On the ninth of this month Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown during a traffic stop. The subsequent days have seen massive protests in both the city and across the nation, matched only in their intensity by the crackdown of the local police.
Now while the police have just now cited that the deceased Michael Brown was the suspect in a local convenience store robbery (nothing has yet been proven), the cops have nevertheless come under widespread criticism. By all accounts, 18-year-old Michael Brown, who has no record of bad behavior- criminal or otherwise, surrendered to Wilson after a brief struggle. Despite his raised hands and his shouts that he was unarmed, Wilson opened fire anyway, shooting the teenager no less than six times.
We could talk about the struggle that allegedly occurred, the protocol in place for such events, and a host of other factors, but ultimately the fact that Wilson shot and killed an unarmed teen remains undisputed.
But we’re not here to talk about that.
We’re here to talk about the days that have since passed.
This is the final panel of one of my favorite Calvin & Hobbes strips, though as you can see it works just fine on its own as well. Ignorance is an issue. It always has been, and it probably always will be. The issue is that today it seems that misunderstandings about the nature of tolerance and free speech, as well as the prevalence of Postmodernism, have really given it a haven the likes of which hasn’t existed before. But we’re not here to dissect just where ignorance is coming from in modern culture, we’re here to talk about some of the absolutely dangerous myths that it’s producing and why they are just plan wrong.
I. “Vaccines Cause Autism”
Chances are pretty high that you’re already familiar with this one, and while most folks are fully aware of just how untrue this myth is, it remains nevertheless one of the most dangerous ones out there today. I’m not just talking about the preventable deaths of thousands of people (which is justification, of course, in and of itself) but about the potential damage it can cause. You’re not just exposing yourself to infection, you’re allowing yourself to serve as a potential carrier to infect others.
And of course, this is exactly what’s happening now.
Look, I could spend all day rehashing article after article after scientific study demonstrating that no, vaccines do not cause autism, and no, the substances which make up most vaccines are more prevalent in plenty of other substances- but let us, just for a moment, entertain this superstition as being real.
I was born in the US, but the vast majority of my life was spent in the Middle East. In spite of the civil war that’s been raging in my adopted homeland for the past couple of years, I’ve remained largely silent on the issue here on the blog. More than anything else, I’ve done so because I know that there’s really no happy ending to anything I can say. For all my raging and foaming at the mouth, I really and truly don’t enjoy having to lambaste things- more than anytime else when there’s really and truly no light I can see at the end of the tunnel. Nevertheless, with American warships closing in on the Syrian coast and a mountain of evidence growing for the regime having unleashed a chemical attack on its own people, there’s really no keeping quiet at this point.
So here it goes.
I. There Is No Free Syrian Army
If you’ve been watching the situation or if you listen to the news, you may hear the term “Free Syrian Army” or “FSA” thrown around. While initially formed out of deserting Syrian soldiers and officers in the early stages of the conflict, there never really was- and still isn’t- any kind of centralized command. There’s a myriad of different militias and cells in Syria all operating under the banner of the FSA, but there’s really no connection between any of them, militarily, ideologically, or demographically. There’s also no connection, as is otherwise sometimes portrayed, between the self-declared opposition government operating out of Turkey and the FSA- they’re two completely different groups. It’s important to understand this to keep from being led into the false assumption that there’s only two sides to the conflict- the dictatorial regime and the pro-democracy rebels. There’s going to be a temptation to grossly oversimplify the situation- don’t let it happen more than it already has.
EVAN: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to the first installment of E> where Gordon and I try to uncover the magic that was lost. The last post we did fell a little flat, so we’re here to casually discuss a subject we both know is awesome: DEADLIEST WARRIOR.
GORDON: That’s right- Deadliest Warrior, a show 90% about mutilating ballistic gel dummies, and it was STILL too intellectual for Spike. At least, that’s my version of why they cancelled it. You can probably tell we’re a little bit bitter about the whole thing.
EVAN: Ugh, Spike. Have you seen the little bits of footage they slot in between shows to fill up the space?
GORDON: I have not.
EVAN: It’s like . . . Here, let me find one.
Readers, the following is kinda PG-13. I kind of apologize for embedding this, but it’s just too ridiculous not to: