I love Star Trek. I recorded all the series, watched all the eps numerous times, have well over 200 hundred Star Trek related novels. Have the toys. Have a Star Trek Xmas tree. I live and breathe science fiction. Seriously.
And I've got to do this, got to take a stand and say that sometimes overzealousness is found on both sides of the vaccine issue. This week, an AoA writer directed people to essentially harass Amy Wallace if they didn't like her piece on Wired. I said this was wrong. It's wrong to tell people to send hateful mail, wrong to harass someone just because you disagree with them. It would be just as wrong to attack Brent Spiner over his Gordon comment and his hedging on vaccination, even though the request to tweet him was not phrased with a hostile intent nor advocating hostility or attacks. It just smacks of trying to sway people to believe a certain way based on how much peer pressure you can apply. And I frakking hate peer pressure. It is not a correlate of critical thinking; it's critical mass instead.
Apparently Brent Spiner likes Jay Gordon. I could quibble with that, certainly, and it's clear that Gordon tries to straddle a fence that ought to have his private area in some level of pain. And I think Gordon makes his decisions based on his best financial interests, not on science. But, Brent Spiner, in saying he think folks should educate themselves on vaccines and make informed decisions in and of itself, unless he's directing them to whale.to and other nutjob sites, hasn't committed a cardinal sin, and it is a free country. He's not said something demonstrably false as Jenny McCarthy has. And damnit, people ought to read the reputable information before putting something into their body. Reputable information. Seriously. People need to make informed decisions. And some people shouldn't vaccinate. Don't you want them to read the information provided by the CDC, work in conjunction with their doctor, and make the safe choice for them? Blasting Spiner because he's said essentially the same thing that I just did because he did it in conjunction with an appreciation for Dr. Jay Gordon, I don't know that it serves any good. Unless you want to blast me, too. On the face of it, leaving Gordon out, Spiner's position isn't horrendous. It's political. It's popularity based. It's like Lisa Jo saying she doesn't have a position either way on the whole vaccine-autism thing. It's disingenuous.
You know, it's a difficult world to navigate out there. Who do you trust? Your doctor? Well, okay. Except some doctors are quacks. Come on, seriously, they are, and Orac acknowledges this. You cannot say listen to the authority figures, the doctors, and then say, oooh, not these, because they're the quacks on your say-so alone (not something Orac has done, by the way; gads, he's provided plenty of corroborating information to support his contentions). Because you know them quacks are saying the same thing. What the hell are the masses to do? It's not like their education was primo and they're stellar critical thinkers. You know? So, bully pulpits, wherever they are found, are inefficient as hell at getting folks to think critically. I think some people are so into the woo that nothing's going to drag them out. So, you essentially write those off and cease to engage them, and you focus on putting out accurate information for those who are still on the fence. It's a hard line to walk, to provide that information, that just right amount of insolence. And those of us engaged in the dialogue often find ourselves tottering on that line. How far to go, how far back of the line, where to stop. It's a judgment call.
Personally, Data weeps, well, he would. Reason, logic, critical thinking, looking at the evidence rather than relying on emotion. All things Data the character represented.
Orac suggests that those who tweet do so to "gently try to educate Spiner regarding the error of his ways." This is drastically different from AoA's call to action. However, I don't think it would do a damn bit of good to tweet Spiner. Even though it doesn't have the hostility that AoA's post did early this week, it doesn't feel a whole lot different in principle. Bother him until he agrees with us. Not likely.
Tweet him or not, I don't think it will do anything other than polarize Spiner completely against your position, and affording the fictional character greater weight than the actor, well, that's just bound to piss the actor off. Or have we forgotten Nimoy and Shatner's work where they repudiate their Star Trek roles (I know, then they turned around and embraced them again--remember, I've got the books!).
Now, Craig, I'm writing this post for you, because I saw your post on AoA, and I think we're probably in some fair agreement that tweeting Spiner, who I'm having a really hard time not just calling Data, isn't the way to go. And I'm going to say it, the name calling and the disdain put you at a level that I think is less than where you should operate at. Name calling Orac gets you where? I know, there you are thinking, "but you've called people dumbasses." Yes, I have, and chickenshits as well. And I've always explained the reasons. And I'd argue that isn't dehumanizing or disdainful. More descriptive, you know, and I hope that it's been clear, that like Thelma would, I'd give em a big old hug while pointing out they are dumbasses, you know?
Spiner, as long as he doesn't go around saying there's antifreeze, fetal cells, etc, in the vaccines and that vaccines will kill or make everyone autistic, is safe from my rants. I'll note that he likes Gordon, think he's a bit woo-sie, remember he's not Data, and move on, a bit disappointed. :-) And I am an uber Trek geek.
By the way, #38 over at Orac's is an excellent, reasoned comment directed towards Spiner.