If you’ve ever been unlucky enough to get into a fruitless debate with someone who believes that vaccines are part of a nefarious conspiracy by Big Pharma to give children autism, you’re aware of the website Natural News. It’s the go-to resource for conspiracist pseudoscience, a clearing house of specious “facts” that vaccine opponents and other assorted fringe dwellers link to as if it somehow holds the same intellectual and journalistic weight as nearly every reputable physician on earth and The New York Times, respectively.
The guy who runs Natural News is Mike Adams. He’s a self-described “Health Ranger” and Wonkette-described “Texas new-age gun fetishist” who subscribes to the complete panoply of conspiracy theories — chemtrails, government mind-control, Sandy Hook trutherism, the New World Order, etc. — and who last year compared GMO scientists to Nazis and suggested that they should be hunted down and killed. That in mind, it won’t surprise anyone to learn that Adams has a particular bug up his ass about vaccines. Which means that right now he, like so many others in the anti-vaxxer psych ward, has a visceral hatred of Jimmy Kimmel.
Last week, Kimmel took to his late-night show to both legitimately excoriate and openly mock anti-vaxxers, including assembling a group of doctors to plead with everyone to please do the right thing and vaccinate their kids. That bit of course went over like a fluoride bath with America’s completely sane anti-vaxx community — you know, the people responsible for the growing outbreak of a disease thought eradicated years ago. They bombarded him with unhinged tweets, a few of which he read on the air this past Monday night. But really no one came back with so creative a response as Mike Adams. He somehow correctly navigated the power button on his computer and banged out a post over at Natural News titled “OUTRAGE! Jimmy Kimmel makes fun of vaccine-damaged children, revives hate speech bigotry on national TV.”
The thrust of the piece: that calling some one an “anti-vaxxer” is equivalent to using racist language or gay-bashing.
Throughout U.S. history, certain selected groups of citizens have been subjected to extreme verbal, judicial and even physical abuse at the hands of bigoted oppressors. The historical abuse of African-Americans — subjected to generations of abusive language and racism that still lingers today — was villainously summed up with a bigoted hate speech label I dare not utter here.
Gay Americans were similarly subjected to the label of “f-@@-t,” a hate-based derogatory slur invoked to demean a human being because of their sexual orientation. It was this campaign of verbal abuse and derogatory hate speech that helped give rise to violence against gays in America.
Importantly, every effort to demean and denigrate a selectively targeted class of citizens — whether for their skin color, their sexual orientation or their beliefs — has been preceded by a campaign of verbal abuse intended to dehumanize that targeted group. The invocation and use of bigoted, derogatory labels lays the social and cultural groundwork for not only discrimination but even actual violence committed against the groups being targeted.
Racism and hate speech are wrong. It is morally, politically and socially incorrect to use hate speech labels in a derogatory manner in a civilized society. These terms are hate-based forms of speech meant to emotionally hurt and demean targeted groups of innocent people. Yet, astonishingly, it has now emerged in America that it is socially acceptable to use precisely the same bigoted hate-speech language against another group: children who are damaged by vaccines (and children who are unvaccinated). This group is now being widely and aggressively disparaged with the hate-based term “anti-vaxxers.”
No, see, no one calls children anti-vaxxers because unvaccinated children haven’t done anything wrong other than be unlucky enough to be saddled with misguided idiots for parents. As for the term “anti-vaxxer,” it’s nothing more than a simple way of describing someone who has chosen, without any genuine proof whatsoever, to believe that the miraculous childhood vaccines that have up until recently kept a generation of children safe are somehow dangerous and cause diseases like autism. It’s a largely neutral term in that it merely describes an inaction and the thinking behind it. If Adams would prefer, I’m sure there are plenty of far more derogatory phrases we can come up with for people who endanger children. And as for children who are “damaged by vaccines,” first of all that assumes facts not in evidence and in the case of Adams it relies on circular logic, and second, Kimmel wasn’t in any way ridiculing children anyway.
Adams goes on to hit all the usual tin-foil-plated nonsense about vaccines, including citing a largely debunked CDC “whistleblower” and posting a lot of pictures of children he claims have been damaged by vaccines while providing no confirmation or context. But really this is all about accusing Kimmel of engaging in the equivalent of racist jokes at the expense of a group of dangerous idiots who insist on having their fever dreams indulged by the society they’re putting in jeopardy. There’s almost no sense in bothering, but just for a hell of it: A belief system isn’t a race or sexual orientation; it isn’t something you were born with and is therefore beyond your control. Holding tight to a bad belief system isn’t the same as being black or gay and to compare the two is both ludicrous and insulting. And if you do believe in provably false horseshit, people get to call you out for it. Sometimes they even get to be caustic about it. Especially if that horseshit puts children — ours and yours — at risk.
Trust me, Mike. If I’m openly mocking you and, if I’m in a charitable mood, pleading with you to take your meds and vaccinate, it’s not because I don’t care about your children. It’s because I care about them more than you do.
Chez Pazienza was the beating heart of The Daily Banter, sadly passing away on February 25, 2017. His voice remains ever present at the Banter, and his influence as powerful as ever.