Breaking Down the Pro-Vaccine Crowd
Recently the show HighWire and its host Del Bigtree were the target of a short-term, online attack by what purported to be the pro-vaccine crowd who took issue with the message of his show. HighWire’s premise from the start has been to empower viewers and listeners to think for themselves by discussing the full story around several topics including vaccines. Bigtree commented by saying:
“This show is trying to teach people how to critically think for themselves. Not just go with the bumper sticker slogans that come out of the CDC or come out of Merck or Sanofi-Aventis…I bring you science as I find it; documented science, published science and provide those links to you.”
Of the over 500 one-star reviews that the show was hit with in one day, many of the comments used catch-all terms like anti-vax, debunked, anti-science and conspiracy. A familiar scrip could be seen weaving its way through the pro-vaccine messaging profile used to target the show. One explanation of the methods and interests behind such terms and coordinated attacks like HighWire experienced have been laid out by journalist Sharyl Attkisson in her viral TEDx talk Astroturf and manipulation of media messages.
“Astroturf is when political, corporate or other special interests disguise themselves and publish blogs, start Facebook and Twitter accounts, publish ads, letters to the editor or simply post comments online to try to fool you into thinking that independent or grassroots movement is speaking. The whole point of astroturf is to try to give the impression that there’s widespread support for or against an agenda when there’s not.”
For the greater pro-vaccine discussion taking place on social media, lets first look at the outliers on opposing ends. On one side of the pro-vaccine camp, there would be the rabid ‘pro-vaxxers,’ the ones who believe vaccines should be mandatory by law for every man, woman and child and that vaccines are safe and effective. This subgroup of ‘pro-vaxxers’ is probably comprised of a large amount of people who have careers in which such beliefs are continually being perpetuated and/or whose income is dependent upon such beliefs. On the other side of the pro-vaccine social media presence would be the ongoing paid astroturf campaigns run by not-so-transparent “political, corporate or other special interests” as Attkisson described. There is a strong argument made for the intersection point where both camps of ‘pro-vaxxers’ meet and share common ground to push out their message. Where does the center and bulk of the pro-vaccine base grow out of? Moving past the outlier factions of ‘pro-vaxxers,’ it’s difficult to imagine the events and circumstances that have created a formidable number of ‘pro-vaxxers’ who continually attack the expanding science and evidence-backed online discussion around unsafe and ineffective vaccines.
Labeling people who question vaccines as ‘anti-vax’ is a giant misnomer. Many ‘anti-vaxxers’ are in reality ‘ex-vaxxers.’ They were people who actually followed their government health agency’s recommended vaccine schedule to perfection for themselves and their children and witnessed or experienced life-changing injuries after the shots. Others have been forced to enter the discussion because their government representatives are now in various stages of legislation to legally mandate vaccines on themselves and/or their children. Some have spoken up because of the corruption and injuries surrounding vaccines they’ve witnessed, experienced or have been a part of in their employment. Some have added their voice after seeing the years of completely one-sided reporting from legacy corporate media outlets largely funded by Big Pharma ad revenue. And others have simply followed the available science and evidence to make their own conclusions that there are, and continue to be, major holes in the safe and effective vaccine argument.
Arguably the largest portion of the sustained, multi-decade grassroots vaccine truth movement has been carried by parents and families who have witnessed the injury caused by vaccines on their children and siblings. Unlike the other diverse groupings of people who comprise the ‘anti-vaccine’ movement, parents of vaccine-injured children and their siblings never had the luxury to choose to be courageous and strong because circumstances demanded they become those things. It’s not hard to see where the passion and determination comes from to drive change and demand truth within a corrupt and dangerous vaccine paradigm. Are regular citizens taking to social media for years to extol the virtues of that one flu shot they received at their local pharmacy? Are regular citizens suddenly so passionate about industry-funded vaccine studies claiming to show safety that they are taking large parts of their days reading and posting the results with vigor online? Without the financial backing of special interests or the continued indoctrination of their career, what is driving the pro-vaccine base of regular people to actively take to social media in droves on a daily basis to defend some shot they received once? Who are these people? Are they people or just an empty collection of web bots and computer algorithms? Is there even an organic pro-vaccine base of everyday people?
If the base of pro-vaccine people exists, it could be assumed that they always vaccinate since they are, well, pro-vaccine. If that is the case, then such people are in a disadvantaged position when entering and discussing the full breadth of the vaccine debate. The large portion of people who always vaccinated (pro-vaccine) and became anti-vaccine after witnessing injuries from the shots have walked the walk so to speak. They have lived both sides of the discussion. The ‘pro-vaxxers’ are speaking from a lack of experience at best since they have presumably never tried not vaccinating and/or have never experienced vaccine injury. The ‘pro-vaxxers’ lose another point of credibility when they attack the messenger, Del Bigtree in this recent case, and refuse to honestly discuss the message and growing evidence of relevant points. Yet perhaps the biggest giveaway that the ‘pro-vaxxers,’ whoever and whatever they are, aren’t here to debate is that in their minds, the science is settled concerning vaccines and there is no need for debate. And so there is no need for discussion. And there is no choice. Their logic says you are either for ever-increasing schedules of shots without question or you are an impediment in the way of those ends and therefore must be removed. By contrast, one could say the distilled message of the ‘anti-vaxxers’ is to think for yourself, do your own research, be free to take your personal journey towards health at your discretion and to strive towards greater truth and transparency within a heavily biased, pharmaceutically-influenced medical orthodoxy. If you had to choose, where would you fall within the range of the vaccine debate?