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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.

Via scoopnest.com
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 ...

5
An Anti-Vax Hero Wasn't Much Of A Hero After All

Facebook/Autism One

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.

amstockphoto/iStock/Getty Images
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.

Oh, in case you were interested, study after study after study has since proven Bradstreet's theory to be laughably false.

zazzle.com
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."

Facebook/Autism One
"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.

4
Australia Is Cutting Benefits If You Don't Vaccinate Your Kids

wholenewmom.com

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.

Via news.com.au
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 ...

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3
People Are Indeed Starting To Get Arrested

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

There was actually some semi-serious talk about placing Jenny McCarthy in handcuffs recently, and not in reference to some sort of weird shit she and Donnie Wahlberg might be up to on the weekends, nor because of her involvement in Santa Baby 2. During a pharmaceutical conference held in Bethesda, MD, an industry trade group president named John Castellani spoke the following, to a packed crowd, in regards to everyone's favorite toilet-straddling shoe model and her stance on vaccines: "I am very angry about Jenny McCarthy. That's from a public health standpoint. That's stupid. It's based on a lie. It's based on a myth. And we're putting children's lives in danger. The woman ought to be arrested. So much for Jenny McCarthy." And people applauded.

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
And he didn't even have to show his tits.

Sure, he probably wasn't entirely serious, and the crowd was full of people in the pharmaceutical industry (who in all likelihood wouldn't mind if McCarthy was offered up to Boko Haram in a prisoner swap), but the idea that people should be held criminally liable for vaccine refusal actually seems to be gaining traction. Just this past January, a USA Today columnist floated the idea through the following subtle, carefully understated language: "Parents who do not vaccinate their children should go to jail." Upset about California's recent measles comeback tour, he likened those who refuse to believe in the safety and efficacy of vaccines to the folks who still believe that the 1969 Moon landing was an elaborate hoax.

NASA
Recklessly ignoring the proven dangers inherent in green cheese.

And lo and behold, it turns out there are already some places in the world where they've had enough with all the pussyfooting around, and have decided to go ahead and send anyone who fails to vaccinate their offspring directly to pound-me-in-the-ass prison. After an alarming uptick in polio cases this year, officials in Pakistan decided to declare "war" on the disease, and "deal with the refusal cases with iron hands." In practice, this means that any needle-shy parents will be charged with the crime of "endangering public security," and immediately placed behind bars. And the only way they can win back their freedom is by pledging in writing to do the unthinkable and not potentially doom their children to a life of adolescent Forrest-Gump-like mobility.

Paramount Pictures
Because not everyone can shake off polio and and enjoy a sterling football / military / ping-pong / shrimping / cross-country marathon career.

Yeah, all that might sound a little harsh, but keep in mind that Pakistan's anti-vax movement can be a little more "hands-on" than our version. Meaning that they've murdered the hell out of over 70 medical workers who were trying to administer vaccines in the last three years. But while that might sound unthinkable to Western ears, there are troubling signs that some in our midst see that type of behavior as perfectly reasonable, judging by how ...

2
Anti-Vax Tactics Are Well Into "Violently Extreme Wacko" Territory

r.solorio/instagram via ktla.com

When your argument has a hard time swaying people, due to pesky things like "facts" and "more facts," tactics like fear mongering, setting up straw men, and ad hominem attacks are just a few of the many awesomely clever ways to effectively peddle your bullshit wholesale. And when you're ready to truly convince the world that you're absolutely serious about not knowing what the hell you're talking about, it's time to pull out that time-tested favorite of political hacks everywhere: the old Reductio ad Hitlerum.

Via jezebel.com
Also known as the "I'm rubber and you're genocide" riposte.

Why not? It's not like Hitler's brain is going to sprout leg stalks, scuttle out from its underground containment bunker somewhere beneath the South American jungle, and file a defamation of character lawsuit, right? But maybe you don't want to take the chance, so you might as well just target children on social media because you disagree with the views of their "fat, ugly, lazy, piece-of-shit parents."

Via jezebel.com
"Finally, someone who understands" -- every teenager who has ever lived

That lovely sentiment, which was directed towards an 11-year-old girl, came from someone who didn't care for the fact that the girl's mother belonged to a Facebook group called The Anti Vax Wall of Shame (whose around 4,000 members make fun of those who demand the freedom to contract diphtheria). The Bizarro World response to the Wall of Shame, created to "expose" the people belonging to it, can be found here.

About 15 seconds of scrolling should tell you everything you need to know about the mindset we're dealing with here. But in case you don't feel like looking at it (and you probably shouldn't bother), know that it's run by someone with a Captain-America-wearing-a-Guy-Fawkes-mask avatar who claims that the Wall of Shame people (whom he posts personal photos of) are actively "infecting anti-vaccination activists with computer viruses embedded in photos and links." Hey, maybe I'll even wind up on his page for writing this article.

Note to editorial: Please delay publication pending virus insertion into images of my fat dog.

E. Reid Ross
Oh yes. There will be blood.

But comparing mandatory vaccinations to Auschwitz aside, the fact that stalking and physical threats have emerged as the hot new entries in the anti-vax playbook is rapidly lowering their public appeal to the level of a Klansman who wants very much to convince the South Carolina black population that the Confederate flag is cool. The death threats (which included some Klan-friendly noose-related ones) against California State Senator Richard Pan were deemed legitimate enough for extra security to be assigned to him, and one wingnut was arrested for spray painting "for every kid afflicted, a public figure will die" on the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce.

luisjay23/instagram via ktla.com
If it turns out that this was just a poorly-worded threat against Kid Rock, then perhaps the incident can be overlooked.

You might have noticed that California seems to be a flashpoint right now for the most fervent, spittle-spewing, anti-vax foot-stompers among us. That's because a bill called SB 277, which called for the removal of religious and personal exemptions from school vaccine mandates, was recently put up for vote. And wouldn't you just know it ...

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1
SB 277 Passed (Much to Jim Carrey's Dismay)

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Yes, despite all of the sober, restrained voices of the opposition, who made their feelings known via such understated methods as ...

Peter Jamison/Los Angeles Times

... and ...

Via troutinmilk.com
The "MANDATORY" awareness bracelet is a nice touch, though I might have gone with a scarier font.

... SB 277 passed. And now that Governor Jerry Brown has signed the bill (which was authored by the aforementioned long-suffering Senator Pan) into law, if parents in the Golden State want their children to receive any kind of education at all, beyond a series of David Icke lizard conspiracy TED lectures held in their garages, they'd damn well better come to grips with the idea of vaccinating them. And among the scientific community, there was much rejoicing.

Thinkstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images
Well, at least as far as one can tell.

Not that Jim Carrey was very happy about it, though. Along with the folks who compared the bill's signing to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and suggested that California authorities were instituting a systematic "genetic alteration" of the general public, Carrey did his part by going on Twitter to call Governor Brown a "corporate fascist" who "says yes to poisoning more children with mercury and aluminum." Then, to avoid any misunderstanding, he also made sure to point out that: "I am not anti-vaccine. I am anti-Thimerosal, anti-mercury. They have taken some of the mercury-laden Thimerosal out of vaccines. NOT ALL."

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
"We will not rest until the chlorine is taken out of our salt, and all of the explosively deadly hydrogen is removed from our drinking water!"

Just to wrap up, I should mention that one thing Mr. Carrey (along with the likes of Kirstie Alley, Jenna Elfman, Danny Masterson, and Selma Blair) keeps citing in his rantings is a documentary called Trace Amounts, which revolves around a man who quit his job to travel around the country in an RV for the purpose of "researching the science behind autoimmune diseases." I'll just let that sink in for a moment. From all appearances, it's a very engaging film, especially if you enjoy your baseless hearsay flavored with an extra scoop of junk science.

Unfortunately, a just-as-recent study (which involved examinations of over over 95,000 children, was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and proves pretty much the exact opposite of the message in Trace Amounts) is unlikely to get the same type of play in the media. Unless, perhaps, the participating scientists are willing to gin up some extra attention by announcing their findings pet-detective-style: by talking out their ass.

E. Reid Ross also slanders dogs over at Man Cave Daily. Feel free to follow him on Twitter here.

Do you still need convincing that the Anti-Vax movement is bad news? Quick, read 4 Ways Anti-Vaccine Lies Are Perfectly Designed To Fool Us. And for other lies that have doomed us all check out 5 Ridiculous Lies That Fooled The Whole World).

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