UPDATE (March 20, 2014): My desire to stop the internet bullying that I was witnessing ended up throwing me into this vaccination debate. Check out my solution to all this vaccination debating.
Dear National Post,
To vaccinate or to not vaccinate? I never thought I would get involved in this discussion. I don’t have kids and I have not thoroughly educated myself enough on the topic of vaccines to hold an informed opinion. But I’m not writing about which side is right or wrong or if the right answer actually falls in between the two. I don’t know. What I do know is that I see a lot of opinionated people taking this topic and using it as a forum to bully.
I have people close to me on both sides of the spectrum on this topic. I have quietly watched people post articles on social media about vaccination. But when people started to post these articles and then throw hurtful comments towards the anti-vax people, I had to draw the line. I’m all for freedom of speech and opinion but that does not give people the right to bully others. The recent article written by Phil Plait, “Jenny McCarthy asks Twitter a question and gets schooled on her anti-vaccination nonsense”, that you published on your website is a prime example of bullying. How could you offer a platform to promote this? The article clearly exemplifies bullying.
Many may not agree on McCarthy’s stand on vaccinations but when she tweeted, “What is the most important personality trait you look for in a mate? Reply using #JennyAsks” she was clearly not talking about vaccination. Yet, people took it as an opportunity to bully her. I watched as people commented on the article, “Selfish idiot, she is”, “She is a total menace”, “She is just plain ignorant” and much worse.
I’m sorry, but the question she posed had nothing to do with her opinion on vaccination. The readers took this as an opportunity to bully her. There is a time and a place to debate the subject. This was not it. Nor were these people intending to debate but saw it as a chance to kick her down.
These bullies are worried about children not getting vaccinated yet, they seem to clearly promote disheartening, hateful, crushing behavior towards others; there is no debate on whether that kills. It does. Bullying has led to suicides. Their despicable behavior just makes them hypocrites and it saddens me that you published this article where Plait revels in the verbal lashing of another human being. His self-righteousness where he thinks he’s saving lives all around him will be counteracted when his little darlings grow up to be bullies like their daddy and set free in this world to wreak havoc.
“Just when you think that Internet commentary is nothing more than a wretched hive of scum and villainy, a light shines through so strongly it can help restore your optimism about people.” These are words that Plait used at the start of his article, ironically. I would like to end my article by paraphrasing what he expressed…Internet commentary is nothing more than a wretched hive of scum and villainy.
Please stop the hatred.