“Stories circulating online, claiming that I said my son Evan may not have autism after all, are blatantly inaccurate and completely ridiculous.”
Last week you probably noticed that a lot of people had begun circulating a Time magazine article which they claimed provided a new twist in the saga of Jenny McCarthy’s years-long campaign to systematically kill America’s children. The piece in question — the one that got, ironically, viral transmission — was actually three-and-a-half years old, however. The reason for the sudden circulation was a Radar Online post, since deleted, which pulled select quotes from it to breathlessly trumpet a supposed change of heart on the part of McCarthy. According to the Radar post, the ex-Playboy playmate turned ridiculously dangerous anti-vaccination crusader had suddenly come to the conclusion that her young son never had autism — that he was misdiagnosed — which would’ve meant that her rants against childhood vaccines and claims of being able to “cure” autism amounted to nothing.
Even a cursory look at the Time article would’ve shot holes in the allegations made by Radar. But admittedly there are so many people out there who have actually taken the time to read the various reportsutterly debunking any vaccine-autism link — as well as the facts about herd immunity being compromised and diseases long gone suddenly returning from the dead — that they’re holding out hope for anything that might bring Jenny McCarthy and her acolytes to their senses.
Alas, that’s not happening. McCarthy still insists her son was diagnosed with autism, and he may very well have been, considering that the condition operates within a very broad spectrum that can range from barely noticeable to nearly incapacitating. What’s practically inarguable, though, is that if Jenny McCarthy’s child is autistic, she damn well didn’t “cure” him through a combination of diet and vitamins. There are a thousand things that can be done to treat autism, but claiming to be able to use a couple of motherly tricks to fix the condition completely, and suggesting that others go and do likewise, is the worst kind of arrogant celebrity pseudoscience.
Not that this needs to be said again, but, well, maybe it does. Here’s how it breaks down: If you work out a vaccination schedule with a responsible doctor that differs slightly from the CDC’s recommendation, that’s one thing. But if you don’t vaccinate your child or withhold certain recommended vaccinations, you’re a shitty parent. Period. More than that, you’re a lousy human being because you fail to take into consideration or simply disregard the fact that your child has to interact with other children at some point. And he or she can be putting those children — other people’s children, good parents who’ve been smart enough to protect their kids — in mortal danger. Like it or not, none of us lives completely inside a bubble, which is where the entire notion of a common good comes from — because sometimes you have to suck it up and take one for the team, accepting that your choice can negatively impact the choices of others. In this case, your freedom not to vaccinate your kid comes into direct conflict with other people’s freedom to live without having to fight off certain dangerous diseases your little walking petri dish is susceptible to and might be carrying.
As for those like McCarthy, who preach the gospel of Google Search Science, their opinions should be given zero platform or quarter at the moment. As I said last week, it’s incumbent upon the person making the outlandish claim to provide proof to back that claim up. There’s all kinds of anecdotal speculation about problems caused by childhood vaccines, and certainly not every child is exactly the same, but the link between the contents of vaccines and conditions like autism has been debunked again and again. What this means is that when placed side-by-side, those warning of the very serious dangers of vaccines can’t be allowed the same consideration as those who rightly state that there’s no scientific proof of vaccines causing horrific conditions in children. In other words, the two arguments can’t be placed side-by-side. A willingness to do so — to give equal standing to both points-of-view — represents nothing but intellectual dishonesty and everything that’s wrong with modern media.
Even setting all of that aside, there’s still basic logic. Only statistically unsound, media-driven fear would lead someone to believe that his or her child has a better chance of becoming autistic because of a vaccination than he or she does of contracting a dangerous disease — and infecting others — without one.