Now that Sesame Street has brought Julia, its first autistic character to the show (she was previously in books and online cartoons), the anti-vaccine movement is hopping mad about it. You see, Julia is actually a way for pharmaceutical companies to normalize "vaccine injuries." No, seriously, this is what they're saying.
I can't express this sentiment deeply enough: Anti-vaxxers are the scum of the earth.
Everything about them is horrible on every level. As the parent of an autistic child, their crusade to make my son a pariah infuriates me. As a parent in general, their efforts to spread preventable diseases is a threat to the lives of my children. As a liberal, their selfishness is rivaled only by the very worst of Republicans. As an educated thinking human, their reliance on verifiably fake science disgusts me.
I agree that something is causing the increase in autism and, right now, some company or industry is spending a lot of money to keep that fact hidden. And when we find out who, I will be the first storming their corporate office with a pitchfork and torch. But it is not the pharmaceutical industry. Or, at least, it's not the vaccines produced by the pharmaceutical industry. Ignoring the fact that the original and only study to link vaccines and autism was absolutely and completely debunked as 100% bullshit, every single reputable study since has shown exactly nothing linking the two. All of them. Including the ones paid for by anti-vaxxers.
By expending massive amounts of time, effort and resources on pursuing a lie, the anti-vax movement is slowing progress to finding the actual cause. Very helpful. Please stop.
At the same time, they spread disease by refusing to vaccinate their children, thus weakening herd immunity and putting immuno-compromised children at risk. The reckless disregard for the well-being of others is all too familiar to anyone that pays attention to conservative politics. My greatest fear is that vaccines will become politicized and millions of people will stop vaccinating because a popular politician tells them to. Ask anyone in their 60s or later how much fun Polio and Measles epidemics were and whether they'd want them back in the name of "freedom." There's a reason that even Bill O'Reilly, a loathsome anti-science goon and sexual predator, had a shining moment of humanity when he stood against making vaccination voluntary.
But all of my irritation at anti-vaxxers pales in comparison to the rage inspired by their attacks on Sesame Street and Julia. They're right that Julia exists to normalize autism and, frankly, it's about damn time. Autism is invisible unless you know what to look for. A kid in a wheelchair is obvious. A kid with Down Syndrome is obvious. A kid that flaps his hands, spins in circles and won't look you in the eye is...odd and kids don't accept odd without guidance. Children that don't accept grow up to be adults that don't accept and those adults will be the ones running the world after my wife and I are gone and Jordan lives out his life.
Julia is not for my son. He doesn't understand that he's autistic. Julia is not for my daughter. She's understood autism since she was old enough to ask why her brother wouldn't play with her. Julia is not for Jordan's classmates. They know Jordan and understand why he is the way he is already. Julia is for all the other children who do not have a Jordan in their class or their life. Julia will go a long way to teaching an entire generation of children, and their parents, to both recognize and understand autism.
That anti-vaxxers are offended by this offends me on a genetic level and I wish them nothing but ill for attacking something so vital to my son's future. The more autism is understood and accepted, the safer and happier my son will be. Anti-vaxxers can choke on a bag of plague-infested dicks for fighting against that.
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