The violent rhetoric of the antivaccine movement

I originally wasn't going to write about this particular post, but the mass shooting in San Bernardino yesterday led me to change my mind. For those of you who either aren't in the US or were somehow cut off from media for the last 18 hours or so, yesterday a heavily armed man and woman dressed in body armor, who turned out to be a married couple, entered a conference center at Inland Regional Center, a sprawling facility that provides services for thousands of people with disabilities. There, at an annual holiday party for the San Bernardino County Public Health Department, Syed Rizwan Farook, who had worked for five years as an environmental inspector there, and his wife killed at least 14 people, injuring at least 17 more, before hopping in a black SUV and leading the police on a manhunt that culminated in a shootout that left them both dead. Police still don't know their motive, and it's unclear what led to the shooting, but they were armed with .223-caliber assault rifles and semiautomatic handguns and left three explosive devices behind. No doubt we will discover more today as the police investigation continues, as this is one of the more bizarre mass shootings that have occurred.

So why did I mention this tragedy, so fresh in our minds? It's because it reminds me of a second post, Pro Choice Pro Vax Anti Choice Anti Vax in America by Dara Berger, whose post castigating "pro-vax bullies" as the last acceptable bullies was so off-base, basically following up on the same theme but taking it to a new level. You get a flavor right from the start and, I hope, an understanding why Berger's post reminded me of the events of yesterday, as Berger invokes last week's Colorado Springs shooting at a Planned Parenthood facility:

The shooting in Colorado Springs this past Friday made me think about our own movement regarding vaccines. I pondered whether the pro vaccine group would ever become violent. They certainly go to extreme lengths to hurt people who don’t share the same opinion as them. The choice about vaccines in many ways is very similar to the fight about abortion. One group would like to have the legal and moral choice to decide for themselves while the other side would like to take all choice away. Sound familiar? In essence, they want choice to be illegal. Another similarity is that we are dealing with the choice to make a decision about ones own physical body. Why would another person think that they even bare the right to govern what someone does to their own body? Why would they even want to? Shouldn’t we all be created equal?

It's always hard to read Ms. Berger's posts because they're so damned poorly written, and this one is no exception. If anything, it's considerably more poorly written than the first post of hers that I discussed. Nonetheless, you can still easily get the gist of her idea in the first paragraph. The battle over reproductive rights is just like the battle over "vaccine choice," with violent anti-abortion activists being likened to those of us who want to see children protected from infectious disease. Why would she do that? One wonders. Fear not. We'll find out soon enough.

First, though, let's take a look at her analogy. First, even Berger must recognize that there's a big difference, although the difference she sees is not the difference most of us would point out:

Now if you explore the reasons behind each movement, we can see on the surface that they are driven by a different motivator. One is purely about money and profits. Pharmaceutical companies are not making vaccines out of the goodness of their heart. They make money and a lot of it! That’s the one thing that has always killed me when we talk about forced vaccinations. How can you force someone to take something made by a for profit company? Many of these companies make so much money that I forget if it is in the billions or trillions. It’s that insane. The other movement seems to be driven by religion.

Poor Ms. Berger. So close and yet so far. Yes, the anti-abortion movement is motivated by religion. That much is certain. However, when it comes to the motivation of those of us who promote vaccination, profit is not the motive. Really, it's not. The vast majority of skeptics, scientists, and physicians who are pro-vaccine are not arguing against the antivaccine movement because we want the pharmaceutical companies to make more money, presumably so that they can pay us more. Seriously. Contrary to Ms. Berger's belief (at one point she speculates that I must have taken 45 minutes to write my takedown of her "bullying" post and that her husband said that I must be paid), I'm not paid by pharmaceutical companies to do what I do. I do receive a small bit of income from ScienceBlogs for blogging for the company, but that income doesn't depend in the least about my writing about vaccines or not. I can write about just about any medical topic I like. Heck, I can write about just about anything I like. I'd get my little monthly check either way, and all the amount depends upon is the traffic.

This is just a diversion, though. It's what I like to refer to as the "pharma shill" gambit, where believers in quackery (such as antivaccinationists) resort to ad hominem attacks to try to discredit their critics by claiming that they only say what they say because they're paid by big pharma. Whenever I see the pharma shill gambit, my sarcastic response usually goes something like this: Where is my filthy lucre? Where is my yacht? Where is my Porsche? Dammit, pharma pay masters, why am I not living in a mansion for all the service I render?

Ms. Berger then tries to be a little more precise in her attribution of parallels between violent anti-abortion extremists and "pro-vaxers":

The real driving factor behind all the chaos surrounding both movements is that one side wants to control the other. One side has definitively decided that they know best and theirs is the only opinion that matters.

Which is, of course, nonsense. It's not about control. It's about protecting children and society from infectious disease. It's clear that Ms. Berger doesn't seem to understand this when later she rants:

I would never take a vaccine but I do think the option should be available for other people to take any and all the vaccines that they want. I just wish the more extreme pro vaccine people would respect my decision and not try so hard to strip me of my basic human rights to govern my own body.

Here's a hint. No one, not Paul Offit, not the most ardent "pro-vaxer," not even Orac, is trying to force Ms. Berger to take a vaccine against her will. No one. Adults are free to choose to be vaccinated or to choose not to be vaccinated, with only very limited exceptions (such as being in the military). Indeed, as I've said more generally more times than I can remember, competent adults can choose to refuse any treatment they want in favor of even rank quackery.

However, we're not talking about adults here. We're talking about children, and children rely on their parents to make medical decisions for them. In addition, no one, not Paul Offit, not the most ardent "pro-vaxer," not even Orac, will "force" Ms. Berger's children to be vaccinated against her will. There will be no jackbooted brownshirts kicking her door in, followed by nurses with syringes who will vaccinate her children while the brownshirts hold guns on Ms. Berger and her husband. That doesn't happen, even though Ms. Berger's rhetoric (and that of a lot of antivaccine activists) seems to suggest that that's what is going on. What Ms. Berger doesn't like is that her "choice" not to vaccinate will have consequences. If she chooses not to vaccinate her children, then they will not have access to public schools and day care because of the risk to other children that unvaccinated children pose.

All of this is prologue, however, to why I chose to write about Ms. Berger's rather muddled views again on this day. Here is the key passage that disturbed me:

So getting back to the question of will they [pro-vaxers] ever become violent. Well I think in an indirect way they already have become violent. They are trying to force our children to take vaccinations against our will. They are trying to get our previously vaccine injured children to take more vaccines and don’t care that we feel it will put them in grave danger. They are also trying to force the siblings of this vaccine injured child to get vaccines, even though they may have the same genetic makeup and susceptibilities. Where did this all start? A couple years ago Paul Offit said that he wanted to do away with the religious exemption. He wanted the small percent of unvaccinated children to be vaccinated. Why? So he could make millions of dollars! So what did he do? He wrote a book on the subject that didn’t happen to garner the best reviews. He worked tirelessly with pharmaceutical companies and lobbyists to pay off senators and other lawmakers to get them to introduce bills such as SB 277 in California that stripped away a parents right to decide, by using their child’s education as leverage. In California, you now have to vaccinate your child in order to be able to attend a public school in 2016. Unfortunately, many families need a dual-income and may have to succumb to giving vaccines in order for their children to go to school. They may not have the ability to leave their job and move to another state. And not everybody has the ability or can afford to home school their child. Some of these children may become injured as a result. Vaccine injury is a violent act against a child especially if it is forced and without consent. Vaccine injury can leave a child with permanent brain damage. Anyone who lives with a vaccine injured child knows how absolutely devastating life after vaccine injury can be. And the pharmaceutical company who produced the vaccine offers no help and is nowhere to be found.

Whether she knows it or not, here Ms. Berger has directly invoked the rationale used by violent anti-abortion protesters for their actions. They believe that abortion is murder and that stopping murder justifies the use of extreme measures, up to and including violence. Ms. Berger likens vaccination to a violent assault on children. She even states that "vaccine injury is a violent act against a child." Whether Ms. Berger realizes it or not, it’s only a short jump from this sort of rhetoric about how vaccination is “violence” against children, causing brain damage and even death, to justifying doing anything to stop it, including a little pre-emptive violence, if necessary, just as some radical anti-abortion terrorists have concluded.

Indeed, some antivaccine activists have made essentially the same leap. Australian antivaccine activist Tristan Wells, for instance, has in response to the passage of No Jab No Pay legislation said this:

Disgusting fascist policy. And the people who support it are all child abusers.

The fact is that nobody would ever subject themselves to the equivalent (weight adjusted) dose of what babies are expected to get.

Everybody expects babies to receive a dose that they would be petrified of taking themselves. Vaccines are pure evil and all those involved in this disgusting criminal enterprise should be executed.

Indeed, of late the rhetoric from the antivaccine movement has become increasingly apocalyptic, as I pointed out in my last post about Ms. Berger's ramblings. We see lots of invocation of the Nazis and fascism, Kent Heckenlively's vision of himself as Aragorn facing down Sauron's armies, and other rhetoric painting antivaccinationists as resisting tyranny to save children from a fate worse than death. There are regular antivaccine commenters who take names like White Rose, in tribute to a group that resisted Nazi policies and several of whose members paid for that resistance with their lives. Meanwhile, vaccination is frequently likened to "medical assault and even medical assault and even rape.

Then on Facebook, it's not hard to find memes like this:

This is how some antivaccinationists view themselves. And they accuse pro-vaccine advocates as being violent? This is how some antivaccinationists view themselves. And they accuse pro-vaccine advocates as being violent?

 

 

This one disappeared very quickly after appearing on the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism. However, over on Thug Health, the anti-medicine, anti-vaccine loons (and, yes, they are frighteningly loony) there frequently come up with violent imagery about resisting vaccines.

For example, there's this:

 

Gee, I wonder what Thuggie means by this. Gee, I wonder what Thuggie means by this.

 

 

Then there's the mama bear:

 

"Mama bear" will kill you if you try to get her to vaccinate her child. "Mama bear" will kill you if you try to get her to vaccinate her child.

 

 

Of course, if the mom isn't wholesome-appearing enough, then there's always a grannie:

 

That's right. Grannies will resist vaccines, too, if you believe some antivaccine activists. That's right. Grannies will resist vaccines, too, if you believe some antivaccine activists.

 

 

Then, of course, there's the female action hero image:

 

Because, apparently, there has to be eye candy for the male antivaccine activists seeing themselves as resisting tyranny. Because, apparently, there has to be eye candy for the male antivaccine activists seeing themselves as resisting tyranny.

 

 

Then there's just the all-purpose generic image of armed resistance:

 

Who's the side using violent imagery now? I mean, seriously, which side looks scarier? Who's the side using violent imagery now? I mean, seriously, which side looks scarier?

 

And, lest you think this is just one site, here's something an antivaccine zealot posted on Neil Z. Miller's Facebook page. You might remember Mr. Miller for some of his truly execrable "epidemiological" research (and I do use the term very loosely) relating infant mortality rates to vaccination rates that defined the term "cherry picking." In response to a post last week complaining about Paul Offit's advocacy of eliminating all nonmedical exemptions, someone named Brindle Markey-Molina posted this image (also found here):

Yes, it's not just Thug Health posting threatening and violent antivaccine memes. Yes, it's not just Thug Health posting threatening and violent antivaccine memes.

 

I could post a lot more of these images, but I think I've made my point.

It's hard not to wonder in light of this rhetoric and violent imagery: Who's more likely to embrace violence, "pro-vaxers" or anti-vaxers? Indeed, early on during the news coverage of the San Bernardino mass murder, I found the thought entering my mind: This is a center for the developmentally disabled that provides care for a lot of autistic children. Then, a little later, I learned that the attack was directed at the Bernardino County Public Health Department, which no doubt oversees county vaccination programs. Did this attack have anything to do with the antivaccine movement? I couldn't help but briefly wonder. Of course, I didn't voice that fear publicly, either on Facebook or Twitter or anywhere else, because I had learned from previous mass shootings not to jump to conclusions or even to speculate too wildly. Instead, as I have unfortunately learned to do, I waited until the authorities had the situation under control and we had learned who the killers were and what their motivations were. Now I know that this had nothing to do with antivaccine activists, but I don't think it was too unreasonable to have at least a germ of a concern that it might have been.

After all, people like Dara Berger and Tristan Wells provide just rhetoric that made that concern bubble to the surface of my thoughts yesterday afternoon. I thought it was a far out, maybe even slightly paranoid concern when the thought first popped unbidden into my mind, but after thinking about it more I'm no longer quite so sure.

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I thought you were perhaps indulging in a bit of hyperbole (only a bit), until I saw the pictures! O.M.G. This is incredibly disturbing.

By darwinslapdog (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

It's not an unreasonable concern, really, considering Dr. Offit was already the target of death threats years ago. The violent imagery used by the anti-vaccine movement is one of the reasons that I try to remain pseudonymous.

From a comment to Dana Berger's post "Pro Choice Pro Vax Anti Choice Anti Vax in America ":

" Autism is a form of "live" abortion. A vaccine derived lobotomy."

I have no words.

I have to say, Orac, that when I first heard the report of the shooting and its setting that I had very similar thoughts to you. Maybe it was your article that struck a chord, or maybe it was just pattern-matching, but it was a disturbing thought nonetheless...

By Lab_Monkey (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

Did you see the meme posted yesterday on rtavm? Where an anti vaxxer told everyone that tried to give her a flu shot would be shot by her first? It wouldn't surprise me if anti vaxers will shoot someone sooner or later. Their beliefs made them brainwashed cult members believing the world is against them. And that's a dangerous belief.

Thughealth? As in thugs - "A violent person, especially a criminal". How on earth did they come up with that name? "I'm a violent criminal and proud of it". The pictures certainly fit with that theme.

ProgJohn, I'd guess it's a reference to "thug life".

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

ProgJohn, here is how the Facebook page describes itself

Tagline:
Fighting Pharmawhores everywhere because a sugar coated pill will still fucking kill you.

Short Description
We're NOT associated with the other "thug" sites but they have inspired us! If you're offended by the page don't like it! :)
Long Description
Thug Health was started because we're sick and tired of hearing all of the pro "science" advocates out there falling all over themselves to suck the ass of a person just because they have a white coat on or some extra letters behind their name (which simply signifies that they have spent more time being brainwashed in the pharmaceutical, medical and agriculture schools controlled by industry). It just does't take an academic pedigree to understand this shit if you have half a damn brain....

https://www.facebook.com/thughealth/info/?tab=page_info

Lovely, eh?

And I'm betting the operators of Thug Health, like the operators of Thug Kitchen, are White.

I showed the Thug Health FB page to my autistic 18-year-old. He paused for moment, then said "F**k those people."

I thought it was a far out, maybe even slightly paranoid concern when the thought first popped unbidden into my mind, but after thinking about it more I’m no longer quite so sure.

You aren't the only one. When I heard that the target was a public health department, that was my first reaction as well.

By shay simmons (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

at one point she speculates that I must have taken 45 minutes to write my takedown of her “bullying” post

I see three choices:

(a) She's saying her writing is not worthy of serious consideration.
(b) She's saying that 45 minutes is an inordinately long time to spend writing an essay for publication.
(c) She's not saying anything, she just likes attention.

I mean, does anybody else think that seems like a kind of bizarre way of saying something derogatory? A short piece of writing might take less or more than 45 minutes. Therefore, 45 minutes is not a notable amount of time for it to take.

Unfortunately, one of my gentlemen is constantly berated by family members with whom he communicates because he frequents restaurants and other establishments owned and operated by Muslims ( mostly Syrians, Egyptians and Pakistanis) because they are 'violent terrorists'.

Then I see this.

Anti vax mothers may adopt a warrior mother stance perhaps to counterbalance and sex up the traditional, staid image of an over-protective mother- which is what they really are. They can take a martial arts class and feel power.

These images originate in pulp fiction movies and television although the idea of a woman with a weapon harks back to the ancient world of Rome, Greece and Ireland with their many warrior goddesses and amazons.

I wonder though if any of them really have guns? I have no idea but 'health freedom fighters', survivalists and preppers are fashionable around places like Natural News**. I have a feeling though that there is a regional aspect to this.

** as you would expect, Mikey spouts off about San Bernadino.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

Another connection: The pro-violence anti-abortion group The Army of God held an annual 'White Rose' dinner for years. If the AVers aren't aping the AoG, they're drinking from the same well.

I researched the AoGod for an (aborted) TV documentary, and interviewed a couple of it's notable figures over the phone (not Rev. Michael Bray, though, who I do consider creepy and dangerous). As individuals, both guys were quirky 'characters', who wouldn't hurt a flea themselves. (I'll spare the complex details of their ideology/theology/intent etc.) Suffice to say that with the exception of Bray, the AoG 'advocates' are mainly folks you'd only cast as villains in a comedy, not a dramatic thriller.

Several prominent pro-choice advocates have posited the existence of a doctor-shooting conspiracy – along the line of violent neo-Nazi groups – that recruits assassins, selects targets and plots hits. That's not how the abortion shootings work. What happens is actually scarier in a lot of ways. There are just enough truly dangerous nut jobs floating around who pick up on the ideas on the web and other media small and large, that every now and then one of them acts on it on their own.

That's why I said in the previous threa that one or two posts aren't that worrisome. It takes a certain level of diffusion to make the odds reaching a homicidal wacko significant, and the gunmen-to-be have to stew in the hate speech for a certain length of time before they conclude their only course is to martyr themselves 'for the children'. 'White Rose' theology is about sacrifice for 'the greater good'. The AoG folks disown the one shooter who killed a doctor from a distance with a sniper rifle, and then evaded capture. The idea is to make a dramatic personal statement, own up to it as an act of moral righteousness, and accept however the wicked treat the Godly.

Fwiw, my sense of the anti-vax extremists is that they'd be less willing to risk jail or capital punishment in martyrdom, there are fewer zealots in the pool, and they're less likely to be into gun-or-bomb happy physical vigilantism. The only anti-abortion shooting by a woman was the first attack on George Tiller. Though she was convicted of attempted murder, she had shot Tiller in both arms, most likely trying to disable him without killing him.

Actually, following the anti-abortion model, a lot more than just more, more widely circulated posts like Barger's, Wells's, and Thug Health's would have to happen before we'd reach a probable condition for an attack on a pediatrician. But that's why we have to take this stuff seriously, as Orac's OP does. These are the first signs of something that can turn lethal if it develops. The odds may be against that development occurring, but that there are odds at all is troubling enough. At one point, the odds were against the rash of insane mass shootings, too... Now's the time to take notice and work to lower those small odds even further.

Two points, and they're both related to the prologue to what you said rather than the meat:

A. I want to qualify the point about nobody forcing a vaccine on Ms. Berger's children. In some circumstances, though extreme, I expect and hope a court will order forced vaccination. To take an extreme example, a child bitten by an unknown dog or other animal, and the parent refuses the rabies vaccine. Or the 1991 Philadelphia measles outbreak described in Dr. Offit's book bad faith, where some children were vaccinated over parental objection. But that does take an extreme situation, and Orac is right that school mandates aren't about that.

In fact, that's something opponents constantly fail to appreciate: the state is constitutionally permitted to require that children be vaccinated, period, at least against some diseases (we can argue which) and enforcing that either by criminal penalties or direct enforcement. No state goes there, out of respect of parental rights. School immunization mandates are actually a less coercive measure, a compromise between protecting children and respecting parental rights.

B. Who wants to bet that Orac will never hear the end of his admission that he gets paid to write here, with the latter part - that he can write on whatever he wants - ignored?

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

The very recent NVIC post and comments on 'Combating Vaccine Extremism' are also very inflammatory.

"We need to combat vaccine extremism with our brand of extremism."

By Vincent Iannelli, MD (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

@ sadmar:

Some of the faithful at AoA, ramped up by their leaders, have called for 'justice', people being sent to jail for their 'crimes' and massive investigations. I doubt that this will ever transpire.

I hope that what we read is ' just talk'.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

That should be"
IRE ramped up

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

That’s not how the abortion shootings work. What happens is actually scarier in a lot of ways. There are just enough truly dangerous nut jobs floating around who pick up on the ideas on the web and other media small and large, that every now and then one of them acts on it on their own.

I do suspect most of those speaking, or promoting the violent language are those who aren't actually capable, or interested in actually committing violence. It often comes off as overcompensating for something they feel they are lacking, so more of an ego boost than intent.

Unfortunately there will always be a few out there who are looking to be violent (for whatever reason) and will eventually latch onto some cause or other that justifies them going from thinking about it to actually doing it.

Those images are atrocious. You've hit on a much larger issue that is not Left/Right or confined to the examples above.

I've always appreciated your stance on free speech and you are far more tolerant than I would be on this blog but the character that supports it should be met with an equal character not engage in this type of rhetoric. Otherwise we will see more of this type of thing.

I don't care what "cause" someone is doing it for, it all offends me.

By Not a Troll (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

I really don't get these people. Posting violent memes and compare yourself with The White Rose, a group which was very non-violent in their resistence against the nazi's?
Something strikes me wrong. I wonder how these people would react if provaxers would post simular memes stating: "If your unvaccinated child will get near my vaccinated child, or my child that is still to young to be vaccinated, I will protect it."
And no, I'm not in favor of those memes either.

As Denice mentions, Mikey responded with the his usual bat-s*t craziness. The incident wasn't an hour old before he was making claims about false flag and staged. Any chance of covering this, Orac?

By c0nc0rdance (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

So...is this their way of encouraging people to kill health care workers after luring them to a particular location? I'd say yes, judging from the Granny meme. Another group looking to spill blood and no different than any other would be terrorist organization.

Scott @9 regarding your son's reaction...I can only add, "And the horse they rode in on."

But, what do I know? I had the shingles vaccine as soon as it was covered and if I'd been able to afford it before it was covered, I would have had it sooner. I'm looking now to get Prevnar even though I had the pneumonia shot 4 years ago, and my children all had every vaccine that was available at the time.

An anti-vaccine group posted my personal information, phone number included, on their page. (The one run by Joel Lord.) Sure enough, I got a phone call from a man in Texas, telling me not to go to Texas because he'd "put a bullet" in me.

On the one hand, threats like that do worry me. On the other hand, it's the ones who don't threaten violence but just act on impulse and have access to guns who I'm more worried about. If there is one common denominator in the vast majority of shootings in general is that the shooter has poor self-control and had a gun. People with good self-control and guns walk away. People with bad self-control and no guns only get into fist fights. But people with bad self-control and guns... That's dangerous right there.

There is at least one significant difference between the anti-abortion and anti-vax lunatics: the anti-abortion radicals are trying to stop other from having abortions, while the anti-vaxers are utterly narcissistic and self-centered, and thus are only concerned about themselves and their families.

Anti-vaxer rhetoric is centered around "if you try to force me..." which, as Orac points out, is a strawman; no one is promoting or even suggesting forced vaccination. Anti-vaxers know this, of course, so they can bluster and blow and create heroic (to them) memes of themselves all they want in complete safety, because none of them are ever going to have to walk the walk. It fits their culture of narcissism perfectly., which is why they continue to ignore the plain fact that "forced vaccination" is a myth.

In a twisted way, I actually have more respect for the anti-abortion radicals. I don't agree with them, and certainly abhor their methods, but at least they are not just pumping up their own egos.

By Dan Welch (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

@ c0rc0rdance:

I think that Mikey is involved in play acting/ cosplay as a health freedom fighter at home on the range. And Kim S pretends to be an Okinowan weapons expert/ writer while Jenny poses a lot,seeking out acting/ reality show job offers.

The particular demographic who read their crap is not the most likely to act out their fantasies on bullet riddled stages.. Probably middle aged, middle class, suburban women although Mikey may get more preppers, survivalists and small government- loving gun toters- if you ever look at his commenters. Interestingly, even the usually pacifistic Null instructs followers who are seeking ways to 'bug out' from various catastrophes overwhelming their cities to learn how to defend themselves with weapons.

I suppose they think that talking about guns will get them more 'likes' on facebook. Esprit du temps.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

Rolling my eyes at that Granny meme. All of my patients clamor to get the shingles vaccine. You know why? They almost all know someone who has had shingles. They know the sheer misery of that disease. I've had patients pay $300 out of pocket to get it if their insurance won't cover it.

By NH Primary Care Doc (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

Anybody remember Curt Linderman? I sampled a few episodes of his radio show and remember listening to him fantasizing about strangling Nancy Snyderman. Then there is his Facebook page, which is loaded with anti-vaxxer memes involving guns. The scary thing is, he's also posed pics of himself and his wife and children with assault weapons.

By Sebastian L. Jackson (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

On the one hand, threats like that do worry me. On the other hand, it’s the ones who don’t threaten violence but just act on impulse and have access to guns who I’m more worried about.

There is a disturbing pattern we have seen in other cases where a group of people directs rhetoric with violent imagery against their opponents. Sooner or later, somebody who is nominally on the side of the violent rhetoric dispensers will act on that violent rhetoric. This is what has happened multiple times with violence directed at abortion/family planning clinics and the people who work there (Colorado Springs is only the most recent of several such incidents I can remember without resorting to Google). There was also the graphic Sarah Palin was promoting a few years ago, which featured targets superimposed on photographs of several congressional representatives--and kept it up even after Gabrielle Giffords, one of the representatives so depicted, survived an assassination attempt.

The problem is that it's still protected free speech as long as it doesn't involve credible threats against specific people. And the people who promote this rhetoric always act surprised when (not if) somebody takes it seriously--Palin and her ilk have plausible deniability. They shouldn't be surprised, because we have seen the pattern before, but they always appear (at least publicly) to be surprised.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

Good luck with the shingles, Grandma.

By Red Ruffensor (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

Basically the anti-vaxxers want the same thing the Trumpshirts do: the absolute, involable right to do whatever they like and fuck over other people for their own ego/profit, not only with impunity but with full God-and-State approval too. Cos there's only two ways to get ahead in life - raise yourself up, or stomp others down - and since none of them have brains or balls to speak of, that rather narrows it down a lot.

The one thing that really separates them from, say, ISIL's useful idiots is that none of them has the guts to be the ones who stand up and take the first shot, because life's already pretty comfy for these pampered first-world babies and they don't want to lose what they already have. But if they can rile up others to burn the world for them, they'll be happy to profit from the fire sale afterwards.

I'm genuinely curious: has anyone studied the prevalence of Type 2 personalities in such groups, and if and how they manage to cluster? Because a significant fraction of these people strike me as just fundamentally broken as social creatures go.

Dara Berger sez: "The choice about vaccines in many ways is very similar to the fight about abortion"

Addess to safe abortion is all about "Choice" too! And vaccinations are a public health issue and similarly, no access to safe abortions is a public health issue too.

Dara Berger sez: "The choice about vaccines in many ways is very similar to the fight about abortion"

Access to safe abortion is all about "Choice" too! And vaccinations are a public health issue and similarly, no access to safe abortions is a public health issue too.

NH Primary Care Doc -- My reaction exactly. I sure as HELL don't want to get shingles. Now that I'm a geezer, I need to go get my shot. My own primary care doc told me to just go to a pharmacy to avoid office visit overhead.

Your moniker suggests you should be First in the Nation, and support WMUR single-handedly, but I suspect neither of those are the case.

By palindrom (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

Denice Walter,

Unfortunately, one of my gentlemen is constantly berated by family members with whom he communicates because he frequents restaurants and other establishments owned and operated by Muslims ( mostly Syrians, Egyptians and Pakistanis) because they are ‘violent terrorists’.

Ironically those presumably 'moderate' Muslims are often considered as even worse than Christian (or presumably atheist) infidels by Islamic extremists, as they know how they 'should' be behaving but instead they choose to follow infidel laws and to live in a non-Islamic country. They get suspicion and fear from non-Muslims and their lives are threatened by jihadis.

On the other hand, I am quite sure that some Muslims where I live are somewhat sympathetic to Da'esh, and some have gone to Syria to fight with them. I can understand how young people can be swept up in the romance of fighting for a cause greater than themselves, though I suspect they get a nasty shock if they do get to Syria, especially the girls who will likely be used as baby farms to breed more soldiers. It's a scary situation which I find very depressing, especially since I have a lot of affection for Islam and have enjoyed spending time in Muslim countries.

As for people attacking a center providing services for people with disabilities, I'm lost for words. Whatever next?

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

@palindrom- We most certainly are first in the nation! The NH does stand for New Hampshire.

@32- that would be a very interesting study. I suspect there would be a lot of borderline personality types- hence the constant "us vs them" mentality and the black or white thinking.

By NH Primary Care Doc (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

I'm going to risk the wrath of Orac and ask something I've long wondered: Why are you (and SBM) generally silent about the threats and violence directed against abortion providers? Even this post is prompted more by yesterday's shooting--you didn't post anything last week about the attack on Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs. Women's health care has been progressively marginalized. First trimester abortions are low-risk procedures that could be performed in an OB/GYN office. Instead, most providers won't do them so women must go to 'abortion clinics' where they are easily targeted by vulgar protesters screaming epithets, and the clinics themselves are often threatened and attacked by bombs, arson and shootings. It's even worse for late-term abortion providers; women must travel hundreds of miles to obtain one. I mostly blame the protesters for whipping up the rhetoric to a point where some of them commit criminal acts, but I also blame the medical profession for allowing abortion, a common procedure, to require a few courageous doctors to don bullet-proof vests when they go to work. Yes, I know politicians are also to blame (a presidential candidate recently blamed liberal rhetoric for the PP attacks,) and the Supreme Court struck down a 20(?) foot clinic buffer zone, while maintaining their right to a much larger protest-free zone.

We don't know enough about the San Bernardino shooting to know if this is the first outbreak of anti-vax violence, but why do you seem more concerned about that possibility than the killings of Doctors who choose to help women in their hour of need?

Orac, I'm sorry if this offends you, but it's asked as a pro-choice woman concerned by the increasing lack of availability of safe, therapeutic abortion. It isn't personal; in your speciality you can't be expected to care about this issue. Perhaps you're afraid it'll clog up the comments section of your blog with crazies. Still, you write about many other things than breast cancer, and I've often wondered why the subject of abortion is rarely mentioned here. And yes, I respect your right to write about whatever you want and have no problem with that. I do appreciate your rare pro-choice comments, of course.

By cloudskimmer (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

Sorry, poor phraseology. I meant that the marginalization of abortion means the the few Doctors courageous enough to perform them often wear bullet-proof vests when going to work because of the known risk of violence. If more Doctors were willing to do the procedure, it would be harder for protesters to target them.

By cloudskimmer (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

Just in case you were wondering, the UM psych unit is actually a lovely place. I'm currently sitting in front of a computer drinking chocolate milk. Swear to god, you guys.

Hi JP!

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

As I have spent the past few days in the near outback of the antipodes, I have missed the San Bernardino shooting incident. I offer my condolences to all those who have been affected. Every time I read about one of these type of incidents I feel a bt more sad about the state of the world.

At the risk of offending some of those in the US, it is clear to me that these sorts of incidents will continue to occur so long as the US fails to take a stand on gun control. A look at the Australian experience would show why.

But back to the topic, this violent imagery is one of the features of the Health Freedom movement, not just in the US, but also here. It worries me, because I am aware that the Healtg Freedom movement contains a larger proportion of people who are disturbed in their ability to follow logic and operate in a them vs us mode. inevitably, one of them will follow the suggestions given.

By Chris Preston (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

Just in case you were wondering, the UM psych unit is actually a lovely place.

Yah, I left my name at the desk several days ago.

I was unsuccessful in finding the report on NPR's website, but I heard a report yesterday evening that immediately brought anti-vaxers to mind. They were discussing the psychology of mass shooters and one of the contributers described people who go from disappointment to disappointment in life until they find an extremist ideology that makes them feel like 'Somebody'.

JP - I'm extremely glad to hear that you're at least safe. All the best.

By palindrom (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

Hiya bimler! Long time no see. I think we've been working to long.

And thanks, palindrom!

I think we’ve been working too long.

That's what she said...

Glad to hear from you, JP!

All of my patients clamor to get the shingles vaccine. You know why? They almost all know someone who has had shingles. They know the sheer misery of that disease.

Yep - mom and dad both came down with shingles. I have a couple months to go until insurance will cover the shot, but I expect to be there just as soon as it's available.

Back in the day, I was a 'shruggie' when it came to the annual flu shot. The one year, i came down with the flu. Not a flu like illness, not the 'stomach flu', not the '24 hour flu', but the real deal. I remember sitting with the thermostat set at 80, wearing my heaviest winter coat, hat and gloves, and I was shivering and shaking.

I may not be smart, but I can learn.

@ JP:

There you are!
Very good!
Your sarcasm and astute commentary are sorely missed.

Watch out for that chocolate milk: it's probably not organic, GMO-free and cruelty-free. And it has ((shudder)) caseine.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

So Dana Berger is 'bullied' when her pediatrician asks her to leave because she won't get her kid a TDaP, but then turns around and describes pro-vax people as anti-abortionist crazies? That's a little bit hypocritical.

It would be more hypocritical if she'd posted those horrifying meme-pictures.

News flash, 'granny'! If you don't want that shingles shot no one will make you take it. Let someone else have it.

By JustaTech (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

CASEIN

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

I really don’t get these people. Posting violent memes and compare yourself with The White Rose, a group which was very non-violent in their resistence against the Nazis?

For the Army of God – or at least for it's de facto leader, Rev. Michael Bray, the only public figure of the bunch you could call a 'deep thinker' – the significance of the White Rose is 1) Their resistance was specifically a response to Nazi atrocities, including the Holocaust, 2) Most of them drew their moral stance from religious devotion, 3) "they opposed the Third Reich in the face of almost certain death" (Wikipedia).

Bray was ordained in the Lutheran church, and, for him, the link between the German White Rose and 'armed resistance against the abortion holocaust', is the work and life of the noted Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Like the White Rose, Bonhoeffer spoke out against the Holocaust, and like them he was executed. However, while the White Rose had merely distributed anti-Nazi pamphlets before they were rounded up and imprisoned, Bonhoeffer had participated (somewhat tangentially) in plots to assassinate Hitler.

To avoid conscription into the Army, he had joined the Abwehr, the German military intelligence unit. As he was already on the Nazis' 'enemies list', he had to be sponsored into the Abwehr by his brother-in-law, who was already an Abwehr agent, ostensibly so Bonhoeffer could use his international ecumenical contacts to gather intel useful to the Wehrmacht. But the Abwehr was the central home of secret anti-Hitler resistance within the German military, the brother-in-law was directly involved in planning assassination plots against The Fuhrer, and on his trips abroad to ecumenical conferences, instead of spying for Germany, Bonhoeffer acted as a courier between the resistance and the Allies. As an Abwehr agent, he was privy to the secrets of the death camps. From Wikipedia:
In the face of Nazi atrocities he concluded that "the ultimate question for a responsible man to ask is not how he is to extricate himself heroically from the affair, but how the coming generation shall continue to live." He did not justify his action but accepted that he was taking guilt upon himself... "when a man takes guilt upon himself in responsibility, he imputes his guilt to himself and no one else. He answers for it... Before other men he is justified by dire necessity; before himself he is acquitted by his conscience, but before God he hopes only for grace." in a 1932 sermon, he'd said: "the blood of martyrs might once again be demanded, but this blood, if we really have the courage and loyalty to shed it, will not be innocent, shining like that of the first witnesses for the faith. On our blood lies heavy guilt, the guilt of the unprofitable servant who is cast into outer darkness."

While we may think it's a long way from distributing anti-Nazi pamphlets to assassinating an abortion doctor, for Bray it's all the same thing: the ultimate martyrs sacrifice not only their lives, but the innocence of their souls, and receive with grace the darkness they must enter to take responsibility for opposing Evil...

As Dan Welch notes, most AVs seem too narcissistic to become actual martyrs, and as Denice says of Mikey, I take the Thug memes as figurative cosplay. But it only takes one nut-job who feels finally pushed over-the-edge to turn fantasy aggression into an actual shooting. Ren's post gives me pause, as before any doctors were shot, a guy in the AoG circle mhad created a webpage with the names and addresses of abortion providers across the country. And he lived in Texas.

Not that I think Ren should run out and buy a kevlar vest. If (and that's a BIG "IF") AV violence were to appear following the anti-abortion violence playbook, the targets wouldn't be anyone who just talks about vaccination, it would have to be someone who 'destroys children' personally and physically by sticking the poison needle in their bodies. Someone like Richard Pan might be targeted, I suppose, but mere 'shills' wouldn't rate the moral gravitas.

Since due caution is prudent – even at early, merely suggestive signs of possible violence – as I noted in an earlier thread, I think actual pediatricians who are outspokenly pro-vax, refuse to see un-vaxed patients etc. should now be using nyms in public forums, do their best to keep their personal info private, and watch out for being tagged on AV websites or social media.

Here's an old news item from 2001 on The White Rose Banquet:
http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/straight-shooters/Content?oid=1182971

For more info on the AoG, and the most significant martyr/assassin directly inspired by its theology, search 'Paul Jennings Hill' on Wikpedia, and the top hit from searching 'Michael Bray The Murder of God's Prophet' on Google.

Watch out for that chocolate milk: it’s probably not organic, GMO-free and cruelty-free.

Oh, I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that the model you're invoking – and which I've seen in practice plenty of times – has long passed over there.

BTW, if you ever want to decloak, Orac (and plenty of others) has my proper E-mail address.

Hi JP!

^ Erm, "up there"? You know what I mean.

Not that I think Ren should run out and buy a kevlar vest.

I had a chat with my wife well before we got married. I told her a few things about where I was going in my professional life. One, I wasn't going to be making a lot of money since I would probably be in public service for most of my career. It's where the public health problems -- and the bugs -- are. There's no fun in private industry. Two, there would be times when I would be in harm's way. Whether it was responding to an outbreak of respiratory disease of unknown origin, being sent this summer to violent Colombia for a month, or having to endure the threats from anti-vaxxers, there would be at least a little bit of "danger" in our lives together. Three, I am willing to go "all in" for public health. With that in mind, she still said "yes" and married me. Frankly, that is all that matters.
In the end, if they do something to me -- or those I love -- they're the ones being evil. They're the ones who will face the consequences, not me. That said, I still take proper precautions and try to maintain situational awareness in those dangerous places and with those dangerous people. (I have stories to tell about Baltimore.)

Erm, “up there”? You know what I mean.

Yup.

Glad you're OK enough for chocolate milk JP. Stay safe.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

Thanks, Kreb! I've actually been able to eat today, finally, and the food here is actually pretty good. You even get to choose what you want to eat for the next day from a menu, and I kid you not, they have room service for in case you get hungry not during meal times. And various beverages in the fridge, etc. And since I have my own private room, it's actually like the best possible combination of a hostel and a hotel, since I can have my own space, everybody understands that I am crazy, and I am surrounded by crazy people, who are kind of my favorite people. In case I want to play cards or something. Or chat.

And don't worry, they're definitely not letting me go anywhere until I seem almost completely sane.

Several prominent pro-choice advocates have posited the existence of a doctor-shooting conspiracy – along the line of violent neo-Nazi groups – that recruits assassins, selects targets and plots hits. That’s not how the abortion shootings work.

Tell it to Eric Robert Rudolph, James Kopp, and Clayton Waagner.

I find a new job (40~80 hours per week brewing) and find out JP's in a psych hostel.

JP, how are you? And WTF happened?

Al

EDIT: brewing beer...

Next week, I'm starting an industrial drafting course also (add 35 hours to typical 40~80 work week...)

Al

@Alain:

It's a long story, and parts of it are very funny, and parts of it are very sad. I might write it down some day. Anyhow, awesome to hear about the new job! I think things might be on the up and up for me, too, actually. Just a strange feeling I get.

I can kind of guess that the story is that brains are complicated, people are complicated and sometimes stuff just happens. Oh, and I have a nice long story to tell dear son's psychologist tomorrow. Though on the bright side he is eligible for services from the state's Developmental Disabilities Administration.

JP and Alain, just keep going on and may serendipity be your friend.

Glad to hear you are safe and well JP, got a bit worried about your recent communications here.

Alain, don't burn yourself out please, just not worth it.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

brains are complicated, people are complicated and sometimes stuff just happens.
Brains and people get especially complicated when they learn Slavic languages. I mean, look at Russian and Polish history. Some things man was not meant to know, and evidently they include Slavic irregular verbs.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

@ Science Mom

Seconded.

@ herr doktor bimler

Some things man was not meant to know, and evidently they include Slavic irregular verbs.

I once had to try to learn the passive forms or Russian verbs. My soul still bears the scars of the experience to this very day.*

* OK, I was just very bad at it.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

JP, I hope enjoy your time at sleep-away camp!

(when my best friend had a baby-related lack of sleep breakdown, the doc told her she could go home with just outpatient visits if they made various changes -- but if she felt she needed it, she was welcome to stay for sleep-away camp. on occasion I find myself wishing I'd gone crazy enough for sleep-away camp, too)

By Emma Crew (not verified) on 03 Dec 2015 #permalink

JP,
I hope U of M are treating you well; it sounds like they are. How are the staff? Any Nurse Ratchets? I've had a difficult time too recently, but nothing compared to you from the sound of it!

And don’t worry, they’re definitely not letting me go anywhere until I seem almost completely sane.

As long as it's only "almost completely" :-)

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 04 Dec 2015 #permalink

Orac writes,

No one, not Paul Offit, not the most ardent “pro-vaxer,” not even Orac, is trying to force Ms. Berger to take a vaccine against her will.

MJD writes,

Unfortunately, I recently noticed that a pharmaceutical company used coercive advertising to promote their whooping cough vaccine.

http://us.gsk.com/media/470873/print-ad_final.jpg

In my opinion, the use of THE-BIG-BAD-WOLF (i.e., violent imagery) to promote a "good" product is shameful, bullying, and barbaric.

Can there be a healthy "Team of Rivals" in the vaccine debate?

By Michael J. Dochniak (not verified) on 04 Dec 2015 #permalink

# 46 Not a Troll

'found out that people are already being killed over vaccinations'

"Yes, and we can thank the CIA for that. Unfortunately, it is a relatively rational response in Pakistan or Afghanistan if you don’t want a drone dropping in for dinner."

I wish this meme would die.

Antivax hysteria in Third World countries long predated the CIA's ham-handed plan for tracking down Osama, and continues to this day over alleged sterilization plots and similar nonsense.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 04 Dec 2015 #permalink

But the CIA's actions didn't exactly help matters, did they?

By Rebecca Fisher (not verified) on 04 Dec 2015 #permalink

Sorry, but one cannot compare "advertising" to advocating for the assassination of pro-vaccine supporters.....

@MJD: and you would be wrong. Pertussis can kill an infant while not making an adult violently ill (although the cough is horrible). Most adults - especially grandparents - aren't aware they should be re-immunized to protect their precious grandchildren. Disclaimer: while I do not have any grandchildren at this time, I certainly plan to get the TDaP as soon as I hear of any grandchild in my future. Having suffered through pertussis about 12 years ago now, I have no plans to go through it again and I certainly wouldn't put any of my loved ones through it!

The ad is NOT dragging anyone off to the doctor's office to be injected, so it is not shameful or bullying. I suppose you could maintain the story of LRRH is barbaric, due to the cruelty to animals.

Any Nurse Ratchets?

Thanks Gott, no! Literally everybody here has been very nice to me. There is this one very good friend who's coming to visit me on Shabbos, and her parents used to call her "Nurse Ratchet" for some reason when she was little, though it doesn't fit at all. I guess because she's really nice, but she can be really blunt, but she tries to do it with a smile to lighten the blow... ;)

I'll also second ( third?) what Science Mom says.

One note of caution to both JP and Alain:
although I love having drinks and have ancestors who were in the business ( making gin) which funded other businesses,

REALLY, really be careful -
especially if you have issues with depression, SAD, stress.
Using alcohol as a tranquilliser sometimes backfires and it is also not an anti-depressant..They make meds that do that.

AS a sidenote, I should mention that I am extremely not thrilled with the holiday season. It's gets dark early, people behave awfully ( due to stress probably) and I get tired of all of the good cheer and decorations plastering every square inch of evry commercial building. It usually makes me despondent and I am relieved when it is over and done .
( although I do understand the psychological underpinnings of having festivals with lights and carousing during a very bleak time of year when people would rather just hide away)

Drinking will not help the situation if you are depressed or very stressed. So watch it there, kids.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 04 Dec 2015 #permalink

@ Denice Walter
If there is one thing I learned about alcohol and some other drugs I've tried, it's that they tend to enhance the mood I'm in, so if I'm happy, it might make me more chearfull, but if I feel depressed, or just in a bad mood, it makes me feel worse.

I've once taken care of a friend with a drinking habit and since then I keep a distance from people with a drinking problem.

hdb: "Brains and people get especially complicated when they learn Slavic languages. I mean, look at Russian and Polish history"

While getting her degree in linguistics, my daughter took a class on the politics of Slavic languages.

Denice Walter, I am not too keen on the holidays. Last year we had a bit of a breaking point (it dealt is oldest child's needs), and decided to scale back quite a bit.

@ Chris:

I have a couple of parties which aren't terrible. I try to schedule my own events for Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve that are totally unrelated to the holidays ( serious movies, dinner) and a few art events ( galleries, museums) around the same time to COUNTERACT the seasonal stuff.

I find the general busy-ness and frantic shopping ( which is big around here) off- putting as well as the traffic and testy drivers and pedestrians. Just too caught up in all the commercial fol de rol. I'm mostly quite happy on the first of January. Survived another holiday.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 04 Dec 2015 #permalink

re the Slavic languages complicating brains?

-btw- I have a young Macedonian next door who has his own software company AND very high powered wifi.
I wonder how I'm functioning at all.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 04 Dec 2015 #permalink

KayMarie @19:

"I do suspect most of those speaking, or promoting the violent language are those who aren’t actually capable, or interested in actually committing violence. It often comes off as overcompensating for something they feel they are lacking, so more of an ego boost than intent."

Numerous commentators have pointed out that if the anti-abortion crowd really and truly believed its own rhetoric, then every abortion clinic would be stormed by hundreds of people, all trying to stop the mass murder of babies by any means possible.
Instead, they just parade and harass and release lying propaganda videos, doing physically nothing to stop what they claim to be industrial-scale infanticide; additionally most of them don't do anything that might reduce the need for abortion, like campaigning for better sex education, cheaper contraceptives, better support for mothers and so on. That's because being against abortion is a tribal marker for them, it marks then as one of the faithful; it's like jumping up and down at a football match screaming "Go smash 'em, team!"
It's only the nutjobs who truly and sincerely believe the anti-abortion rhetoric. And nutjobs find it easy to get guns.

By Mrs Grimble (not verified) on 04 Dec 2015 #permalink

@MI Dawn, my mom came down with pneumonia and (most likely) pertussis after our recent Thanksgiving travel. Luckily the kids and I are all recently vaccinated and so far seem to have escaped it, but she keeps muttering "damned anti-vaxxers." She had no idea she should be getting Tdap and not just tetanus boosters. As soon as she called from her doctor"s office, I double-checked all of our records. Thankfully the antibiotics seem to be helping. Yay for modern medicine!

By Emma Crew (not verified) on 04 Dec 2015 #permalink

Wow! Throughout the reading of this article (and simila articles/posts/blogs elsewhere) I keep seeing an analogy between extreme anti-vaxxers and extreme gun nuts who "fear" gun control means abandoning the Second Amendment and confiscating every gun in the country. Except, of course, the guns owned by criminals.

Why is it that the anti-vaxxers can't seem to understand that this is not just about them. It's not even just about THEIR children. This is about protecting mankind. Exaggeration? No. Not vaccinating healthy children and then introducing them into the school system (public or otherwise) puts immune system-compromised children at risk. Hell, taking your unvaccinated kid to a family reunion can have devastating effects if the child is a carrier and transmits a preventable disease to his great-granny, who grew up in a world without vaccines and is now living with a weakened immune system and not enough strength to survive a preventable disease.

On another note, if WWII era Jews, Poles, gays, and other of the millions and millions of Holocaust victims knew their fate and had an opportunity to receive a vaccine reducing their susceptibility to poisonous gas, or a new bulletproof helmet and jacket, would they have refused them? I know, it's a ridiculous thought. As ridiculous as the analogy between those who support vaccines and Hitler at the peak of his power/tyranny.

soon we'll have to strap on a sidearm just to provide health care.

realBKW (#90) says,

Why is it that the anti-vaxxers can’t seem to understand that this is not just about them. It’s not even just about THEIR children. This is about protecting mankind.

MJD says,

Anti-vaxxer - person(s) opposed to vaccination, typically a parent who does not wish to vaccinate their child.

Vaxxer - a pro-vaccinationist

In the spirit of vaccine continuous improvement, when people of good conscious have an honest dispute about vaccine safety we must still sometimes resort to adversarial debate.

Vaccine contraindications, and documented injuries therefrom, continue to frighten and motivate anti-vaxxer behavior.

@Orac (The One),

Why don't you occasionally give examples of science-based vaccine improvements in your communications?

By Michael J. Dochniak (not verified) on 05 Dec 2015 #permalink

The Dara Berger article might come in handy in future controversies.

By Joseph Hertzlinger (not verified) on 05 Dec 2015 #permalink

Anyone else notice that recently MJD has been less a crazy with a latex fetish and more a garden variety dishonest antivaxxer?

when people of good conscious have an honest dispute about vaccine safety

The statement initially seems reasonable but since neither of those describe antivaxxers or their beliefs it rather falls flat.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 05 Dec 2015 #permalink

Anyone else notice that recently MJD has been less a crazy with a latex fetish and more a garden variety dishonest antivaxxer?

Yes.

Mrs Grimble@88

campaigning for better sex education, cheaper contraceptives, better support for mothers and so on

Among the most idiotic of them (a certain resident troll comes to mind) those things are just as bad. The first is immoral, the second is also murder*, and the third is wasting money supporting the lazy poor people (women nonetheless).

*Like if the Terminator went back in time to slip birth control pills into Sarah Connor's drink, thereby "murdering" John Connor.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 05 Dec 2015 #permalink

sorry, a liitle bit offtopic.

But here is a rather old (and forgotten?) paper about benefits of vaccinated children versus unvaccinated - from Nigeria - some unvaccinated chlidren died

Trop Geogr Med. 1990 Apr;42(2):182-4.
Vaccinated versus unvaccinated children: how they fare in first five years of life.
Epoke J1, Eko F, Mboto CI.
Author information
Abstract

Twenty five children who had undergone their full course of childhood immunization schedule were compared with 25 children who did not have any vaccinations for a period of five years. Parameters for comparison were measles, pertussis, poliomyelitis, tetanus and tuberculosis. Out of the 25 vaccinated children, only one child had mild measles at 2 1/2 years while 4 had suspected whooping cough at different points of the study period but not clinically diagnosed as pertussis. Among the unvaccinated group, 2 died of measles before the age of 3 years while 11 others went down with measles during an outbreak in 1986. An unvaccinated child also died of tetanus within the study period. In this paper we advocate the total integration of every community in the ongoing Expanded Programme for Immunization in Nigeria.

You are a very dangerous man. A paid performer, and shit stirrer at the very best. Your tribe of paid comments leaves me feeling rather ill . . So your comparing deluded religious nutters to mothers and father's wanting unbiased science in the plethora of vaccines and ensuing injuries? Your are quite evil.

Paid comments? Where's my check?

So your comparing deluded religious nutters to mothers and father’s wanting unbiased science in the plethora of vaccines and ensuing injuries?

Sara,
It is clear you only skimmed the post at best. Otherwise you'd almost certainly have noticed that this post discusses some rather outrageous text and imagery. This is somewhat similar to text and imagery used by some people who oppose abortions.

Note that most of the people who oppose vaccination, like those who oppose abortion, do not use that text and imagery themselves.

BTW, your use of the term "religious nutters" to characterize all people who oppose abortion is likely considered offensive by many.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 06 Dec 2015 #permalink

@sara

Hmm, letting children die and get maimed from diseases that can be prevented with vaccines, I think most rational people would agree that you are a very dangerous and evil individual, who revels in having children suffer from something completely preventable.

Also, the pharma shill gambit, a sure sign that you have no argument to speak of, so pardon me as I laugh at your utter stupidity for the world to see.

For those of you who haven't been following the news, it appears likely that the San Bernardino shootings were not related to vaccine policy. The exact motives remain unclear.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 06 Dec 2015 #permalink

Mephistopheles O'Brien (#102) says,

...it appears likely that the San Bernardino shootings were not related to vaccine policy

MJD says,

A free nasal vaccine for seasonal flu rolled out to primary school pupils may not be given to Muslim children because it contains pig gelatine.

http://www.breitbart.com/london/2015/10/01/muslim-children-may-denied-n…

When religion and vaccines clash there may be emotional and physical suffering.

By Michael J. Dochniak (not verified) on 06 Dec 2015 #permalink

Paid comments? Where’s my check?

No kidding. How arrogant do you have to be to believe that the only reason someone disagrees with you is because they're paid to do so?

By shay simmons (not verified) on 06 Dec 2015 #permalink

So your comparing deluded religious nutters to mothers and father’s wanting unbiased science in the plethora of vaccines and ensuing injuries? Your are quite evil.

Out of curiosity, where exactly do vaccine conspiracy theorists "mothers and fathers" wanting unbiased science think that this unbiased science should come from?

Obviously nothing from Big Pharma or the governments and universities these vaccine conspiracy theorists "mothers and fathers believe Big Pharma controls will pass muster, so from what from which well should the desired "unbiased science" be drawn?

And if we were able to agree upon an "unbiased source" to produce the "unbiased science" you claim to want, if the research indisputably proved that vaccines had nothing to do with autism and most or all self-perceived "vaccine injury" was attributable to other causes, would you people accept it and admit you'd be wrong/deluded or would you instead just find another rabbit-hole to follow down?

I tend to believe the latter.

Also, referring to the "opposition" as "evil" is a rhetorical tool often used in incitements to violence against that opposition and as such, your comment supports the theme of Orac's post quite nicely ... almost to the point where I'd suspect sockpuppetry if I wasn't already aware of how loony "concerned about their child" some vaccine conspiracy theorists "mothers and fathers" can be.

"I wish this meme would die."

So do I.There are more things going on there than the one search. Otherwise, why would they accept our medical aid.

By Not a Troll (not verified) on 06 Dec 2015 #permalink

More violent ( and hate-filled ) rhetoric from anti-vaxxers and alt med creatures:

it was a mild day but then I looked at AoA and Natural News-

-( AoA) CathyJameson describes a doctor's "bullying" tactics
- Mike Adams ( Natural News) declares that "Obama is a sleeper cell"
( and
" radical communist Muslim") and rants for 49 minutes about Mr O destroying his country, its culture and economy as he foments World War and creates IS as the NYT advocates gun confiscation.
-btw- MIke sells survivalist gear at rangergear.com
Similar endtimes ranting at prn.fm.

I sometimes wonder if they would say *anything* in hopes of provoking others towards acting out against those whom are so vilified?

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 06 Dec 2015 #permalink

mothers and father’s wanting unbiased science
I do get the impression tha t "lack of bias" here is shorthand for "delivering the predetermined answer".

comparing deluded religious nutters
Yep, if I were a deluded religious nutter, I''d be offended too by the comparison with the histrionic play-actors from 'thughealth'.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 06 Dec 2015 #permalink

Sara: "Your tribe of paid comments leaves me feeling rather ill"

And you evidence we are paid is...?

Speaking of feeling ill, what is your proven method to prevent kids from getting measles, pertussis, tetanus, mumps, rotavirus, Hib, etc? Relying on your community's immunity due to your responsible neighbors who vaccinate is not a valid answer.

In other violent extremist news, I was horrified to hear that some people were attacked in Leytonstone tube station (not far from my current location in East London) yesterday by a knife-wielding man who claimed it was "for Syria". He was eventually tasered by the police and disarmed. On a more positive note, videos record a bystander shouting, "you ain't no Muslim bruv, you're an embarrassment", which has now gone viral, apparently: #YouAintNoMuslimBruv. I feel oddly proud (despite the poor grammar :-) ).

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 06 Dec 2015 #permalink

In #92 Orac (The One) was asked:

Why don’t you occasionally give examples of science-based vaccine improvements in your communications?

No response yet so I'd like to present an interesting article, to help calm the minions, which describes vaccine radiation-sterilization:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4524899/

By Michael J. Dochniak (not verified) on 06 Dec 2015 #permalink

@ Chris:

A TRIBE?
I thought that we were more like a sorority/ fraternity.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 06 Dec 2015 #permalink

Both, sillies.

Alain, don’t burn yourself out please, just not worth it.

don't worry, beer production run is 5 days a week and the 6th day, I plan to implement scrum methodology in the brewery.

BTW, I also plan to buy shares of the brewery (it's a cooperative under different law as compared to a normal business).

Can there be a healthy “Team of Rivals” in the vaccine debate?

MJD, not for you; despite our extreme politeness and professionalism, you'll always find something to argue about our tone. Thus, you're not worth the trouble.

Al

Denice,

I happened to read Paris Match Story about Robin Williams and NO I don't plan on working there as soon as some depressive symptoms trigger. Matter of fact, as a preventive measure, my shrink prescribed me risperdal to deal with any possible anxiety symptoms.

Al

What I don't understand is why are the services being offered to people who don't appreciate them? Why not just disincentivise Ob/Gyn practices in the red states- be honest with the med students and say 'no one there will like you and you'll be surrounded by crazy people with guns'. Red state women do just fine with no services and fewer people get killed. And add a lot of incentives for smart women to move elsewhere. Also, let people know that the Hippocratic oath doesn't and has never applied to Christians.

Ditto vaccinations- Orange County doesn't need them, Park Avenue doesn't need 'em, why are we offering them? Make them exclusive, not general. Middle-class suburb Barbie will feel much smugger if she has to special order them and her kids get to go to parties at the peds. Offer more and better service to the poor- if they vax, they go front of the line, get special toys and exclusive offers. Scarcity increases value after all.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 13 Dec 2015 #permalink