Republican Rep. Jonathan Strickland, an anti-vaxxer from Texas, is dealing with major criticism after attacking a vaccinologist and calling vaccines “sorcery,” The issues began on Twitter when Strickland began a spat with Peter Hotez, a professor at Baylor College of Medicine on Tuesday.
Hotez had been writing about an increase in vaccine exemptions, which he stated was putting children “in harm’s way for the financial gain of special and outside interest groups.” Strickland then accused Hotez of being a hypocrite and then suggested that a parent’s rights to reject vaccinations were paramount.
“You are bought and paid for by the biggest special interest in politics,” Stickland wrote to Hotez. “Do our state a favor and mind your own business. Parental rights mean more to us than your self-enriching ‘science.’”
Hotez quickly rejected Strickland’s assertion. “I don’t take a dime from the vaccine industry,” he wrote. “I develop neglected disease vaccines for the world’s poorest people. And as a Texas pediatrician-scientist, it is most certainly my business.” Hotez added that such an outlandish accusation was “impressive, from a member of the Texas House of Representatives.”
Strickland just didn’t know when to back down. “Make the case for your sorcery to consumers on your own dime,” he replied. “Like every other business. Quit using the heavy hand of government to make your business profitable through mandates and immunity. It’s disgusting.”
It did not take long for other Twitter users to throw their support to Hotez.
Hotez turned to Twitter again to thank everyone who rallied around him. “Never thought I would see a Texas legislator launch an unfounded personal attack. Time for some House ethics rules (and some adult supervision),” he wrote.
Hotez states that unvaccinated children have become a “dire situation.” He shares that more than 64,000 children are denied vaccinations “due to an aggressive anti-vaccine lobby here tied big dollars in PAC funds.” He adds that anti-vaxxers are being given momentum through the support of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who heads up the anti-vax Children’s Health Defense organization.
“It looks as though there are a few bad apples in the legislature who will do almost anything for those funds and recognition, including the endangerment of children and attacks on pediatricians and medical school professors,” Hotez added. “Hopefully order and decency will be restored soon.”
Stickland didn’t just limit his attacks to Hotez. He also lashed out at several people who supported Hotez’s stance including another doctor calling him an “another guy in a white coat who thinks he’s a better parent than everyone else!”
“I will fight—with everything in me—against the big government you desire,” Strickland continued in a debate with the other doctor. “One where you can force me to do things against my will. One where the state owns my children. Take a hike communist.”
The effects of ant-vaxxers ideology are already being felt across the nation. For example, the measles was eliminated in the United States back in 2000. But last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the country is currently experiencing its highest number of measles cases in 25 years, with 704 cases identified across 22 states in 2019 so far.
Reportedly, over 500 of those diagnosed with the chickenpox were vaccinated with the disease. One-third of the reported cases were children under the age of 5,
The threat of death by disease isn’t the only medical consequence of skipping vaccinations. An unvaccinated child faces lifelong differences that could potentially put him or her at risk. Every time you call 911, ride in an ambulance, go to the doctor or visit the hospital emergency room, you must alert medical personnel of your child’s vaccination status so he or she receives distinctive treatment. Because unvaccinated children can require treatment that is out of the ordinary, medical staff may be less familiar, and less experienced, with the procedures required to appropriately treat your child.
Strickland’s Twitter battle with Hotez is not the first time that Strickland has had a spotlight shined on him. Strickland is no stranger to controversy,
Stickland is presently being heavily criticized for being the only one to cast dissenting votes against bills touching on school finance, shoring up the retired teacher’s pension fund, and even letting active duty military defer property tax payments.
“The actual votes he’s making are shocking,” a House member said privately. “He’s a joke on the floor, the least respected member of a 150-member body.”
Back in June of 2013. Prior to a debate over House Bill 2 Texas’ infamous package on abortion restrictions, Strickland turned to Twitter to express his gratitude for his Second Amendment rights. His tweet read as though he was stating that abortion rights activists should be shot.
In March of 2015 during Planned Parenthood lobby day at the state capital, Strickland posted a sign outside of his office declaring himself a “Former Fetus.”
“Today Planned Parenthood is visiting and lobbying the Capitol. In honor of their visit, I put this sign up on my office door. Organizations that murder children are not welcome in my office. #prolifeandproudofit,” Strickland tweeted.
Strickland also wrote on a Fantasy Football forum that it is acceptable for a man to rape his wife.
“Rape is non- existent in marriage, take what you want my friend!” he wrote.
Between Strickland and Rep. Tony Tinderholt, who backed a bill to seek the death penalty for women who have abortions, one has to wonder what is in the water in Texas.