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Don't Let Measles Hysteria Defeat Freedom

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Preparation of measles vaccines.
Preparation of measles vaccines.
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As of May 3, the Democratic Republic of Congo's Ministry of Health reported 1,510 cases of Ebola and 1,008 deaths to date in the country's current outbreak. Partial blame for the government's inability to contain the outbreak goes to armed attackers who believe that international health workers are there to intentionally spread the disease, not treat it.

As of April 26, The US Centers for Disease Control reported 704 cases of measles and no known deaths in the country so far in 2019. Partial blame for the outbreak goes to Americans who decline (or simply overlook) vaccination for themselves or their children.

You may have noticed both facts. They've both been reported in the US media -- the latter far more than the former, the former perhaps evoking a feeling of sadness or helplessness, the latter whipping up large-scale outrage, up to and including calls for every man, woman, and child in the US to be dragged to the nearest vaccination clinic whether they want to go or not.

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Disclaimer: I am not an "anti-vaxxer." I don't un-skeptically accept every claim made by those who refuse or oppose vaccinations. My limited reading says that many of those claims are not supported by science.

In fact, I've probably had more vaccines than you. I got the usual vaccinations as a child. Then more when I joined the Marine Corps, and more after that when I deployed overseas (twice -- my shot record got lost). The only time I complained was when I was ordered (under threat of court-martial for refusal) to accept an experimental anthrax vaccine from a tube marked DO NOT USE ON HUMANS in Saudi Arabia at the beginning of Desert Storm.

Vaccines as such don't bother me a bit. But I believe that you own your body, and that you are therefore entitled to decide what may or may not be put into that body. If you choose to forgo any or all vaccinations, that's your choice to make for yourself and for your children or wards.

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It is an undisputed fact of that there ARE risks associated with vaccination. They are rare and usually minor, along the lines of allergic reactions, but they exist and they are occasionally fatal.

Who should get to decide whether or not those risks are acceptable? The person into whose arm the needle is to be injected, or that person's guardian, and no one else.

Yes, it is an initiation of force, and should therefore be treated as a crime, to knowingly or negligently transmit an infectious disease to unwilling others. If you've got the measles or some other infection, and know it, you should avoid contact with the public, and I have no real problem with quarantine laws enforcing that.

But the current hysteria over a tiny number of cases of a usually non-fatal disease is bringing out the worst in Americans. By "the worst," I mean calls for government to force vaccinations on the unwilling.

We mustn't let measles hysteria defeat freedom. Measles is bad. Tyranny is worse.

 

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Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


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3 people are discussing this page, with 6 comments


Raechel Gwyn

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Thank you for posting this. I love "Measles is bad. Tyranny is worse."

Submitted on Monday, May 6, 2019 at 6:32:43 PM

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Thomas Knapp

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Reply to Raechel Gwyn:   New Content

Glad you liked it!


That wasn't the original last line. The original was something along the lines of "if you don't understand where government forcing medical treatment on people can go, Google the name 'Mengele.'" But that seemed a little harsh, and I also needed to cut a few words ;-)

Submitted on Monday, May 6, 2019 at 7:24:09 PM

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June Genis

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I agree that it should be up to the individual to decide if they want any treatment including vaccinations, but what limitations are warranted on people who choose not to get them?

What happens to a child whose parents don't get her vaccinated but is also legally compelled to attend school? Can public schools require proof of vaccination to attend? What if the patents can not afford the cost of private school or the time for homeschooling? Similarly, can airlines, etc., require proof of vaccination before selling you a ticket or allowing you to board?

Obviously I believe that any PRIVATE enterprise can restrict their services to anyone but currently that is likely to conflict with anti discrimination laws or public access laws. Can government entities like government buildings (e.g. courts, DMV, polling places) require vaccination as a term of usage?

Things get messy when you go beyond simply to vac or not vac.

Submitted on Monday, May 6, 2019 at 9:42:33 PM

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Thomas Knapp

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Reply to June Genis:   New Content

Yes, they do get messy! And no way to even try to deal with all the mess in a short newspaper-length column.


I strongly support separation of school and state, which would leave private schools to make their own policies. But assuming the continuation of the Government Indoctrination/Prison Complex, aka "public education," I'd say that "public" schools should either:


1) Be forbidden to discriminate on the basis of vaccination status; OR


2) Be permitted to discriminate, just so long as parents whose kids are excluded receive a 100% refund of / exemption from all school-related taxes to spend on private or home schooling.

Submitted on Monday, May 6, 2019 at 10:13:36 PM

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June Genis

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Reply to Thomas Knapp:   New Content

So with option 1 an unvacced gets measles and takes it to school (because symptoms haven't shown up yet), other kids get sick (some vacced, some not), one dies. Is anyone liable for anything?

Submitted on Monday, May 6, 2019 at 11:45:08 PM

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Thomas Knapp

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What would anyone be liable for? If the policy is known by all, then you have the choice to take the chance or not.


The flu kills 30,000-50,000 Americans every year (measles kills zero). How many unvaccinated people spread it by going to school or work with it when they are not yet symptomatic but already contagious? How many of them get sued?

Submitted on Tuesday, May 7, 2019 at 12:47:21 AM

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