Too Darn Hot

This cold, rainy summer has gone supernova on us. It’s too darn hot. It’s so hot that people have lost their minds. I went out to do some yard work this evening and after about an hour I couldn’t even lift my arms. That was dumb. It wasn’t as dumb as hiring disease-promoter Jenny McCarthy to be a new host at The View. Jenny has promoted herself as a much better scientist than, well, everyone who is actually a scientist. Jenny is raising a child who, she believes, she has “cured” of autism through questionable diets, supplements, and lots of public foolishness.

The many problems with Jenny are just too much to go into in great detail but let me remind you of a little bit.

  1. She wants to “cure” her son of autism. As a parent, I understand wanting to have a child who is more like her peers, more typical. But there are a lot of autistic people who don’t feel they have anything to be “cured” of. Certainly some people on the spectrum are functioning so poorly that we should wish them “recovery”, but autism likely represents a huge number of neurologic conditions that superficially resemble each other. It is unlikely that there will ever be one cure for autism any more than there will be one cure for cancer. And some autistic folks are damned fine the way they are.
  2. It’s very possible her son was never autistic in the first place. She felt that immediately following some vaccinations, her son began to show neurologic abnormalities, but it’s never been clear that these represent anything on the autism spectrum. Also, if, as she and others have stated, that “it’s the toxins” in the vaccines such as mercury (sic), there is no biological way this could cause the neurologic signs typical of autism spectrum disorders.
  3. Her insane fantasy world based on her google-fu has helped promote a culture of vaccine phobia, allowing preventable diseases to sneak back in the crack she’s make in door.
  4. She makes my job harder.

And then there’s Trayvon Martin. The President spoke movingly yesterday, something I think he was required to do, and he did it well. The pundits are calmly reminding us that the justice system worked, that the State failed to prove Zimmerman’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. After all, we are a nation of laws, not men, and the laws worked, due process worked. Protecting people from the State requires we tolerate outcomes we may not agree with.

A few years ago I went to a talk by Jeffrey Toobin. After the talk he entertained questions and I asked about Bush v. Gore. Some have argued, I said, that the peaceful transition of power showed how well our system works, that despite the complexity and unfairness of the election’s outcome, there were no tanks in the street.

He replied that if we set our bar for a successful democracy at avoiding tanks rolling down the streets, we’ve set our expectations too low. The same is true for the Travon Martin case. Yes, the justice system worked on the micro level; a man was accused of a serious crime and the State failed to prove their case before a jury of his peers. Due process worked.

But that’s not the point. The “macro” problem is glaring; a man was able to pursue an unarmed black teenager and shoot him to death without legal consequence. Yes, Zimmerman got proper due process, but this due process was predicated on a system designed to allow for the murder and incarceration of thousands of black men and to protect those that harm them based on racist assumptions. Due process worked, and that is exactly the problem: the system within which we allow due process is fatally biased.

We need to raise our expectations. Allow scientists to set health policy, not actors. When actors are given a platform to betray public health, people, especially children, die.

When we have a system that allows—no, encourages—the murder of young, unarmed men of a certain hue, we need to do more than say, “well, at least we protected a defendant properly.” A safe justice system does require that some who are guilty go free, but when it is done systematically at the expense of a certain group, we’re doing democracy wrong.

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3 Comments

  1. ZeldaX

     /  July 20, 2013

    I can’t stop the terrible injustice of Trayvon Martin from my mind. When I think of how boistrous and noisy and full of energy my son was at 17, I am so saddened to think of a boy being killed for just wandering around at night. If our country was not so riddled with gun-carrying and paranoid people, it should frighten all of us. My heart is full of grief for Trayvon’s parents.

  2. “before a jury of his peers” I’m not sure yet what, but it seems telling to me that a 6 all woman jury are not really George Zimmerman’s peers, and that must be telling us something. His mother’s perhaps, but hardly his. Whether the outcome would have been different the jury was males his own age, probably not, but…..

    Thank you for your post, you are on the mark about the actors setting health care policies, politicians could be included in that also. Although educational levels are not equal through out the health care system, the standards should include input from ALL categories of workers. Bless them, but MD’s and educators and administrative nurses with PhD’s don’t always know what the best routes are or the best practices are at the bedside or in the clinic exam room. It takes front line people’s contributions also.

    It appears that in our current political system, at least the GOP/Tea Party/Conservative part that pushing expectations lower is part of their platforms. No food for the hungry, no health care for the sick, no education within reach, wages that require government assistance, how can people reach for higher standards when those with the responsibility for our government peddle lower standards for lower expectations. The expectation that should be highest in our culture right now is to get people registered to vote and get them to the polls.

  3. I was talking to my own psychiatrist (who I see for adult ADHD) and mentioned my daughter’s changes between 2 and 3. My daughter was the happiest and easiest baby anyone could ask for and at 2 was so laid back that we could take her to the nicest restaurants knowing she would sit queitly drawing or coloring while waiting for food. Between 2 and 3 things changed abruptly. She went from content, calm, and sweet to a child who was loud, could not stay still and needed constant stimulation. My shrink said that the abrupt changes were because her ADHD didn’t present until she reached a certain level of development. Many parents would attribute such a change on a change of diet, vaccination, or whatever when in fact it would have happened regardless. Post hoc ergo propter hoc is the fallacy. Ms. McCarthy’s son may have started presenting symptoms of autsim after vaccinations but that does not mean the vaccinations caused it.
    As far as the Zimmerman Martin thing goes; the real problem is our gun laws. Consider that Zimmerman carried a gun because the law said he could. He probably approached Travan emboldened by the fact he was armed knowing that if things got of hand he could brandish his weapon. When the scuffle happened he probably knew that if he used his gun the Stand Your Ground law would sheild him from prosecution. When we let NRA and gun and ammo industry write the law we get things like “Stand Your Ground” laws and tragieties like the Travan Martin shooting.
    Getting back to the various “disorders.” I’m beginning to see ADHD, Aspergers, etc. as more of a personality type than a disorder. Having a parent who is an engineer is one of the best predictors of having an autism spectrum diagnosis and having two engineer parents increases it more. It’s been estimated that 85% of computer professionals have ADHD and my own experience makes me estimate it closer to 100%. Almost every artist I met has struggled with dyslexia, dysgraphic, and or discalculia. I think in the past we didn’t have as much Asperger’s, ADHD, and dyslexia; we had people who were good at enginnering, good at problem solving, and artists. Now that we live in the time if standardized tests and “no child left behind” we expect every child to learn the same way. I the past teachers tried to help each child learn the way that worked for the child. Now we throw our hands up and send the child to a specialist.

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