In the midst of my after-Christmas lethargy, I came to realize that I’ve had this little blog for a year now. So much has happened, some good, some bad.
For example; my son is beginning to understand that he can use a toilet to urinate. This is a fascinating endeavor for him, made more-so by his mother’s gleeful reactions and the handful of treats he receives as a reward. The bad, though, is that we cannot seem to break him of the habit of playing with his feces and smearing it everywhere. And I honestly have no clue how to correct this behavior.
More good; we recently got a very nice house, much larger than our previous one with an enormous yard. The bad; other than having to mow this enormous yard, we had to move, change our number, and various other things in order to hide from a very loathsome and creepy internet stalker. The fact that I completely ignore this worm and he continues to try to harass me speaks volumes about his lack of maturity and intelligence. Really, I think he has some weird obsession/vendetta. Perhaps he’s a closet homosexual who has fixated on me. While I have no problems with homosexuals (under normal circumstances I would think that such attention is flattering if misguided), coming from this guy, it is extremely nauseating and disgusting. Not to mention how badly his fixation disturbs my family. My wife has had to purchase a gun, and she’s taking shooting lessons (which she greatly enjoys), and our new house has an alarm installed in case his strange obsession crosses the line more than it already has. Sadly, there is very little I can do to retaliate other than ignore him and do what I’ve already done. But, if I find him on my doorstep, then he has a very nasty surprise waiting for him.
Good; the Nate man loves his new house! He has a nice bed (a racecar…and he actually SLEEPS in it…will wonders never cease?), a nice front porch that runs the length of the house that he uses as a runway. The bad: We have a pond in the back that he decided to try to jump into. Scared the shit out of both myself and my wife, because this is one of the greatest fears she and I have concerning his safety. However, it is my hope that his realization of how freakin’ cold the water was will curb his enthusiasm to jump in again.
But, I digress. Reflecting on things from the past year has made me remember why I started blogging in the first place. It was at the suggestion of Kim Wombles that I start this blog, and it is one thing that she offered that I truly am thankful for. Sadly, Kim has descended into hypocrisy and rhetoric, so she and I no longer have correspondence. Occasionally, though, I take the opportunity to check out her blog and see what she’s been up to. And also, continuing with the topic of false skepticism and pseudo-skeptics, I thought I would write a little about what I read there.
Recently, she wrote a piece about Christmas cheer. While I found it quite interesting, I felt I should point out the good and the bad in her article (you’re noticing a theme here, I suspect).
On the subject of where the Christmas cheer is in our little community, she begins with the following:
“I think we know it's not in the angry places. I wish it were. I wish sincerely, fervently, that each person over at AoA would have a merry Christmas, one in which they are surrounded by their loved ones and able to celebrate that they have each other.”
This is a lovely sentiment, and coming from almost any other person, I would take it as sincere and heartfelt and express the same sentiments in return. However, coming from Kim, it seems to ring hollow. Let’s continue with her article and you’ll see why.
“I was commenting at Laura's this morning that it's depressing as hell to read them, and it is. It's also interesting, though, that on the blog AoA put up to illustrate that the anti-vaccine label is misapplied (quoting from Harold's post refuting Kev Leitch's post), that so many of them are proudly anti-vaccine.
Can't we move past this? Can't we, for gods' sakes, stop beating the hell out of each other? No? Okay then. Right.”
The anti-vaccine label IS misapplied. You see, the pseudo-skeptics apply this label to anyone who questions in any way the safety of vaccines, even if they have vaccinated their family.
And yes, it is depressing to read AoA. I have a lot of respect for many of the people there, but I’ve noticed recently that they are just descending into personal attacks and vengeful rhetoric. I can’t take that anymore. It saddens me greatly that they have had 3 strikes with me, and now they’ve lost someone who willingly defended them.
But, on the other hand, can we not see why they do so? I certainly can. But looking at Kim’s above comments, we can see that she doesn’t understand. More on that in a moment.
“There's real rancor here between some of these folks who've been on the interwebz slinging this shit out for years. There's swagger and bluster and whipping it out to see whose is the biggest of all. Are they fighting for king of the interwebz? Is there a medal, a trophy? No? If I felt like photoshopping one, I could make one, but I don't.
No, instead, I am frustrated.
Frustrated that people can write things like this: "PharmaKorp Nazi Drug Troopers has a nice ring to it. Hey? Has anyone explored the connection of the Pharmaceutical industry with Nazi Germany? Seriously."
Seriously disturbed that AoA's unabashedly anti-vaccine poster person can write this: "Autism will come raping or should I saw wrapping at their door, and they will soon find themselves in the oh shit position." Bless her, she's more than drank from "the bitter cup"; she's bathed in it, steeped in it. And her rhetoric hurts to read.”
See, she thinks it is ok to call someone a dumbass or mock and ridicule someone because they feel that their child’s condition is caused by vaccines, but it isn’t ok for these people to defend themselves or retaliate in a similar vein. That, boys and girls, is called a double standard.
Yes, the comments were bad. But, are they any worse than someone comparing members of the AoA team to the Nazi leaders? Or saying that they hope that all of our children die of vaccine preventable diseases? Or having someone spit in your face because you were passing out flyers about vaccine ingredients? Or having some creep continually harass and stalk you after you explicitly told them to stop contacting you? Oh, right…I forget. Such tactics are ok only if you follow the dogma of those who claim to be science and evidence based.
No, I don’t think that this should be happening, and that’s one of the reasons why I spoke up against AoA, especially after the threatening post they did on their facebook page about Skepchick. But, if you’re going to attack AoA for their rhetoric, you should acknowledge and attack those whom you agree with about theirs. But, we don’t see that here, do we? It’s terrible when AoA makes what I perceive as threatening posts, but it’s perfectly ok when people she agrees with do the same. Yes, the hypocrisy is thick.
“Are all the commenters at AoA anti-vaccine or off the deep end? No. And the reality is that we can not assess how well these comments reflect the day-to-day lives of these people, either. Is their behavior situational and egged on by the close-knit community they have built there? Are they victims of group polarization? I suspect, based on the science regarding both personality and group polarization, that this is accurate. We see only one dimension of these people; we may not see them at their best. They may be venting, and the group they find themselves in reinforces a shift to the more extreme end of things. Certainly these two commenters I've singled out are the extreme end there, although there are several more who are close seconds.”
Here, she and I are in agreement. I truly believe that some of what goes on over at AoA is just venting. Hell, I used AoA quite a bit to vent some of my anger and frustration out. It was cathartic and in many ways comforting to know that I had people going through many of the same things I was going through. Now, I mostly use my blog.
“Should we hate these people? No.”
But she does. It shows every time she writes about AoA. It shows every time she calls someone a dumbass or bat-shit crazy. Or calls them anti-vaccine, an epithet that is synonymous with someone who is despised. Whether she believes it or not, those insults are hateful.
“Feel disgust? Yeah, those two comments are worthy of disgust, but if that's where we stop, we won't understand them, and for me, understanding these individuals is important.”
But she doesn’t understand them. And that’s the important distinction here. She doesn’t understand that these people are angry and frustrated because they feel as if no one is listening to them. They try and try to make people understand that their children may have had serious adverse reactions to a vaccine, and they are immediately called insulting names and labeled as fringe elements or compared to tea-baggers and birthers. Ever watch a non-verbal autistic child grow angry and frustrated because they can’t tell you what is wrong? It’s very similar.
“Can we change them, move them back from the brink? Oh, no I don't think so, but maybe if we understand how they got there, we'll be able to help others not go there.
And that's where it is for me: understanding them so that we can create a community that stands in front of that abyss and lets no more go over.”
As long as you do not (or refuse to) understand them, you won’t be able to reach them. As long as you continue to treat them as inferior or as someone less than human, you won’t understand them. That is a simple fact of life.
“Mocking them is easy. Deriding them even more so. Compassion is harder, but if you look at them and realize that they have been broken by what they perceive as their burdens, then you must feel compassion.”
But that’s what she does. She mocks and derides them, which as we all know, is very compassionate. And she should also understand why they return the favor. I mean, we all know it is so very compassionate to call someone a dumbass or bat-shit crazy, right?
She goes on to discuss some of the blogs she visits, about the trials and struggles of these parents. And that is all fine and good. But, then she follows it up with this:
“We must look to those who do this so that we can help others do this, too. We must provide a community built on compassion and respect. We must continue to allow ourselves to feel just as keenly for those who dwell in the angry places as we do for those who get up and reject the angry places.”
Compassion and respect? She keeps using those words, but I do not think they mean what she thinks they mean. Compassion is the deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it. Is that what we see from her? Take a moment to read some of what she’s written here and decide for yourselves. Is what she does respectful? Is she showing deferential regard or esteem to those she writes about? Is she trying to relate to them or show them concern? Again, consider some of the names she calls those she disagrees with and then decide for yourselves.
“So, today, I ask that if you read this blog, you spend a moment in contemplation for what it would take to lead you to the angry places, to dwell there. I ask that you picture yourself in the midst of that bitterness that has pervaded all and how you would ever see a flicker of light from down there in the abyss. And I ask you to have compassion. Yes, they're wrong. Oh my. Yes, they're damaging, but they do far greater damage to their own psyches than they can ever do to us. After all, we can still walk away from the edge of the abyss.
If you cannot feel compassion for those who have lost all hope (and so many there have), I think you lose an essential part of yourself and step just a little bit closer to that abyss.”
Wrong how? In their spiteful rhetoric? Yes, I agree. But so are the people she is so chummy with, those whom she idolizes. They are just as guilty of the same hateful rhetoric. Or is she alluding that they are wrong in their beliefs about how their child(ren) developed autism. How does she know this? Has she seen their medical records? She’s making some pretty definitive claims in the absence of evidence. That isn’t very science and evidence based, is it? They are damaging to whom? The pharmaceutical companies? By the fact that they are trying to change a corrupt industry’s out-of-control vaccination policies, then these people are somehow evil in her mind. At least, that is what I am gathering from her little diatribe here.
Oh, I know what some people are going to say. They are going to say I’m being a hypocrite because I use insults and belittling language with those I disagree with. Yes, I do. I freely and openly admit that. But, I don’t preach about being compassionate and pretend that I’m that way on one hand and then spew hateful insults and rhetoric on the other. I make no secret of the fact that I don’t like these people, and that they have done nothing to earn or receive my respect. The best way for me to respond to these hypocrites is with as much contempt and derision as I can muster.
She doesn’t feel compassion. She feels that because she is “science and evidence based,” then those she disagrees with are inferior to her and therefore should be pitied. In fact, if you look at her hateful rhetoric and the way she treats those she disagrees with, you can see that she is falling into the very trap that she warns you of in the previous passage. And this, my friends, is yet more hypocrisy. Do as I say, not as I do.