Tonight, this opinion letter from a woman in Bolton in the online version of the Caledon Enterprise popped in my inbox, and I just about flipped my lid:
The above, I caution, is absolutely 100% unequivocally wrong in almost every aspect imaginable. I'm writing up a letter to the Caledon Enterprise in response, however I'm not from the area and the paper did have an excellent article that the above author was responding to, so I can't guarantee it will be published - I will post it on this blog however. I really just wanted to point out how hard it is to believe someone in this day and age could be so ignorant of the facts behind an issue as important as the health of their children - and then promote willful ignorance to the rest of us. Its irresponsible.Re: The editorial You owe it to your kids to get them vaccinated. (Headlined "Vaccines are Safe. No question." in the print edition.)Sorry but I think there is a question as to whether or not all childhood vaccines are safe or were safe. A friend of mine with twin autistic daughters places the blame 100 per cent on a vaccine. I cannot argue with him. Given our history of environmental miscues, whether thalidomide, DDT, Carbon Dioxide, Environmental Estrogens, and on and on, it is difficult for any educated person to take the government’s word on anything to do with health.It is simply not good enough for one to ask well then “what causes autism?” and hear “We don’t know”. What causes all these new peanut allergies? “We don’t know”. In the absence of governments doing their job of identifying the environmental causes exactly, then a parent’s judgement is as good as anything else. I myself, being a student of history and therefore having a mistrust of the health system - and after having relatively low birthweight children, waited until the last possible moment to vaccinate, in order that my kids mature as much as possible before subjecting their tiny bodies to these chemicals (especially those containing mercury).In this day and age with our ability to collect and process data around the world, we ought to be able to do much better than “we don’t know”. That just isn’t good enough.
However, if you think the above is bad, I remind you that its just an opinion letter in a local newspaper. This headline came out of the Ottawa Sun, part of the nationally networked Sun Media chain, now owned by Postmedia:
The great vaccination debate rages
An outbreak of measles across the country for the age-old debate over vaccinating our children to heat up.
Ottawa so far hasn't reported a single case of measles during this most-recent outbreak, but vaxxers and anti-vaxxers are weighing in.
.... A local mother of two daughters under the age of three has strong feelings about the idea.
She has asked to remain anonymous because of the current backlash towards anti-vaxxers.
She fears coming out will have negative repercussions on her family.
"I would tell those parents we are not part of a herd," said the mother.
"We are rational, intelligent human beings who can make informed decisions on how to obtain and maintain a healthy lifestyle."
She said the decision not to vaccinate her daughters didn't come easily.
"Countless hours over the last four years have been spent reading extensive research that led to our decision not to vaccinate our children at this time."
The woman said some of the factors considered in their decision were the ingredients in the vaccines, the motives and ethics of pharmaceutical companies producing them, side effects, and the possibility of creating mutant strains of viruses that cannot be easily treated.
"There will always be people who disagree with your parenting choices," she said.
"Controversy means that there is simply more to the story," she added.
Are you kidding me, Ottawa Sun and author Sophie Desrosiers?
Let me say this clearly, right now: there is no debate over the effectiveness or safety of vaccines among scientists and health professionals. No. Debate.
That means there is nothing to "rage" about, unless you consider the uninformed opinions of a few parents and the outright crankery of anti-vaccination promoters. I know you want to give everyone their say, assembled Canadian media reading this blog post, but its irresponsible. People need to realize right now that people, young and old, will die because of the promotion of these types of views, even the acknowledgement of there being a "controversy" where there is none, except among those that honestly don't seem to know any better.
There should be no quarter given to those that promote these sorts of views, no quarter. While I know the vast majority of people and media have done a good job showing how the anti-vaxxer arguments are invalid, we need to take it one step further. Don't give these people platforms if you can help it, and please do not give them false equivalency like the Ottawa Sun has. They're wrong, end of, and the creation of false controversy for the sake of ad revenue is going to endanger people's lives. Stop it.
And before you cry "free speech" at me, realize this: free speech does not mean freedom from criticism, and free speech also does not mean whatever you say has a right to be promoted by others, especially if its an irresponsible idea.
If you're factually wrong, you're just wrong - saying it louder does not make it more correct. Pretending there is a debate to be had is saying that, yeah sure, maybe there's something to it - no. You're just wrong, and if you're wrong to the point where people are now getting infected with virulent diseases that can kill them, you don't deserve to have a platform. I don't care if its in your local newspaper or on nationally syndicated TV - no quarter should be given to these dangerous, irresponsible, and dare I say, culpable fools.