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The Daily Show Blames Liberal 'Mindful Stupidity' For Measles Outbreak

Illustration for article titled iThe Daily Show /iBlames Liberal Mindful Stupidity For Measles Outbreak

The Daily Show tackled the topic of measles last night (as was pretty much inevitable, sooner or later). Come for the dressing-down of Rand Paul, a.k.a. Dr. Paul: Anecdote Man; stay for the subtle cryo-Walt-Disney joke and CNN's hologram of measles engulfing an empty plane.


But first, take a moment to read this thoughtful NPR interview with Tennessee parent Juniper Russo, formerly an anti-vaxxer. It is admittedly stress-relieving to to screech at your TV when smug California hippies start talking about vaccines, but as Phil Plait points out over at Slate, "Most parents who don't vaccinate aren't dumb, and they don't think they're being selfish. They simply love their children, and don't want them to be hurt. This belief is quite mistaken, of course, but it doesn't change the fact that they believe it."

So it's helpful to hear from someone who changed her mind. Russo considered herself a "crunchy mom." She admits that, "I thought that she was going to be safe without them and they would unnecessarily introduce chemicals into her body that could hurt her," and she knew people online who blamed their kids' autism on vaccines. So she told her pediatrician no. But the pediatrician kept trying, and gradually Russo's daughter began showing signs of autism, anyway. Finally she said yes, and she plans to vaccinate her son when he's old enough. "I know what it's like to be scared and just want to protect your children, and make the wrong decisions," she says now. If you're going to post an article on Facebook, NPR's is the one you should opt for.


OK, now let's get some fucking catharsis, courtesy of The Daily Show:

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Here is the thing (and I'm sure I'm about to piss a lot of people off, but I'm going to say it anyway): Both of my sons are autistic. They were autistic before they had their shots, and we saw signs before they were vaccinated. We vaccinated them anyway, because vaccines do not cause autism.

There was another family in our neighborhood who we used to be good friends with, whose son also showed similar signs as our sons did (and I distinctly remember this fact, because when my husband and I were first worried about our twins, we said to each other "Well, they must be fine — XXX's son is just like ours and does the same things! It's just a personality thing!"). Our sons were diagnosed extremely early, had very intensive therapy early on, and are now fully mainstreamed. Their son was diagnosed quite late and they entirely blame vaccines. They continually spout the old trope "The light went out in his eyes right after the MMR vaccine, he was TOTALLY FINE before that!"

Um, no. He wasn't. That old line of "the light went out" is total bullshit. You child was autistic before the shots. You just either didn't, couldn't, or refused to recognize the signs. I understand that people need something to blame autism on, because it's horrible to live with the idea that shitty things happen sometimes for no explicable reason, and having something to pin the blame on helps people cope. I get it. I do. But no one's "light goes out" when they get the shot and poof they have autism.

First off, that's suggesting that autism automatically = a loss of all cognition and ability to interact with the world, suggesting that a person with autism has absolutely no "personhood" inside them, which is so disgusting on so many levels. And yes, I know there are severely autistic individuals whose lives and thus the lives of their families are extremely, extremely difficult and heartbreaking. But that is not all people with autism. People don't cease to have humanity because they have autism.

To suggest that you don't want to vaccinate your child because you're terrified of autism is to suggest that you would rather have a dead child than a child with autism.

Second of all, there are some individuals who do have strong and awful and permanently debilitating reactions to vaccinations. Those people do not have autism. Those people have mitochondrial and metabolic diseases caused by genetic mutation. Those are extremely rare situations. Those are not autism.