Monday, July 15, 2013

The View From Here

I spend almost zero time thinking about the ABC woman-oriented talk program The View.

I say "almost zero" because I sometimes take a break from work at 11 a.m. to watch Jeopardy!, which comes on in Little Rock at that time on the local ABC affiliate.  The program that immediately proceeds Jeopardy! is The View, and if I am a little early turning on the TV, I might catch the last thirty seconds of it.  I really don't have an opinion on the show itself because I'm certain I have only ever accidentally seen any of it to speak of.

It has, however, been controversial at times, which is what happens when you have outspoken, opinionated women who get a forum for airing their thoughts.  (Those who know me know that this is not a criticism.  I like outspoken, opinionated women, and it is a good thing that they have a forum like The View because they are certainly not given equal time on most other shows.)

The latest controversial move is adding Jenny McCarthy to the roster of panelists who appear on the show.  Wikipedia tells me that Jenny McCarthy is an actress and model.  Reviewing her extensive IMDb page does not reveal anything that I've ever seen her in other than possibly a few guest appearances on shows I might have watched, or might not.  She was also apparently in Playboy.

But Jenny McCarthy is controversial because she is perhaps the most outspoken and visible advocate for the now thoroughly discredited idea that vaccines—specifically, the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine known as MMR—cause autism.  She remains outspoken about this idea even though the evidence against her position is overwhelming and conclusive and even though the doctor whose supposed research showed such a link has now been stripped of his medical license for fraud.

McCarthy is a mother, and her child has been diagnosed with autism.  I am not a parent, but I can understand that when your child has a condition such as autism, it is perfectly natural to look for a cause and a cure.  That should be tolerated and encouraged.  There are diseases that have found treatments as a result of parents who pushed the bounds of medical science to try to help their children—perhaps most famously Augusto and Michaela Odone, who formulated Lorenzo's oil, a treatment for adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) that is named for their son.  Their activism led to a discovery that has made better the lives of many individuals who suffer from ALD, a degenerative genetic disorder.

But vaccines do not cause autism.  We know that conclusively.

Vaccines do, however, prevent diseases.  Measles, mumps, and rubella are diseases that kill children, or cause them lifelong impairments, or cause them severe pain.  Because of vaccines, there are numerous diseases that once killed millions of humans that now only exist in laboratories.  Smallpox was so deadly that it was the agent of genocide against the American Indian race; vaccination made smallpox a thing of the past.

Jenny McCarthy is a celebrity with a megaphone and an agenda.  Her activism has had consequences.  In the last six years, since she began speaking publicly, according to the CDC, there have been nearly 120,000 cases of vaccine-preventable illnesses in the United States.  There have been 1,170 deaths.  And in that time, there have been exactly zero autism diagnoses scientifically linked to vaccines.  Diseases that had been almost completely eradicated in the U.S., like measles and rubella, are making a comeback.

I am genuinely sorry that Ms. McCarthy's child suffers from autism.  I understand that the condition is poorly understood, and I think it's important that research continue.  But it is irresponsible for ABC to give her an even bigger platform to spread her poisonous, deadly views.  Those views are dangerous and they do NOT deserve equal time.

No comments:

Post a Comment