This story is but one of the latest about the consequences of distrust and misinformation regarding vaccinations. From Jenny McCarthy’s antics (joining the table on The View this fall) to liberal Washington’s whooping cough to a conservative Texas Megachurch’s rampant measles there is a common thread I’ve noticed: the ratcheting-up of anti-vaccine believers has mostly come out of Generation X.
Of course, you could argue this is because currently most American parents are Xers. Yet, I think that there is more to it than that. Anti-vaccination hysteria has found such fertile ground on the those born 1962-1981. Because this generation has not experienced, say, polio or German measles the insidious “playing with nature” trope seeps in, attached to typical Xer individualism.
What’s interesting to me, and a little amusing, is that anti-vaccination advocates seem to emerge out of the political Left and the Right. Washington State is a pretty solidly blue these days, and has one of the lowest church attendance rates in the nation, yet there was recently the biggest Whooping Cough outbreak in 70 years due to the relative ease of “opting out” on public school mandatory vaccinations. Some of these parents were conservative home-schoolers, but many more were left-leaning hippie types who shun vaccinations. Often it is due to complex conspiracy theories, but often it is just that vague distrust of modern science and an even vaguer sense that everything was better “naturally” until Western Medicine came along to muck it up. Here’s where it gets really interesting: you will have an ultra-progressive Liberal be vehemently against genetically modified food (“it’s playing with nature!”) yet simultaneously are fierce advocates for stem cell research and embryonic research. Like with vaccines, opposition to public fluoridation of the water often comes via a strange alliance of right-leaning, government-conspiracy prone Libertarians and ultra-Lefties fearful of “playing with nature”.
I have a feeling ABC probably has something in Jenny McCarthy’s contract to limit (or prohibit) her from using The View to espouse her vaccination misinformation. If not? For one of their first guests I would like to nominate Bangor, Maine resident Dennis Stubbs.