In case anyone needs some supplementary proof in order to admit the axiom that everyone is delusional, let us go over the news of the measles epidemic that has broken out in Brooklyn, the disease previously having disappeared from the United States. The authorities have discovered that the focus of the outbreak originated in a sector of the orthodox Jewish community, where there exist a lot of parents opposed to the vaccination of their children. The mayor of New York prepares a decree of compulsory vaccination, the prohibition of non-vaccinated children attending school or entering shopping malls (the news doesn’t explain how this last thing will be avoided), and fines of up to 1000 dollars for those parents who refuse to vaccinate their children. The polemic spreads like wildfire and very quickly the fantasy of anti-Semitism arises amongst the New York Jews, stoked by some real threats. When the Rabbis are consulted, they explain that no religious foundation exists that might justify some parents refusing to vaccinate their children.
There is another reason: the conviction that the vaccine is the cause of autism. In 1995, Mrs Rosemary Kessick was a financial consultant living in London who had been forced to give up her work due to a family tragedy: her second son, who according to her own story had been born healthy and developed happily according to the exemplary outlines of the most up-to-date manuals of upbringing, began to suffer severe intestinal symptoms followed by a regressive disorder that culminated in a serious autism, with loss of language and social contact. For Mrs Kessick, the cause of what had happened was unequivocal: her little William had begun to suffer the intestinal complaint a few days after being vaccinated with MMR, a vaccine that immunises against mumps, measles and rubella. The doctors were not prepared to support her theory, and in her desperation she went to the Royal Free Hospital in London to talk to Dr. Andrew Wakefield, then a renowned specialist in intestinal illnesses. Dr. Wakefield had never seen a case of autism, but confronted by the anxious and obstinate pressure of Mrs Kessick he accepted to carry out on the child a colonoscopy. To his surprise, William’s intestinal tract presented a kind of inflammation and injury never observed before. The following year, Andrew Wakefield published an article in the prestigious journal The Lancet in which he affirmed that he had discovered a connection between the measles virus inoculated by the vaccine and autism.
Rosemary Kessick, who had created an association called “Allergy Induced Autism”, became an active militant, disseminating Dr. Wakefield’s discovery in a whole host of forums and interviews. Mrs Kessick converted her personal drama into a crusade against vaccination. When the fabulous fraud orchestrated by Dr. Wakefield is discovered, he flees to the United States, having been forced to resign from the British institutions in which he worked. It doesn’t take him long to find followers there, some of them being very important in the media. Jenny McCarthy, for instance, a former Playboy model who is now a journalist, and the mother of an autistic child. Jenny, fronting a television programme with an enormous audience, adopts a passionate defence of Dr. Wakefield’s anti-vaccine theories, even after being awarded the Pegasus Award, a satirical prize bestowed by the James Randi Educational Foundation to those people who contribute to the diffusion of pseudoscience.
Finally, Dr. Wakefield is deprived of his medical degree and judicially removed from professional practice. Rosemary Kessick continues her anti-vaccination campaign and is the author of two books: Autism and Diet and Autism and Gastrointestinal Complaints, in which she persists in supporting the correlation between autism and gastrointestinal illnesses. A presumably psychotic mother, a con man doctor and the turbines of the media networks did their work, making an impression on some crazy parents who in spite of everything continue to believe that vaccines are the work of evil. Now it is not clear if vaccines are an anti-Semitic invention, if the Jews are organising a secret campaign in order to spread measles throughout the world, if the cause of autism is kosher food, or if Playboy magazine is contagious. The Rabbis try to inoculate a bit of common sense, the New York authorities don’t know how to contain the epidemic, and the anti-Semites take advantage in order to shake this cocktail and paint swastikas on Williamsburg trees. Everyone is delusional, many have measles spots, and meanwhile the real roars with laughter…
The moral of the story: neither the measles, nor the anti-vaccine mad, nor the unscrupulous doctors are what is most serious. What is horrifying is that the inconsistency of truth gives wing to lies and renders them invulnerable. The clarifications, explanations, denials and news campaigns all serve for nothing. When the lying arrow gets stuck in the bull’s eye of each subject’s jouissance, nobody can anymore pull it out.
Translated by Howard Rouse