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Dear Mom & Dad: Could I Please Not Be Sick?:

At a certain point in the chronology of science fiction films, things turned and “the future” wasn’t always represented as being wonderful and full of zippy monorails and smooth clothing with white turtlenecks. Instead, right around the release of “Blade Runner”, the future became dystopian. Murderous robots, mutants, flesh eaters, and horrific plagues. And that was if you lived in the good part of town.

How things started to get worse instead of better in the world of tomorrow wasn’t always fully explained, but even a casual observer today would note that we have begun using greater amounts of circular logic to turn the clock backward. To stop “voter fraud”, we are taking away hard fought-for rights for people to vote. To assert “religious freedom”, we are looking for ways to keep bakers from complying with simple tasks such as putting two plastic grooms on a wedding cake. And in the name of freedom and rights, there is now a struggle over safeguarding children’s health and allowing parents to avoid vaccinations for their children.

We have gone to lengths to try and protect the general population from the deleterious effects of smoking and passive smoke, even though there were those fighting for “smoker’s rights.” But the arguments for those changes were so strong that the changes were made. Maybe it’s not a coincidence that in the aforementioned dystopian films, characters often brandish cigarettes like renegades. In a film set in the future, will we soon meet parents who have a renegade attitude about exposing their children to measles and whooping cough?

In signing a recent bill for California that will require almost all school children to be vaccinated, Governor Jerry Brown actually needed to remind citizens that flying in the face of humankind’s accumulated knowledge wasn’t cool.

“The science is clear that vaccines dramatically protect children against a number of infections and dangerous diseases,” Brown said in a prepared statement this week. “While it’s true that no medical intervention is without risk, the evidence shows that immunization powerfully benefits and protects the community.”

While California may not possess a large Luddite community, Brown could have easily added, “And don’t stick a dinner fork into a toaster or electric socket. You’ll be sorry.”

Opponents of the bill Brown signed naturally cite an infringement of “rights.”

You can go online for some of that, but let me cut to the rights of parents of children visiting Disneyland and having a reasonable expectation that any family enjoying a day at that park would be mingling with children whose parents had the modern good sense to immunize their kids. If in the name of “rights” California would stupidly decide to pass an open carry gun law, you can bet that receipts would shrivel at “The Happiest Place on Earth.”

The ‘why’ of those against immunizations clearly got some help when, for a protracted period, there arose a viral (in the Internet sense) rumor that vaccinations were linked to autism by way of mercury in the vaccines. Specifically the mercury was in the additive thimerosal, used as a preservative in some multi-dose vaccination vials. That theory has since been discredited, although mercury has been removed as precautionary measure in most vaccines. Still actor Jim Carrey went to the length of posting last week that “This corporate fascist must be stopped” in reference to Governor Brown signing the vaccination bill and Carrey’s continuing belief that children “are not bottomless pits that you endlessly pour substances into.”

I agree with that last part, in the sense that I don’t believe children should be poured large glasses of Coca Cola or served “bottomless French Fries” at Red Robin. But I also agree with our Governor that “the science is clear “ on vaccines and that leaves me wondering if some future dystopia lies waiting for us as we pursue our current obsession with “rights.”

Are we going to keep fighting each other every time our national and local governments want to step in to contain a clear and present danger? Worse, will our representatives continue to fail us on containing such overt dangers as readily available handguns because they fear the ‘blowback’ on “rights”? Measles continues to be a health threat in many parts of the world and we have the resources here to prevent an epidemic. And we have something else many parts of the world don’t have: Widely available knowledge that we are backed by scientific evidence on such things as vaccinations. You, as a freedom and rights-loving individual, may want to exert yourself against Governor Brown. But please get with your kids about it first. They may be more interested in the right not to be sick.

in Opinion
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