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The Vaccine Debate

This article, entitled The vaccine debate: Are you a passionate advocate or an unintentional jerk? comes from Nicole Knepper, writer of Moms Who Drink and Swear on

I’d like to wax philosophical about why people do and say things that, despite their best intentions, unintentionally result in making them sound more like passionate jerks instead of passionate advocates. Am I describing you? I AM describing myself.

Let’s explore this very important subject, this unintentional passionate jerkiness, because I think we’ve all done and said some unintentionally jerky things about things we are passionate about, and if you are like me, it upsets you when you upset others.

Anyway…yesterday, I was driving into the city, listening to Roe Conn passionately advocate for childhood vaccinations.

No, this is not a blog about my passionate pro-vaccine stance and my struggle not to be a jerk about this particular passion, but maybe someday, when I can do it without being unintentionally jerky, I will write a blog about that. I bring up Roe’s show because it’s a good example of how easy it is to go from passionate advocate to unintentional jerk.

Roe Conn is my preferred brand of neurotic talk radio host, passionate advocate and occasional unintentional jerk. I’d give anything to be his therapist. But I digress. Roe often has experts as guests on his show to talk about newsworthy subjects. I dig this, because when an intelligent, well-spoken, respected source talks about things, it’s so much more enjoyable than listening to an ignorant dunderhead talk about stuff based on personal experience, hearsay, junk science and anecdotal “evidence.”

You know, like the jerks that continue to spew junk science about vaccines causing autism.


See? Unintentional jerk! It happened in the click of a few letters on the keyboard despite my best intentions!

But in my defense, the vaccine-autism link LIE brings out the passionate advocate in me, and this advocate morphs quickly into an unintentional jerk. Whether you choose to vaccinate or not, I’d really like it if your passionate advocacy didn’t include the unintentional jerky behavior of continuing to perpetuate this untruth with your words and actions.

We are more alike than we are different, even if we make different choices. I realize that there is much more to this debate than the false correlation between vaccines and autism, but I'm ONLY talking about that particular piece of it right now.

So often, our passion and overwhelming need to care for the people we love clouds our judgment and turns us into jerks. Sometimes it’s intentional, our anger becomes impossible to contain and we rage! It’s terrible, really. Shameful. We want to raise smart, healthy, compassionate kids who are kind to others and open to learning, yet we talk and act like jerks when confronted with another parent’s choices don’t jibe with out own.

Intolerance and jerkiness – quite possibly THE biggest example of the bad attitude and behavior we parents unintentionally role model to the people we are trying to mold into human beings that are just the opposite of intolerant and jerky!

With great passion comes great responsibility! We all need to try harder!

If there’s one thing I’m passionate about, it’s passionately supporting and encouraging other parents. Before I had kids, I had all sorts of ideas about how I was going to do things, and it makes me sick when I think about the intolerant and judgmental words and behaviors I used. I’ve gotten better since I became a parent, but I have a long way to go.

I don’t feel guilty when I get lathered up over things that are truly harmful to children such as physical, sexual, emotional and spiritual abuse, because harming children is wrong. That is not a matter of opinion and I won’t exchange in a debate with jerks that disagree with me on this, because some things are just NOT up for debate.

Intentionally hurt a kid and you are a jerk. Period.

I do feel jerky when I think and act jerky about things that are none of my business, so I try not to. I do not always succeed. As long as you are passionately advocating for YOUR kid in a way that demonstrates your single-minded devotion to raising them to be passionate advocates for themselves and others, I’d really like to know what you are thinking.

Why do you make the choices you make? What can I learn from you?

I want to learn. Teach me. I care.

What are you doing that works for you, and can this work for me? What do we have in common? I’d like to focus on that as much as possible, but I’m interested in what we don’t have in common, because some things affect the health and safety of my family. It’s unfortunate that vaccinations are one of those things.

But the jerk of the thing is, this isn’t black or white, so I have no right to be a jerk to you in person, behind your back or worst of all, anonymously in the Internet, and neither do you. Well, I guess you do have the right. Free speech is the American way, YO! But just because we have the right to be jerks, that doesn’t mean we have to exercise it that right, does it?

No we do NOT!

At the end of the day, we all have a wide range of freedom with regard to the choices we make for our kids, and so many of these choices we make do affect each other! Although it’s unintentional, what might sound like jerky behavior on both our parts is more often than not, passionate advocacy for our children and families!

Well, I’d like to think it is. I’m intentionally trying to see it this way and encourage you to do the same. I just want us all to think about this and use our passion to approach each other in an intentionally un-jerky way with regard to the very important topic – the safety of childhood vaccinations and the health and well being of our children.

Buy my enlightening and hilarious book HERE.

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