I get really upset when people don’t vaccinate their children. I get upset because there are people who can’t get vaccinated, and they are at a higher risk for horrible diseases because people make choices based on rumors and fearmongering. I get upset because my own child is at a higher risk of getting these diseases, even though she is fully vaccinated, because there are more viruses running through society. I get upset because it wasn’t terribly long ago that people were dying of polio and smallpox, and I’m afraid that our control over these things is tenuous.
But I think what really gets under my skin is that those who choose not to vaccinate are so sure of their decisions, so sure that they know more about biology and immunology and epidemiology than their own doctors, and yet – when it comes time to set a bone or get antibiotics for strep throat, of course you go to the doctor. The medical establishment, which is apparently so tied up with the pharmaceutical industry that they will do anything to make a buck, is great for knee surgery. The doctors who are apparently either stupid, brainwashed, or greedy, who have spent years and years and years learning their trade but aren’t to be trusted more than badly spelled Internet posts and conspiracy theories, are not too stupid, brainwashed, or greedy to do appendectomies or stitch up head wounds.
Which brings me to this week’s crapdate.
RICO stands for “Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations.” Which is to say that your doctor is corrupt, your doctor is doling out vaccines because they want to get more money, and they are therefore to be judged under this act as a racketeer. A racketeer. Your doctor. And because that racketeer is “threatening” you by refusing to give you services because you won’t vaccinate your child, they are therefore discriminating against you and should go to jail.
The crapdate is saying that your doctor is analogous to a mob boss, and the entire health care industry is organized crime.
One of the weird things about getting older is that people I used to go to parties with are now doctors (oh wait! I’m a doctor, too! Just not that kind of doctor). This might be sample bias, and maybe can be explained away by the fact that everybody I used to go to parties with is awesome, but the doctors that I know are – to a one – kind, smart, and earnest about being a force for good. I’m sure there are corrupt doctors out there, but what this crapdate is saying is that the entire health care industry is organized crime. Any doctor that thinks that vaccines are a good idea may as well be Al Capone.
This makes me angry because it is so dismissive of a group of people that is, by definition, one of the smartest, most ethical and hardest working sectors of our society. It makes me angry because it is so ludicrous. But mostly, it makes me angry because it is so, so hypocritical.
If a mafia boss shows up at my house and says, “Buy my moonshine or else I will stop letting you come to my moonshine store,” you say, “Thank you very much, I don’t want it, and I appreciate that I don’t have to be around you anymore.” For a racketeer to “threaten” you with not allowing you to be racketeered anymore – that’s not a threat. That’s not discrimination. That’s relief.
Because you don’t get to have it both ways. Yes, you can be critical of your doctor’s advice, and of course you have the right to inform yourself and make whatever choices you want to make. But at the moment when you say “my doctor will do anything for a buck” is the moment you stop going to the doctor. For anything. If the entire industry is organized crime, what makes it good enough for any other treatments? Why would you go to the doctor when you have a lump in your breast, or you cut your finger off while you were making a salad, or you’ve been having dizzy spells? When your life is in danger, you don’t go, on purpose, to a racketeer. If your doctor pushes vaccines on you because it will make them rich, they will also misdiagnose anything and everything so that you will be forced to keep coming back, they will give you a heart transplant when all you need is a few stitches, they will prescribe you medicine that makes you sicker so as to ensure your repeat business.
I’m not saying that anybody who doesn’t vaccinate their children should then be forced to stay away from all doctors forever (I’d appreciate it if their kids stayed away from mine, though, and really, I hope their kids stay away from any social interaction anywhere). I also, much as I hate to admit it, don’t think it’s right for doctors to “fire” their patients that don’t vaccinate (I really hate to admit it. I wish I thought it were right. I don’t, though. People are allowed to choose their own treatment plans, and that shouldn’t mean that they shouldn’t be allowed access to medicine). I do, however, think that there is a huge difference between saying, “I am making a different decision based on what I believe” and “all doctors are corrupt.”
My doctor told me to start introducing solid foods to Sofia at 4 months, and I told her I’d rather wait until 6 months. I knew what her recommendation would be, and I was confident in my choice. It would be wrong for the practice to ban me from the premises until I followed their advice. It would be worse, though, for me to say that my doctor was brainwashed, stupid, corrupt, greedy, or selfish because we didn’t see eye to eye. If I were to say that, the doctor doesn’t need to ban me from the premises, because if I really thought that, there’s no way I’d trust that same person to make any decisions regarding my health. Either the doctor is a rackateer and the “threat” of being banned is no threat at all, or the doctor is somebody knowledgeable and ethical with whom you disagree.
So go ahead. Report your doctor as a racketeer. I’m sure the FTC would love to hear all about it. While you’re on the phone with them, though, think about what it means to be ethical, and what it says about you that you will trust your doctor when it is convenient for you, but not when it is useful for your politics. Even Al Capone had a better moral code than that.