To Curb Anti-Vaxx Propaganda Should We Give Up Free Speech Entirely?

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It’s entirely true that there are people out there who insist that vaccines are terribly dangerous and no one should have them. Or at least not my children. They’re wrong, to an extent. Vaccines are dangerous and that’s why we’ve got vaccine compensation schemes. Vaccines will indeed kill some who have them and damage more. The point being that non-vaccination will kill and damage many more.

It’s all about relative risk that is.

OK, but now we’ve those insisting that anti-vaxxers should be denied the liberty to propagate their misunderstandings. The point of free speech being that we all get to say stupid things. Which should win?

Anti-vaxx propaganda is flooding the internet. Will tech companies act?
As vaccine advocates we can change our tone but companies such as Amazon, YouTube and Facebook must stop profiting off human vulnerability

We might even think that’s a reasonable insistence. Who would put free speech up against the terrors of a polio outbreak for example? And yet that’s not actually what is being argued for. What is is that we should give up that free speech nonsense altogether:

This means that to create lasting change, our work as advocates is twofold: to be more present and compassionate in our communities, and to hold technology companies accountable. We need to push for a radical shift in the business practices of tech companies, away from ads and back towards people. Offering minor fixes after harm has already been done is not enough. It is not OK to sit there and profit while society pays the catastrophic cost of unfettered hate speech, erosion of democracy, and public health crises. A better social media industry is possible and essential; one that serves human values, rather than exploit human vulnerabilities.

Unfettered hate speech means whatever right on campaigners say it is. Erosion of democracy means the wrong people winning. That’s the power that’s being demanded, that the tech companies -and through them our own ability to say what we damn well like – is to be curbed, eradicated even. Vaccines are only the Trojan Horse, the aim is to stop us expressing BadThink.

At which point they can go pedicare* themselves, can’t they?

*Gibbon.

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Dodgy GeezerLeo SavanttQuentin VoleJonathan HarstonRhoda Klapp Recent comment authors
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Rhoda Klapp
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Rhoda Klapp

Free speech is what pisses people off. Otherwise the freedom to say it is valueless.

Leo Savantt
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Leo Savantt

One of the ways to minimise the potential risks of vaccination is to spread their application rather than use the three in one approach of MMR. Of course the state and healthcare professionals prefer to deliver all three in one go for the convenience and reduced costs, however one might legitimately campaign to end MMR and advocate spreading the Ms and R over a three month period. Would tech companies fall prey to lobbying and silence those advocating such a change? Very likely they might. Curbing free speech runs the risk of curbing the good as well as the bad… Read more »

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

Three separate injections means that a greater proportion will fail to compete their course of vaccinations, and we’re back to insufficient herd immunity.

Leo Savantt
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Leo Savantt

Indeed, but the risk, which does negatively impact on a very small number, would be reduced. It’s a trade off, presently the policy is the MMR. That’s probably for the best, I was arguing for free debate, not that MMR is not a wise choice.

Jonathan Harston
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Jonathan Harston

And Banda and Xerox must clamp down on duplicator sales to people with badthink views. I’m sure the ghost of Psurtsev can give some advice.

Dodgy Geezer
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Dodgy Geezer

The way to address anti-vaccination propaganda is to do good science and publish the results. In particular, that means listening to the people who complain, developing studies and experiments to test their proposed hypotheses, and trying to prove them to be correct. If you cannot prove them no matter how hard you try, this is a powerful argument that they are wrong. The way to encourage anti-vaccination propaganda is to insist that the science is settled, and to suppress anyone who disagrees. If you carefully avoid testing their hypotheses, or smear them and refuse to listen to them, this is… Read more »