It's been a banner year so far for the anti-vaccination movement. Thanks to their concerted efforts, no fewer than one in five millennials now believe that vaccines cause autism, only 53 percent of the U.S. population is "confident that vaccines are safe and effective," and that old-timey party favorite, the decorative and entirely preventable disease known as measles, is spiking like a motherfucker. And the cherry on this pustule-filled cake had to have been when The Happiest Place on Earth was briefly turned into ground zero for an outbreak of that aforementioned (and again, entirely preventable) contagion.
Thereby revealing certain individuals to be the infectious vermin we always suspected.
But not everything is rubella and roses for the anti-vaxxers. Sadly, there are some other recent developments which indicate that their cause may have to overcome even more hurdles before their Utopian dream -- which seems to be living in a virulently cataclysmic wasteland in which children have about the same chance of living to see adulthood as sea turtles -- can finally be achieved. Beginning with how ...
5An Anti-Vax Hero Wasn't Much Of A Hero After All
Much like how Shaggy 2 Dope is a hero to Juggalos everywhere, Dr. James "Jeff" Bradstreet was a iconic figure in the anti-vaccination movement, based mostly on controversial research he conducted years ago which pointed to a link between autism and vaccines. And as he had an autistic son himself, his motivations for said research conceivably may have been pure. But after the National Academy of Medicine concluded that his work didn't provide sufficient evidence to keep them from declaring that no such link actually exists, Bradstreet nonetheless felt so strongly about the subject that he testified twice before Congress and developed his own therapeutic "miracle cures." Just as a certain Dr. Andrew "The Elaborate Fraud" Wakefield singlehandedly and drastically reduced the amount of vaccines children received in the U.K., Bradstreet led many Americans to think twice before immunizing their own kids. And then he suddenly wound up dead in a river with a bullet in his chest.
Thus proving an indisputable link between lead and drowning.
Upon hearing the news, his distraught supporters (along with the regular lineup of frothing, wild-eyed keyboard-elbowers) were quick to declare him the victim of a "big pharma conspiracy," and suggested that he must have been silenced by hired assassins. But before we get into that too much, let's go over a few things first, starting with that research we mentioned earlier.
Bradstreet's basic point was that some vaccines were chock-a-block full of a preservative called thimerosal, which is derived from mercury (the same substance that turned hat makers of old into babbling lunatics), and that as a result, it was causing autism in the children who received those vaccines. Despite the fact that his findings could be best described as "speculative and unpersuasive," along with "unconvincing and unsupported by evidence," both the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics decided to recommend that thimerosal be removed from vaccines as a precautionary measure. But of course, this was just seen as an admission of guilt by an spectacularly irresponsible press, wise (though oddly misshapen) pillars of reasonable discourse like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and a conspiracy-minded segment of the public ever hungry for their apoplectic outrage of the week.
Admittedly, it's hard to fit "correlation does not imply causation" on a bumper sticker.
And remember how I mentioned something about his "miracle cures"? Well, that's technically an accurate description, since it was a miracle that he didn't kill a shitload of people with them. Bradstreet's reported advocacy of treatments like hyperbaric oxygen chambers, dangerous chelation therapy, the use of an experimental hormone drug call secretin, and exorcisms led to exactly zero children not having autism anymore. He also treated patients with a controversial, unapproved cancer drug called GcMAF, which apparently did, in fact, wind up allegedly killing five children. Which led to federal and state authorities raiding his clinic. Which led to them discovering his involvement in a "shadowy, international gray market industry in unapproved medicine." Which, in all likelihood, led to Bradstreet wandering down to a river and blasting himself in the chest before he could be arrested.
Chad Baker/Jason Reed/Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images
If you count all the rocks in the picture, they add up to 213. Add those numbers up, and you get six. There are six letters in the word "Pharma." COINCIDENCE?
But of course, many people refused to believe it was suicide, and instead blamed "government hit squads" and the like for his death. And so message boards lit up, crowdfunding accounts were started, and the local sheriff's office was pestered incessantly in a collective effort to "get to the truth." And after the case had already been ruled a suicide, the lead investigator responded to the clamoring horde with a measured civility worthy of the most diplomatic of Tibetan monks: "I've talked to some of those people today. I don't know what to say. They have a right to their opinion."
"FDA assassins" are second only to "Department of Education Human Organ Harvesters" on the list of government shadow organizations you probably don't have to worry about too much.
4Australia Is Cutting Benefits If You Don't Vaccinate Your Kids
Australian citizens' right to "conscientiously object" to having their children immunized, with no repercussions whatsoever (aside from the potentially bubonic sort), came to a screeching halt this year, when Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced a new government policy to help deal with a whooping cough outbreak. Under the new plan, people could still refuse to get their kids vaccinated -- they'd just have to pay for it, to the tune of $11,000 in lost welfare benefits. And in a country in which fully half of all families receive more in government subsidies than they pay in net income tax ... let's just say that some people didn't take the news very well.
If she wasn't asking for it, then why did she dress up in those sexy leg braces?
Yes, that would be an ad comparing doctors to rapists. And for those members of Australian society afflicted with redback spider brain infestations, it's probably very convincing. But not all opponents of the plan were of the tinfoil-hat-wearing variety. Some slightly more reasonable arguments against the policy include how it could inadvertently harm children for their parents' mistakes, and how it might make people unwilling to broach the subject with their doctors at all (presumably because of, you know, all that raping). Prime Minister Abbott's response to these concerns was pretty unequivocal: "The choice made by families not to immunize their children is not supported by public policy or medical research."
Stefan Postles/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Australian for "Go fuck yourself, mate."
People are still allowed to apply for religious and medical exemptions, but nonetheless, some citizens still reacted to the "no jab, no pay" policy as if Abbott had just produced a pay-per-view event that featured him personally skullfucking the 74-year-old Paul Hogan. Thousands took to the streets in protest of the measure, and the same strange arguments like "herd immunity is a myth" and the familiar "mercury is making our babies freakishly good at counting spilled toothpicks" were on full, hastily-Sharpie'd display. But perhaps Australians should count their blessings, since it's not like anyone's getting locked up because of their personal beliefs or anything. But actually, that might just be a matter of time, seeing as how ...