Having been raised as children incapable of withstanding the reality of life, even when sheltered at Yale, the new crop of liberals are exposing their children to diseases of the past. Not out of nostalgia, one presumes, but because they can’t think. And, of course, out of a sense of entitlement.
Q: There’s a perception that vaccine refusal is especially common among affluent, well-educated, politically liberal parents—is there any truth to that?
S.M.: It’s dangerous to make broad generalizations about a group, but anecdotally and from the overall data that’s been collected it seems to be people who are very actively involved in every possible decision regarding their children’s lives. I think it relates to a desire to take uncertainty out of the equation. And autism represents such an unknown. We still don’t know what causes it and we still don’t have good answers for how to treat it. So I think that fear really resonates.
Also I think there’s a fair amount of entitlement. Not vaccinating your child is basically saying I deserve to rely on the herd immunity that exists in a population. At the most basic level it’s saying I believe vaccines are potentially harmful, and I want other people to vaccinate so I don’t have to. And for people to hide under this and say, “Oh, it’s just a personal decision,” it’s being dishonest. It’s a personal decision in the way drunk driving is a personal decision. It has the potential to affect everyone around you.
Q: But why liberals?
S.M.: I think it taps into the organic natural movement in a lot of ways.
I talked to a public health official and asked him what’s the best way to anticipate where there might be higher than normal rates of vaccine noncompliance, and he said take a map and put a pin wherever there’s a Whole Foods. I sort of laughed, and he said, “No, really, I’m not joking.” It’s those communities with the Prius driving, composting, organic food-eating people.
Q: In society as a whole, why does there continue to be so much fear of vaccines?
S.M.: I think there are a bunch of different answers to that. A really big one is that the fears of the repercussions of not vaccinating have become notional. Most people in our generation don’t know people who had polio or don’t know families where a child was blinded by rubella. So when there’s any concern at all about vaccines, no matter how ungrounded in scientific evidence, it’s like you’re taking an infinitesimal risk against what almost seems like no risk.