In the process of Kentucky's Republican senators causing arguably the most damage to the country from any single state between Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, let's not forget that Rand Paul is an anti-vaxxer dimwit on top of everything else.
During a Senate Health Committee hearing on Tuesday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) criticized the idea that parents should be required to vaccinate their children and perpetuated the notion that vaccines themselves could cause harm.
The speech, which came during the opening moments of the hearing, was framed as an argument in favor of personal liberty, a posture that Paul routinely adopts. But in offering his thoughts, the Kentucky Republican furthered the argument that it is socially reasonable not to vaccinate your kids—a mindset that the scientific community says is already worsening communal health crises.
“As we contemplate forcing parents to choose this or that vaccine, I think it’s important to remember that force is not consistent with the American story, nor is force consistent with the liberty our forefathers sought when they came to America,” said Paul, reading off a paper. “I don't think you have to have one or the other, though. I'm not here to say don’t vaccinate your kids. If this hearing is for persuasion I’m all for the persuasion. I’ve vaccinated myself and I’ve vaccinated my kids. For myself and my children I believe that the benefits of vaccines greatly outweighing the risks, but I still don’t favor giving up on liberty for a false sense of security.”
Paul didn’t just make the case that vaccines should be voluntary, however. He used his platform at the hearing to affirmatively push the perception that they are potentially problematic.
“It is wrong to say that there are no risks to vaccines,” said Paul. “Even the government admits that children are sometimes injured by vaccines.”
To recap, Paul thinks the government compelling people to vaccinate children (something he himself has done for his own children because he understands the benefits to it both personally and for society as a whole) is worse than not vaccinating your kids. He believes it is akin to martial law.
Paul told Alex Jones’s InfoWars that vaccines for illnesses such as swine flu have long histories of perilous side effects. “The first sort of thing you see with martial law is mandates, and they’re talking about making it mandatory,” Paul said. “I worry because the first flu vaccine we had in the 1970s, more people died from the vaccine than died from the swine flu.” (Paul is wrong: 450 people out of 45 million developed paralyzing Guillain-Barré syndrome.) “The whole problem is not necessarily good versus bad on vaccines; it’s whether it should be mandatory or the individual makes the decision. And sometimes you want to not be the first one to get a new procedure; you want to see if it works well before you choose.”
As I keep telling people, growing up I had to apologize to people for my senator at the time, NC's Jesse Helms. Now I have to do it again for Rand and Mitch.
I'm tired of it.