Libertarian Vaccination Lunacy

I was rooting through my email today looking for spam. I don’t mean the ads for prescription drugs that you can’t buy legally; no I mean the daily if not hourly emailers that you have unwittingly asked to send you messages, and then they drown you in more information than you could possibly synthesize.

I found quite a few of those. Then, at the bottom of the barrel, I see a note from the Travis County Libertarians letting me know that they’ve moved their newsletter from the old Yahoo!Groups site to the new Google Groups site. Well bless their little hearts!

Being bored, in the middle of a task that I had put off for months if not years, I decided to see what was on the latest issue of the newsletter. Ah, the usual. Chat and chews are scheduled. I’ll be skipping those. I’d skip them anyway but I’ll definitely be skipping being face to face with the unvaccinated. The kind of people who think this ad represents any kind of deep thinking:

twitter.com

We can’t force people to get vaccinated? Tell that to the TB-tine scar on my arm. Not only can we force people to get vaccinated, we have before and we should be doing it again. That is how you get to herd immunity successfully, for fuck’s sake. That’s how we wiped out small pox and polio. We could have wiped out the measles, but antivaxxers like the ones that the Libertarian Party is appealing to in that ad have set us all back decades on that goal.

I mean, if they want to thumb their noses at Biden’s policies, Abbott has them beat:

Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday issued an executive order prohibiting any entity in Texas from mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for employees or consumers, an expansion of a prior order limited to government entities.

Abbott also asked lawmakers to tackle the issue during the current special legislative session, ensuring that “no entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine.”

statesman.com

Why does Abbott have them beat? Because he has the office of the Governor, that’s why. Something they will never have because they will never be serious about winning races instead of grandstanding during the race. The libertarians that were serious about winning races became the Tea Party back in 2008, and they have made the Republican party the lunatic fringe that we all know and love today. They are all Trumpists, almost to a man now. The kind of people who will have to be lead to the end of the pandemic at the point of a gun, apparently.

Greg Abbott doesn’t have the power to stop Biden’s orders. Only the Republican delinquents in the Senate stand between effective governance and the anarchy that libertarians crave, and they hope like hell that the citizenry is dumb enough to keep voting Republican so that the government will finally crumble. Here’s hoping they are denied their wish, or if not, that they turn out happier with the results than the anarchists were who backed Stalin’s bid for power in Russia. They didn’t seem too pleased with being sent to the gulag for all their troubles.

Anti-Vaccination Agitation

One way to look at it is this – a small minority now has the ability to hijack public health policy by waging their own shadow campaign on social media. They are accountable to no one. They can force the expenditure of limited public health dollars just to minimize the effect of their own campaigns. This is also an asymmetric campaign, because it is much easier to spread fear than proper information. At the very least it is reasonable to filter out their harmful misinformation from private platforms. Panels of experts can be used to provide the filter, and fair processes can be made available for appeals. At the very least these options need to be explored.

Sciencebasedmedicine.org
Sciencebasedmedicine.org

This article was about Gardasil. The vaccination worked, but social conservatives hated it because it gave women permission to be promiscuous. Think about what that means. They wanted people to suffer and die from a preventable cancer rather than vaccinate them against the cause of that cancer on the grounds that sex outside of marriage is bad and should be discouraged. They used vaccine fear to wage a war against this vaccine, and this isn’t even the first time, nor was it the last.

facebook/Stonekettle

That is the Conservative-Republican-Trumpist line now about the coronavirus vaccine:

Oh, we’re not anti-vax. We just don’t think vaccines work.

…Strangely, it is the same argument they offer about their obvious racism. What their resistance is about now is still religion. Their religion of conservatism. Their invented Republican Jesus, the one who loves capitalism and profit more than he does the poor and the sick. Their belief that government can’t do anything good in the world.

I’ve heard this pushback from dozens of sources now. They just object to this one vaccination, not the general idea that vaccinations work. Either the science is real, or it isn’t. Either we have stopped Small Pox, Polio, etcetera through vaccination, or the entire business is a sham. A con job. Pick one side people, because it can’t be both sides at the same time. The vaccine works. It works and you should get it.

Editor’s Note

This was originally posted as a quote on January 11, 202o, I have advanced and appended the quote with the current coronavirus crap.

Mandated Vaccination

facebook.com/Stonekettle

The Atlantic & WNYC – The Experiment: The Crime of Refusing Vaccination – MARCH 25, 202

The Jacobson v. Massachusetts decision made clear that the government could mandate vaccination, arguing that collective good sometimes outweighs individual rights. But the line between the two is blurry. More than two decades after Jacobson’s case, the Court used the same logic in another decision, one the historian Michael Willrich says is among the “scariest U.S. Supreme Court decisions of all time.”

The episode of The Experiment that is embedded above illustrates how easily we can be manipulated into thinking something that is good for us is bad, and it illustrates that the converse is also true. It is illegal to refuse vaccination when that vaccination is mandated by government, that is a basic public health criteria. This isn’t about you and your vaccine fears anymore than it is about me and mine. this is about keeping everyone in the population as healthy as we can, and the way to do that is to make sure that we achieve and maintain herd immunity through vaccination for easily communicable diseases.

This is why you should get your influenza vaccination as well as all the other vaccinations on the list of required vaccinations. Get them because you care about the people around you more than you care for yourself. If you can’t find it in yourself to do it for other people, do it so that you don’t get sick from an easily preventable disease. Wish for a vaccination for every communicable disease that you might casually be exposed to so that you don’t die from that disease, either (I see you hiding over there, Malaria) I do, and I hate needles more than anything else I encounter in day to day life.

I have little doubt that Stonekettle is right in the article embedded above. There is too much bullshit out there circulating for this to not be something that Russia is trying to seed throughout the United States in order to weaken us. That other shoe will drop eventually (if we can’t just take past actions as proof in and of itself) and then we’ll know for sure who is spreading the anti-vaccination bullshit this time around aside from the anti-vax idiots in our midst.

There should be a mandate to get the COVID vaccine just as there is for all the other vaccinations we undergo. The influenza vaccination should be mandated as well.  What form that mandate takes is the only real question left to answer. Do we just pass a law making refusing a vaccination a crime again, or do we try to nudge people in the direction of doing the right thing without holding guns to their head to get them to do it? Americans can’t seem to get away from doing everything that they can at the point of a gun. Maybe we should try something different for once.

Vaccination

I received the first injection of the Moderna vaccine yesterday. The Wife, in one of her near-daily outings to the doctor’s offices for the many (and growing) pains that plague her existence, noticed that there was a pop-up vaccination clinic at the hospital where her doctors offices are located, so she did what she always does when presented with an opportunity. She seized it. She got us both an appointment for the next day, and we went to get our first injections of the COVID vaccine.

We both have been on the list here in Austin for over a month now. I didn’t think I would qualify as 1-B. She did qualify when she checked and she begged me to check to see if I qualified or not. Sure enough, when I (honestly) answered all the questions asked, lo and behold I am also at risk and qualified to get the vaccine. Apparently, having a suppressed immune system is worth something after all.

The arm that I got the jab in is more than a bit sore today, and I feel like I’ve got a mild cold, the kind of cold that you almost feel ashamed to call into work to ask for time off for. Coughing, low fever, aches and pains. The stress is setting off my meniere’s symptoms too, but all in all this is a cakewalk. I’ve seen worse.

When I was a child I had to get a penicillin injection for some malady or other, I don’t remember what it was. The doctor and nurse failed to understand the fight or flight response that I would respond with after being jabbed in the ass with a needle, and the needle nearly broke off in my ass before the nurse and my mother managed to get me restrained. That is my first conscious memory of being vaccinated or injected with anything. It has colored my relationship with the medical profession and their favorite tool, the hypodermic needle, ever since.

Every time, through grade school, junior high, high school and into adulthood, every vaccination, from the TB tine test to the tetanus shot I had to get after stepping on a nail on a construction site somewhere, all of them have been greeted with the knowledge that this was the time when the needle would get me. It was finally going to kill me, like it tried to do that first time. None of those experiences come close to the one I had while trying to determine if I had a problem with my immune system.

Back when I was looking into causes for my Meniere’s symptoms, I consulted many specialists about possible conditions that could have lead to these symptoms. I have long thought that allergies were at the root of the cause for me, and I still don’t know one way or the other if this is true. But during the investigation I discovered that my immune system seemed a little sluggish, and the immunologist suggested we do a test to see if it really was a problem or not. I figured why not, and so I agreed to get a vaccination known as PPSV23 (Pneumococcal vaccine) and then get myself tested again to see how well my immune system responded to the vaccine.

After they jabbed me with that one, I really did think I was going to die, and the symptoms that I had following the vaccination only persuaded me further that this was true. Cold sweats. Hot flashes. Confusion. Body aches that had me hardly moving at all. The lymph node under my left arm, the arm that got the injection, swelled up to the size of a golf ball. I could barely move the arm, and I was essentially bedridden for a week with these symptoms.

After everything had cleared up, I got the immune test done and sure enough, the immune response was less than it should have been. A little more investigation showed, however, that I hadn’t gotten PPSV23 but instead gotten PCV13 (fewer variants) which meant that if I wanted to know how well my immune system responded to the correct vaccine, I’d have to repeat the experience again. So I did it. Again. As repeat performances go, that one was just as painful as the first one was, and as I was laying there bedridden for a second week, I realized on some level just how much my anxiety about the needle really made the entire experience so much worse than it had to be. The dread of the shot really wasn’t warranted, in a general sense. Because no experience before that one had been nearly as bad, and yet I still survived it, too.

Since that time I’ve gotten my flu shots twice a year, every year. I’ve donated blood a half-dozen times. Every time the needle is there and I just can’t look at it. Not if I want to stay sane. Every time the aftermath has been a cakewalk compared to those pneumonia vaccines. This vaccine, the COVID vaccine? It too is a cakewalk. I won’t be doing much other than watching TV for a few days. Even so, my lymph nodes are not visible under the skin yet; and for me, that is what cakewalk means when it comes to encounters with the needle.

texasstandard.org/typewriter rodeo

Featured image from NIH: Peer-reviewed report on Moderna COVID-19 vaccine publishes

Postscript

The second dose is frequently rumored to be much worse than the initial dose. I can only say that my second dose was less painful the first day, more painful the second day, and almost unnoticeable every day since. Other than the conviction that I was about to die for half of this last Saturday, from chest congestion that felt remarkably like pneumonia as well as body and joint aches that kept me from moving other than getting up to go to the bathroom, the experience has been a cakewalk, just like I said before. Much easier than getting a cold or the flu, which is not as bad as the disease this is a prevention for.

Don’t be stupid, go get vaccinated!

How does the mRNA vaccine work? Seize the forks!
Vick KrishnaHow mRNA Vaccines Work? – Mar 13, 2021

h/t to NPR’s Shortwave.

SpotifyShortwave – The Past, Present and Future of mRNA Vaccines
The EconomistGamechangers: Don’t shoot the messenger

The J&J vaccine is no different than any other vaccine ever produced. Go get that one if mRNA vaccines scare you, but got get a vaccination for crying out loud!

A Vaccine Eliminating Cervical Cancer

The World Health Organization’s calls to eliminate cervical cancer “may be possible in many countries if sufficient vaccination coverage can be achieved,” said Marc Brisson, a biostatistician at Laval University in Quebec and one of the study’s authors.

NYT Science
The Skepticalraptor

Doctors Discuss 7 Common Vaccine Myths

If I had a nickel for everyone who has told me ‘I got the flu from the flu vaccine’ I’d be a very wealthy man. Hell, I believed it once myself.

Gardasil

Back in 2005 a few different vaccines became available that purported to prevent almost all cases of cervical cancer in older women. This was achieved by vaccinating teenage girls against the variations of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) that could be spread through sexual contact. Since we had a daughter that was at precisely the right age to be eligible for it, we wanted to get her vaccinated. We understandably wanted to prevent her possible suffering and death from this cancer if it was something so simple that a vaccination could achieve it.

We failed in this task because the vaccine cost far more to purchase than we had to spare at the time, and we never managed to get the right amount of money together at the same time that the vaccination was available. The far too frequently seen trials of life on a fixed income.

Governor Perry put one of the vaccines, Gardasil, on the list of mandated vaccines for Texas, but Christianists objected to this on the grounds that it would keep god’s wrath from descending on those evil children who are just waiting to have wonton sex:

As they flex their political muscle, right-wing Christians increasingly reveal their condescending view of women as moral children who need to be kept in line sexually by fear. That’s why antichoicers will never answer the call of prochoicers to join them in reducing abortions by making birth control more widely available: They want it to be less available. Their real interest goes way beyond protecting fetuses–it’s in keeping sex tied to reproduction to keep women in their place.

Virginity or Death! by Katha Pollitt  (archive.org/thenation.com)

The kinds of wonton sex that these constipated tightwads never got to enjoy and so consequently don’t want others to have. The vaccination that would avert nearly all cases of cervical cancer if given to girls before they become sexually active, saving the state of Texas untold millions of dollars and preventing the painful deaths of thousands of women, removed from consideration as a mandatory vaccination because it might make those orgasms less costly to pursue. Christianists don’t like the idea of saving anyone from their God’s righteous wrath, so they were foursquare against the vaccine.

Of course these Texas Christianists were granted their wish by their personally anointed state legislature, and the only thing Governor Perry has done during his time in office (that I’ve agreed with) was voted out. Go figure.

This meant that we also couldn’t count on the state to make the vaccination affordable and therefore available to our teenage daughter, and so she never got it. We did manage to get our son vaccinated with it as it was made available for free as part of the regularly scheduled vaccinations that all children should get. So at least he won’t be spreading the virus and giving his girlfriends cervical cancer. It’s the small victories in life that are worth celebrating. It gives you something to do every day. Our daughter remains susceptible to getting cervical cancer at some point in the future because of the backward thinking of the people who control the leadership in Texas.

Fast forward to yesterday. Dude on Facebook posts a link to a Science Based Medicine article on the subject of vaccinations:

Most people have not lived in a time of plagues or remember their effects. Most people do not read history or look at the morbidity and mortality of vaccine-preventable illnesses in the third world. But the reality is that vaccine-preventable illness are still there and the barriers to prevent their return are surprisingly fragile. It doesn’t take much thinning of herd immunity to allow vaccine-preventable illnesses to come storming back. We are always skating close to the edge of infectious outbreaks and not aware of the danger. But reality don’t care if we think vaccines do not work or cause autism or that we give too many too soon. Stop vaccinations and it is not if but when we will see the infections return. We think we are safe from vaccine-preventable illness. We are not.

sciencebasedmedicine.org

In the comment thread his idiot brother chimes in with:

“Except for Gardasil, that one is deadly”

I have argued with these two several times in the past. He was a friend from my Libertarian Party caucusing days. I’ve never met his idiot brother, which I consider a mercy. Gardasil is not deadly. There is ample evidence that Gardasil and the other HPV vaccines are lifesaving interventions that do prevent cancer. I posted a couple of links refuting the deadliness of Gardasil, finishing up with this article on the Guardian:

The HPV vaccine is case in point. As this latest study proves, it’s asinine to think that a vaccination is a gateway drug to sex. I have a difficult time seeing “Hey baby, I’m vaccinated” proliferating as an effective pick-up line in the middle-school cafeteria. The vaccinations-lead-to-sex argument also assumes that teenagers are delaying sex specifically because they fear HPV. It probably is true that some teenagers delay sex because they don’t want to contract a whole host of sexually transmitted infections. That’s good and fine, and we should encourage teenagers (as we should everyone) to avoid sexually transmitted infections by both practicing safer sex and delaying sex until one is capable of having a thorough conversation about sex and safety with one’s partner.

theguardian.com

I link that one last because I’ve been in an argument with these two before, and I know them for the anti-abortionist / sex is for procreation / no avoiding god’s wrath types that they have presented themselves as in the past.

When I logged back on this morning, there were a series of counter links from the brother appended to the comment thread, including one to a Huffpo interview with a former Merck researcher. All of them, just FYI, bullshit. Bullshit refuted in my previously linked articles.

Except for the one about the Merck researcher, which was something I hadn’t seen before. So I dug up a rebuttal article for that specific subject:

I strongly believe in cervical cancer prevention and the effects of the HPV vaccine. The vaccines will give you a higher chance of a normal screening.

Diane Harper (revised article)

…and I added a comment for the person whose wall the conversation was on, pointing out that the vaccinations effectiveness against HPV cancers is well documented.

There then proceeds a back and forth concerning the need for vaccinations for sexually transmitted diseases (diseases that just happen to cause cancer) and ends with his observation “do you ever have conversations where you aren’t derisive?” To which I responded “only when the subject merits it.” He had one more wisecrack after that which was so vacuous it escapes me, and then he unfriended and blocked me, once again instructing me on the merits of arguing on my own wall so that I can retain my own witticisms for later self mortification. The real usefulness of all internet conversation.

Anyway. The point of this is the unanswered last question of mine to him. Considering that sexually transmitted diseases are by far some of the most common diseases humans will be exposed to, I ask the question again: “why wouldn’t we make vaccinations for sexually transmitted diseases mandatory if said vaccinations were actually created and shown to be effective?” The insistence that because the disease is transmitted through sex removes it from the preventative treatment regimen strikes me as one of the most ridiculous arguments I’ve come across.

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Yes. How dare I? How dare I speak with derision on a subject which I deemed merited it? When the counter argument highlights a distinction without difference? When the opposition couldn’t win an argument with a wet sock? Pour piss out of a boot with directions on the bottom? Find their ass with both hands? How dare I be derisive when your arguments are so pathetic they can’t even stand up under a little sunlight?

The Origins Of An Epidemic: How Right-Wing Religious Communities Give Measles A Chance To Spread

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God is an Iron

FFrF Radio: Atheists in the Pulpit

Podcast link.

January 12, 2008Atheists in the Pulpit: Ministers Who Lose Their Faith

Discussion of HR 888 “American Religious History Week” Talk2Action says:

Falsified American history has already been taught to 190,000 American public school students via an elective Bible class curriculum with bogus American history ( here’s Chuck Norris and his wife, in a short video, to tell you about it) and on an even larger scale via falsified history – attacking church/state separation no less – that’s been inserted in the Army’s JROTC curriculum taught at public high schools nationwide.

This issue concerns more than a House Resolution endorsing fake history ; the core function of the falsified “Christian nation” historical narrative – which is built from many little history lies and distortions (and some big ones too) is to support Christian nationalism (link to an essay I did on how I think that works. What’s Christian nationalism ?)

The fight over the American historical record is a battle about whose version of history will be the dominant narrative that will get to shape the historical understandings of the next generation of Americans. The falsified narrative of the Christian right has been gaining ground for decades but now – with the letters and phone calls people right here on this forum have sent and made to their representatives in Congress – the fightback, to protect the integrity of the historical record, is truly underway.

The guests this week were Tom Reed (second appearance) and Dan Barker. They were both featured in the Psychology Today article An Atheist in the Pulpit. The episode also features audio of Dan Barker’s appearance on Oprah. This is also the second time Dan has guested on his own show. Two of Dan’s songs are featured towards the end of the episode.


2007 Archive episode.

January 13, 2007 – Katha Pollitt – She’s on next week (this year) as well. This episode she’s discussing Virginity or Death, concerning the HPV vaccination that will avert nearly all cases of cervical cancer if given to girls before they become sexually active. Of course, the religious right don’t like the idea of saving anyone from god’s righteous wrath, so they are foursquare against the vaccine.

Another issue I’ve discussed before, just not on this blog. Suffice it to say I was on the fence when it comes to requiring the vaccination by state law, as Texas nearly did. But then I’m on the fence about requiring any vaccination by state law. Otherwise, I don’t see the point in not requiring the vaccination, if you are going to require others. Of course, the Religious Right got their wish, and the only thing the sitting governor has done that I’ve agreed with was voted out by the legislature. Go figure.

There was a lengthy list of Freethinkers in the media at the end of this episode. Of special note was Ernestine L. Rose.

“Do you tell me that the Bible is against our rights? Then I say that our claims do not rest upon a book written no one knows when, or by whom. Do you tell me what Paul or Peter says on the subject? Then again I reply that our claims do not rest on the opinions of any one, not even on those of Paul and Peter, . . . Books and opinions, no matter from whom they came, if they are in opposition to human rights, are nothing but dead letters.”

Ernestine Rose, responding to religious heckler at Seventh National Woman’s Rights Convention
Postscript

Freethought Radio compilation posts. I have not checked links in these articles since posting them. They probably won’t work.

Requiring vaccination by law is now a baseline for me, given the rise of the stupidity of the anti-vaxx movement. You will vaccinate yourself and your children or we will prosecute you. This should be how we deal with these scofflaws.