Jill Stein And Anti-Vaxxers

Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein has been quite the fly in the ointment the last couple of weeks, though that will probably recede as, unlike during the Democratic convention, there’s now no easy way for her to draw attention to herself.

One hideous thing she has been doing is making the standard anti-vaccination arguments. If you follow this stuff, it’s obvious what she’s doing, but there are a lot of newbies who just aren’t aware of how the anti-vaccine game is played.

Anti-vaccinations never come out and say ‘we oppose vaccination.’ It is always couched in terms of altering vaccination schedules, urging ‘caution’, and calling for safer products.

This is really no different than when anti-abortionists come up with bullshit medical safety arguments (or bullshit pre-natal neurology and developmental biology), rather than admitting they want to end all abortions. Nor is it any different from Republicans who are supposedly protecting us from voter fraud, while really attempting to disenfranchise Democrats for partisan gain.

What’s awful is that she is mainstreaming garbage that undermines one of the most successful public health interventions of the 20th century.

An aside: This isn’t just a left-wing affliction. Polling data actually suggest a very slight right-wing bias when it comes to anti-vaccinationism.

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11 Responses to Jill Stein And Anti-Vaxxers

  1. Pingback: It’s bad to be confined to one choice — but at least there’s no ambiguity about who is the better candidate - Atheist Boutique

  2. sglover says:

    Congrats. You’ve fallen for a not especially sophisticated smear campaign: http://www.snopes.com/is-green-party-candidate-jill-stein-anti-vaccine/

    Here’s a quote from the horrible anti-vaxxer herself:

    “I think there’s no question that vaccines have been absolutely critical in ridding us of the scourge of many diseases — smallpox, polio, etc. So vaccines are an invaluable medication … We have a real compelling need for vaccinations.”

    So the problem is…. what, again? She’s not using quite the proper tone? Perhaps an improper emphasis on certain adjectives, when others are more correct? Help me out, I’m really confused here — What is the exact nature of her thoughtcrime?

    The Dem convention (the two conventions back-to-back, actually) ramped up the general screaming bullshit level to jet engine screaming at full afterburner. It’s gonna be a fun four months of language and orthodoxy enforcement.

    • Net Denizen says:

      Let me start by saying that I will still be voting for Jill Stein, even though she has equivocated on vaccines. The reason being, I want to help build a parliamentary representative system in the US and continually voting for the same two parties all the time won’t get that done.

      That out of the way, the problem is that Dr. Stein — and unfortunately she *IS* an actual medical doctor, sigh… — is pandering to a base which is yearning to hear anti-corporate rhetoric to get fired up and support her candidacy. The problem with the vaccine comments is that she tried to use an anti-corporate argument and this is one of the methods anti-vaxxers use when they push *their* agenda. So in this case both groups agree on getting corporation’s influence out of medical decisions, but Dr. Stein could and should have made a more forceful statement that vaccines are safe and necessary rather than equivocate for the sake of her constituency.

      • sglover says:

        First, thanks for a lucid and courteous reply. But I have to object to your remarks in much the same way that I object to the original post. It sure looks to me like Stein knows of and explicitly acknowledges the value of vaccination. Is there some other way to interpret the statement that I quoted?

        The complaint against Stein seems to be the old crimestop logic: Sure, you and I know what’s what, but she is opening the door to others who aren’t as sophisticated as we are. We must keep those nameless others from being misled by adopting the proper rhetoric! “Dude, Chinaman is not the preferred nomenclature. Asian-American, please.” It’s the same argument that’s been used by meddlers and censors throughout history.

        Besides, what the hell is wrong with mentioning that a for-profit medical system really isn’t the best of all possible worlds, that it can lead to pathological incentives? I thought that was, or ought to be, pretty much a given in left circles.

        • Net Denizen says:

          If you would have quoted the parts that are controversial:
          “In the US, however, regulatory agencies are routinely packed with corporate lobbyists and CEOs. So the foxes are guarding the chicken coop as usual in the US. So who wouldn’t be skeptical? I think dropping vaccinations rates that can and must be fixed in order to get at the vaccination issue: the widespread distrust of the medical-industrial complex.”

          and also: “Still, vaccines should be treated like any medical procedure — each one needs to be tested and regulated by parties that do not have a financial interest in them. In an age when industry lobbyists and CEOs are routinely appointed to key regulatory positions through the notorious revolving door, its no wonder many Americans don’t trust the FDA to be an unbiased source of sound advice. Monsanto lobbyists and CEOs like Michael Taylor, former high-ranking DEA official, should not decide what food is safe for you to eat. Same goes for vaccines and pharmaceuticals. We need to take the corporate influence out of government so people will trust our health authorities, and the rest of the government for that matter.”

          She’s using the anti-vaxxer “Big Pharma” argument when she doesn’t need to, just to pander to the anti-corporate followers from the Green Party. She’s asking people to be skeptical of the process, in the name of anti-corporatism, and leaving open the possibility that vaccines *could* be unsafe because of it. Instead, she could have — as an actual medical doctor — told people some form of “Vaccines are safe, unless you are allergic to a component of them. In which case, ask your doctor before getting vaccinated” No need to pander when she’s not gonna do much better than 0.8% anyway.

      • dr2chase says:

        I’m a little puzzled at how voting for a sure loser will obtain this change, and I’m also puzzled at how likely we are to obtain this change from the top. If I were planning to change things, I’d try to start at the local level with wider use of something liked transferable vote or ranked choice or range voting, to give people a way to express their preferences without “wasting” their vote on a candidate who might not win, and to make it unnecessary to vote “strategically”. I think this gives 3rd parties more of a chance locally, and then at the state level, so we have a chance of filling seats in the House and Senate.

        • sglover says:

          Yep. Given the federal structure of our political system, changing the way votes are tallied is the only possible strategy for breaking the two-party pathology. That means it’ll be a long slog, of course.

          I don’t think it got much attention here, but a year or two or three ago the UK turned down ranked preference/instant runoff voting in a referendum. That was disappointing.

        • Net Denizen says:

          In general, a 3rd party does not come out of nowhere to run presidential quixotic campaigns. At least in the case of Greens and Libertarians, there are state party structures that are denied ballot status in far too many states. Most states (about 40-ish IIRC) have a mechanism that if the highest level office on the ballot gets x% of the total votes cast, then that party does not have to do anything extra to appear on the next ballot. So if Dr. Stein meets or exceeds the specific percentage this year on a state by state basis, then next year the Green Party office-seekers merely have to submit the proper forms to be on the ballot and do not have to also seek a specific number of signatures from registered voters, etc.

          There are a handful of states for which this is a formality, as ballot access is relatively easy to come by. But there are another handful states for which this is a must because the requirements to qualify otherwise are extremely arbitrary and difficult. The presumption is that having guaranteed ballot status will allow a state party to fill any and all possible races, but the first thing is to have a state-wide presence to begin with. The Greens are a diminishing party right now, but the Libertarians still seem to have a 40+ state presence every year.

  3. Jim Sweeney says:

    Orac discusses this at length. Short version: she’s dog-whistling.

    • sglover says:

      As far as I can tell, the only thing your link really shows is that **any** statement, tortuously parsed, becomes a “dog whistle”. Again, from your own link:

      “Vaccines in general have made a huge contribution to public health. Reducing or eliminating devastating diseases like small pox and polio. In Canada, where I happen to have some numbers, hundreds of annual death from measles and whooping cough were eliminated after vaccines were introduced.”

      Stein’s words. Seems like a pretty damn emphatic endorsement of vaccination to me. Of course, it is followed by the commonsensical observation that if people suspect cronyism and collusion between corporations and regulators, they may well begin to distrust much of modern medicine. So what?

      I guess you’ll agree with this statement: If people distrust financial regulators, they will never ever invest in the stock market again. Therefore all right-thinking people must shout down anybody who even suggests that, say, the SEC is too influenced by Wall Street. Actually, I think we’ve lived through that mindset, and not so long ago. How’d it work out, do you think?

      This whole smear is all very Stalinist.

  4. Benzeke says:

    The mainstream media has entirely missed the significant anti-vaccine bias of the definitely right wing Alex Jones crowd. It’s all part of ‘thinning the herd’, like chemtrails. Btw, someone needs to ask Mr. Trump about chemtrails.

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