All of the controversy only makes me want to watch Invisible Threat more.
Every school day, students at Carlsbad High tune in their classroom televisions to a news show produced by its award-winning broadcast journalism program.
Airing from a well-appointed studio on campus, the report covers topics ranging from final exams to nearby wildfires, delivered by a teenage staff that typically goofs around until the cameras roll and professionalism descends.
Carlsbad High has come to expect a lot from CHSTV, a “signature program,” according to schools Supt. Suzette Lovely.
But no one expected the kind of attention that has lately muzzled one of its most acclaimed works — a short documentary produced by an extracurricular offshoot of the program.
The movie, “Invisible Threat,” bills itself as a report on “the science of disease and the risks facing a society that is under-vaccinated.”
As the students and their advisors prepared to debut it, they found themselves cast as foot soldiers in a long-running immunization war between a small group of activists who argue that vaccines cause autism and the vast majority of physicians and scientists who say they don’t.
The anti-vaccine groups — whose work has contributed to the recent decline in immunization rates in some parts of the country, medical authorities believe — charged that the Carlsbad students had been duped by deceitful advisors who had been paid off by the pharmaceutical companies that make vaccines.
The criticism surfaced before the movie was finished and wore on for more than a year.
It delayed the launch of the movie for months and became heated enough in May that Carlsbad’s parent-teacher association canceled an on-campus screening for fear that grumbling activists would show up, as they had when the film was shown at Cal State San Marcos.
“We didn’t want to put the kids who worked on this into a position where people could get on campus and harass them,” said Kym Szalkiewicz, president of the parent-teacher group.