Pro-Vaxxers: Religious hysteria trumps rational discussion in the vaccine debate
This article, written by Erica Burt and Doug DiPasquale was originally published on SOTT.net
In the early 80s’ the world was shocked by headlines reporting violence against abortion clinics, staff and doctors by religious fundamentalist groups. The first such reported case was the kidnapping of Hector Zevallos, an abortion clinic owner and operator, and his wife, by three men identifying themselves as the Army of God. Zevallos and his wife were held for eight days. Since that time, there have been further kidnappings, bombings of clinics, murders and attempted murders of staff and supporters, hundreds of death threats and over 150 cases of assault and battery by anti-abortion activists. The violence has since spread from the United States to Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
And the violence continues today, with the 2012 bombings of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Grand Chute, Wisconsin and the firebombing of the Ladies Clinic in Pensacola, Florida, the site of the 1994 murder of Dr. John Britton and his attendant James Barrett and a previous bombing on Christmas Day, 1984 (the quartet of perpetrators later calling the bombing “a gift to Jesus on his birthday”).
The actions of these Pro-Lifer terrorists leave many people confused. How can anyone care so much about a cause like pro-life versus pro-choice that they are prepared to carry out violent attacks and protests, death threats and smear campaigns? How can one’s fundamentalism lead one to take such seemingly contradictory actions – to kill in order to uphold the “thou shalt not kill” commandment?
But such is the mindset of the religious terrorist. One becomes so wrapped up in their cause, no matter how misguided, that these seeming contradictions don’t hold any water. It’s what’s commonly referred to as “being a complete whackjob”.
Yet we’re seeing a parallel in the recent news headlines that perhaps more people will be able to relate to. The hysterical fight against what’s dubbed the “Anti-Vaxxer Movement” has taken on a level of fundamentalism reminiscent of what was seen in the Pro-Lifer movement at its peak. Bomb threats, smear campaigns, death threats, threats against the families of those who attempt to speak the truth, or even simply express doubts against the fundamentalist Pro-Vaxxer position.
And make no mistake – the Pro-Vaxxer movement is a fundamentalist movement. What else could you call a position founded entirely on a base of emotional decrees, false science and logical fallacies? Pro-Vaxxers are as much in the grip of religious hysteria as any given Pro-Lifer. The big difference here is that the “Pro-Vaxxers” are not some fringe group of religious fundamentalists. They come from all walks of life, all casts, racial groups and religions. They don’t gather on Sundays in a church and listen to sermons designed to bolster their group identification and demonize the non-believers.
Instead, they worship at the altar of the mainstream media, who tirelessly “catapult” the same propaganda, proselytizing the position, demonizing the non-believers and assuring the congregation that their position is the right one by mentioning “hundreds of studies” showing the safety and efficacy of vaccines. Anyone not in the grip of this new ‘religious’ fervour, in possession of two firing neurons, and with the intestinal fortitude to go against the herd and do their own research, can’t but conclude that there’s something fundamentally wrong with the Pro-Vaxxer position.
You see, these “hundreds of studies” don’t actually exist. What does exist are hundreds of studies that are “under-reported, minimized and otherwise overlooked peer-reviewed data on adverse effects associated with vaccination“. I guess mainstream media reporters missed those in their, no-doubt, thorough review of the evidence before denigrating and smearing those who dare to question their gospel. And why are these studies under-reported? Because it’s against the Pro-Vaxxer religion, of course! The high-priests of Big Pharma, who spread the gospel through their missionaries – the mainstream media – and their MD talking heads, have no desire to entertain any position that goes against the good word or the almighty $. They can’t risk losing a single member of their flock for fear of negatively impacting their bottom line.
“This is the strategy of the intellectually desperate. Truth does not fear investigation, and if vaccines are so provably useful for enhancing the health of children, then doctors shouldn’t mind people asking questions or even openly debating the merits of vaccination programs. And yet what you see with vaccines today is a cult-like worship of vaccines that despises scrutiny or even solid science. Vaccines are good because they tell us so, and that should be sufficient reason, we’re told.” – Mike Adams, The Flawed Theory Behind Vaccinations
In the media, doctors who disagree with the Pro-Vaxxer stance, who actually have the gall to suggest alternatives to vaccination, are thoroughly character assassinated, decried as charlatans, put under investigation and risk losing their medical licenses. The bought-and-paid-for media continually parrot the Big Pharma mantra about the incontrovertible evidence of vaccines effectiveness and safety.
But vaccines are not effective. Nor are they safe. Even “the supreme court has deemed them “unavoidably unsafe” as recently as 2011“. And if vaccines are harmless, why exactly has the US government paid out $3 billion to vaccine-injured Americans since 1989?
All the links in the above paragraph, while hardly exhaustive, are not there for the purpose of ‘proving’ vaccines unsafe or ineffective. We’re merely trying to establish that there is an argument here, the science is not clear that vaccines work, or that they’re safe. Anti-Vaxxers are not nut jobs, conspiracy theorists or people who believe any old internet-rumour. There is clearly a public discussion that needs to be had with rational minds on both sides.
Going further into the safety/efficacy argument is beyond the scope of this article. For more information on the safety and efficacy on vaccines, we highly recommend Gary Null’s documentary on the subject, Silent Epidemic: The Untold Story of Vaccines.
It’s not that one needs to accept the fact that vaccines are harmful and ineffective, but at the very least, one needs to realize the importance of an open and honest discussion on the topic. But rather than engaging in open rational discussion on the issue, Pro-Vaxxers shout the loudest, brow-beat and engage in ad hominem attacks to silence any opposition. If the evidence that vaccines are safe is so clear cut, what’s there to fear from challenging that evidence?
The Anti-Vaxxers are portrayed as hysterical, unreasonable, overly emotional, while the Pro-Vaxxers are presented as rational, scientifically minded and reasonable. As with most editorial lines taken by the mainstream media, the truth is the exact opposite. Anti-Vaxxers are usually well informed, have read the research and are, at the very least, skeptical of the official vaccine narrative, while the reactions of the Pro-Vaxxers offer a master class in hysterical ranting. Unable to entertain the possibility that their authorities may not have their best interests at heart, the Pro-Vaxxers are threatened by the very existence of those who actually question these authorities. It would simply destroy their worldview if vaccines weren’t safe and effective, and if they were forced to accept that the whole vaccination movement is a complete scam, designed to funnel money into the pockets of the few while the people at the bottom of the pyramid are left to suffer. Our authorities (God) love us. They would never do us harm. We are righteous. Those who question our authorities are evil. They must be eliminated or be forced to conform. Sounds like a fundie Christian on crusade, right? A US military grunt (or General) too, right?
The following article, Anti-vaxxers and epistemological narcissism, is an appeal to Christian parents who are on the Anti-Vaxx side of the debate. The author mentions the recent measles outbreaks in California and Arizona and blames the current outbreak on ‘Anti-Vaxxers’, as does this article, and this article, all despite the fact that “the assumption that vaccination equals bonafide immunity has never been supported by the evidence itself” . The author, Jesse Johnson, appeals to Christian parents who choose not to vaccinate, some history about measles is shared and then, (wait for it), we’re given “four reasons Christians should vaccinate their children”:
- Vaccines are a form of common grace that have dramatically changed the world for the better (Gen 3:18; Ps 145:9-16; Matt 5:44-45; Acts 14:16-17). Participating in the blessings of common grace in a post-Babel society means that we bond together as nations, and we use common grace to make quality of life better (Gen 9:6, 2 Kings 12:2, Luke 6:33). We work, we marry, and we protect each other. A basic way to do that is to be vaccinated against diseases that plague the cultures that don’t vaccinate.
- Thus, being vaccinated is a form of loving your neighbor (Lev 19:18; Matt 5:43,Rom 13:8-10, Jas 2:8). Knowing that some are too little, too young, or too weak to be vaccinated, we protect the weak by being vaccinated.
- We are not of those who are swayed by internet-rumors that have since been widely discredited (Job 12:20; Prov 13:16). That’s not to say that we blindly believe whatever we hear “science” say. Rather, we have a healthy skepticism, which in this case is satisfied by the universal scientific appeal to the safety of these vaccines (accompanied by the legal mandate to do it in most states). In fact, it discredits our discernment when we believe unsubstantiated and discredited rumors over the obvious fact that measles used to produce terror, and does so no longer.
- Christians are those that take risks for the advancement of the common good. We don’t teach our children “safety first,” but rather, “soli Deo Gloria” first, and everything else follows. Christians used to understand this. The ethics of Jonathan Edwards, who in one of his first acts as Princeton’s President received the Small Pox Vaccine and later died from it, used to be the norm. The wrong moral from Edward’s death is “avoid vaccines.” The right moral is “take calculated risks to better society.”
We were surprised to hear that the bible prohibits believers to be swayed by internet rumours, apparently in two different chapters. The prophetic power of that book has clearly been understated. It’s also surprising to hear that the lesson to be learned from someone who died from the small pox vaccine should be held as an example of how it’s a good thing to take “calculated risks”. How’s that for some mental gymnastics?
The author then concludes with the following statement:
“I recognize that this is a Christian gray-area, and it goes beyond what is written to say that a person is sinning by being an anti-vaxxer. But it does not go beyond what is written to appeal to believer’s discernment: don’t undo one of society’s crowning scientific advancements because of epistemological narcissism.”
“Epistemological narcissism”, eh? What that basically means is “wanting to know too much”. You heard it here first folks. Wanting to know too much and questioning authority is the work of the devil! Quick, close your browser before you damn your soul for all eternity!
While your average liberal atheist will likely cringe at being given bible verses as an argument for vaccination, their own reasoning is likely not far off. Whether your faith is centered in the bible or in non-existent science vomited up by media talking heads, it’s simply following the herd through emotional argumentation; not basing your decisions on research and logic.
And the fundamentalism of the Pro-Vaxxer religion is getting intense. Mirroring the rise of violence within the Pro-Lifer movement, we now see the beginnings of violence creeping into the fringes of the Pro-Vaxxer movement.
Death threats for Doctors sharing important information about Vaccine Safety
Our words, voice, and opinions are our birth right and are protected. Free speech is not a luxury and it is certainly not handed down to us from a government. In Australia, and ramping up quickly in the United States, it seems some speech is more free than others. A press release on January 27th from long time expert and vaccine educator Dr. Sherri Tenpenny announced that she has cancelled speaking appearances scheduled for Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne, and Gold Coast. The reason was due to pro-vaccine extremists calling for violence and making bomb threats against venue owners and their families in some cities originally scheduled for the healthy living seminars.
Fellow vaccine lecturer Stephanie Messenger, who jointly decided to cancel her appearances along with Dr. Tenpenny, states that:
“We have reached a point where we can no longer guarantee the safety of those attending the seminar. Some people were planning to bring babies. The threats have been persistent. We are not able to insure that the attendees would be safe from harm.”
Unfortunately, the ones making these threats are still at large.
It clearly isn’t enough that those who question vaccination are shouted down and smeared in the mainstream media. Indeed, the Pro-Vaxxers are so threatened by anyone questioning their religion that they need to make death threats against any anti-vax doctors and the innocent citizens wanting to hear what they have to say. While your average liberal is up in arms at the “assault on freedom of speech” from the Charlie Hebdo massacre, plastering their facebook pages with “Je Suis Charlie” slogans, they seem to have no issue with threatening anti-vaccination speakers into silence.
Going against the herd has always been fraught with some degree of danger – ostracization, character assassination, the occasional loogie in the face – but if you get caught up in the fervor of pro-vaccine hysteria, your life may be in danger. Read the Wikipedia page on Anti-Abortion Violence – are we really that far off here?
Unfortunately, death threats against vaccine critics are not unusual. Professor Garth L. Nicolson, PhD, President, Chief Scientific Officer and Research Professor of Molecular Pathology at the Institute for Molecular Medicine in Huntington Beach, California, has taught in medical schools in the US and Australia. He’s a well credentialed, well respected biochemist, well known for his landmark scientific model for cell membranes. Yet Dr. Nicolson received death threats when he became aware of unethical testing done on prisoners in Texas which involved possible contaminated vaccine ingredients later given to soldiers in the first Gulf War.
Dr. Nicolson explained what happened to him when he and others learned about the Texas prison experiments and the vaccine damage that occurred among US troops in the Gulf War. He stated:
We were actually forced to leave Texas. I was an endowed full professor and department chair at the University of Texas and I literally had to leave Texas because it became too dangerous. Several of my colleagues died. My boss was shot in the back of the head in his office, because he was going to blow the whistle on the prison testing experiments. So, it became very dangerous.
Clearly there is something dark and sordid happening behind the scenes with vaccine research if someone is going to the lengths of eliminating those who are willing to speak up. Similarly, Dr. Andrew Moulden reportedly received multiple death threats while engaged in his lifelong research into the negative effects of vaccination. Dr. Moulden’s death in 2013 is still considered a mystery, with some sources claiming he had a heart attack, others saying he committed suicide (despite having no reason to do so).
But if death threats and the almighty wrath of ‘religious fervor’ are not enough to scare doctors away from telling the truth, losing your job may be the next line of attack:
Dr. Jack Wolfson believes there are lifestyle changes you should make instead of vaccinating.
Despite a recent measles outbreak in California, a Valley doctor believes children should not get vaccinated and that they should be getting this kind of infection.
“We should be getting measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, these are the rights of our children to get it,” said Dr. Jack Wolfson of Wolfson Integrative Cardiology in Paradise Valley.
Wolfson does not believe in vaccination. “We do not need to inject chemicals into ourselves and into our children in order to boost our immune system,” he said.
The cardiologist also believes the key is to have a healthy immune system. In order to have that, he says, you have to avoid chemicals, get enough sleep, exercise, take good supplements, and have proper nutrition.
“I’m a big fan of what’s called paleo-nutrition, so our children eat foods that our ancestors have been eating for millions of years,” he said. “That’s the best way to protect.”
Nothing overly controversial in the above statements. Pretty much par for the course for natural health care practitioners. Unconventional, perhaps. But it’s hardly something to, say, lose your medical license over. Right?
In a very obvious and full-throttle move, the Arizona Medical Board is now investigating [Dr. Wolfson] for what he said. At the same time, there are calls from “experts” to have such doctors’ licenses revoked because somehow, they are creating harm.
When has a doctor’s right to not use vaccines ever been negotiable? Since when is expressing opinion grounds for having a medical license revoked?
Good questions. It seems in the Vaccine Hysteria environment, any divergence from the party line on vaccines is grounds for dismissal. Forget Charlie Hebdo, this is the worst attack on free speech this decade.
And speaking of free speech; a Naturopathic Doctor friend of mine was telling me about an email she received from the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND) in regards to the recent vaccine controversy. Here’s a sample:
With the recent media storm about measles, vaccinations and nosodes, we understand that members are tempted to respond in order to bring to light a reporter’s bias or poor understanding of naturopathic medicine. However, the risks outweigh the benefits and we request that all members connect with the CAND instead of reacting and engaging directly with the media.
With most stories, journalists are looking to profile two sides of an issue. On this particular one, the media is seeking an opposing view on vaccinations and would like NDs to play that role in their stories, even if the majority of naturopathic doctors focus on educating their patients about vaccines, including the benefits. Therefore, the media will be less interested in reporting the true facts and will seek to focus on the small exceptions, as we saw in yesterday’s Globe & Mail article. For this reason, NDs are entering into a no-win situation if they choose to speak with media on this issue.
The letter goes on to tell Naturopaths that, if they are contacted by the media, do not respond and immediately contact their lawyers! How’s that for open and honest debate on the subject?
Remember this guy? Dr. Andrew Wakefield was the devil-incarnate who is accused of single-handedly creating the anti-vaccine movement as it exists today. For daring to suggest a possible link between the MMR vaccine and autism in susceptible populations (a totally well-founded and possible connection), Dr. Wakefield was subjected to one of the most despicable and concerted media smear jobs in an effort to dismiss his research. Unfortunately, it destroyed the man’s career:
Dr. Wakefield in Silent Epidemic – The Untold Story of Vaccines
“Problems with vaccines in general and MMR specifically, are far greater than anticipated, even as a physician and scientist, I began to question the safety of vaccines back in 1990 – 1991 the further I looked into the issue the more concerned I became, the more I posted questions to the authorities, the answers became unsatisfactory and unscientific. Invested largely in a belief system, a hope, a wish, rather than hard evidence or scientific facts. The more I have learned the more I have become concerned, not only that the safety studies have not been done, there are no need for vaccines, like the mumps in the first place. This is not my opinion but the opinion of the CDC and regulators in the U.K. Vaccines introduced for commercial imperatives in the interest of Big Pharma rather than the interest of the public!“
Blasphemy! No wonder the guy’s been painted as a modern day Satan. He may as well be saying Jesus never existed.
With the death threats, defamation, public beheadings (not literally, but wait for it), clearly the Pro-Vaxxers see this “Anti-Vaxxer Movement” as a serious threat, something which needs to be eradicated by any means necessary. But one thing should be made clear: there is no Anti-Vaxxer Movement:
There is no such thing as the “anti-vaccination movement.” A “movement” is a growing organization of people, all pushing toward a common goal. People who exempt their children from vaccination don’t have a “common goal.” There is no target percentage of “anti-vaccination” they conspire to achieve. There is no agenda to push down anyone’s throat. There is no point in time at which they hope to declare victory. The only thing that exemptors have in common is this: they don’t care what you do with your kid. They only care about their own.
The “pro-vaccination movement” is funded – in cash, in product donations, and in intellectual manpower – by people who have gotten rich from the manufacture and sale of vaccines. Sure, they have uncompensated foot soldiers of uncertain mental stability, but the driving force is from a higher level. The goal of the “pro-vaccination movement” is to have 100% compliance with the vaccine program. Exemptors? Exemptors don’t care if anyone complies.
The “pro-vaccination movement” teams up with local health departments to get state legislators to sponsor laws that take away parental rights. Exemptors? They don’t care how anyone else parents their children; just don’t tell them how to parent their own.
The “pro-vaccination movement” goes to their contacts in the pharmaceutical-owned media to call names and paint portraits of ignorance and mis-education of the parents who exercise their right of exemption. Exemptors? Most of them don’t have any friends in the media and if they do, they sure aren’t slinging mud. Why? Because they don’t care what other people are doing with regard to vaccines.
In 1853 vaccination for smallpox became mandatory, with fines for non-compliance and imprisonment for non-payment of the fines. This led to massive demonstrations by the working class, celebrities, and parliament members. In 1885, with over 3,000 prosecutions pending in one county alone, a demonstration of 20,000 people led to what eventually became the exemption of Conscientious Objection of 1898.
The 1898 Vaccination Act removed penalties for not vaccinating and allowed parents who did not believe that vaccination was safe or effective to obtain an exemption for their infant children. But there was a catch – in order to obtain the exemption they had to satisfy the requirements of two magistrates before the child was 4 months old. Unsurprisingly, many magistrates refused to perform their duties under the law and the intention behind granting liberty from vaccination floundered.
The exemptors pushed harder and the British government responded by passing the 1907 Vaccination Act. With that, a parent could exempt their child by mailing a written declaration to the local Vaccination Officer that stated their belief that vaccination would harm their child’s health. In 1908 a whopping 17% of the British population filed for Conscientious Objector status. It was the advent of the modern Philosophical Exemption, born of oppressive government intervention and community meddling in parenting rights.
That, my friends, was an “anti-vaccination movement.”
So no, in 2015 there is no “anti-vaccination movement,” but keep it up. Keep hurling insults in the media, keep schmoozing with local law makers. Keep going after infant children to receive vaccines that you yourself haven’t had in decades. Keep on talking about this “anti-vaccination movement” and exemptors are going to give you something to talk about, mark my words. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
There is no “Anti-Vaxxer Movement”, yet the Pro-Vaxxers are fighting it for everything they’re worth. Why is that? A quote from the bible seems appropriate here: “The wicked flee [or attack] when no man pursueth” [or when no one attacks] – Proverbs 28
This whole idea is reminiscent of the Christian fundies talking about a “Homosexual Conspiracy” bent on “recruiting” heterosexuals, particularly heterosexual children, into their ‘insidious’ lifestyle. Anyone who is, or who has ever known, a homosexual sees from the outset how ridiculous this is. Homosexuals, by and large, do not care what sexual orientation you or anyone else has. They just want to be left alone vis a vis sexuality. Anti-Vaxxers are the same – they don’t care if you vaccinate yourself or your child, they just want to be free to make their own medical decisions, free of harassment.
Much like the abortion debate, the vaccine debate, at its essence, is whether you have the right to do with your body as you please. The fundamentalists would have it that you don’t; that your body belongs to the state and that you have no right to decide for yourself or your children what medical procedures they will be exposed to. In addition, it appears they will resort to truly extreme methods, much like the Pro-Lifers who came before them, to silence those who disagree with their beliefs. It’s amazing the number of left-wingers, who would define themselves as vehemently “Pro-Choice”, are coming out in favor of forced vaccination. I guess the term “choice” is more flexible than one would believe, or than the English dictionary defines it.
To really get the impression on how this debate is turned on it’s head and how Pro-Vaxxers really spin information in their favor, watch the following video: Anti-Vaxxers Ruin Disneyland
About 2 minutes through the video you see the seething contempt and complete disregard for the concerns and questions posed by the ‘Anti-Vaxxer Movement’. One of the show hosts actually states “F%@# those people!” What an intelligent way to sway the masses toward the pro vaccine stance! The hosts go on to say that it is wealthy parents who choose to not vaccinate, making the false assumption that it’s trendy to refuse or postpone vaccinations. Stating that parents ‘are to blame in some ways’ but the real blame is on the ‘anti vaccination agenda’
More Media mis-representation of the anti-vaxx stance
According to Rex Murphy on Point of View, Anti-Vaxxers like Jenny McCarthy confess to “have the intellectual power of a dead tree stump and may even been living in one!” What an argument…it gets better, listen to this guy tell his audience that “the very freedom (to choose) has caused a few selfish and profoundly silly people to rattle on about imagined harms to walk away from reason and medicine to their own self absorbed and dangerous fantasies. Anti-vaccination is intensely selfish, not vaccinating a child amounts to taking a free ride on the good practices of others. Their good practice is the protection against your immense carelessness!”
In the face of all this opposition, as with most things in life, we have to ask ourselves: What would Ghandi do?
Whether you are for or against vaccination, the reality is that this debate has gone way beyond the rational. Hysteria trumps informed debate, emotions run high and name calling, death threats, revoking of medical licenses and smear campaigns are the name of the game, at least for now. But how long before we see actual deaths, kidnappings and assaults in the name of protecting children’s health big pharma’s profits?