Life on the Spectrum

Vaccines and Ignorance

For many years, people have (wrongly) associated autism with vaccines. This is mainly because one man, who wanted to make money by suing vaccine manufacturers, noticed a correlation (not causation) between the age that autism symptoms usually appear and the age that most children receive their first vaccines.

This theory, which has been fully disproven by medical evidence, has a strong supporter in a former Playboy model named Jenny McCarthy. When her son showed symptoms of autism (it later turned out he was misdiagnosed) she wrote a book about how terribly evil vaccines are. She also supports the very dangerous, sometimes deadly therapy called chelation to “cure” autism. Some of my Aspie friends call her “Anti-Vax Barbie.”

Today I noticed that someone I follow on Twitter, @genosworld, sent a Tweet about how “Jenny McCarthy steps out for autism awareness.” After I determined it was not apparently a joke, I Tweeted back to them “You’re kidding, right? Jenny McCarthy and autism awareness are a contradiction in terms. She’s the enemy of autism awareness.”

Their response? “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

I responded to them: “Perhaps you should familiarize yourself with Jenny McCarthy’s autism misinformation before you act so condescending.”

They asked how they were being condescending.

I told them that saying “I’m sorry you feel that way” is not, in fact, being sorry at all. Instead, it is blaming the person for being offended, rather than apologizing for being offensive, and I told them that Jenny McCarthy spreads lies about vaccines and autism.

Genosworld responded that I should not attack someone who is so “supportive” of autism charities and donates money to them.

I told him/them that telling people not to vaccinate their children is not at all supportive of or helpful to autistic people.

They said that I could unfollow them if I wanted, because they were not going to stop talking about Jenny McCarthy. So I unfollowed. I asked my followers to please tell @genosworld how dangerous Jenny McCarthy is, but I don’t know if any of them have done so yet.

It makes me sad that someone would listen to a Playboy model rather than to medical professionals, but I’ve been reading stories about the anti-science movement in the U.S. and the “dumbing-down” of America (I hope it hasn’t spread to Canada yet), and how science teachers do not, in fact, want to teach science but would rather teach the Bible, so I guess I should not be surprised.

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