Ask Surly Amy: Anti-Vax Propaganda
Dear Surly Amy,
I saw an anti-vaccine sticker on a utility pole in my new location, a very small (and very funky/hippie) town. I surprised myself at how my blood boiled upon seeing it. “You can only say that because you didn’t get smallpox and die when you were a child,” I thought.
So, I’m not a die-hard skeptic – I’m generally a let-people-think-what-they-want kind of person, but if I were to respond in some way, would it be to deface their sticker, put my sticker over it, or put my sticker along side it? I think the last option is my favorite.
-Lover not a Fighter
First of all, I have a few questions ahead of this one and I apologize if I have not gotten to your question. I just felt that this question was too timely to set aside.
Dear Lover not a Fighter,
Some cities have anti-graffiti laws and do not allow the posting of advertisements or stickers. So if this is the case in your town and if there is any contact information on that sticker, you can report them and and have them fined and then have the sticker removed. If that is the case don’t post a physical response. Document it and remove it if necessary.
However, for the sake of the remainder of this discussion I am going to assume that this sticker is in an area with many other stickers and in a location where it is ok to post things. In that case I say hell yes, put your own sticker next to it pointing out the ridiculous and dangerous nature of their claims. As skeptics and advocates of critical thinking we don’t want to to try to silence the opposition by hiding their message so we wouldn’t want to cover the sticker. We want to silence the opposition by showing the world how fucking bat-shit insane their claims are.
I’m not sure what the sticker actually said. Maybe you could send us a photo of it? That way we could help come up with some catchy and educational comebacks for you.
In the meantime why not print this out and put in next to the sticker:
(larger version HERE.)
You can print it on your home computer printer and then use clear shipping tape over the top to make it into your very own weatherproof sticker!
Or just get some sticky paper and with a permanent ink pen (like a sharpie) and write: Find out the truth about vaccination at: skepchick.org and hugmeimvaccinated.org and stick it just below the anti-vax sticker. (But again if there is a no stickering/posting law in your area please don’t post, just remove the other sticker and/or report them for graffiti.)
Fight the vaccination lies. It’s really up to us to save the world!
Once again, excellent response Amy! And to all of you that participated in yesterday’s campaign to stop AMC theaters from airing that deceit filled anti-vax PSA – congratulations!
I have to admit, my knee jerk reaction would be to tear the anti-vax sticker down and rip it into a million tiny pieces. This is what I do when I find religious tracts on public transit.
@CeeJay: I agree with Amy’s position. Leave their argument in place and rebut it with (a better) one of your own.
Remember, we do not win the argument by silencing those who don’t agree with us. We silence those who don’t agree with us by winning the argument.
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