Must We Have Someone to Blame?

Why is it that every time something bad happens we have to have a group of people to blame? Then we have to openly shame them until we either, get tired of talking about it or, something new happens that distracts us? Shouldn’t we be looking for a solution instead?

I’ve been trying to stay up on current events and not get so behind (see my last post which was over a month late to the party) but I’m still riding the tail end of every issue. But I write things when they inspire (or infuriate) me so sometimes it takes me a minute to catch up.

Today, I’m going to address this measles outbreak that has everyone so up in arms. Hopefully, I can continue my goal of staying in a moderate position as I write what will eventually end in my opinion. I strive to keep a moderate standpoint and see both sides of all issues. This often makes for some frustrating research. When you look at both sides of an issue with an objective viewpoint, you end up seeing how utterly stupid both sides look.

First, to update you on the issue:

From January 1 to January 30, 2015, 102 people from 14 states were reported to have measles. Most of these cases are part of a large, ongoing multi-state outbreak linked to an amusement park in California.

From the CDC . They also had this fun graphic illustrating the outbreaks:

So, now that you know what’s going on (a bunch of people who were unvaccinated or whose vaccinations did not work — it happens — caught measles at Disneyland), let’s talk about some of the viewpoints. First of all, I’ll address the overall popular standpoint. That is, that the whole outbreak was caused by people in America who are against vaccinating their children and therefore do not have their children vaccinated for any illnesses. Then we’ll talk about why I don’t think this is a solution. For your perusal, here are some articles from that standpoint: Anti-Vaxxers Brought Measles to the Happiest Place on Earth — The Daily Beast Fox Expert Explodes at Anti-Vaxxers Over Measles Outbreak: ‘Why Should My Child Be at Risk?’ — Raw Story (via Fox News) Disneyland: The Latest Victim of the Anti-Vaxxers — TIME I tried to use credible sources there, but it’s easy to get lost in the opinionated voice of the internet. Let’s talk about some of the quotes I’ve pulled from these articles. First, the Daily Beast article:

“…when enough people refuse the vaccine out of a self-centered willingness to let other parents take the imaginary risk they associate with the vaccine, there won’t be enough responsible people to keep it effectively at bay.”

I should say first, this blog post is not to debate whether it is harmful or not to vaccinate your child. If you need my opinion in order to take anything I say seriously, then I will say that I am pro-vaccine and will have my future children vaccinated. Though I agree with a vast majority of the article, the statements in bold in the above quote have nothing to do with the safety of vaccinations or indeed with the measles outbreak itself. They are simply there to demonize and debase the small group of people who choose not to have their children vaccinated (for whatever reason). He calls those select parents “self centered” and claims that they are making up some kind of risk in order to justify denying vaccinations to their children. He is painting them as self centered idiots. How about Fox News:

“I think these parents are putting children at risk in schools. I think schools should consider not allowing these kids in. Make them be homeschooled if they don’t have this vaccine. Why should my child be a risk because your child isn’t vaccinated?”

Now, not only are they demonizing the parents by trying to lay guilt upon them and make them seem like they don’t care about the health of their child or yours, they’re also suggesting punishing the children for their parent’s decision. And finally, TIME:

“Just when you think they’ve been run to ground, shamed into silence…”

Now, we are making it seem as though anti-vaxxers deserve to be shamed for doing what they believe is right. This conveys that anti-vaxxers deserve to be ostracized from the community.

“…the reaction is likely to be more of the same — which is to say denial coupled with a lot of echo-chamber prattle about a bought-off media carrying water for big pharma…”

I don’t think I need to explain how this conveys that anti-vaxxers are stupid. I don’t think the word “prattle” was a coincidence here. Again, I tried to use sources here that were more moderate and credible. There are a lot of sources out there that paint anti-vaxxers in a much darker light. Let alone my Facebook news feed, which contains a huge amount of somewhat witty graphics demonizing anti-vaxxers. Here’s some good examples I pulled directly from friends who shall not be named.

Why did I go to all the trouble to find all this evidence that we are demonizing anti-vaxxers if I believe that they’re wrong for not vaccinating their children? Because I don’t believe it’s right to shame a group of people for decisions they made based on information they were given. These people who don’t vaccinate their children chose not to do so because they believed they were doing what was best for their children. Isn’t that what we would all do? If someone you trusted told you that their child definitely got autism from a vaccine and you’d just had a baby, would you not take that to heart? It’s been proven that we listen to the experiences and opinions of our family, friends, and those we trust much more than we do to the opinions and experiences of strangers. So, are these anti-vaxxers misinformed? Yes. Absolutely. Should we be demonizing them simply because we want someone to blame? Not at all. We shouldn’t be joking about sending them to Africa or wishing harm on them because in the end, they did what they thought was right. We should be talking to them. We should be arming them with information. We should be sensitive to their thoughts and opinions. We shouldn’t assume that Jenny McCarthy is the standard anti-vaxxer and that they’re all exactly like her. Some of them are actually very level headed and are truly doing what they think is right for their children. I will site an NPR article here about a woman named Jennifer Russo who used to be an anti-vaxxer and is no longer.

“”I know what it’s like to be scared and just want to protect your children, and make the wrong decisions,” Russo says.”

The fact that we as a society need a group to hate every time something bad happens worries me. And this isn’t the only time. After 9/11, we demonized all Muslims, and they’re still suffering for that. And no matter how much you agree or disagree, we have demonized police officers after the recent events in Missouri. Every time something bad happens to us as a society, we feel we must choose a group to blame for it, rather than an individual who actually committed some crime or (gasp) no one at all. But how does that help us? How does that promote coming to a solution and ending the problem? It doesn’t. It makes us feel better for a short time and then we forget about the issue all together. Does it not feel like a media ploy to anyone else? Do you not feel as though you’re being forced to hate a group of people? The more emotional you get the more you forget about the real issue and the more you focus on that group of people. I’ve fallen for it many times before. But we’re not dumb, and we shouldn’t act that way. We should learn from our mistakes, stop hating anti-vaxxers, and start brainstorming ways to solve the problem. Let’s educate people, create proven safe vaccines with transparent ingredients (meaning that there’s nothing in there you don’t know about). We can’t lie about what we put in food, medicine, or anything else we put in our bodies anymore. It’s putting people’s lives at risk. Companies are even lying about what they put in vitamin supplements now and they’re taking advantage of all of us. Finally, I will point out that there is a debate now as to whether or not the United States government should mandate vaccinations for children. Personally, I think this is going way too far the other way. Do we really want the government, which is run by big business and ultimately money, telling us what to put in our bodies and those of our children? No, probably not. I guarantee you that, if the government mandates vaccines, you’ll never know exactly what is in that shot and you’ll never know exactly what you’re giving your child. It’s not a long term solution. It’s just a band aid to stop one group from complaining about another.

Originally published at on February 11, 2015.

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