The last couple of days have been unrelentingly serious and depressing, with posts on the (probably) preventable death of a young Australian woman named Jess Ainscough of a rare cancer because she made the mistake of choosing the quackery that is the Gerson protocol rather than conventional medicine. Unfortunately, the “natural health community” will almost certainly learn nothing from her story, in which Ainscough, facing the very unpleasant prospect of a radical amputation, instead chose Gerson therapy and became an evangelist for that particular form of cancer quackery and “natural healing.” I felt sorry for her, even though I couldn’t approve of how she potentially led people with cancer down the road of pseudoscience and quackery with her enthusiastic promotion of coffee enemas and the rest of the nonsense Charlotte Gerson sells based on her father’s protocol.
I need to lighten up.
Who better to provide the comic relief from this thus far grim week than that buffoon of buffoons, Mike Adams? Even better, unlike Ainscough, who was herself a victim of whatever cancer quacks sold her on the Gerson protocol in the first place, Adams is no victim. He’s also pissed off (his usual state of mind) Why is he so ticked off? Well, he’s not happy with Jimmy Kimmel over this bit he did Friday night on his show:
Normally, I don’t watch Jimmy Kimmel, even on the now rare times when I’m up that late. (My wife and I tend to be so beat on Friday nights that our typical ritual on most Fridays is to order pizza, maybe with a glass of wine—or not—and then fall asleep with the dog on the couch by 10 PM.) I saw it Saturday morning, as it was making the rounds on social media, and I thought it was hilarious.
Mike Adams was not so amused. doing that faux outrage schtick he does so well to fire up his minions against the evil depredations of big pharma and the government, he published a spittle-flecked rant (are there any other kinds from Mike Adams?) entitled OUTRAGE! Jimmy Kimmel makes fun of vaccine-damaged children, revives hate speech bigotry on national TV. I must admit, I was surprised it took him nearly four days to come up with this, but I did chuckle at the histrionic title of the post before I read a single word:
Throughout U.S. history, certain selected groups of citizens have been subjected to extreme verbal, judicial and even physical abuse at the hands of bigoted oppressors. The historical abuse of African-Americans — subjected to generations of abusive language and racism that still lingers today — was villainously summed up with a bigoted hate speech label I dare not utter here.
Gay Americans were similarly subjected to the label of “f-@@-t,” a hate-based derogatory slur invoked to demean a human being because of their sexual orientation. It was this campaign of verbal abuse and derogatory hate speech that helped give rise to violence against gays in America.
Importantly, every effort to demean and denigrate a selectively targeted class of citizens — whether for their skin color, their sexual orientation or their beliefs — has been preceded by a campaign of verbal abuse intended to dehumanize that targeted group. The invocation and use of bigoted, derogatory labels lays the social and cultural groundwork for not only discrimination but even actual violence committed against the groups being targeted.
Racism and hate speech are wrong. It is morally, politically and socially incorrect to use hate speech labels in a derogatory manner in a civilized society. These terms are hate-based forms of speech meant to emotionally hurt and demean targeted groups of innocent people. Yet, astonishingly, it has now emerged in America that it is socially acceptable to use precisely the same bigoted hate-speech language against another group: children who are damaged by vaccines (and children who are unvaccinated). This group is now being widely and aggressively disparaged with the hate-based term “anti-vaxxers.”
Did you watch the video? I did. Kimmel didn’t make fun of any children, “vaccine-injured,” autistic, or neurotypical, or otherwise. Not at all. Rather, he made fun of “antivaxers,” basically mocking their sense of entitlement and, above all, their apparent belief that their Google University knowledge trumps the actual knowledge of doctors, using a rather hilarious fake public service announcement with doctors complaining about this and using slightly profanity-laced exhortations to parents to get their kids vaccinated. It was an excellent deconstruction of the Dunning-Kruger effect that makes antivaccinationists antivaccinationists.
Kimmel’s five minute comedy bit is not “hate speech,” although complaining about “hate speech” or “bullying” has become the go-to whine from antivaccinationists facing criticism for their choices, a whine that’s become even more intense in light of the Disneyland measles outbreak since Christmas. Criticism of pseudoscience and quackery is not “hate speech.” It’s just not. For one thing, hate speech usually involves attacking groups who are the way they are through no choice of their own. Think attacking Jews or African-Americans on the basis of their religion or race. Think attacking homosexuals because of their sexual orientation. Yes, those are the examples Adams used, but how is one of these things (antivaccinationists) not like the others (blacks or homosexuals)? That’s right. Antivaccinationists choose to be antivaccinationists. Also, blacks and gays do no harm to society by being black or gay. Antivaccinationists, through their choices not to vaccinate, are largely responsible for the resurgence of diseases once thought vanquished—like measles.
Not that that stops Adams when he’s on a roll even more ridiculous than one of his typical rants:
In a stunning demonstration of demeaning hate speech targeting children who have suffered brain damage from vaccines, comedian Jimmy Kimmel unleashed a satire comedy hit piece that, fifty years ago, would have almost certainly seen Kimmel making fun of black people. Twenty years ago, he would have been making fun of gay people. But today, in 2015, Jimmy Kimmel directs his ignorance, bigotry and demeaning hate speech toward vaccine-damaged children who are now labeled “anti-vaxxers.”
Given that Adams brought race into this, you know where this is going; that is, if you’ve been following this blog at least since August and recall the kerfuffle over the trumped up “CDC Whistleblower” manufactroversy:
Not only is Jimmy Kimmel using bigoted hate speech language to demean crippled children who were damaged by vaccines; he’s also doing so in a manner that is utterly ignorant of the special risks posed to African-Americans by vaccines.
It was Dr. William Thompson, a top CDC scientist, who blew the whistle on the CDC’s vaccine research fraud last year, going public with his confession that the CDC knowingly covered up data linking vaccines to an increased risk of autism in young African-American boys.
Except that the CDC study in question showed nothing of the sort, and there’s no credible evidence of a “cover up,” just the stress-induced claims of a single CDC psychologist whose claims have gained no traction and failed to be corroborated. This whole kerfuffle came to be known among antivaccinationists as the “CDC whistleblower”/#CDCWhistleblower saga. Let’s just put it this way: Andrew Wakefield glommed onto this fake controversy. That ought to tell you all you need to know.
Adams even invokes a statement by Mahatma Gandhi, who, if the reference is accurate, was apparently amazingly ignorant about vaccination, leading me to wonder: Where did Gandhi get his medical degree? (For a more skeptical take on Gandhi’s views on vaccines, check this out.) On a scientific basis, I care no more what Gandhi said about vaccines than what Mike Adams says, things like:
Vaccines, it turns out, are a form of medical violence against children for the simple reason that they provably cause extreme, permanent damage in many children year after year. But medical violence isn’t the only violence that Jimmy Kimmel now seems to be promoting… he’s also provoking individual acts of violence against so-called “anti-vaxxers” through his emotionally-charged, hate-filled rhetoric disguised as comedy.
Historically, it was the public tolerance of hate speech against African-Americans and gays that encouraged some people to engage in violent acts against them. After all, a group of people who are verbally belittled with derogatory and bigoted hate speech by public figures is an easy target for those with violent tendencies.
Oh, please, Mr. Adams. Pot. Kettle. Black. This nonsense is from a man who routinely refers to scientists as being the equivalent of “Nazis” (no, actually, he likened Monsanto and pro-GMO advocates explicitly to Nazis and strongly implied that it would be right to kill them for their “heinous crimes,” starting up and later shutting down a site called “Monsanto Collaborators”) and castigates science itself as evil, while ranting against big pharma. Hypocrisy, thy name is Mike Adams (among others). By Adams’ own definition, he engages in hate speech himself far beyond any accusation he can come up with against Jimmy Kimmel in his fevered imagination. It’s just another example of what a joke Mike Adams is. Unfortunately, he’s an influential joke.
Over the last few years, antivaccinationists have tried to liken themselves to traditionally oppressed or discriminated against groups, such as blacks, gays, or others in a transparent ploy to deflect criticism and paint it as “oppression.” Adams’ little screed takes that technique and hilariously puts it on steroids and cranks it up to 11. (Yes, when it comes to Adams, I like to shamelessly mix metaphors.) It’s over-the-top, even by Mike Adams’ standards.
For Mike Adams, it’s always, “Do as I say, not as I do.”
ADDENDUM: Jimmy Kimmel now has a followup. It’s hilarious, as Kimmel shows actual Tweets directed at him and lets antivaxers advocate for a “child’s right to choose”: