Ah…another go round the mulberry bush…

In this house we lean more to the “reader” than the “TV watcher” demographic.  We will, during brief periods of the day, have the TV on, watch a show, enjoy whatever is being aired, and then we move on to other forms of entertainment.  I don’t deny watching TV, or movies, but I admit that -more often than not- we have music playing in the background, and we are being entertained by conversation, reading, board games, puzzles, or a combination of these elements.

That is my long-winded excuse for not knowing (until someone pointed me in her general direction) who Kristin Cavallari is.  Here we have, albeit supposedly unintentionally, another half of a celebrity couple who has provoked a firestorm of criticism by saying she and her football player husband (I didn’t have an inkling about him either until they were mentioned in that “they are identifiers for each other” manner used for celebrities) won’t vaccinate their children.  After a “who????,” I googled her…

Ms. Cavallari, it seems, has enough gravitas to warrant a question about vaccinations.  She issued an opinion.  Shocking or not, there are those out there who bypass actual research to espouse the causes and opinions of celebrities.  Ms. Cavallari has more than a million followers on Twitter alone.  (Twitter, by the way, is the podium from which poorly/briefly/abruptly/cryptically worded opinions are issued, and from which many receive validation from total strangers.) Through this megaphone she has been issuing a defense for her views on vaccinations.  That, by the way, is more of a criticism of Twitter and its users in general than of Ms. Cavallari in particular.

Here is some of what grabbed me among Ms. Cavallari’s statements:

  1. “You know what, I’ve read too many books about autism.”  (A legitimate question I’d pose is “which ones, and who wrote them?,” but that’s just me.)
  2. “There is a pediatric group called Homestead or, shoot, Homestead or Home First — now I have pregnancy brain, I got them confused — but they’ve never vaccinated any of their children and they’ve never had one case of autism. And now, one in 88 boys is autistic, which is a really scary statistic.”  (“Never” in how many years?  “Never” according to which DSM?)
  3. “Autism wasn’t prevalent — like it is now — years ago, so something is going on, whether it’s the chemicals in our food or the vaccines.”  (Kudos for not using the word “epidemic” because Autism isn’t infectious.)
  4. “Something is happening, and we can’t really ignore that.  I choose to believe that I think it’s in the vaccines but, again, to each their own and that’s where I stand on it.”  (She lost me at I choose to believe that I think.  Apparently she hasn’t read anything regarding the studies concerning a possible hereditary factor.  Refer to quote #1.)

Ms. Cavallari is absolutely right when she says “to each their own.”  As a parent you have the right to choose whether you raise your child in a certain way, and you also have the right to make educated, well-informed, carefully thought-out decisions regarding their well-being.  If you want, for example, to raise your child as a vegetarian, or not watching TV, or as a Muslim, or whatever other decision you wish to impose on them (because that’s what we do…we impose decisions on our children until they are old enough to make their own choices) you have every right to do so…

However…

The choice to NOT vaccinate doesn’t affect JUST your children, your household, your immediate environment.  Closing your eyes to the fact that many diseases that seemed to be eradicated are making a comeback is irresponsible.

The choice to vaccinate or not is not something you should base on reading “too many books about Autism.”   If you’re going to choose to NOT vaccinate, how about reading the most recent reports from the CDC, WHO, and so forth?  Why just focus on your concerns about Autism?  Why just document your fears and concerns with that?  If you’re willing to risk a potentially fatal childhood disease because it has been eradicated and because it might be temporary rather than potentially risk Autism is, and I apologize for this word, silly.

I believe in vaccination.  Not only do I believe in vaccination, I am the mother of an autistic adult who firmly advocates for vaccination.  Everyone in this household is 100% in favor of vaccination, and this is not “in spite” of the Autism we live with day after day, but simply because vaccination makes sense for the general well-being of the population.  A short walk through any old cemetery provides sufficient proof of the devastation caused by childhood illnesses prior to the widespread use of vaccines.  Even if I knew it was the vaccines that caused J’s Autism, and I could travel back in time armed with this knowledge, I wouldn’t skip the vaccines…I wouldn’t run that risk, even knowing what I’d be up against.

When you go on TV to promote your new project (“The Fabulist”…and, to be truthful, I almost gave her credit for possibly being engaged in something that brought to light the rich fables of Aesop, Samaniego, LaFontaine, Thurber, Orwell, and so forth) and you are asked about vaccinations, you SHOULD expect your opinion to make waves.  Saying later that it’s not something you wanted to address publicly doesn’t really work; if you didn’t want to discuss it publicly, you could have said “I think that’s a personal and private matter for our family,” and go back to talking about whatever it is that you’re trying to sell.

You can’t say you weren’t trying to drum up controversy in much the same way a bullfighter cannot say “I didn’t know the red cape was going to make the bull rush me.”  Not all bulls are Ferdinand, and using Autism as an argument against vaccination based on blogs and literature that squarely support your beliefs is not really making a properly-researched decision.  Using Autism as an argument against vaccination is, whether you or any other anti-vaxxers admit it, an indictment of those parents of autistic individuals who opted to vaccinate their kids.

“To each their own” is all well and good, but because of your other statements, and the fact that you brought up “too many books on Autism” there is a tacit indictment of those who have chosen to vaccinate and have an autistic child.  You are kinda, sorta saying “serves them right.”  You are, whether you admit it or not, blaming them for their child’s Autism.

Instead of reading fear-mongering books on Autism, how about reading some actually informative, enlightening, educational books on the subject?  The thing you seem to be so scared of is not that scary at all; it’s labor-intensive, not-at-all glamorous…lasts longer than mumps, measles or rubella, but the child is totally worth it.  Trust me, I am actually rather well-read and hands-on experienced on the subject.

We go ’round and ’round the mulberry bush so often…it doesn’t get old, but the misconceptions do…

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