Ideas have consequences

Tell any reasonable person out there that there are some ideas that should be controlled, and they will likely have some sort of an opposing reaction to your statement. Especially here in the West, we detest the idea of controlling who says what and where. There is the cliché of not yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater, of course. But, for pretty much other ideas and forms of speech, we very much like it when the government stays out of our way. I certainly would not like it if they shut down this blog.

But being free from government interference does not mean that you are free from the consequences of your thoughts and actions. For example, the idea that a child is “lost” or “dead” due to autism can and has had serious consequences. When a mother and a caretaker viciously murdered an autistic boy, they were defended by certain individuals to the point where the murder was whitewashed. They tried to reason that the mother and the caretaker had no choice but to, in a sense, put the boy out of his misery. Only that, it wasn’t the boy that was in misery, per se. It was the mother and caretaker. They couldn’t take the hand that they were dealt and they committed a most brutal act of savagery. Who knows if they thought their actions were justified because, hey, the autistic boy was already “good as dead”.

Today I read yet another story where someone was fed an idea and they acted on it:

“An Oregon mom has been accused of beating her 4-year-old son until his intestines ripped in two places — just because she thought he was gay.

Prosecutors say Jessica Dutro, 25, repeatedly subjected three of her children to traumatic beatings at the Washington County homeless shelter where they lived. But little Zachary Dutro-Boggess bore the brunt of his mom’s volatile temper, Oregon Live reports.

She thought her 4 year-old was gay, so she killed him? Yes, and she left plenty of evidence:

“In a Facebook message that is now being used as evidence against her, Dutro reportedly told her 24-year-old boyfriend Brian Canady that Zachary had made her mad. The boy was “facing the wall” as punishment.

Using a slur, Dutro wrote that her son was going to be gay.

“He walks and talks like it. Ugh,” the mom wrote.”

Now, where would someone get an idea like that? An idea that states that a child of that age could display homosexual tendencies? An idea that states that a homosexual person is less of a human being than the rest of us and, thus, killing them is justified?

Well, unfortunately for us as a society, those ideas are out there, and they’re loud and well-propagated. James Dobson, a so-called “Christian”, has pushed the idea that children can display homosexual tendencies at a young age:

“In one study of sixty effeminate boys aged four to eleven, 98 percent of them engaged in cross-dressing, and 83 percent said they wished they had been born a girl.
The fact is, there is a high correlation between feminine behavior in boyhood and adult homosexuality. There are telltale signs of discomfort with . . . boys and deep-seated and disturbing feelings that they [are] different and somehow inferior. And yet parents often miss the warning signs and wait too long to seek help for their children. One reason for this is that they are not being told the truth about their children’s gender confusion, and they have no idea what to do about it.

Perhaps you are concerned about your child and his or her “sexual development.” Maybe your son or daughter is saying things like, “I must be gay,” or “I’m bisexual.” You’ve found same-sex porn in his room or evidence that he has accessed it on the Internet. You’ve found intimate journal entries about another girl in her diary. The most important message I can offer to you is that there is no such thing as a “gay child” or a “gay teen.” [But] left untreated, studies show these boys have a 75 percent chance of becoming homosexual or bisexual.”

Ah, my bad. There is no such thing as a “gay child” in this man’s understanding, but children who act “that way” have a high chance of being homosexual or bisexual when they grow up. Maybe the mother in question feared for her child’s future? Because, you know, being gay is a horrible, horrible thing:

These kids often recognize very early in life that they are “different” from other boys. They may cry easily, be less athletic, have an artistic temperament and dislike the roughhousing that their friends enjoy. Some of them prefer the company of girls, and they may walk, talk, dress and even “think” effeminately. This, of course, brings rejection and ridicule from the “real boys,” who tease them unmercifully and call them “queer,” “fag,” and “gay.” Even when parents are aware of the situation, they typically have no idea how to help. By the time the adolescent hormones kick in during early adolescence, a full-blown gender-identity crisis threatens to overwhelm the teenager. This is what Mark was experiencing when he wrote. And it illustrates why even boys with normal heterosexual tendencies are often terrified that they will somehow “turn gay.””

Could they be terrified because people like Dobson (and his “Focus on the Family” group) have made homosexuality sound like a curse, a disease? Could it be because there are others who say things like:

I’m guessing the majority of American parents don’t want their little boys turning into sodomites, at this point. if you were to interview, stick a microphone in front of most parents dropping their kids off at the average K-6 school in Colorado where they’re sporting their GLSEN signs everywhere, but if you just interview them and you ask them: “Is your vision for this little 6-year-old boy, 8-year-old boy, 9-year-old, 10-year-old boy that he turn into a sodomite?” My guess is that 60 to 70 percent of them would say, “that would be my worst nightmare.””

That would be their worst nightmare? Not that their child may be dragged away and beaten to a pulp in a field because of something they cannot control? If that’s the case, then I don’t want to live in that society.

Thankfully, we don’t live in that society much anymore. People in the United States are coming around and accepting of people who are not completely heterosexual. Unfortunately, homophobia is on the rise in other parts of the world like Russia and in some countries in the African continent. And for what? What is the fear? That we’ll all turn gay?

We’re all a little gay:

I hope that Pedro (not her real name) and I are the kinds of parents who would not be “shocked and depressed” if one of our children turned out to be gay, because real parents don’t do that. Real parents make the home the safest place for their children, a place where their children can be anything and anyone and not have to fear the big bad world out there. It’s already a scary world as it is.

Everything leads to vaccines

People who have come to know me over the last year or so that I’ve been blogging, know that I am all about teaching science and technology to our youngsters so that we don’t go down the path of destruction as a nation and a society. Knowing science and technology will help our kids distinguish between good and evil, between things that are and things that can’t possibly be. When they read the news or hear the soothsayers and politicians, kids who know about science and technology will think critically about what they are reading and not fall for the lies while defending the truth.

Unfortunately, we’re not quite there.

If you’ve been watching the news lately, you know that there is an outbreak of fungal meningitis going on in the United States right now (October 2012). It is being caused by contaminated batches of a steroid injection that is given into the spinal column of persons with chronic pain. It’s supposed to relieve the inflammation that may be causing the pain. Unfortunately, it seems that a company that compounded — put together —  these steroid injections had a problem with their quality control that allowed for the batches to be contaminated with Aspergillus, a fungus that is found most everywhere in the environment.
Okay, so you have the facts. The outbreak is being caused by a fungus that got into injections given for pain. A fungus is causing this. People are being infected and dying from a fungus.
Now, if you went to school and paid attention in basic biology, you will know that fungi are not bacteria. You will know that bacteria are not fungi. There will be knowledge in your head that tells you that bacteria and fungi are not the same thing.
On the other hand, if you’re the anti-science, anti-vaccine type, then you will think that meningitis caused by a fungal agent (Aspergillus) is surely a plot to get more people to get the vaccine against bacterial meningitis, like this lady does:
anti-vaxer thinks there's a plot
Put me down for a $1,000. This is a sure thing!
Of course, this “knowledgeable” anti-vaxxer also asserts that “vaccination confers no protection against any form of meningitis likely to be deadly or even to cause serious morbidity.” And the additional conspiracy theory delusion that “these vaccination injections won’t be contaminated with fungal meningitis as a ‘little extra something’ to get for the money that you will be forced to cough up for the shot?”
I wish I was making this up. Clearly, Margaret doesn’t know the difference between fungi and bacteria, based on the evidence she has presented. And what is that about vaccinations, meningitis, and morbidity?
If she had been educated in how to conduct proper research on topics before she spewed her anti-vaccine rhetoric, Margaret would have stumbled onto such evidence as this:
or this:
Basically, our current body of knowledge about meningitis (the bacterial, vaccine-preventable kind) tells us that it is a major source of morbidity and mortality. We also know that vaccines against the principal strains of meningitis-causing bacteria have reduced the indices of death and disability from them. This is why we continue to push vaccination on vulnerable populations. You see, people can and do die from bacterial meningitis, and many are debilitated or crippled by it. Just ask Rayna DuBose, who lost her limbs to bacterial meningitis while in college. Or go ask Olivia Giles, who also lost limbs to bacterial meningitis.
Maybe Margaret would like to submit her theory to the parents of Jacob Nunley.
In any case, when an opponent to vaccines delivers such anti-science sentiments, we need to stand against them. If someone was on the fence about the meningococcal, streptococcal, or Hib vaccine for their kid and read Margaret’s statement, and then decided not to vaccinate, then that person may very well be placing themselves and others at risk. Bacterial meningitis is very contagious. Bacterial meningitis is very serious. Bacterial meningitis is very deadly.
Words have consequences, and so does ignorance.