There’s a measles outbreak in Wales. Even though I live nowhere near Wales now, I feel affected by this. Oh, I’m not affected by the outbreak itself, but by the reporting of said outbreak. See, I refuse the MMR based on moral grounds since the rubella component is made using aborted foetal cells (from an abortion years ago; the cell line used in the vaccines stems from that abortion). But in reading the news you’d get the impression that anyone who refuses the MMR is an ignorant, dangerous person who listens only to Jenny McCarthy and Wakefield and who is single-handedly responsible for killing children.
Think I’m exaggerating? I wish I were. Because this is in the news, it’s been showing up in debates on social media sites. I’ve seen accusations saying those who don’t vaccinate are a danger to everyone. I’ve seen people say those who don’t vaccinate should quarantine themselves completely because they might kill another (reminds me a little of leper colonies and how lepers had to say “unclean” so everyone could avoid them). Even when other reasons for refusing vaccinations are listed, such as moral or medical reasons, these reasons seem to be ignored in favour of continuing to say it’s because of a fear of autism. While I’ve no doubt such people exist, none of the people I know who refuse vaccines would fall in that category.
The anti-vaccine crowd can be just as bad. (For the record, I don’t consider myself anti-vaccines, as I am not against vaccines at all. I simply have objections to some for moral reasons, must avoid some for medical reasons, and see some as unnecessary for us at this time [eg: influenza or HepB].). I’ve certainly seen people in the anti-vaccine group insult and demean those who vaccinate as hurting their children. This isn’t right.
And what is the result of all the insults, mischaracterisations, and vitriol? Two sides that distrust and even hate each other. Two sides that certainly can’t have a reasonable, respectful conversation. Two sides digging in their heels ever deeper instead of trying to truly understand the other side and engage in true dialogue. Well enough already. Having the opposite views on this is fine, but let’s remember respect. That person who disagrees with you is still a person worthy of respect.