By Erin K. Costello
I recently came across the post featured in the image below. As I started to write a Facebook page post to go with the redacted image, I found myself creating this elaborate comparison scenario that was becoming too long for a Facebook post. This is a common problem when pointing out stupid beliefs of the anti-vaccine movement since their idiocy knows no bounds. Leave it to anti-vaxxers to cause the allotted space of a Facebook post feel as restrictive as a 140 character Tweet.
**Most will still understand much of this blog post without reading the featured image, though I do suggest reading the post in the image before reading the rest of this blog post.
Then, years later while she is waiting for a table for her and her daughter at another or the same restaurant, she goes on to tell other waiting customers that restaurant water killed her son. She follows this up by saying she has nothing against water, but that *They* need to make safer water. Out of fear, the customers decide not to drink the water that day, but then they also decide they should just take the risks of dehydration and obesity by drinking sodas and never drinking water again.
Then, these customers insist their kids shouldn’t drink water either since some strange woman told them her son died after drinking water from some restaurant.
Now, imagine extreme heat and drought develop where some of these kids live. The news urges people to stay hydrated since dehydration is now a real risk for everyone. Those parents say they know better and big water just wants profits, that big water even manufactured this heat/drought to drive profits. Or they blame a shadow government for the heat because.... "population control.” They tell their crazy theory to everyone who will listen over and over. Eventually, like with any other disinformation campaign, it begins to take hold and spread.
Next, these parents in the heat/drought areas or elsewhere refuse to provide water for their kids, and eventually pets. They give them beverages that do not provide adequate hydration to combat the extreme heat. The heat is so strong that even water drinkers are seeking medical attention for dehydration, which then causes the anti-water parents to say water is nothing more than a profit driven scam and doesn’t even work.
Then you have Coke, Gatorade, and Kool-Aid popping up saying they have the cure/protection parents are seeking, and it can all be theirs...... for a fee. These companies even hire experts to discuss the "science" behind these claims, however these "experts" are educated in computer science or psychology. Sure, they could be experts in their chosen field, but the fact they are not experts in THIS field is never mentioned.
Because more and more people, kids especially, are falling ill to dehydration, health services become strained and medical costs are rising quickly. This puts a strain on the economy but mostly on a community since work ends up being missed, bills can no longer be paid, and people begin to have more disputes with each other over proposed legislation calling for “mandatory hydration through water." Parents start to argue with educators, calling them shills for big water when educators insist on teaching kids about water instead of the conspiracy theories surrounding water.
In addition to death, other lies about water circulate. Maybe you hear that since oxygen and hydrogen are combustible, drinking water might be like drinking gasoline. You hear how people have over-dosed on water, drowned from water, or that so many children develop autism shortly after drinking water. I mean, these statements are not false after all, but they are also not true in their suggestion of causality. For example:
* People have over-dosed on water. But, there’s a lot of middle ground between dehydration and over consumption.
* Many children have shown symptoms of autism after consuming water. They have also been outside, hugged a parent, slept, ate, filled a diaper or used a toilet, celebrated a birthday, been born, etc....before the signs develop.
*People have drowned in water. But, those people have also taken baths, showered, washed their hands, been caught in the rain, drank water, etc..... an untold amount of times before they drowned.
*Sure, hydrogen is combustible and oxygen supports the process of combustion, but when combined to form water their properties change and they are no longer elemental. Also, humans, alone, are not a strong enough heat source to cause a reaction, and simply being combustible is not what threatens our safety. It is fire. It is the potential of fire coming near a combustible source while in our presence that leaves us concerned for safety.
(If any of the chemistry is wrong please feel free to correct me. Chemistry is not my strong area)
These events do not make water dangerous or even more dangerous as a beverage.
Before long, anti-water people hear about the VERY rare, almost unheard of, cases of individuals allergic to water. They begin to think that THEIR child could be one of those very rare cases, and apparently they think it could be every child since they use this as a reason to tell other parents not to give their kids water.
By now you have some parents refusing to even use other products containing water or made by big water. Maybe they stop wanting to use toilets or modern plumbing. They insist that sinks don’t provide clean/safe/pure/natural/organic water. They decide to catch rain water or to grab gallons from a local stream or river without applying any type of filtration. Natural companies then start selling “nature made” water that isn't required to follow federal/consumer regulations like big water does. Some fringe sect of “natural water” then insists THEIR water is the most potent since it is repeatedly added to air, to the point there’s not really any water left, because air has memory. Now people are buying air-filled water bottles to cure their hydration.
On social media, grieving parents who lost their children to dehydration/extreme heat are now being attacked and called liars and shills for big water. These parents are accused of having killed their own children by giving their children water, that the water is what caused the child to dehydrate. These accusations waver between suggesting the child's death was accidental due to an unknown underlying condition or allergy to water, to suggesting the parent KNEW of this condition and then exploited this to murder said child.
I seriously could go on and on with comparisons.....but I need to wrap this up.
Is this really what the first amendment protects? There is still debate on whether yelling “FIRE!” in a crowded theater, thus knowingly or negligently causing mass panic, injury, and possibly death, is protected free speech or not. Yelling "FIRE!" may encourage others to unintentionally act in harmful ways, however it doesn't directly cause someone to harm others for the sake of harming them. But, what about convincing others to refuse safe and effective preventative treatments for others, especially children? This isn't yelling one word one time to the public. This is working on the minds of other people. This is grooming. Should grooming others, while having nefarious intentions, be allowed to happen in the manner of which we have witnessed? I’m not saying speech should be outlawed. Outlawing speech would in fact create many new problems, and some more dangerous than this one. But, shouldn’t there be SOME kind of accountability? Shouldn't there be a financial consequence like written and explained by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss in this law review? Shouldn’t there be some kind of limit on the reach and volume of damaging speech? Shouldn't there be something discouraging bad actors from profiting off of endangering the public, and especially endangering children?
Lastly, to the OP in the featured image....Just because you have *A* right to do something, doesn't mean it is *THE* right thing to do.
What's The Harm?