My Essays: March 12, 2015
My News Break
I’ve been on a “news break” for about eighteen months now.
I don’t watch ANY news programs on MSNBC, CNN, or Fox (which I could never watch for longer than 5 minutes anyway).
I don’t listen to the news-type NPR podcasts I used to enjoy while quilting, like Diane Rehm and Tom Ashbrook. I love Garrison Keiler, Stuart McLean and Terry Gross, but I have not made time to catch their programs. Instead, I’ve been downloading audio books from the Maine State Library System through my local library. I am loving disappearing into the bliss of sewing and hearing a professional read a book to me.
Why the news break?
Sometime last year, I began to think seriously about how upsetting all these news programs are. How addictive. How toxic it is to listen–day in and day out–to the outrages, or perceived outrages, perpetrated by people in power. Mostly, I’ve felt there is very little I personally can do to rectify the excesses of late capitalism, where industries have captured our democracy and are busily enslaving us all to an endless need for more and more money.
It’s been such a peaceful year, a year full of laughter with friends and family, great sleep, soothing sewing, relaxing reading, and restorative time spent in nature.
I’m pretty clear that I won’t, that I cannot, go back to the toxicity of the news circuit.
I’m going to be seventy this March 2015. I tell myself that I’ve earned the right to a peaceful decade or so. I tell myself that I don’t feel guilty for turning over the responsibility for this nation to the younger generations. I’ve done my part, right?
I’ll continue to read, to think, and to put that information up on my blog. I am a life-long student deep inside myself. I can remember clearly that at age nine or ten my parents gave me a beautiful new bike and my own library card–which meant I could go to the library whenever I wanted. I remember snuggling into a round, soft, living room armchair after school and reading, reading, reading. My mother used to say that at breakfast I’d read the back of the cereal boxes.
Turning over the responsibility for change gives me a certain emotional distance from the information I share. I like to believe that I read and think for those who do not have the time to do so. My blog posts are meant to be guides which lead people to explore for themselves serious health issues.
But, I have another side. I was born to warrior parents. My military dad was a stone cold, decorated, World War II hero, and my feisty southern mother insisted we be truthful and honorable. It turns out my name, Louisa, springs from a celtic word meaning warrior woman. My mother thought she was giving me a family name that goes way back, but now that I think about it, one family story is about an early Louisa who lived on the 1830s Georgia frontier and who stood down an Indian man who appeared in her front yard.
Recently, though, my need for quiet peace has run headlong into my warrior woman blood. The news that Americans are losing the right to control their own bodies has come filtering through my news barrier.
The founding principle of classical liberalism is the right to own one’s own body. We’ve had war drafts in the past, in the name of national safety, but for the most part now, unless one breaks the law, we, not kings or liege lords or the military, have the right to control our own bodies.
Or, at least we used to…
Now, in this moment of American late capitalism, our government, our laws and courts, our politicians, and our media are controlled by industry. Under the guise of public safety and the “rights” of children, we have lost or are losing our rights to our bodies and our rights as parents to protect our children’s bodies.
Supported by the courts, doctors can take and have taken children away from their parents to perform chemotherapy, in the name of “saving” these children from cancer, though statistics around the use of chemicals to treat cancer are beyond abysmal. Many of these children are suffering and dying even more horrific deaths than they would have if left alone.
Some states, like New York, have mandated vaccines for ALL children, regardless of whether or not they have had serious reactions to earlier vaccines. Recently, a New York court upheld this practice based on a 1905 law. (Who, then, are the children this “herd immunity” is supposed to protect if not a child with a serious vaccine reaction?)
California schools can vaccinate children with Gardasil without parents’ consent or knowledge. California is letting the 12-year olds decide. (Ironically, the HPV virus might not be connected to cervical cancer at all, and Gardasil, which was fast-tracked and untested for safety, is killing young women.)
Religious and philosophical exemptions for vaccines are being rolled back state by state. My own state of Maine is considering watering down the right for vaccine exemptions by making parents first visit a doctor to be “educated.”
This week, an incoming email revealed that Democratic Senators Feinstein and Boxer of California are proposing a new national law that will MANDATE an adult vaccination program—which is kind of a sideways admission that vaccines don’t create permanent, full immunity. (Here’s how the vaccine industry will expand its market share.)
In one of our local papers, The Free Press, a doctor is writing columns urging people to vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate. Vaccinations, he writes, will cure all the chronic illnesses our children are now having.
As horrified as I am by this vaccine cultural war, I am intrigued also in terms of my field: Cultural Studies—the study of systems of cultural power, such as can develop in any system where industry, the government, the media, the police/army, and the courts are intertwined and marching forward toward each particular system’s own ends. When this situation happens, there are no brakes in place as they’ve all been dismantled. The result is that in America today, there is no longer a “democracy.” People are no longer protected from the excesses of industries seeking more money. Our bodies can be and are being coopted to that agenda.
Our current vaccine policy is a poster child for what can and does happen. Industry is given the right to perform the safety studies for a new product. The new product has problems, so industry creates false science about the product’s safety and efficacy. Our government regulatory agencies—run now by political appointees from industry—accepts industry’s “science”—even over the objections of government scientists who point to flaws in the industry-created science. Along the way, industry gets politicians to pass laws that prevent industry from being sued when its harmful product harms someone.
Next, industry mounts massive advertising campaigns in which industry lies about its products, such as the lie that the science about vaccines is a done deal. Or the lie that vaccines eradicated certain diseases. Or the lie that vaccines are safe for “almost” everyone. Or the fear-mongering lie that childhood diseases that give life-long immunity are “killers.” Or the lie that the unvaccinated are spreading disease when it’s the vaccinated and/or those from abroad who come in with different strains of a disease. Or the lie that vaccines give life-long immunity—a lie industry is now revising so that it can give adults booster vaccines. So that last lie is now saying that if everyone is vaccinated, “herd immunity” can be achieved.
This situation is what I have been calling a kool-aid circuit on my blog—after Jim Jones, who convinced his followers to follow him to Africa and to drink the poisoned kool-aid he offered them. No one objected, and death followed swiftly.
Here’s how a kool-aid circuit works: first, the media, doctors, public health officials, politicians, and the public believe these industry lies without doing even the most simple research. They believe because everyone trusts that the industry-colonized government is protecting us. The public trusts their doctors, their public health officials, and the media as they all repeat the industry-created lies. Everyone believes until they come face to face with horrific harm in their own family or among their friends. Scratch the surface of most anti-vaxers, and you’ll find someone with a hurt loved one.
Anyone who challenges these lies is demonized, fired, and no longer funded. Published studies, good studies, are deemed to be the work of “quacks.” Hysteria about public safety is created and fomented. The unethical idea evolves that it’s all right to kill or permanently maim someone else’s child with a mandated vaccine as long as your child is protected. Anyone whose child is harmed cannot sue the vaccine industry and gets no help with a child who now requires massive, permanent aid. Accurate statistics of harm are not collected.
How do I manage the conflict inside myself when my need for peace and the reality of my warrior blood collide—as they have with this vaccine juggernaut issue? The local doctor’s columns, a newly proposed law here in Maine that dilutes our vaccine exemptions, and Senators Feinstein and Boxer’s proposed adult vaccine mandate has pushed me over the edge. I spent several sleepless nights writing letters in my head after the local doctor’s “kool-aid” published response to a local woman who wrote to question what he was saying—a response that just repeated more industry propaganda and mostly ignored her valid questions.
I have gifts. I have been so lucky to have acquired the education and the research and writing skills that few other people have. Through research I know solid information that can prevent harm to others. Do I have the right to impose my peace agenda on who I am, what I know, and what I can do? I know what my parents would say: what is occurring is neither truthful nor honorable, and it’s harming people.
My body demanded writing. I wrote a letter to the local paper refuting the doctor’s industry propaganda, a letter that urged readers to research for themselves and that gave them some easy, but reputable places to start. I wrote a short letter that I sent to Senators Feinstein and Boxer, asking them to look deeper into the vaccine issue and to recognize the role of industry. Again, I included easy research sites. I sent the letter to my two Maine senators. I wrote to NPR to tell them why I’m not going to give them any more money until they stop repeating the kool-aid and start to report the whole of the vaccine issue. I will write to the Maine state representative—a retired doctor—who is proposing a law that will dilute Maine’s religious and philosophical exemption for vaccines. I will continue to post good vaccine information on my blog.
My internal roiling has stopped for the moment. I’ve done my part toward trying to guide people to look deeper, to understand what is happening, and to resist an inherently and legally dangerous practice. Peace is gradually returning. I know I have to trust that enough people will educate themselves to effect a change.
But…I ordered two well-regarded books on vaccines this morning. One looks at vaccine history and the other at the role of the vaccine industry.
So, yes, I’ll do what I can to stand down that indian in my front yard.
PS: THE FREE PRESS refused to publish my letter, and therein lies the problem with a kool-aid circuit. No contrary information is allowed, no matter how genuine.