• Regan Byrd

The (Many) Issues With Progressive Anti-Vaxxers

Ok, I have about had it with the anti-vaxxer shit.

If you are an anti-vaxxer, this is what it is:

1. The science is NOT on your side. I repeat, the science is NOT, on your side. You continue to demonstrate scientific illiteracy by claiming otherwise. Yes, I have read it. Yes, I understand it. But even better than that, I understand there are people better trained and informed than me, that have also read it and understand it. Those folks, are not on your side. Science,by the way, means peer reviewed studies, published in reputable journals so other scientists can review methodology (that is the benefit of the scientific method. It allows for self-correction and evaluation). Science is not a vaccine insert you are misreading, and its not an anti-vaxxer website re-posting dis-proven and debunked junk. Its a peer reviewed study. And the science is NOT on your side.

2. Being that the science isn't on your side, many of you will then shift goal posts and say its a giant pharma profiteering conspiracy, so the science is irrelevant. If you dismiss all evidence counter to your argument as simply being itself evidence of a conspiracy, then you are no longer making rational arguments. You have boxed yourself in a rhetorical safe house where no one could possibly prove you wrong because you don't care about anything other than your own opinion on the matter and you reject all counter-evidence. You furthermore fail to provide evidence of a grand conspiracy between international government, corporations, and multiple, international scientific communities when asked, which would have to be the case for your claims about false evidence and cover-ups to be true. An intelligent, reflective person, NEVER does this. They look for weaknesses and flaws in their own perspective to grow and change, to add complexity and nuance to their beliefs. As folks with the majority of science NOT on your side, the onus is on you, to understand the multitude of flaws in your arguments, not us.

3. We can believe people have been injured, hurt, harmed, etc, WITHOUT necessarily accepting carte-blanche their explanation for why they have been injured and harmed. The human body is incredibly complex. Medical professionals have endless stories about people not understanding cause and effect in their own bodies or mis-attributing symptoms. When I teach anti-oppression, I am always flagging for people how ideology, stereotype, and speculation have shaped our thinking, and yet you folks have ZERO doubt that some people might be erroneously attributing symptoms and effects to vaccines, or how your own stereotypes and biases might be effecting your thinking around this issue. That doesn't make any sense and again, reveals the desire driving your conclusions. You have already determined this MUST be true, so people agreeing with you MUST be accurate in their claims of vaccine injury. Your lack of doubt and self-flexibility is revealing.

4. The question of anti-vaxx policy is NOT only about choice. No public health conversation is only about choice. The obviousness of this point and how often it is missed by anti-vaxxers, is astonishing. Why can I not choose to throw out my sewage onto the street without consequences ? Why can I not choose to drive whatever speed I wish without consequences? Why can I now not ride a motor-scooter on the sidewalk in Denver without possibly getting a citation, something I was enjoying and wanted to continue to do? Because each of these things has broader public health consequences, and so we have developed systems and regulations around these things. Not vaccinating oneself, and encouraging others not to do so, has had and is having public health consequences. It has consequences for overall disease eradication, for communities experiencing unprecedented outbreaks of things like measles and whooping cough, and it has consequences for those whom cannot get vaccinated themselves, and rely on policy and communitarian disease management. When you make conversation only about your choices, and not about the community you are effecting, it is a privileged, myopic, and often harmful perspective to take. For me to have to explain this to people who claim to be progressive, is disappointing.

5. It is a matter of fact, of historical record, that vaccines have been one of the most successful public health inventions of all time. They are cheap, easy to replicate and reproduce, and require only one to a few doses to enable a person to fight a disease for the rest of their life. Vaccines have been INSTRUMENTAL in the health of impoverished communities, native communities whom have been devastated by foreign diseases from imperialist nations and then systemically denied care, and those without access to other public health infrastructure like clean water and sanitation. Vaccines have helped all of those communities over and above ANY OTHER health initiative, because of how fast and effectively they can be transported, delivered, and their long term effects. Your rejection of vaccines, has classist, racist, and imperialist implications you have NOT addressed, and you are ACTIVELY causing harm, by not addressing it.

So in conclusion, you can and will continue to be called out, questioned and shut down, because many of us are deeply concerned about the effects your "choice" is having on many, many vulnerable populations and communities. If you say you care about those same communities, then I do not understand why you soundly reject the validity of those criticisms, and why you cling to the most dubious of pseudo-science to make your points. You arguments, and your methods for argumentation, mirror many groups you soundly reject: white nationalists who have bankrupt ideas about the history and science of races, climate deniers who claim all scientific evidence against their view is a conspiracy, even as the effects of climate change become more abundant, and the short-sighted NIMBY advocate who is too busy shouting about their self interest to stop and listen to the effects their self-interest has on others. If you want to have a real conversation, start coming up with proposals that addresses all of the incontrovertible benefits of vaccines, as well as your supposed concerns.

Until then, I am not on your side, and there is a reason most of us are not. Stop posting articles from garbage sources. Stop wasting time on activism that is not needed and very few have asked for. Stop denying the benefits of vaccines. Stop denying the harm of vaccine skepticism as it currently exists.

Stop.

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