February 6, 2007

The role of the state

This shocked many. Texas governer Rick Perry recently ordered HPV vaccinations for girls entering the sixth grade.

And man, has it hit the fan. And with good reason, I believe. Yet, the response leaves me frustrated. Let me explain.

First, even though I am a liberal and you conservatives have been taught by Rush and Sean Hannity that I want the government to determine your entire life, I am not a fan of government interference into personal affairs. I want the government to protect workers and consumers in a reasonable manner.

This action by Perry, I understand, strikes many conservatives as a breach of the conservative code. And I agree. The state forcing young girls to take shots smacks of authoritarianism. And one conservative in the link makes a great point, that we need to study this a little more before moving on it.

(The other conservative objection borders on the ludicrous. No, scratch that. It is ludicrious. They argue that this will encourage sexual promiscuity, as if that is a reason to not protect girls from CANCER!. For some, as I noted in the post: Streak's Blog: God's country prefers what?, they don't really care that poor sexual education leads to stds and perhaps cancer--they just don't want them having sex. Sigh.)

But back to the debate. I can understand the opposition to Perry, for sure, but guess I would like some clarification on when Conservatives actually act. Let's consider just a few examples of an invasive state and the conservative christian response.

  • Hmm. Torture, anyone? The Vice President pushes for the right to torture, the President supports him and uses signing statements to say he can whenever he sees fit. The state, in essence, asserts its right to not only end a life, but to inflict as much pain as possible--all of this without due process or even the assurance that the tortured are dangerous at all.

    Conservative Christian response? Shrug. After all, it is just Muslim terrorists. Same response to NSA wiretapping, or the President's shredding the constitutiont to say he can declare American citizens as "enemy combatants." Conservative Christians think that it won't happen to them, so who cares?

  • Capital punishment, or what some conservatives have labeled the ultimate government intrusion. DNA evidence shows that we have nearly executed over 180 innocent people, and those are only in those cases where there is DNA to test.

    Christian response? Eh. Keep the executions coming. Again, it doesn't happen to them.

  • Abortion and birth control. State tells a rape victim that it must bring that child to term. Also tells her that the pharmacist or nurse at the hospital doesn't have to give her the "morning after pill" if their religious beliefs are against it.

    Christian conservative response. More state intervention in women's reproductive rights. In fact, people like Rod Parsely are pushing for criminalizing adultery, and we know they would like to lock up people practicing gay sex. State can intervene in those very intimate details and the Christian community will cheer.

  • And back to young kids and sex. Religious right activists and our lame President foist "Abstinence only" programs on school districts. Certainly an imposition, but no conservative complaints. Worse, and in sharp distinction with the HPV vaccine, Abstinence Only endangers kids, because the numbers that actually follow their pledge are roughly the same as the rest of the kid population--meaning that most of them fall of the pledge wagon and have sex. But when they do, they don't have the sex ed to protect themselves, and so are MORE exposed to STDS, unwanted pregnancies, etc.

    Conservative Christian response? Impose away, and we will even ignore that the program doesn't work.

    So you can see my confusion. I would love to get behind some principle of opposing state intervention into personal decisions, but can't see consistency here. It is very hard for me to see a principle other than "I only care if it effects me," which, seems the opposite of the Christian response.

    Damn. Should have gotten up and written that last night when it kept me awake.

    Wasp Jerky said...

    I was reading recently about a pastor from Ohio who called for the imprisonment of adulterers. I can't imagine legislation like that ever passing. What would Republicans do for presidential candidates in '08? Anyways, it's interesting to see how much government intrusion the party of small government pushes for.

    Nicole said...

    *Stands and claps for Streak* Woot, you go boy!

    grandma1 said...

    Nobody likes to be told they have to do something. Children can't go to school without shots for measles, chickenpox and etc. Any mother worth her salt wants her daughter protected against cancer. I want all my grandaughters to have the protection.

    Perry is a loose cannon now he wants to privatize the state lottery. Lottery causes lots of need for welfare in a very poor state. Now lets just hand it over to the mafia and let them run the entire state. The monies he gets for selling lottery he is going to finance school vouchers.

    JoeG said...

    Texans should have elected Kinky Friedman when they had the chance! :) Seriously, why didn't they get rid of Perry? This guy is so vilified, but he still gets 40% of the vote in a 4-way race. Oh right, this is in the same country that reelected a president with a 35% approval rating.
    I'm kind of on the fence about mandating these vaccines. I don't see it as any different than mandating tons of other vaccines for children in order to go to school, as Grandma1 points out. You can object on religious grounds, but are then subjected to making your kid take blood tests several times a year and pulling them from school for at least a week anytime there is an outbreak of anything. The question is, should the government be forcing any vaccines, let alone the cervical cancer one. There are issues with vaccines. Many still have mercury in them, and are suspected as being a possible cause of autism. Many vaccines are given as multiples, and young children can't always handle that. You are forcing them to get sick for several days at a time in order to boost their immune system. On the positive side though, when was the last polio outbreak in the US? Or measles or mumps? It is rare, if not non-existant. I think the chicken pox vaccine is too much, personally. But where do we draw the line? Where can government mandate these things in the name of public health, and when should they stay out? It is an interesting conversation, and I'm not sure what the answer should be. Sorry for rambling.

    yogini said...

    I haven't checked to see what his connections are to drug companies.. but I'm very suspicious. This HPV vaccination is new and I heard on the news that Merck is pushing to have it required for all school aged girls in the US. There is a lot of money to be made here. I just don't trust drug companies that the vacinne is safe and my almost 6th grader will not be getting it. The old days where we trusted the new vaccines are over for me. I'll wait awhile to see what happens with it... so many other drugs are getting pulled off the market after the drug companies learn about dangerous side affects. Too many people making too much money. As a parent I think it should be my choice as too when my daughter needs anything drug/treatment/vaccine related to her being sexually active. I'm very suspicious this whole thing is driven by money and not public health.