ad hominem attacks on your blog. Is that something you would be interested in? Please PM me your phone number so we can work out the details.

Margulis appears confused as to why I would want to debate someone I have dismissed as a clown and a joke, so I will explain:

Jennifer Margulis, I want to debate you because I think you are DANGEROUS.

I hold you personally responsible for putting children and babies at risk by your support of quackery. I would not be surprised if you are personally responsible for serious childhood illnesses in those who follow your advice about vaccination, and personally responsible for the deaths of babies whose mothers embraced homebirth midwifery after you needlessly scared them about the “dangers” of hospital birth.

Perhaps you think that your words are not particularly meaningful, just a way to sell articles and books, and draw internet traffic. Perhaps you consider them a proud defense of your own mothering choices. After all, you never face the inevitable result; you never have to sit with deathly ill children in ICUs; you never have to attend the funerals where they put the tiny white coffins of the babies who die at homebirth into the ground. But when you put words out into the public space, you bear moral responsibility for the consequences.

I realize that your understanding of science is poor at best. You have no understanding of immunology, virology and statistics. You are shockingly ignorant about everything from the dangers of childbirth to the causes of autism. Hence your “warnings” are sincere. But sincerity doesn’t prevent life threatening illness, and it certainly won’t bring babies and children back from the dead.

You potentially HURT and KILL children, Jennifer Margulis, and that’s why I want to debate you.

My desire is to protect babies and children, and therefore, I consider it an unpleasant, but morally necessary task to eviscerate your arguments and publicly show you up for the foolish, dangerous woman that you are. The fact that I personally have no respect for you is irrelevant. Other people do, and, as a result, they risk the lives and health of their children. I want to put a stop to it and I think that I can.

Obviously, you are never going to agree to a debate. You recognize that your arguments WOULD be eviscerated, and you WOULD be held up for public ridicule if you participated in a debate. Therefore, after no doubt carefully mulling how to publicly appear to agree to a debate that you can never let happen, you suggested debating live on television, which, as you know, is about as likely to happen as debating live on Mars. I doubt many people are fooled by your sophistry.

You are no different than Henci Goer, Jennifer Block and every other homebirth advocate I have offered to debate. You may not know much, but your survival instincts are keen. Even you (and they) know that your arguments would not stand up to scientific scrutiny. That’s why the natural habitat of a homebirth blogger is her own website and Facebook page, where she can control any debate by deleting inconvenient facts and keep her followers thoroughly in the dark, while simultaneously congratulating them on being “educated.”

The real question for you, Ms. Margulis, is whether you are willing to publicly own the nonsense that you promote as truth. Although I would prefer to eviscerate your claims, I will probably have to settle for the consolation prize of pointing out that you aren’t willing to face someone with actual knowledge of science in an open debate.

For now, I guess that will have to do.