Friday, July 26, 2013

Jenny McCarthy, Censorship and Free Speech

Most of you have probably heard by now that anti-vaccine activist Jenny McCarthy has been picked to be a host on ABC's The View. Following the announcement, there was a media uproar lambasting the decision. Newspapers, magazines and blogs erupted with posts questioning the wisdom of giving her a platform with millions of viewers from which she could spew her vaccine-related misinformation and fear-mongering. Some took the angle that she should get a large platform so that more people can see just how ridiculous are her views on vaccinations. Toronto Public Health even went so far as to tweet, urging people to contact The View and ask them to get rid of her:

They aren't the only ones, either. Before the hiring was officially announced, Phil Plait over at Bad Astronomy urged people to write to the producers, as did Just the Vax. There is even a petition to remove her from the show.

It isn't much of a surprise, then, that her supporters among the anti-vaccine community are all up in arms, crying "Censorship!" and lamenting about the infringement on McCarthy's First Amendment right to free speech. I didn't comment on this whole thing when the story first broke, because, well, everyone else had already said everything. But I would like to touch on that whole free speech issue a bit.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt: Making It Easier to Get Sick at Hospitals

I know I've been remiss in writing new posts lately. "Real" life has intruded and kept my time limited and my mind a bit preoccupied. But I'm back, and what better way to come back from a lag than to follow up on a previous post?

At the end of May, I wrote about how Wisconsin Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt was working on legislation that would ban employers (and not just health care employers) from requiring influenza immunizations as a requirement for employment (or, as noted, even internship or being a volunteer). The bill has been submitted and has a designation, now: Assembly Bill 247. AB247 was introduced on June 17, 2013, read and referred to the Committee on Health.

The text of AB247 has not changed since I last discussed this.