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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

UPDATE: If only there was a vaccine for stupid

Rep. Justin Price fumbles anti-vax crusade
By Will Collette

UPDATE: Rep. Justin Price has now stated that since the RI Health Department has rejected his anti-vax argument, "I intend to file legislation that will put the power back in parents' hands," when the General Assembly returns in January. That parental choice works real well in California when anti-vaxxers helped bring back measles as a major public health threat.

Also, Price has come out for stripping Planned Parenthood of funding based on the phony video circulating in right-wing circles that attempts to depict legal activity as legal and Planned Parenthood as an evil place when nearly all of its work is focused on essential women's health services. 

Once, quite recently, we had a thoughtful, intelligent state representative for the northern end of Charlestown, plus Richmond, Hopkinton and Exeter, named Larry Valencia.

Redistricting took Charlestown out of his district, but Larry remained a friend to Charlestown and a working partner to Charlestown’s state Representative, Donna Walsh.

Alas in 2014, South County voters went crazy, ousting three of the state’s best legislators and replacing them with three Tea Party whack-jobs. All three are bad, but Justin Price, the guy who beat Larry, stands out for his sheer stupidity.

Whatever most normal people are for, Justin Price is against, and he usually takes a swig from the Tea Party jug before throwing out some ultra-right cliché to justify his position.

His latest stunt is to take a leadership role in a strange little group of Rhode Island anti-vaxxers who believe their right to internet-driven delusion trumps public health.

Price wants the state Health Department to withdraw its mandate that the state’s public school seventh graders receive the HPV vaccine, a safe and effective vaccine that is actually proven to prevent a variety of cancers.

The Seventh Grade is viewed by most doctors and researchers as the best time to give the vaccine for a lot of solid reasons, not the least of which is effectiveness.

But because this vaccine prevents infection from the HPV virus, which is sexually transmitted, some hysterical people think this is a government plot to encourage young children to have sex. Idiots. 

It is a vaccine to prevent infection by a symptomless virus nearly every sexually active person may at some point be unknowingly exposed to, and thereby prevent HPV-related cancers. I’ll bet Michael Douglas wishes the HPV vaccine was around when he was a kid.

This is not an issue of the government usurping parental choice any more than dozens of other science-driven public health decisions we make as a society for the health and welfare of all over the ignorance of the few. Mindless resistance to vaccines is already starting to have worldwide consequences.

Except, I suppose, if you asked Price and those of his particular mindset about those many other public health decisions, they’d probably oppose those too. Because, you know, freedom.

I had wondered if Price was so jacked up by the idea of vaccination of 7th graders because that was the last grade he attended. However, according to his official biography, he claims to have graduated from North Kingstown High School. Perhaps he was smoking in the boys’ room the day his health class studied STDs.

So, in case you are keeping score, Justin Price has distinguished himself in his freshman year in the Rhode Island House by coming out as a climate change denier, an opponent of gay marriage even though it is legal, an opponent of affordable housing, one of those nuts who thinks that RhodeMap RI is Rhode Island’s equivalent of Jade Helm, and a supporter of armed insurrection to overthrow this country. And now he’s also an anti-vaxxer. 

Justin Price may be stupid, but he has been busy. Luckily, he’s also ineffective. Plus, his anti-vax campaign isn't getting any traction, even down here in South County, as the Westerly Sun reported.

To get a feel for Price’s view of the world, watch this video:

The Health Department, patient souls that they are, will be holding additional public meetings for more ranting by the anti-vaxxers.