Measles As Metaphor: My
Right To Have What She’s Having
Believe it or not, this has already been decided by the
Supreme Court in 1905. A state can force vaccination (in this case, Jacobson v.
Massachusetts, it was small pox) or levy a penalty with some exceptions for
which the plaintiff did not qualify.
So why are we litigating this in the court of internet
opinion all over again?
Therein lies the Uber Metaphor. If I decide, it must be
right. I am the boss of me totally. No, not really.
Americans simply don’t give a damned about evidence,
science, or what anyone else thinks including the President of the US or the
Congress. They certainly don’t trust
that pesky Ebola fumbling CDC or the eggheads at the NIH. They don’t trust
books (the few that still read them), or newspapers or TV (I mean how can you
when Fox spews garbage into the air like belching smokestacks and MSNBC allows
Al Sharpton to both DO the news and BE the news). I suspect most young people
get their news from Jon Stewart who is honest, but not news. (He’s on the
Comedy Channel for a reason.)
For those of us who had measles as kids along with chicken
pox, German measles and mumps, we are in disbelief that parents would subject
their own children to these miserable, highly contagious viral illnesses
unnecessarily. But they do. They base this belief on religious principles
(can’t argue with that one in America) or faulty medical literature or
celebrities extolling the evils of autistic causing vaccines that do not
contain mercury and haven’t for over 10 years. Remember, the most powerful
force in the universe is stupidity, but second may be the American belief in
individual decision making as being innately superior to evidence gleaned from
Anything on the internet is good. Anything that rebels
against authority is good (I can get on board that one quite often myself).
Anything that is regulated is bad like GMO food.
Were things only that simple. They are not.
A free society must balance the good of the individual with
that of the whole society, communitarian values. Laws try to do this. In short,
your right to throw a punch ends at the tip of the other fellow’s nose.
These collective knuckleheads who do not vaccinate their
children based on unfounded fear of serious complications from the vaccines are
exposing not only their own children, but everyone else’s to a higher
likelihood of contracting a potentially fatal illness by subverting herd
immunity and increasing the viral load in the air. Measles can kill. Polio is
dreadful and life-altering. My generation was brought up in fear of these
diseases and were eternally grateful to Drs. Salk and Sabin for protecting us
from the ravages of life in an iron lung.
The only way to stop this nonsense where, once again, the
media is counterbalancing science with superstition as if they had equal
intellectual weight, is for Congress to pass legislation mandating vaccination
of all American citizens to “promote the general welfare” and it will be
sustained under Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution because Congress can
regulate interstate commerce and the vaccines must cross state lines and are
under the auspices of the FDA and CDC. Exemptions with respect to first
amendment rights are fine (e.g., religion) or if the vaccine is unsafe in an
immune-compromised child. Otherwise, get the vaccine. Yes, the government can
This is not Harry Met Sally where Rob Reiner’s mother
decides, “I’ll have what she’s having” after Meg Ryan fakes an orgasm. As Justice
Harlan said in his ruling in 1905, “personal liberties can be suspended.” They
are during war and they can be here.
Isn’t there enough misery in the world not to add to it by
subjecting the youngest among us to preventable illnesses based on beliefs that
are totally unfounded in reality?
Everyone does not get to decide everything. America is not a
democracy. It’s a representative republic and the elected representatives need
to act. Now. And then be sustained by the 9 Supreme Court Justices—again!