Free Press opinion page editor Drew Johnson occasionally replies to questions and issues raised in emails, letters to the editor and online comments in response to Free Press editorials. Submit questions on Twitter: @Drews_Views
Two recent Free Press editorials - one supporting the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decisions regarding same-sex marriage and one demanding a boycott of ABC for the network's decision to hire the child-endangering anti-vaccine activist Jenny McCarthy to co-host "The View" - stirred a tremendous amount of discussion and a lot of questions aimed at me that I'm happy to tackle.
Your pro-gay marriage editorial, applauding the Supreme Court for sanctioning married gay couples to receive the same federal benefits that apply to married straight couples, is outrageous. I thought this was the conservative editorial page. I guess there is no right side of the Times Free Press anymore.
The editorial in response to the Supreme Court's Prop. 8 and Defense of Marriage Act decisions clearly states that marriage equality is an issue of individual liberty and the ultimate goal of any marriage discussions should be to get the government out of the business of marriage, returning marriage to churches, families and individuals.
The piece supports personal freedom and limited government - as well as empowering families and religion. It seems to me that nothing could be more "right side" than that. Isn't that exactly what we, as conservatives, all want?
Those of us on the right side of the aisle should make it a top priority to divorce government from marriage. After all, marriage should not be a government contract. It should be a personal decision between two (or more) consenting adults - and, if they're so inclined, their families and/or the god of their choice - with no state involvement whatsoever.
As long as government awards certain benefits and privileges based on marital status - and, troublingly, over 1,100 federal provisions are available to married couples - those provisions should be available to all wedded couples, straight or gay. That's because it's not the government's role to place a moral valuation on the legitimacy of a couple's love for one another. It's government's role to treat people equally before the law. Let's leave it to religion, families and individuals to determine what constitutes "marriage."
Should a photographer or caterer who opposes gay marriage be forced to provide services to gay weddings?
No business should be forced to provide any product or service for any ceremony, event, organization or agency they oppose. If a business wants to decline customers based on personal principle, it should be their right to do so.
Many people feel that vaccines cause autism. Good for Jenny McCarthy for standing up and telling people about the link between autism and vaccines.
While people may "feel" that vaccines cause autism, "feelings" are not facts. And the facts are that Jenny McCarthy doesn't know what she's talking about. Sadly, children have become ill and even died because parents have taken the advice of McCarthy and other anti-vaccine nuts and failed to protect their children from diseases such as measles, rubella and whooping cough.
Why did people believe the lie that vaccines cause autism? Well, a criminal named Andrew Wakefield invented a study claiming vaccines could lead to autism after he was bribed with more than $600,000 by lawyers hoping to get rich off of lawsuits against vaccine makers based on Wakefield's bogus study.
A British medical court found Wakefield guilty of three dozen charges related to the false study, including four counts of dishonesty and 12 counts involving the abuse of developmentally challenged children. Wakefield was then barred from ever practicing medicine again. The journals that published and cited Wakefield's research admitted the study was falsified and printed retractions.
Wakefield's debunked study was the only scientific research that ever linked autism and vaccines. Scores of proper scientific tests have attempted to determine a relationship between autism and vaccines and definitively proven there is none.
That's no surprise. Researchers have since discovered that autism has strong genetic links. It is, therefore, impossible to "give" a child autism. A child is either born autistic or he's not.
At this point, people who still believe vaccines lead to higher rates of autism are either ignorant of the facts or are flat-earthers who are happy to live in their own imaginary world where scientific realities don't matter.
Autism is on the rise and mainstream "science" has failed to explain why.
Actually, science has a darn good explanation for the "increase" in autism. A 2006 University of Wisconsin study explained that children who suffer from autism were previously diagnosed as "mentally retarded." Now, different types of intellectual disabilities are weeded out and defined correctly. The increase in the incidence of autism and other intellectual disabilities correspond with a similar decrease in the incidence of mental retardation.
Jenny McCarthy has every right to her opinion.
She certainly does. But since her ill-informed opinion about vaccines have contributed to the deaths of nearly 1,200 children who wouldn't have died if their parents had simply vaccinated them, it is my right - and my duty - to warn every parent or potential parent I can reach that Jenny McCarthy's opinion is dangerous and a threat to children. It is vitally important to vaccinate your child.
I don't think we should discredit Jenny McCarthy's beliefs and opinions because she was a Playboy Playmate.
I don't discredit Jenny McCarthy's beliefs and opinions because she was a Playboy Playmate. I discredit Jenny McCarthy's beliefs and opinions because she is wrong and science has proven it time and time again. I do, however, tend to place a lot more trust in scientists and medical doctors than a TV host and nude model who dropped out of Southern Illinois University and has no scientific training when it comes to issues of medical research.