One of the most common and potent ways to denigrate a human being or a group of human beings is to identify them by a disparaging label. To achieve its intended effect, the label, if chosen well, need not be complicated or creative. It must merely serve two purposes: to quickly conjure up in the listener's mind a negative image or association and, just as importantly, to put in place a barrier that hinders meaningful communication.
The movie ‘Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe’ made the rounds of select theaters in Vermont over the last several months. These showings
The movie ‘Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe’ made the rounds of select theaters in Vermont over the last several months. These showings - one of which took place in Brattleboro at the Latchis Theater this past Monday evening - are sponsored by the Vermont Coalition for Vaccine Choice (ww.voicesforchoice.com) and are part of an effort to raise awareness about risks associated with vaccinations.
What makes Vaxxed so compelling is two-fold:
There are many powerful, heart rendering scenes in which parents of vaccine damaged children testify to their experience of having their child vaccinated and then soon thereafter witnessing profound neurological degeneration. These interviews watched one after the other can leave the viewer emotionally stunned - and enraged at the forces that led to these outcomes.
Not long ago, I was talking with a young couple, a relative and his wife, who were expecting their first child sometime next spring. After inquiring into how the pregnancy was going, plans for the birth and offering some congratulatory chitchat, I asked about their thoughts on vaccinations. Not that surprisingly, the father-to-be replied that they were intending to vaccinate, but what was surprising were the reasons he articulated for doing so.
To paraphrase his reply, he said that it was ‘tough out there’ if one doesn’t vaccinate a child. Not tough in the sense that the child might suffer from illness, but that the societal pressure is difficult to resist. The issue wasn’t whether vaccines were safe or necessary, but a fear of being ostracized and isolated. Presumably they were referring to pressure being exerted by medical authorities and schools, and perhaps even extending to friends, work colleagues and family as well.
It’s been a number of years since I first met the two brothers, Jordan and Samuel. They were as different as two persons could be. Samuel, age 6 at the time, was a gentle, cheerful fellow – easy to smile and easy to talk to. Jordan, 3 years his elder, was retiring and sullen. Communicating with him was challenging at best. And his thin, wiry build was contrasted with the soft, full frame of his younger brother. Reflecting the difference in their constitutional nature, each boy was brought in for quite different reasons. Samuel easily developed respiratory ailments that turned into a bronchitis or asthmatic wheezing. Jordan’s issues were only paritially physical as they had strong emotional and behavioral components.
Recently legislation was introduced in the Vermont legislature that would amend the law regulating vaccinations. Currently, the state permits children entering school to be exempted from vaccinations for medical, religious or philosophical reasons. The bill, Senate 199 and House 527, would revoke the philosophical exemption, forcing parents to either vaccinate or find another means to educate their child. This bill was proposed at the behest of the public health and conventional medical establishments, which invoked the concept of ‘herd immunity’ as a rationale for its implementation. Simply put, it postulates that if enough people in a certain group or community are immunized against a specific disease, then the germ that carries the disease cannot find enough carriers to spread amongst the non-immunized, and presumably outbreaks of the disease disappear.