By Kim Rossi
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy
The moon walk
If you play the record backward, it says "Paul is dead."
You will die if you drink Coca Cola while eating Pop Rocks.
Step on a crack. Break your mother's back.
Mikey killed himself.
Cigarettes cause cancer.
There's a "thing" called crisis actors who are faking mass shootings.
The world is flat.
There is no climate change.
September 11 was an inside job.
Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide.
Vaccines cause autism.
Who decides what information should be called a conspiracy theory worthy of the Weekly World News versus hard hitting reporting worthy of the front page of the New York Times?
The information age has given way to the over-information age. Social media created an opportunity to influence our thinking in ways the old fashioned news, whether on television or in print, could never have imagined. The thought of waiting a week for the next issue of Time or Newsweek is quaint, as is turning on ABC, NBC, or CBS each night at 6:30pm for the evening news. But - are we being inundated by or isolated from what is really happening in our world? I feel less aware than ever. I turn on the morning cable news networks and hear nothing but arguments from Trump supporter or Trump detractors. I don't bother to listen. Cable "news" is opinion and bias and snarky judgemental politics for most of the day. Sometimes, I turn on BBC radio to get a glimpse of what's happening around the world.
When Jeffrey Epstein's death was announced, America had a unique, almost unheard of moment of unity where we all blurted out, "Suicide?????" The evidence against Epstein was piled high. His past conviction and white glove treatment generated worthy doubt. The manner of his crime and its reach into the echelons of politics and high society so abhorrent it had to be true. The suicide so convenient for those for whom the canary might have sung a loud tune. Questioning his death was a logical response. Even Howard Stern waxed apologetic for becoming a conspiracy theorist by questioning Epstein's death. I don't understand the leap to overusing the term conspiracy. Why aren't we allowed to think something we hear isn't true without being painted as kooks? Dangerous kooks even.
Unless Americans understand, and truly believe with their eyes, ears, brains and heart, that vaccines have side effects, from mild to devastating, and that the side effects occur far more often then they could ever imagine, they will consider us and paint us as conspiracy theorists, crazy people, desperately seeking to blame. We're labeled "anti-vaxxers," a disparaging term that shuts down any and all conversations with us as rational people. After all, if the injury does not exist, how can the connection to autism exist? Need an example?
The SacBee newspaper ran a story about a lawsuit by 2 California citizens against Senator Richard Pan. The lawsuit argues Pan’s Twitter account is a modern "public forum" because he is a government official. But here's the headline: "This lawmaker blocked anti-vaccine activists on Twitter. Now he’s facing a lawsuit
Can you hear the collective, "Oh those crazy people. Poor Pan." I do not know the plaintiffs. Nor do I know if they call themselves anti-vaxxers with pride. If so, that's their choice. I stand by my believe that the term, as used in the media, is a weapon that has impeded our fight to protect children.
Mia, Gianna and Bella's Mother. (If you're old enough, you'll get the joke.)
Kim Rossi is Managing Editor for Age of Autism.