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Needed: Vaccination against Bad Arguments -- Writer's Poke #335

Rick Perry has taken some heat for mandating the HPV vaccine in Texas. Why? Apparently because he had the audacity to use an Executive Order, because the Pharmaceutical Company that stood to directly benefit from the order will make a profit, and because this same Pharmaceutical Company contributed “thousands of dollars” to the governor’s campaign.

To me, critics of Perry don’t have a very strong argument. First, Executive Orders are legal and part of the governor’s power. Those who complain that the governor used his power should instead be working to amend or eliminate a governor’s ability to issue Executive Orders. Second, Texas has checks and balances like any other state. So, if the governor’s Executive Order was unconstitutional, then the issue could be settled in a court of law. Or, if the people really didn’t like the governor’s mandate, then their elected officials could certainly pass legislation to overturn it. The governor, in other words, is not a dictator, and to suggest otherwise weakens the argument against the governor’s position.

Critics also suggest that the governor is clearly in bed with Pharmaceutical Companies. This argument is rather weak, because it suggests that any person or company to contribute money to the governor should never be seen to benefit from any decision the governor makes, even if it’s the right decision for the governor to make. Journalists certainly have a duty to report potential improprieties, but they must avoid painting with a broad brush, and they must be careful to provide specific evidence that directly link the governor to corruption. As far as I can tell, critics of Perry’s HPV vaccine mandate have not been able to do either.

Finally, children are required to receive a whole host of vaccinations before they are allowed to attend school. Is this wrong? Do the companies that offer other vaccinations profit from these requirements? In other words, the HPV vaccination isn’t the first required vaccination in the history of Texas. And is it at all appropriate to insinuate a gender issues – e.g. the vaccination affects the health of girls, but the governor is male. Why does or should the governor’s gender matter? After all, he is elected by all registered voters in Texas, male and female. The people elect the governor to act on their best interests, and the governor’s duty requires him to represent the best interests even of Texas’s female population from time to time.

Do stronger arguments against mandating the HPV vaccination exist? If so, why aren't they utilized?

Should attacks on Rick Perry and other political figures by cartoonists and journalists automatically be assumed to be political motivated, or would that assumption be as faulty as cartoonists and journalists that assume Perry’s HPV vaccination decision was politically motivated?

“Vaccination is the medical sacrament corresponding to baptism. Whether it is or is not more efficacious I do not know.” – Samuel Butler


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