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Celebrity Activism: Accountability for Damages?

I have grown tired of celebrities weighing in on politics and how we should live our lives – but the real question should be: should they be held accountable in the media when they encourage others to engage in risky practices that affect the public’s health?

Whether it is anorexic actresses touting the benefits of cleanses which can dehydrate your body and  alter your electrolyte balances, those who suggest mega-doses of vitamins and other natural substances to cure or ameliorate the symptoms of diseases or simply that whack-job who claims that vaccines and other medicines do more harm than good – there should be some form of media accountability.

A case study …

With the recent revelations that the doctor who allegedly linked autism to vaccinations did so on the basis of corrupt and flawed science. Science involving a relatively few test subjects (12) whose medical records may have been altered to fit the doctor’s speculative hypothesis. And if that weren’t bad enough, there is the suggestion of collusion with trial lawyers who were salivating over a big pay-day using class action lawsuits to attack vaccine makers.

As reported by the prestigious Wall Street Journal …

“The British Medical Journal this week published an article and editorial explaining that the 1998 study that provoked the vaccine scare was an ‘elaborate fraud.’ That study, published in the (once) respected journal ‘The Lancet,’ was by British doctor Andrew Wakefield and other researchers, who claimed that the widely used measles, mumps and rubella vaccine was linked to autism. Around the same time, U.S. parents and opportunistic lawyers latched on to a related theory that vaccination shots containing a mercury compound called thimerosal caused autism.” <Source: Wall Street Journal>

Note: According to published reports, Dr. Wakefield lost his right to practice medicine in the United Kingdom. <Source>

Of course, the findings of Dr. Wakefield and others were widely trumpeted by Jennie McCarthy, her then-boyfriend Jim Carrey and others on many high-profile programs such as Oprah, Larry King, The View and other shows. All of which appeared to serve as impetus to parents to avoid vaccinating their children – leading to a rise of communicable diseases within a number of school populations.

Perhaps McCarthy held these beliefs honestly as a reason for her child’s problems. Others, who are certainly more cynical, noted that this d-list actress now had a high-profile cause which could result in wide media exposure.

In fact, you may wish to look at the Generation Rescue website which features Jenny McCarthy …

Explaining in a quote that Jenny McCarthy …

"The onetime Playboy model, former MTV comedy star, and face of autism is dead serious about empowering parents to take charge of their kids' health...For all her on-camera bombast and her outspoken crusade to link autism and vaccinations, the actress, author, and mother (of son Evan, 7, who was diagnosed with autism at 2 1/2) is entirely reasonable in person -- not to mention wildly articulate -- no matter which side of the vaccination debate you're on..."

The answer of a  disrobed charlatan: the suggestion of  a conspiracy …

Of course, when challenged by medical professionals and reporters, many of the Doctor’s supporters – and the doctor himself – suggest that there may be darker forces that do not want to see vaccine research performed or who are intentionally suppressing the truth in the name of profits and protecting against lawsuits.

A no win situation as people will believe on an emotional level what they refuse to acknowledge on an intellectual level … ascribing the difference to conspiracies and “secret” research findings.

Of course, many of these people are absolute nutters and they fail to realize several very important facts: one, people in medical research are competing to produce results which will earn them fame, fortune and recognition among their peers; two, with any number of independent researchers, keeping a secret a secret is almost impossible; and three, those who have developed cures certainly would use their findings for their own benefit and the benefit of their own families if such cures existed. 

Bottom line …

This quotation from Edward R. Murrow has never been truer …

Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn't mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar.

Edward R. Murrow -- US broadcast journalist & newscaster (1908 - 1965)

Whether it is Sean Penn or Danny Glover touting the thuggish Communist genius of Hugo Chavez or Fidel Castro; Tom Cruise railing against the use of psychiatrists and psychotropic drugs or a Jenny McCarthy suggesting that your child might be harmed by vaccines, the discriminating public should remember that these people are entertainers: valuable for their ability to act convincingly and mouth words with feigned sincerity. Often putting forth ideas developed by their gurus or others who may have little or real knowledge of the real world or medicine in particular.

Trust your doctor. Verify what your doctor says using independent sources and if concerned, seek a second opinion. Leave medicine to the professionals and entertainment to the “don’t do as I do, do as I say” clowns who think that celebrity gives them some divine right to tell you how to live your life.

-- steve

Reference Links …

Anderson Cooper 360°: CNN Official Interview: Autism-vaccine study author, Andrew Wakefield

Anderson Cooper | Autism Doctor | Exclusive | Mediaite

The Jenny McCarthyism of Vaccines | Mediaite

“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

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