Anti-Vaxxers are no April Fools’ Day Joke



Less than four months into 2019 and the Center for Disease Control has already reported 555 cases of measles affecting 20 states, including Arizona. For context, 2019 boasts the second-highest number of reported cases of any other year since measles was nearly eradicated in 2000.


Given this national crisis, many states have crafted and passed legislation to tighten restrictions on vaccination exemptions.


Arizona, on the other hand, is doing the exact opposite, its legislature passing a bill to expand parents’ abilities to reject immunizations.  A vocal proponent of the legislation, State Representative Kelly Townsend, has even gone so far as to call mandatory measles shots “communist” and compare these life-saving medical advancements to “ID number[s]” “forcibly place[d]…on your arm.”


Wrong. Nothing will ever compare to the tragedy that was the Holocaust, so please, Representative Townsend, never again invoke the horrors of Nazi Germany to peddle your own misguided and dangerous attacks on modern science.  


Luckily, Governor Doug Ducey has issued statements indicating his intent to veto such legislation; however, this indifferent, dismissive attitude towards facts and science is not contained to just one state legislature but pervades public opinion on topics ranging from climate change to water fluoridation.


Somehow, the wide availability of information online has also led to unexpected consequences as tin-hat-wearing, Alex Jones conspiracy theorists gather in internet forums and convince themselves that government elites poison the public with “chemtrails” and keep the masses ignorant by indoctrinating them with “bogus science.” Here, a healthy dose of vigilance and patriotic skepticism becomes cynicism and paranoia.


Now, I think the majority of people like to entertain themselves with what I call “mild” conspiracy theories. The JFK shooting? Mild. Roswell, New Mexico? Fairly harmless. Mattress Firm? Good meme.


But past this “mild” variant of conspiracy exist the realms of dogmatism and disrespect.


Flat-earth believers, climate change deniers, and anti-vaxxers lie solidly within the realm of dogmatism. One does not have to look further than flight patterns and photos from space to see that the Earth is spherical, and similarly, numerous studies across national weather and climate agencies have tracked nearly identical measurements indicating that the Earth’s climate is warming year upon year at a pace never before seen in the history of the planet.


Between “global temperature rise,” “warming oceans,” “shrinking ice sheets, “glacial retreat,” “decreased snow cover,” “sea level rise,” “declining Arctic sea ice,” “extreme weather events,” and “ocean acidification,” it is clear that the threat posed by climate change is real, human-caused, and imminent (NASA; Global Climate Change). Contending otherwise is either deliberate pandering to special interests or subliminal aversion to accepting personal responsibility and involvement in Earth’s decay.  


Separately, while it may seem relatively innocuous to suppose that the Earth is flat, this attitude of willful ignorance substantiates and emboldens claims against science and imperils the success of efforts to protect the planet and children. As parents opt against vaccinating their children based on inaccurate pretenses that they cause disease or autism, they jeopardize the well-being of children who cannot medically receive vaccinations, weakening herd immunity.


Just a couple weeks ago, two students at Hamilton high school were confirmed to have mumps, an infection easily preventable by vaccine.


Even more sickening than “dogmatic” conspiracies are the “disrespectful” ones. I hesitate to even list examples, as I do not want to propagate misinformation, but let me just make clear: six million Jewish people were tragically murdered in the Holocaust; Hillary Clinton did not run a prostitution ring; and the Sandy Hook shooting was no hoax for the 20 schoolchildren who died.


This April Fools’ month, let’s replace sugar with salt, not endanger and slander lives as we promulgate baseless conspiracies.