I thought that it would make a pleasant change to speak about something positive for a change, instead of having a go at the various assorted nutjobs out there. Steven Miles and Art Caplan are two men (well, university professors, but still men) who have finally called the rabid right on their unending bullshit.
You see, it’s election season in the US of A and all the crazies are crawling out from under their rocks. Foremost amongst these are Michele Bachmann, the Teabagger who makes Sarah Palin look intelligent, with no idea of American history or the Constitution; and Rick Perry, the Texas Governor, who’s so bloodthirsty he’s sent at least one innocent man to the execution chamber. Things came to a head during the recent GOP candidate debate, when Bachmann attacked Perry over his “liberal” vaccination executive order.
Ok firstly, if you ever needed proof that “liberal” has become a snarl word in conservative hands, this is it. Much as we’ve seen with racist bigot Andrew Schlafly’s little hate-blog, Conservapedia, it’s becoming the norm amongst the American right to label everything they dislike, or disagree with, “liberal” as if that’s a bad thing. The problem is is that to their followers (and amazingly, these crazy people do have followers… but then again, so did Jim Jones) do, and what’s more these followers tend to be the gullible types who believe in things like God and the fact that Obama is a Muslim from Kenya.
So it’s a bit worrying when people like Bachmann stand up and quote hearsay as fact. Especially when it’s about the already touchy subject of vaccinations – in this the jab that prevents the HPV virus, which causes cervical cancer. As Bachmann said, both at the debate and later on TV:
“There’s a woman that came up crying to me tonight after the debate,” Bachman told Fox News. “She said her daughter was given that vaccine. She said her daughter suffered mental retardation as a result of that vaccine.”
Now that statement is totally, 100% unfounded and yet Bachmann – who despite being as thick as a post, must realise that she’s in some position of authority – spouts it on national TV like it’s a fact. It’s an even bigger problem when you realise that people like Bachmann object to the vaccine not because of the (non-existent) medical scare, but because it flies in the face of their “abstinence education’ drivel – which worked so well for Bristol Palin. Yet, for some reason, they can’t come out and say that – maybe it’ll cost them votes. So it’s easier to condemn some women to a nasty form of cancer than face up to reality.
Which is where Miles and Caplan come in. They have offered $10,000 and $1,000 respectively if if the medical records of the woman from Bachmann’s story are released and can be viewed by a medical professional and if the link to the vaccine could be proven. Full marks to them too! It’s about time people started to stand up to these demagogues and say, “Excuse me, but what the fuck?” As Miles said:
“These types of messages in this climate have the capacity to do enormous public health harm,” Miles said of why he made the offer. “The woman, assuming she exists, put this claim into the public domain and it’s an extremely serious claim and it deserves to be analyzed.”
“Assuming she exists” indeed. Sadly, I fear that the greatest trauma the woman’s daughter faces is that she’s entirely fictitious and that the “retarded” bit is the product of Bachmann’s “special” mind.
Now, I’m not going to hold my breath, waiting for Bachmann to produce the woman and her daughter, especially seeing as she’s already back-peddling frantically:
“I’m not a doctor, I’m not a scientist, I’m not a physician,” Bachmann said. “All I was doing is reporting what this woman told me last night at the debate.”
Clearly you can add “reporting” to the list of things Bachmann doesn’t understand – no journalist worth their salt would report on an unsubstantiated story.
However, Caplan, Miles and the media shouldn’t let this rest. Bachmann made a very serious allegation on national TV and pressure must be brought on her to put up or apologise publicly. We see far too many politicians getting away with stupid, uninformed, inflammatory and frankly dangerous rhetoric and not being brought to book for it.
Hell, if a little 3rd world backwater like South Africa can do it, what the hell is wrong with America?