Anti-vaxxer Sherri Tenpenny: “Doctors and Public Health officials are the enemy”
As you know, I’ve been following anti-vax rhetoric as it gets increasingly irrational and hysterical. Usually, this comes in the form of a random nutjob threatening to shoot public health officials who want to vaccinate their children, or an errant blogger calling for the lynching of all doctors and scientists. However, today we have an example of what may appear to the objective reader to be dangerous rhetoric coming from an actual, licensed Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine–Sherri Tenpenny. Now Reader, I know what you are thinking. You are saying to yourself, “Tenpenny has been thoroughly discredited by medical doctors and scientists. Just a glance at her Facebook page demonstrates that some seriously questionable misinformation is posted there on a regular basis”. But today’s post may take the cake. In it, Tenpenny states that:
“”The Middle East is from our enemies…and DOCTORS and PUBLIC HEALTH officials are Americans coming after Americans. They are the enemy within our borders”.
This post is in response to a proposed law in New Jersey that would simply require a more stringent procedure for obtaining vaccine exemptions, which is good policy and hardly seems worthy of branding doctors and public health officials as “the enemy within our borders”. Regardless, it is interesting to me that apparently Tenpenny either no longer considers herself a real doctor, or has a deep problem with her self-esteem. But more to the point, this type of language is deeply distressing coming from a person who purports to be a member of the medical community. First of all, it is sickeningly ignorant to make blanket statements about the “Middle East” and “enemies”; though in fairness this sentence fragment is difficult to decipher and is most reminiscent of “All Your Base Are Belong to Us“.
Nonetheless, much like poetry and rock-n-roll, I suppose the meaning is attached by the reader, and it sure sounds to me like Tenpenny may be going for an extremely polarizing statement here. The contextual weight of beginning a post with a comment about the ”Middle East” and following this with ”enemy within our borders” is quite heavy; indeed, there is little doubt that is yet another attempt at sinister insinuations by an anti-vaxxer.
As I’ve written here before:
“…the increasing number of examples of this type of language on the web may, some day soon, reach the ears of a person who can and will resort to violence, spurred on by people calling themselves “doctors”. As a whole, the anti-vax movement is a group of people united by an ideology which is strong on emotion and weak on rationality. I hope I am wrong, but I sense a change in a certain subgroup of anti-vaxxers that is nothing short of chilling.”
Get a freakin’ grip, Tenpenny.
UPDATE: A few hours after Tenpenny’s post appeared on Facebook, here are some of the comments that have appeared. If you think her rhetoric is not seriously dangerous, then please consider the responses her words engendered; to wit:
“Firearms are not for hunting deer is my last comment”.
“Over my dead body will they ever come near me or my precious babies with their toxic filth”.
“Soon it may be common practice to detain kill or assert dominance over those are “free thinkers” or do not agree with mandates.”