Sunday, November 1, 2009

Brooksie Way, Anti-vax and the Lizard Conspiracy

This is something that happened 4 weeks ago at the very first half Marathon I ran. I'm a runner, I enjoy it, and I have just taken up this whole racing thing as a result, I plan on running a full marathon in the fall of next year. I ran a half marathon in Rochester Hills, MI called the Brooksie Way. Everything seemed fine initially when I signed up, but when I arrived at the start of the race and went to get my packet (tags, bib, running shirt), I noticed something on the back wall of the registration tent. In spraypainted, pink lettering was the following phrase: "Vaccination=Genocide." This was followed by a reference to the website

Let me discuss for those of you who have never heard of this site, what is. It is the site of one David Icke, who believes that the world is being taken over by Lizard People. That's right, Lizard People. He even believes that several U.S. Presidents were in fact Lizard People. The site is a long incoherent rambling rant, peppered with Youtube videos used as evidence for this supposed conspiracy. Or at least it was until fairly recently. It seems Mr. Icke has decided to jump on the anti-vaccination band wagon and has pushed is equally crazy Lizard People conspiracy down the page a fair bit, to make room for the anti-vaccination claims. It now contains a long rambling rant that the whole swine flu vaccine is part of an attempt by the government to control the people, that the flu virus itself was created by the CIA, and that the vaccine is more dangerous than the virus. There are some fantastic break downs of how vaccines work and why the statement in and of itself is completely bunk at and a breakdown of some of David Icke's recent lunacy at World of Weird Things, so I won't go into greater detail. The fact remains that the evidence conclusively shows that not only is the virus dangerous, but the vaccines are not.

So now comes the question, knowing what I know about vaccines and vaccination, should I have been more indignant toward the race organizers for promulgating that load of garbage on the runners and spectators? Probably. I probably also shouldn't have even run the race, or at least found some way of showing that I disagree with that position. Or maybe not. I ultimately self justified that if I hadn't been running late, I would have said something, that if I hadn't paid so much money to enter into the race (it cost, if I recall correctly, US$80 to enter), I would have walked off and not run the race, or if this wasn't my first half marathon, that I would have done so without any issue. Also, to be fair, the race was not sponsored by the anti-vaxxers, in fact it had no less than 6 separate health organizations (Health Plus, Beaumont Hospital, POH Regional, POH's parent company McLaren Health Care, HAP (I know, it's an insurance company, but it isn't promoting anti-vax rhetoric either), and Henry Ford Health Systems). Sure these are nothing more than excuses, sure the anti-vax statements probably came from misinformed, intentionally or otherwise, college students who were volunteering at the event (Oakland University also sponsored the event, though I doubt the university makes any claims to being anti-vax in any way), I simply decided to run the race anyway, sans any reaction except maybe a comment to my parents when they were driving me from the finish line to my vehicle about the anti-vax statement spray-painted on the port-o-johns. I, in essence, feel dirty.