January is civil rights month and January 21st is not only Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday and Federal holiday but also inauguration day. January, a month to celebrate rights and freedoms, it would seem an inspiring way to start off the year. But that is not the way the year started out for some folks. Veteran nurses in Indiana have been fired for refusing a flu shot, parents are being forced to sue their states in order to receive necessary education and services for their children with autism, and the rhetoric and attacks on parental rights to opt out of vaccines for their children continues.
Vaccine proponents argue that vaccines have saved millions of lives and are perfectly safe, therefore it is legitimate to force them on people. But is this justification rational? Is it moral and ethical to force something on someone just because it might help someone else and because it won’t harm the recipient, at least in theory? Or is justifying any practice on this basis missing the point of individual rights and freedoms entirely?
Individual rights and freedoms are meant to preserve our freedom. They are meant to guarantee that we choose how to live even if someone else doesn’t like it. Freedom is not about rights only when it is convenient for others. While it may seem obvious, individual rights and freedoms include who our friends are, what products we buy, what movies and TV we watch, what religion or belief system we adhere to, whether we have a political affiliation, how we express ourselves, what risks we take, what line of work we pursue, how we educate our families, how we feed them, and yes, how we keep them healthy. Freedom also means that the government does not have the right to intrude on these rights.
Yet we live in a world where the FDA has publicly stated it is not our right to choose how we feed ourselves and our families, where the mayor of New York City has legislated what kind of fat you can eat in restaurants, where the Federal government is intercepting and eavesdropping on millions of private emails and communications from innocent Americans, and where there is growing pressure to reign in parental rights to opt out of vaccination for their children in order to obtain a public school education.
On the surface, while it may seem wise to ban transfats or that FDA is right to try to protect us from ourselves by banning inter-state commerce of raw dairy products, these are very dangerous precedents. Although artificial transfats are clearly unhealthy, what if Mayor Bloomberg next decides that we should not be able to eat candy? Or have an extra chocolate chip cookie? Sugar is known to be 4 times as addictive as cocaine and cause enormous damage to our health. Should government be able to protect us “for our own good”? And while it is true that raw milk can carry health risks if it comes from diseased animals, food-borne illness outbreaks have come from eggs, peanuts, cantaloupe, turkey, tomatoes and spinach in recent years – should we ban all those as well? Or is there something else at play here?
If it is appropriate to ban transfats in NYC and to outlaw interstate sale of raw milk, why then does the government “allow” us to drink alcohol and smoke tobacco despite their very damaging and addictive properties? Is it perhaps because the alcohol and tobacco lobbies would never go for that? We know that processed foods of all kinds damage health, we know that high-fructose corn syrup is one of the most insidious “food” products ever invented causing fatty liver disease in children, we know that Genetically Modified (GMO) crops are causing organ failure, infertility, tumors, and premature death in animals fed them, we know that video games adversely affect the brains of users, we know that cell phones cause brain tumors, but no mayor or Federal official is calling for those products to be banned. Clearly, the industries that manufacture all these products have something to say about the regulation of their products and they use all the channels available to them to influence science and decision and policy makers.
This is why individual rights and freedoms are so sacred. Because they enable us to decide for ourselves how to live. They allow us to decide who to believe, who to trust, and who to patronize with our dollars, faith, mouths, and health. They protect us from well meaning and not so well meaning businesses, lobbies, and officials.
Vaccinations are no different. They are an intervention in a person’s body. They are made by businesses. Businesses exist to maximize profit not to protect your rights or wellbeing. Never-mind that vaccines are a pharmaceutical product that carry serious risks such as allergies, asthma, brain damage, autoimmune disease and yes, death. (That only a relatively small group of highly educated citizens know of these side-effects is a testament to the incredible power and success of the American medical establishment and the pharmaceutical industry.) Never-mind that vaccine safety trials permit the use of mercury, aluminum, or another vaccine as a placebo. Never-mind that vaccines are studied individually, not in combination, the way they are given. Never-mind that the cumulative effects of the 70-dose childhood vaccination schedule has never been studied in large controlled trials to determine long term health outcomes. What matters is that vaccination is an intervention in a person’s body and the right to determine how that person lives, which includes what goes into their body, resides exclusively with that person.
Individual rights and freedoms aren’t something to be granted only when it is convenient for the giver, they are innate. Forcing vaccination is a clear violation of an individual’s rights and is just another name for violence.
So this month, join us in standing up for civil rights month by sharing our film, website and blog far and wide. Thanks for all you do.
Note: See our Catalogue of Science for the science supporting our statements.