Okay, so I thought I was finished posting for the weekend, but I couldn't resist venting after watching an episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (SVU).
Usually I am a dedicated fan of SVU, which is much better than recent episodes of Law and Order and Law and Order: Criminal Intent. SVU has kept the same actors for their entire run (with the exception of the Assistant District Attorney, which changes regularly), and much to their credit Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni have done an exemplary job of developing likable and dynamic characters. The cast has been written so that each character represents a certain opinion and demographic. For example, Hargitay's character, Detective Benson, adopts a more compassionate and liberal stance. Meloni, as a staunch Catholic, is very Conservative (I guess Americans might say "Republican"?) and pro-establishment. Detective Munch, played by Richard Belzer, is the much-parodied conspiracy theorist, while Detective Tutuola (played by ex-rapper Ice T, who does a surprisingly good job) has the street cred and as a racial minority brings a perspective somewhat lacking from the other cast. So, when a controversial crime is being debated as often is the case, the characters each bring their unique take on the situation. The advantage of this approach is that one rarely feels as though a certain political, religious or social agenda is being pushed through the writing: the audience may decide for themselves which Detective's opinion they share, and everyone goes home happy.
Except for tonight. The episode was 2009's "Selfish", in which young mother Hilary Duff's child dies of measles. By the end of the episode an entirely different mother is on trial for the murder of Hilary Duff's baby. Why? Because the mother on trial didn't vaccinate her son, who then played in the park and accidentally and unknowingly infected Hilary's character's child.
First off, this entire notion seemed completely ludicrous to me. To be fair, they did address the fact that it is a fundamental right to refuse medical treatments and vaccinations, and by insisting that the defendant was guilty it would imply that vaccinations must be mandatory and would therefore bring the legal system one step closer to tyranny. But I mean really? Really?! The idea of blaming someone else for the death of your child because you failed to take action when it became sick just seems to make a mockery of the entire legal system! Ultimately it was Duff's character's responsibility to seek medical aid when her child showed symptoms, NOT the other mother's duty to vaccinate her child solely because of the one-in-a-million chance it might get measles and infect another child with an incompetent parent. But somehow, that was not addressed. Fault, while discussed, seemed to be tossed around superficially and nonsensically, which annoyed me. While there was the appearance of fair debate, I felt that the arguments against vaccinations were barely included and poorly made. While most other episodes do such a decent job of maintaining a neutral stance, I felt as though I was being bombarded by propaganda for and fear-mongering for vaccinations.
Of course I wont pretend that I don't have a bias. My sister was vaccinated as an infant and almost died from an allergic reaction. Consequently, I have never been vaccinated for a damn thing my entire life. On the rare occasion when this comes up, sometimes people will suddenly look at me with mixed amazement and fear as though I'm a highly volatile bomb that could go off any time. At that point I usually laugh at them, because it is so beyond ridiculous. As someone who has never been vaccinated I have never had any adverse effects from this choice. I live my life just as fully and enjoyably as anyone else. Obviously when I ever get around to traveling I will have to deal with certain vaccinations, but I am strongly of the opinion that all that crap about Meninjacockle or whatever the hell it's called is just useless! The episode insinuated that by not vaccinating your child it will either lead to your child's death or the death of another unvaccinated child as consequence. Furthermore, they only barely touched upon the side effects of vaccines! The measles vaccine, for example, can cause deafness, a coma, permanent brain damage, and death. Rather than fairly deal with this, the show passed these off as insignificant and rarely occurring.
By the end of the episode the jury had delivered a Not Guilty verdict, but the conclusion implied that fault really was with the parent who hadn't immunized her child, and the legal system just hadn't caught up with modern society. It's not often that I finish a Law and Order SVU feeling as though I'm being manipulated, but I felt that way tonight and all I have to say is SHAME. Unvaccinated people are not walking disease centers, and it is perfectly possible to lead a healthy life without being jabbed with a needle all the time. Granted, this may not be the case if you live in an area full of medieval viruses around every corner, but in my part of the world I'm doing just fine, thank you. And as an added bonus, I don't need to worry about how my latest vaccination might give me cancer or cause infertility 10 or 20 years down the road. It's happened. I suggest looking it up.
Anyway, that's my rant for the evening, and if you've read it all the way through I congratulate you on your tolerance. Feel free to post a rebuttal if you are so inclined.