We're told we must be nice. We're told that, if we're too forceful, we're bullying. We're told that we need to be willing to listen and understand and not risk alienating others. "When they get defensive they carry their campaign more fervently, and that has the chance of poisoning other people," said David Ropeik, a "risk communication expert," which is apparently a thing you can be. Ropeik is talking about people who believe that vaccinating children ought to be optional or that it's outright dangerous and should be banned. We who believe that things like science and facts aren't open for your opinion need to be cautious not to insult those who are afraid of shots. "Imagine what calling people selfish and dumb can do," said Brendan Nyhan, who is pro-vaccine but anti-insult.
What the nice brigade doesn't get is that being "nice" got us where we currently are: actually having a debate on whether or not to vaccinate kids. Rand Paul, a man who looks like he just finished porking a teddy bear, is concerned that vaccines can cause "profound mental disorders," which would explain the popularity of Rand Paul. He's for vaccinating, but he thinks it should be voluntary or, poof, Hitler. He doesn't say what we should do by mixing the immunized and the non-immunized, but, hey, government ain't gonna tell me what to do with my babies.
The only fun part of this year of the measles outbreak (and whooping cough - that's coming back, too) is that we're getting to see that the anti-vaxxer community is not just made up of privileged pukes in Park Slope or Marin County. It ain't just hippies who think the Man is always out to get them with their big corporate conspiracy to put chemicals into babies. No, the conservative right's libertarian streak compels some Republican politicians to say shit like this: "I know my kids best. I know what morals and values are right for my children. I think we should not have an oppressive state telling us what to do." That's Rep. Sean Duffy from Wisconsin. In case you're wondering, Duffy is a former prosecutor who was on MTV's The Real World: Boston and was a commentator on ESPN. In other words, he's not a doctor. He ain't even an ophthalmologist. He's a reality TV guy who went to law school. When it comes to medical needs, he quite specifically does not know what's best for his kids. But here he is, mouthing off about it.
Is it possible to talk about Sean Duffy's beliefs without using the words "dumb," "misinformed," "fucktarded," or "ass backwards"? Maybe you could leave out one or two, but, no, it's not possible. Because Duffy's idiotic views should be put in rhetorical stocks so the rest of us can throw rotting fruits of truth at it. He should be pantsed and whipped into the night, bemoaning that he ever doubted reality. And if some future opponent hasn't already made a commercial using the footage of him saying that it's an "oppressive state" that wants to prevent polio, Wisconsin Democrats should just close up shop.
Round and round we go. The corpse of Pat Robertson waved a skeletal finger and declared, "I don’t think any parent should be forced by the government to vaccinate." And then he said fluoride is suspicious, too (yeah, he did). And there's a chance that this will be an issue for the 2016 presidential election, the campaign for which started in, oh, probably 2009.
The reason why we're pretending this is even a debate is that we're not willing to say, flatly, that some things aren't worth talking about. We give in, again, to the mania for giving multiple sides equal time, or any time, even if one of those sides is barking, fucking mad. That's not polite discourse. That's insanity. That's suicide.
(Note: Let's be honest here. Much of the right-wing opposition to vaccines also has to do with the HPV shots. They think that when the teens get them, they're just gonna go crazy with the fucking. The other opposition has to do with allowing exemptions for beliefs so that they can cram through other kinds of exemptions, like for wedding cake bakers or what the fuck ever.)