Re-posted from July 2014
Two weeks to go before the publication of Robert F Kennedy jr’s book about vaccine mercury and we all know where we are headed: the same place as last year when Jenny McCarthy was given a job on ‘The View’ and Katie Couric scheduled a program in which the safety of HPV vaccines were questioned: the unspontaneous howls of pain are starting. It does not matter that the book is apparently couched in the most diplomatic language or that its claims have been diluted, it will be too much for the sensibilities of the vaccine lobby. I am sure we have often referred on these pages to Hans Christian Andersen’s tale ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ but this time I have been thinking of an even more succinct and ironic tale ‘The Princess and the Pea’. A prince wants to marry a princess but the only way it can be confirmed that she is a real princess is because the candidate is so sensitive that a pea hidden under a pile of mattresses causes her to lose a night’s sleep. I think we can be sure that the vaccine lobby is according to this definition “a real princess”, and that there is no criticism so slight that we will not be told about the terrible pain it has caused.
There is no doubt either that the voice of the princess is about to be heard in the land. There is no criticism so gentle or diplomatically couched that the princess can withstand the pain: the outraged opinion pieces will appear in every newspaper, the sage doctors will emerge from every corner on the TV saying “Get the damn vaccines”, we will have wall to wall Dorit Reiss: the princess will tell us how painful it all is. Of course the moral of Anderson’s story is that it is not princesses who have to endure a lot, it is ordinary people: the princess is a great deal more trouble than she is worth. She has also arranged that ordinary people cannot be heard, or they are brusquely pushed to the side. Only the princess’s pain really matters in the great scheme.