Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Gardasil debate: It's baaaaack

I was quoted in this recent story about required HPV vaccinations for middle school girls.

16 comments:

Kentucky Progress said...

Did you know the current bill doesn't specify that the mandate is for girls only?

The vaccine is currently being tested for boys.

One Brow said...

Do you also support removing the mandatory status for the polio vaccine? Measles, mumps? If not, why single out HPV?

Martin Cothran said...

One Brow,

Do you support the mandatory circumcision of middle school boys? It reduces the chances of AIDS transmission and will save lives--same kind of reason for Gardasil

One Brow said...

Do you support the mandatory circumcision of middle school boys?
If you are going to mandate it, it seems much more fortuituous to do so when they are young.

As for whether to mandate it at all, I've never thought of the procedure as being much more serious than an ear piercing, especially for infants. So, I would not be opposed to that, especially for a high-risk disease.

Of course, some people feel circumcision is mutilation. They should probably be offered the oportunity to opt out -- mcuh like parents can opt out of Gardasil, according to the article.

It reduces the chances of AIDS transmission and will save lives--same kind of reason for Gardasil
Was I supposed to be horrified? Just checking.

Of course, Gardasil does not involve any sort of exterior physical change comparable to circumcision, so I can see where some people might be horrified.

So, now that you have dodged my quesiton once, will you answer it this time?

Do you also support removing the mandatory status for the polio vaccine? Measles, mumps? If not, why single out HPV?

KyCobb said...

Martin,

Are you suggesting that this vaccine requires surgery comparable to circumcision, or is, in some other way, more similar to circumcision than the many routine vaccinations children are required to receive?

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to read Martin's "logic" book. It must be a hoot.

Martin Cothran said...

One Brow,

I'm not sure what to say to the fact that you actually think that mandatory circumcision is even remotely acceptable, other than to let others judge the complete ridiculousness of even considering the notion.

In regard to how HPV differs from polio, measles, and the mumps, since we are talking about a vaccine required for school here, do you think that it may be relevant to consider that fact that these diseases can actually contracted at school? Maybe you could explain to me how HPV can be transmitted at school.

I'm almost afraid to ask the question for fear of adding to the reasons for home schooling.

In regard to circumcision being an exterior physical change, I'm not exactly clear on how injecting things into your body is somehow less potentially destructive than exterior physical changes. I would think the idea of privacy--which the people who back these bizarre ideas are always talking about on every other issue--would be relevant here.

And sorry for dodging your original question, but I couldn't resist pointing out that there is a complete double standard going on here.

Martin Cothran said...

KYcobb,

Of course, you completely missed the point, which was that the reasons given for HPV vaccinations could be similarly applied to circumcision, but that the HPV vaccine supporters are unwilling to follow their own logic.

Martin Cothran said...

Anonymous,

I too am anxious for you to read my logic book, wherein you will discover that your last post does not constitute an argument.

Anonymous said...

As I've commented before, Mr Cothran's logic book is available at neither my school nor my public library. Having read his comments here - admittedly a blog and not a professional publication - I am not tempted to purchase any of his books. I am by no means an authority and am often quick to criticize those who propound on subjects they have not studied, but even so I am comfortable in being less than impressed by his writings here. See, eg, Latin et al is the best curriculum, humanities are thought to be good/bad for employment, etc. It is his blog and if he prefers to pronounce rather than to discuss, that is certainly his choice.

jah

KyCobb said...

Martin,

It appears that you missed my point, which is that since getting a vaccine is in no way comparable to surgery such as circumcision, but is instead a simple shot like any other vaccine children are routinely required to get, you're equating of the two is nonsensical. If parents don't want their children vaccinated, the bill has an opt-out provision; why isn't that sufficient?

One Brow said...

Can't wait to read Martin's "logic" book. It must be a hoot.

While I would probably disagree with many of his axioms, I see to reason to think Mr. Cothran is lacking in skills at the actual performance of logic. I'm sure his book quite competant in this material, and the insult is unnecessary.

One Brow said...

I'm not sure what to say to the fact that you actually think that mandatory circumcision is even remotely acceptable, other than to let others judge the complete ridiculousness of even considering the notion.

Well, it's not really mandatory if parents can opt out, whether you are talking Gardasil or circumcision.

In any case, in this country AIDS is not an epidemic and condoms are widely available, so it would seem unnecessary here.

In regard to how HPV differs from polio, measles, and the mumps, since we are talking about a vaccine required for school here, do you think that it may be relevant to consider that fact that these diseases can actually contracted at school? Maybe you could explain to me how HPV can be transmitted at school.

I think I have your logical path here. Let me know if I am mistaken. You are saying the reason we require vaccines for a child is not to, or not primarily to, protect that individual child, but also the other children who will come into contact with that child within the school setting. Therefore, if there is no reason to think the disease will be transmitted in such contact, then there is no reason to require a vaccine.

However, I think this ignores that the issue that the contacts at school from the primary dating pool for teen-agers, and some of these dates will lead to sexual contact. Therefore, vaccinating girls (and eventually boys) is also for the protection of the other students, even if the transmission does not necessarily occur on school grounds.

I'm almost afraid to ask the question for fear of adding to the reasons for home schooling.

Home-schooled children don’t go on unchaperoned dates?

In regard to circumcision being an exterior physical change, I'm not exactly clear on how injecting things into your body is somehow less potentially destructive than exterior physical changes.

Are you referring to “things” generally, or Gardasil specifically? I am not aware of its side effects being significantly more dangerous than any other vaccine.

I would think the idea of privacy--which the people who back these bizarre ideas are always talking about on every other issue--would be relevant here.

I think the medical records should be treated as confidential, just like any other medical records the school receives.

And sorry for dodging your original question, but I couldn't resist pointing out that there is a complete double standard going on here.

I appreciate your response, and thank you for taking the time.

I’d be interested in what you think the double standard is. For example, when the vaccine is shown to be effective on boys (that is, it prevents them from becoming carriers), even though they don’t get cervical cancer, I would have no problem requiring boys to be vaccinated.

While we are close to the subject of interesting standards (if not directly on it), why does it seem like every time a “Family” organization produces some literature opposing a public health measure, it always seems to be in the direction of making sex more dangerous? Abstinence-only education, claims condoms don’t prevent AIDS, opposition to Gardasil, etc.

Martin Cothran said...

One Brow's remark (which I appreciate by the way) prompts me once again to do my broken record impersonation and say that personal insults really aren't a very effective way to make your case. But mostly it just gets tiresome. You can make your case, and do it in a spirited way, without insulting people.

I had a friend read me the riot act one time for liking to watch mixed martial arts fighting, and they explained to me in pained tones how inhuman it all was. I pointed out that, in most cases, once the fight was over, the fighters usually embraced and complimented each other.

Personal insults in rhetoric are like Mike Tyson biting off his opponents ear: it shows absolutely no class and no one respects it. If at the end of the day you can't say to your opponent, "good fight", then it really isn't worth bothering with.

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen any egregious insults in this blog over the last few months. Mr Cothran also seems to give as good as he gets in these exchanges.
I have seen several page excerpts from his books on the web. He is obviously a very intelligent and well respected individual, which is why it is disappointing that he avoids answering so many questions only to comment on side issues. The clarity of thought is also not what I had expected from a man of such accomplishment, eg "these were the critical reading scores, not total SAT scores. That was plain from the graph". No, it wasn't plain.
But keep in mind that Mr Cothran wrote "If only those who fussed at me knew how much I liked being fussed at."

jah

Martin Cothran said...

Jah,

You may very well be right about the lack of egregious insults on this blog recently. I suspect you are. I haven't gone back and looked. And, in fact, this blog doesn't get nearly as many as most other blogs that deal with controversial issues--partly (I think) because I often remind people about it--like I just did. One Brow's comment just reminded me that it may be a good idea to do it again.

I don't, by the way, have that problem with your posts.

Re: the charge that I don't answer posts, I confess I don't answer all the posts because this blog is not my first priority. I run an online school and my classes are my first priority, and it keeps me very busy. I am also supposed to be doing marketing work for my publisher. I get to the blog as I can. You will notice week-to-two-week long stretches where you don't see much from me and stretches where I am pretty active on the blog.

I am only answering this one because it is Saturday, and I happened to be clearing my e-mail and saw it.

In any case, I'm not sure I'll ever be able to answer every comment I get on this blog. If you're frustrated by the fact that I haven't answered all your posts, just be aware that I hope to get to at least some of them. I do, however, have some older ones, such as several by Motheral from a month or two (or three) ago that really deserve a response, and I work on that as time permits. You will notice that some of my main posts are answers to comments that have been made quite a few weeks prior to the posts.

I don't, however, think that I have any obligation to answer any comments on this blog. There are bloggers who have comment sections and never answer them. In fact, I have no obligation to allow comments at all. It would make my life a lot easier if I didn't. If you know of some Ten Commandments of Blogging somewhere that commands "Thou shalt answer every single comment" or something, I'd love to read it. I am not aware of any.

In fact, I even allow anonymous comments on this blog--to the dissatisfaction of a number of my friends who have suggested that I prohibit them. In fact, you would not even be able to post on this blog if it weren't for I think most reasonable people would consider a fairly gracious policy.

And in regard to your disappointment with the quality of my comments, well, I don't mean any disrespect, but I really don't care. As I have said before, I do this blog because I enjoy it. Negative comments are a minor irritation, but if they are relevant I try to get to them. And, as I have also said before, I really don't understand why anyone would post their dissatisfaction with a particular blog in the comments section of that same blog. If you don't like the blog, don't read it. Go to some blog you do like and read that. Otherwise, why bother?

That being said, I find most of your comments relevant and worth answering, and I will try to do so as time permits.

Thanks.