Sunday, May 2, 2010

Scare Tactics

Now as all of you know, I am the last person to point a finger at someone for their use of hyperbole. When I'm upset about a subject, I am more than happy to say the most outlandish things. Nevertheless, it does bother me when I see bloggers helping people push the panic button on an issue that is very controversial. This one in particular: children and vaccinations. Full disclosure: I've blogged several times about this, but suffice it to say I am very much in favor of vaccinating children, both for their own health and that of the community at large. Which is why I am upset at the always-over-the-top Barbara Curtis (to whom I will not be linking in this post), whose headline on Friday at her Mommy Life blog screams "EPA: autism boom correlates w/aborted fetal DNA in vaccines". The blog post below goes on to quote a number of spurious sources on the link between autism and aborted fetal DNA in vaccines. Yes, you read that correctly: aborted fetal DNA. After reading that, I was suspicious. Needless to say.

I immediately went online and did some research. As it turns out, the human cell cultures in which a number of vaccines are grown do sadly have their origins in aborted fetal tissue - from the 1960's. The cell cultures have grown on their own since then and no additional fetal tissue has been needed or used. The National Catholic Bioethics Center has an excellent set of FAQs on the issue, which includes a statement by the Pontifical Academy for Life that says that Catholics should have no reservations about vaccinating their children because of this link to 1960's abortions.

Now, I am not Catholic, but if the Pope makes a statement on the issue of abortion, I'm very, very likely agree with it. Additionally, since our pediatrician is a numerary in Opus Dei and yet has never mentioned this as an issue, I am additionally glad we went ahead and vaccinated the boys, even in light of this discovery.

I made a comment like this on Barbara's post, very civil in tone (yes, it really was) and she, naturally, refused to approve it. This has happened several times before, on everything from the history of pretzels to the child abuse perpetrated by followers of Michael Pearl. I have no idea why she doesn't like my comments, but I can only assume if you disagree with her even slightly, you get the boot.

Why would you go out of your way to create hysteria among people? For some people this issue of whether or not to vaccinate their children is very important and charged with emotion; why feed that emotion with half-baked assertions and links to websites that don't tell anything close to the entire story? Barbara herself is Catholic, which is why I thought she would appreciate the authorities from the Catholic church that I linked to. But they were obviously less interesting than the sensationalism of the sites she found, and so weren't worthy of notice.

There is a lesson in this for me more than anything else, since I really can't bring myself to be actually angry that someone 1000 miles away hit "delete" on something I wrote. If I was angry over that, I'd be a little too thin-skinned to stick my nose out any write anything. But what needs remembering is this: facts are always more important that the emotional impact you hope to make when you write something. If you want emotional impact and the facts fail to provide, take up fiction writing. And don't forget to tell everyone it's fiction before you hit the "publish" button.

1 comment:

Elizabeth Channel said...


I leave comments all over the blogosphere that never get published and never get responded to.

I feel like I'm in good company now!