Orac writes about an anti-vaxxer, Austin Bennett, who walked up to a California senator on the street and shoved him because he was insufficiently appreciative of his conspiracy-theory ravings. That that movement is working itself up towards more violence is troubling (they’re following the trajectory of the anti-choice movement, right down to screaming that they’re killing to protect the children), but what also bothers me is that the rhetoric is so unhinged. He has a collection of Austin Bennett videos at the link, and I listened to bits and pieces of a few of them, and my god, he’s nuts. In the one in which Bennett shoves Senator Pan — he’s so shameless, Bennett recorded it and posted it on YouTube — and Orac summarizes it neatly.
Bennett encounters Sen. Pan around the 9 minute mark, and he shoves him around the 9:50 mark. The rest of the video reveals a profoundly scary guy ranting about chemtrails, toxins, and taking action right into the camera. I have to give Sen. Pan a lot of credit. I’m not sure I could have remained as calm as he did if someone like Austin Bennet came up alongside me and started ranting about aluminum, toxins, and chemistry. Before Bennett encountered Sen. Pan, he spent nearly a solid nine minutes ranting about chemtrails, the wickedness of the world, and a variety of other disturbing religious things.
A disordered kook can ramble on for years with increasingly disturbing, weird, unhinged from reality ideas, and we let it go on and on, gathering momentum, acquiring followers, and we do nothing until after it crosses the line into violence. I am not saying contrarian ideas should be suppressed somehow, but I’m just thinking that if this guy cares so much about chemistry and toxins and immunology, maybe he should put his effort where his mouth is and actually get educated on those subject…and maybe if he’s unwilling to invest in learning that ought to be at the forefront of our conversation about him. It’s the same with the creationist I encounter — their understanding is an inch deep, they’ve grabbed onto a few sciencey-sounding buzzwords and a tiny number of rhetorical points, and they repeat them tediously. It’s enough to persuade people who are even more ignorant.
Fortunately, creationists haven’t resorted to much violence. The anti-vaxxers are working themselves up to it.