In a country where a television network previously called The Learning Channel can have a programming lineup filled with shows about about fat illiterate families that yell all the time and people who didn’t even know they were pregnant, it probably isn’t incredibly shocking that there is an anti-vaccination movement in America. However it may be surprising to read that the movement has become popular enough to create a resurgence in diseases like measles, meningitis, mumps, and whooping cough (a disease that immediately makes me think of gold panning prospectors and people losing their jobs as slaves to the cotton gin). Despite overwhelming data that vaccines do not cause autism and avoiding getting vaccinated can be flat out dangerous, these people are convinced they are the gatekeepers of some hidden scientific knowledge.
But the dangers of the anti-vaccination movement always seemed like this distant thing surrounding an intangible group I had no direct contact with. That is until someone I knew who actively avoided vaccinating themselves and their children had a intensely weird looking baby. I had previously spent months arguing with her about various fad medical miracles and the risks of not getting inoculated but, just when I thought I had made some headway on a topic, she refused to speak on it any further. After her first child, she became convinced that traditional medicine was a farce and that all she needed to be healthy was eat organic foods and avoid GMOs. While I insisted that she see at least visit a general practitioner, it was her assertion that God would protect and bless her family.
A few months later it was pretty clear from the initial viewing of her second bundle-of-joy that God had blessed her with a spectacular dud. I am aware of that being an incredibly insensitive thing to say but it was truly breathtaking, and not in the good way. The colossal and potentially hydrocephalic head has its mass focused unusually high. This creates an oversized load for an already feeble neck, so the cranium bounces around a lot. The fingers are formed but not separated so both of the hands are lumpy orbs of singular flesh. The eyes bulge out and appear too old and tired to be those of a child. They are also widely spaced and black as anthracite coal. It is not what I would call a handsome baby. It looks more like something witches would summon out of a bubbling cauldron than the result of love-making between two human adults.
This was all well documented on the infant’s social media page. Some of the first images of it were in a neonatal intensive care unit where the mother added the caption that it was the baby’s “personal limo.” The thing received more CT scans in the first 48 hours of being alive than I have had in my entire life. Yet everyone seemed content to just pray and hope for the best. Nobody acted like anything was the matter or as if avoiding traditional medicine might have contributed to any of the health issues in some small way. Of course there is the possibility that this baby’s deformities could have absolutely nothing to do with improper prenatal care, avoiding vaccinations, and not having a medical practitioner examine the mother before the actual birth. But there is also a chance that this family’s passionate ignorance helped to ensure the birth of a human-amoeba hybrid and not a healthy baby girl.
It didn’t take long before I got really tired of people commenting about “how cute” the baby is when this thing was clearly a disaster. I’ve complained about the phenomenon before, but things felt different this time. I eventually went completely insane and started posting anonymous photos of the poor creature on websites in the hope that somebody could tell me what was the matter with it. I needed to know if it was some genetic snafu or if this person had ensured this breathing cataclysm through their personal hatred of science. They named it after a flower and have yet to publicly acknowledge exactly what is wrong with it. I want to know why it has skin mittens and if it is going to suffer from mental deficiencies. I’m curious as to what its life will be like and if any of this could have been prevented.
In the end, I know I’m a vile monster for worrying so much about this. It isn’t my family, my life, or my business. I should be like everyone else and just say “congratulations on your offspring” and hope that it leads as happy and healthy of a life as it can before it suffocates in its sleep like the Elephant Man. But there is this thing in the back of my skull scraping away at proper etiquette and begging me to get to the bottom of this. Just having doubts about her ability to properly care for a child is terrifying. The quality control for parents is appalling. A woman in my neighborhood smothered her eleven-month-old son last week. Then she put him in a white silk suit, placed him in bed, and posted a bunch of photos of the body on the internet with captions like “RIP, Tinkabutt.” It was all over the New York news.
Of course I know that not every angry parent is going to resort to murdering their child and that my now ex friend probably isn’t responsible for her infant’s maladies. But there is a piece of me and that will never know for sure and that bothers me. I don’t want to be some internet hall monitor but social media has really become a stage to showcase bad parenting and general idiocy. Almost any moron can have a child and every single one of them has the potential to ruin it. But that is sort of the name of the game. It’s just much more difficult to remain idle when someone makes dangerous choices for their offspring. There is a almost a subtle joy that comes from witnessing a person you don’t like destroy themselves by eating too much fast food or abusing steroids. You think to yourself that there is a hint of natural selection remaining in humanity’s perverted relationship with evolution.
But nobody wants to see a child suffer. No one feels vindicated when idiots produce a baby and then raise it into an ignorant and unhealthy child. However, we allow people to do it every single day with zero repercussions. If I were President I would solve the wealth inequality gap, because that’s obviously the bigger problem. Then I would form a coalition that would employ people to go to Jenny McCarthy book signings with giant ice-cream scoops to rescue infants from all expectant mothers before it is too late. Once the program received the necessary funding, they would hit up ICP concerts, Tea Party rallies, and every Walmart in existence. Eventually I’d like to just have them patrol the streets in purple squad cars on the lookout for people in oversized Tweety Bird shirts, talking too long about celebrities, or using incorrect grammar. Those scooped-out babies would receive the finest schooling available and be given to a loving family. Meanwhile, their mothers would get free tuition for two years and a chance to see those babies again if they can pass a basic intelligence test of my design. The test would be short but a single incorrect answer would result in a failure.
Of course it’s easy for me to tell other people how to raise their children when I haven’t bothered to have any of my own, and I can almost hear all the angry parents cursing my name as they read this. However “don’t tell me how to raise my kids” isn’t a fair rebuttal when you’re doing a shitty job. I haven’t the slightest idea of how strict you should be, if spankings actually work, or how to effectively get a child to use the big boy potty. But I do know that you should vaccinate it and that you should see an obstetrician before any of that other stuff is even a concern. This isn’t about personal preference; it’s about public health and common sense. There is no place for anti-intellectualism in a progressive and thriving society.