February 09, 2015
The recent outbreak of measles has predictably sparked a national debate. California, which is the center of the story, reports just over a hundred cases. The second-most reported cases are in Arizona, with seven children who have the disease. New York and Utah each have up to three infected children, and Illinois around five.
Talk about an epidemic! An epidemic of such apocalyptic proportions that it threatens an infinitesimally small portion of the population. I don”t mean to discount the health of those affected by measles; but let’s use proportionality in these matters. The media loves scaremongering over diseases because it boosts ratings. Remember Ebola?
The puny measles infestation quickly drew attention to unruly parents who refuse to vaccinate their children. The label “anti-vaxxer“ was liberally applied by journalists looking to slander these unenlightened trailer park dwellers who don”t worship at the tabernacle of science.
On cue, the talk of measles spread over to the nascent 2016 campaign for the White House. Candidates, including Republicans, lunged at the chance to take a side on the issue. Almost every candidate, with the exception of neuroscientist and gun-grabber Ben Carson, allowed exceptions for philosophical, medical, or religious reasons.
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who is by far the most libertarian of any serious presidential aspirant, took the most radical stance in our increasingly wussified nation. In a high-tension interview with CNBC’s Kelly Evans, the senator had the audacity to suggest parents should have final authority in what vaccines their children receive. He declared that “the state doesn”t own your children” and that vaccines are an “issue of freedom.” He also questioned their universal applicability, and admitted to knowing of a few cases where vaccines caused “profound mental disorders” in kids.
If you want to befuddle and enrage the corrupt cabal of groupthinkers known as the mainstream media, you invoke liberty correctly; that is, you call it freedom from systematic government aggression. There are few things more aggressive than a government-mandated needle in a child’s arm. Hence Paul recommended that most vaccines be voluntary, as most health measures have been for the majority of American history.
Until the past couple of weeks, it seemed the consensus was that liberals were the prime idiots pushing against vaccination. On the 2008 campaign trail, Hillary Clinton said she was “committed to make investments to find the causes of autism, including possible environmental causes like vaccines.” Robert Kennedy, Jr. is an avid believer in the vaccine-autism correlation. Even Oprah gave an audience to Jenny McCarthy, a former Playboy playmate and dyed-in-the-wool vaccine truther. Hollywood is chock-full of lefty celebs who keep their kids free of toxins (and presumably a normal life). But suddenly it’s all Rand Paul’s fault.
It’s confusing that some leftists question vaccines while others beg to force them on children. Then again, consistency is a rare thing for the muddled thinkers who constitute the progressive tribe. It’s equally puzzling that some conservatives would defer immediately to government mandates. The heart of conservatism is skepticism of big solutions. Certainly a government that can”t manage its borders can”t run a nationwide, all-encompassing vaccination regime.