January 23rd, 2015
This Is Why Jenny McCarthy Is Dangerous
“Dirty, lying little piece of big business funded, corporate scum. Tell your children that tonight.”
— Eric144144 responding to Slate’s column, “‘The View’ Hires Notorious Anti-Vaxxer Jenny McCarthy”
This column isn’t about how Jenny McCarthy shouldn’t be given a nationwide platform on The View to almost assuredly bring her anti-vaccination crusade to its largest audience yet, how being complicit in such a move is irresponsible and dangerous. This column is about why Jenny McCarthy shouldn’t be given a nationwide platform on The View to spout her anti-vaccination evangelism, why it’s irresponsible and dangerous and why ABC should put people’s lives over profits and immediately withdraw its unholy offer to McCarthy. And I barely have to do anything at all. I can let those who’ve already succumbed to McCarthy’s ridiculous campaign of ignorance and stupidity do all the work for me. All I have to do is pull a few of the comments with which they’ve flooded any piece questioning the hiring of Jenny McCarthy that’s been posted over the past few days.
“Vaccinate a baby? May as well let mom smoke crack or take prescription drugs while pregnant.”
— Marsha commenting on Think Progress’s column, “Jenny McCarthy To Bring Her Anti-Vaccine Activism To ‘The View'”
I’ve railed against McCarthy for quite a while now and I’m certainly not the only one who has. A piece I wrote skewering “Dr. Playboy Bunny” back in May of 2009 stands as the only thing I’ve ever submitted to the Huffington Post that’s been turned down flat, with what passed for an explanation being nothing more than the suggestion that I take a look at the site’s “Living” page. McCarthy’s personal quest to turn the clock back decades to a time when children died of diseases that have since proven to be easily curable has been enabled throughout the past several years by all kinds of idiots charmed by her good looks, her convictions as a mother, and her moral certitude as a celebrity. But never before has she had the kind of rapt audience of easily led astray moms like the kind she’ll have on The View. Never before has she had a forum that hands her more than 3-million people on a daily basis on a show that’s garnered more than two dozen Emmys in its run. ABC and Barbara Walters are giving Jenny McCarthy the keys to the kingdom — and the result for the children of this country and for all of us could be devastating.
“The blind obedience of corporation-trusting sheeple like yourself… I’ll take an activist over a corporate defender any day of the week.”
— TJtruth responding to Salon’s column, “Dear ABC: Putting Jenny McCarthy on ‘The View’ Will Kill Children”
We live in a conspiracy culture these days, one in which any ridiculous opinion, no matter how thoroughly divorced from reality, can be given credence and can earn a following, thanks mostly to social media and the human nature to believe anything that’s put in print and that sounds legit. I don’t doubt McCarthy’s good intentions, but I despise her willful ignorance and arrogant belief that being the mother of a child with developmental issues somehow earns her an automatic medical degree and the privilege of dispensing health advice to the masses. There’s no sense in running down the studies that have utterly, unequivocally debunked McCarthy’s rants on the supposed connection between childhood vaccines and autism; you already know about their existence and if you choose to ignore them then there’s nothing anyone will be able to say to change your mind. Sorry, but you’re officially a conspiracy theorist. No better than a 9/11 Truther, a Sandy Hook truther, a Birther, a tinfoil-hatted Ron Paulbot, a raving Alex Jonesian nutjob. You’re all of these things because you refuse to accept fact over folly. You make incredibly detailed and bombastic claims about collusion between the medical industry and the government and evil pharmaceutical corporations and yet you offer zero proof to back it up. You have plenty of speculation. Plenty of “well, DUH!” but nothing else.
“If you are one that support vaccines, what’s your issue? Get in line and get your shot and move on. IT’S MY CHOICE, TO CHOOSE WHAT I BELEVE IS BEST FOR MYSELF AND CHILDREN. MY CHOICE! Not yours.”
— Tomaczim commenting on the New Yorker’s column, “Jenny McCarthy’s Dangerous Views”
The worst kind of person who refuses to vaccinate his or her child is the person myopic and clueless enough to think that doing so — or not doing so, really — is simply a personal choice as a parent. Sorry, no. There are some things you as a parent have to accept and therefore take responsibility for and the fact that your child interacts with other people’s children is one of them. I’m sure by now everyone has heard the term “herd immunity.” For the few who haven’t, what it essentially means is that if a group of unprotected elements within a herd becomes large enough, immunity for the entire herd is put at risk; after a certain point, even those who are vaccinated become susceptible and inoculation basically winds up being worthless. There are already enough people out there who believe that not vaccinating a child is a good choice for that child — despite the fact that childhood vaccinations, along with clean water and sterilization, represent one of the biggest advancements in human history when it comes to keeping us safe from disease — but what these people never seem to take into consideration is that they’re not just putting their kid’s life in danger but everybody’s. Thanks to poorly informed skepticism over vaccines, diseases we once thought were pretty much wiped from existence are now back — and kids have died as a result of it.
“You are asking why we shouldn’t unquestioningly be injected by FOR PROFIT INSIDERS who are FUNDED BY THE COMPANIES THAT MAKE THE VACCINES? Oh and the FDA is going to protect us? They are a criminal racket. If you’re so sure vaccines are harmless (we won’t even pretend they are effective – they are not), will you accept PERSONAL LIABILITY FOR ANY DAMAGES? I didn’t think so, you brainwashed shill.”
— GodDamPasswords commenting on the New Yorker’s column, “Jenny McCarthy’s Dangerous Views”
“So you think nothing is wrong, huh? The CDC and FDA never do the bidding of big corporations, huh?”
— Lisacaz commenting on Salon’s column, “Dear ABC: Putting Jenny McCarthy on ‘The View’ Will Kill Children”
Pore over the comments of so many pieces written about McCarthy’s crusade and ABC’s decision to tacitly express approval for it and you see not just the usual invective, the kind I’ve included here — you see views that seem well-thought-out and relatively sane, full of complex medical jargon and link after link taking you to official-sounding studies and experts. These latter opinions are infinitely more damaging to the discussion than the former and they’re part of the McCarthy Effect, with Jenny McCarthy offering up shoddy research and a desperate tendency toward confirmation bias in place of genuine fact. McCarthy’s passion and absolute certitude is, ironically, infectious. What’s worse, McCarthy’s acolytes — like all acolytes of conspiracy theorists — fall back on the flawed argument that every opinion is one with considering, even ones with no basis in actual fact. The media of course don’t help because as far as they’re concerned the appearance of objectivity is more important than anything and if something becomes a product of “Wikiality” — that is it becomes real and true by cultural consensus — then it can stand on equal footing with proven scientific fact. The problem is not all opinions are created equal. Some are crap.
“Way to go Jenny! Go get em! As a person who works on a daily basis in the treatment of Autistic children I find (this) ignorance… sickening.”
— Christy commenting on Think Progress’s column, “Jenny McCarthy To Bring Her Anti-Vaccine Activism To ‘The View'”
There’s a story that broke a couple of days ago that I love — that puts a smile on my face and brings me to tears at the same time. It’s the story of Hazel Hammersley, a two-year-old little girl fighting cancer at Children’s Hospital here in Los Angeles. Last week, Hazel and her mother, to pass the excruciating time, wrote a giant message on the inside of the little girl’s hospital window. It read, “Send Pizza Room 4112.” A couple of days later, a Redditor spotted the message while driving by and took a picture of it. After it was posted, the internet rose up and flooded the hospital with pizza deliveries — and Hazel and her entire ward were treated to, sincerely, the best pizza party ever. If you visit the blog that Hazel’s family created to keep extended family informed of her progress, you’ll see a post about the message in the window, the Reddit response, the pizza party, all of it. Below that post are more than a hundred comments from people who’ve now heard about Hazel’s situation because the pizza story went viral. Most are offers of prayers, money, support, hope — all from people who’ve been touched by Hazel’s battle and the miracle of goodness that brought her so much love and happiness from her fellow human beings. But near the very top you’ll find one very long comment that reads like someone furiously taking the mother and father by the arm and desperately shouting at them while glancing in all directions to make sure the Agents aren’t about to haul her away. It has the feel of hastily disclosed secret information, à la The X-Files. The gist of it: There’s a cure for cancer. Every cancer. It’s been suppressed by the pharmaceutical industry which controls the government and the media and the banks. Read this report! See what they don’t want you to see!
Now of course cancer isn’t the same thing as autism, although if you’re willing to accept a lack of evidence to make one connection really anything is possible. But the basic elements of the McCarthy Effect are still there: Someone put it into this idiot’s head that there’s a secret cabal that’s keeping the truth about lifesaving medical procedures and discoveries away from all of us, and the entire medical industry is in on it. This person believes this without being hammered with it on a semi-regular basis on national television by a self-appointed and incredibly charismatic “expert” in celebrity pseudo-science. People will already believe any kind of nonsense, especially when it comes to a subject as emotional as diseases that affect children. They don’t need Jenny McCarthy’s help and they don’t need ABC to unwittingly validate views that are based in nothing more than pure fantasy.
But imagine the damage that can be done if they get it.
“Theres a reason why autism is on the rise, if you want to ignore it and stick your head in the sand, thats fine..condemn your kids to being window lickers.
— StupidPeopleAllAroundMe commenting on the Huffington Post’s column, “Jenny McCarthy’s ‘View’ Hiring Met With Outrage Due To Her Anti-Vaccine Views”
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