By Erin K. Costello
A few weeks ago, while I was searching for horrific antisemitic comments on social media by anti-vaccine zealots, I found many other of their disturbing comments. I found enough of these hateful remarks to create categories and arrange them as such. This discovery has provided me with plenty of material for many future blog posts, though, I take no pleasure in using this material. Whether I come across anti-vaccine cultists harassing a mom with a sick child, attacking a mom on social media who just lost a child, attacking an 18 year old with pack like mentality simply because he chose to be vaccinated, or referring to children with autism as though they are wild animals (upcoming blog post), I absolutely hate that this material exists on social media. Those leaving such comments appear to have no shame in doing so. Imagine if the medical community or scientific community behaved this way toward anyone who didn’t vaccinate. I’ve said it before and it still stands, this behavior also exists in the online pro-vaccine communities. However, not at all in such aggressive ways or in the same numbers. In today’s blog post I will feature comments made to parents of sick children, deceased children, comments left to an 18 year old vaccine advocate who had the opportunity to speak to members of congress, and comments left on the Facebook page of another person raised anti-vaccine who grew up to become vaccinated and vaccinated her children.
Thank you to CNN's recently aired segment, most of us are now familiar with these tactics by anti-vaccine supporters where they seek out and harass grieving parents online. The information CNN reported was not from a couple rare or unique examples. This happens every single week, usually a few times a week.
As usual, I did a half ass redaction job on the screen shots. These comments, though horrible, aren’t quite as anger inducing as the ones featuring racist and antisemite comments I have shared in the past, though these are a very close second. What makes these comments here as horrible as they are is more or less the timing of such remarks. Not that any time would be the right time to approach a mother grieving or a mother praying for their child’s recovery, any time would be better than right away, and any place would be better than a public post on social media. Below are two sets of screen shots. The firs set, and the ones with “vaccine” highlighted throughout (I used word search to find these comments more quickly) are in regard to a very, very sick baby in the hospital. The second set, and the ones without words highlighted, are from a post concerning a baby that had just passed away recently.
PARENTS OF SICK CHILDREN
These are all from one post thread. The person who originally posted about this baby was not the mother but another family member named Melissa. She repeatedly tells people this illness was not caused by vaccines but each person does not want to hear it. They keep coming right back at her with how this was all caused by vaccines.
HARASSING VACCINE ADVOCATES
The next screen shots are from two different threads. The first thread is from Ethan Lindenberger’s Facebook page. Ethan is 18 years old. There are a bunch of grown adults older than he is, some even twice his age, that think it is fine to leave such horrible comments on a teenager’s social media page. What makes it even worse is that these adults find it acceptable to do this simply because Ethan was vaccinated. Not because he committed some horrific crime or anything, but because he chose to be vaccinated.
In case you haven’t been following Ethan’s story, let me suggest this link from Vaxopedia to fully catch you up, while I give you a quick summery. Ethan wasn’t vaccinated because mom was anti-vaccine. He and his mom discussed this often and even though they could not reach an agreement, they appeared to be on loving terms with one another. When Ethan turned 18 he began to get caught up on vaccinations. His story went viral after he asked Reddit for advice. He became well known and loved among vaccine advocates, and his mom became the mom every anti-vaccine enthusiast could see themselves in.
I gave this summery for a reason. I’d like to add that I am, obviously, a huge supporter of vaccinations. I am not at all well known mind you, but I am on plenty anti-vaccine shit lists. If my child, any of them, came out to me as being a vaccine denier I am sure we would have many discussions on the matter. If my child was open and loud on social media about his anti-vaccine ways I’m sure he’d find a home in the anti-vaccine community. I am also sure many people who support vaccines would have discussions with him on social media, maybe even some of my colleagues. I’m sure some people would be far from polite and I’m sure my child would catch a few remarks about how they were an idiot or something similar. I could live with all that. BUT….if any of my colleagues or anyone from the vaccine community went to his/her profile page and said this type of shit to my child, doxed my child, threatened my child, I’d be on the page calling each and every asshole out. I mention this because I can’t help but to notice how absent his entire family is on Ethan's social media, or all together publicly, when these attacks are happening. It breaks my heart.
The last three screen shots are from the Facebook profile of another person who was raised anti-vaccine and grew up to choose vaccinations for herself and her child. She then made a Facebook post about what she did and it quickly went viral. I found these especially horrible in the comment section.
What is it about the right to remain ignorant that makes some people turn into ragey assholes?
What's The Harm?