People I’ve never met before often tell me I am a hero. It’s happened to me about thirty or forty times as I’ve done my radio tour for my new book, INOCULATED: How Science Lost its Soul in Autism. The hosts will invariably have to tell me their own stories of suspected vaccine injury, tell me that my book put the entire issue into a clear and understandable narrative, and even sometimes tell me they believe God has prepared me for this mission. It’s pretty heady stuff.
Or there are the times I go to a conference or rally, and I introduce myself, or somebody sees my name tag and there’s that momentary pause as they look into my eyes as their own go wide, as if they’re meeting somebody they never actually expected to meet in the flesh. (It’s kind of the same look I get from my six-grade students when they run into me at the grocery store or the movies. They don’t think I exist in the REAL world.) I try to be friendly and agreeable and ask them about themselves. Some want to tell me everything and others get shy, as if I am some higher being who couldn’t possibly be interested in their story.
People I’ve known all my life tell me I’m dangerous…
They let me know they are diametrically opposed to what I say about vaccines and if they had any control over public policy they would aggressively increase the vaccine schedule and compliance rates. I ask these people I have known all my life if they’ve actually read my books, or any of the books I recommend on the subject, or even taken an hour and a half out of their life and watched the documentary VAXXED: From Cover-up to Catastrophe to get a picture of what I believe is a corrupt culture at the Centers for Disease Control.
You think that people who’ve known you all your life would give you a break, maybe the benefit of the doubt, possibly read or watch a documentary before calling you Public Enemy #1. In their mind, though, they think they have given me a break. They tell me how bad they feel that I have a severely autistic daughter with a seizure disorder and they can’t imagine how difficult that would be if it was one of their children.
And even more surprising,
I often get them saying something like, “I know you are so much more well-read on this than me, but I still think you’re terribly wrong.” It’s as if having a child with autism has caused some mental break-down in me, and I occasionally start babbling about how I am really Napoleon Bonaparte or I’ve been abducted by aliens. Maybe I’m not always dangerous, I just need to be monitored so I don’t make any sudden moves or have irrational outbursts.
Because you see, I’ve never considered myself in the hero or Public Enemy #1 category. For most of my life, I’ve thought of myself to be something of a Jerry Seinfeld character, an agreeable person, more often amused by life than angered by it, and pretty much dedicated to a live and let live philosophy. I’ll point out the absurdities of life, but am I likely to take up the sword and go charging at windmills? Not really.
When I was growing up I often felt I was the quiet one in a family of fairly intense people. One time, when I must have been about sixteen, my older brother came to an epiphany about me. “You don’t get worked up like the rest of us,” he said. “I think you just sit back and watch us and we simply amuse you.” He was right on the mark.
Sometimes this detachment did not work out to my benefit. “I just don’t feel like you need me,” said one woman I desperately wanted to date. Maybe I didn’t “need” her, but wasn’t it enough that I “wanted” her? Apparently not. Well, I’ve been happily-married for twenty-three years now and that woman has been divorced twice. So much for “need” versus “want.”
And so I am left with this simple question of why those who have known me for most of my life as a laid-back, charming, and occasionally snarky fellow, aren’t a little more curious about why I have become a warrior against the harm I believe is being caused by vaccines? I really don’t have the tendencies of somebody who is simply looking for a cause to justify their existence.
Do I really have to go through who I am again?
I grew up in one of the wealthiest zip codes in the country. I’ve worked for a United States Senator as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office and at one of our great national laboratories. I was a Rhodes Scholar candidate from my college and in law school I was a writer and an editor for the law review. I’ve met a lot of rich and famous people.
After I was a lawyer for fifteen years I became a science teacher at one of the highest performing schools in the state. I write books that have between 500-700 footnotes to sources that readers can check out on their own. (Not that many of the people who’ve actually known me all my life apparently pick up any of those books and spend even a half an hour reading them! Not that there would be ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT!)
Maybe having a little bit of detachment from this world, taking a Jerry Seinfeld-like amused take on the irrationality of life on this planet, is the very thing that’s saved me.
Kent Heckenlively is the author of INOCULATED: How Science Lost its Soul in Autism, available on Amazon and at Barnes&Noble.com
(And if you DO read it, please write an Amazon review for it. The reviews really gets others to read the book as well, and then I can enjoy more hero worship from people who don’t know me. It makes up for those who’ve known me all my life who now consider me a “bad boy.”)
4 thoughts on “The Mixed-Up Mind of an Anti-Vaxxer…”
“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” Thank you for having the courage to tell the truth.
“If we could just get them to do their own research” .
I’ve been thinking alot about why people don’t care or won’t research vaccines. I believe they think this issue is not about them . People only start to care when it affects them personally. To be sucessful, we have to relate the issue of vaccine safety to their own world. Not an easy task but it must be done. People will listen only when their OWN health and safety or their OWN job is on the line.
Thank you Kent; a brilliant article, humane but on the mark. This presentation deeply moves me.