March 5, 2019

I'm fascinated by the unintentional ambiguity of the headline "This teen got vaccinated against his mother’s wishes."

I'm looking at "This teen got vaccinated against his mother’s wishes. Now, he’ll testify before Congress" (WaPo). Fine. I know the story. Ethan Lindenberger, after he turned 18, went and got his own vaccinations.
His mother, Jill Wheeler, told Undark, an online science magazine that first reported Lindenberger’s story, that her son’s decision was "like him spitting on me, saying 'You don’t know anything, I don’t trust you with anything.' "
Interesting topic. Feel free to expound on it in the comments.

What I want to talk about is the fanciful idea floating from the poorly written headline — that there could be a vaccination that would give you immunity not from a medical disease but from your mother's wishes — as if the dreams from your mother are analogous to disease and infect you and degrade and destroy you.

Dreams from your mother... it makes me think of "Dreams From My Father" — that strange old book that created a persona who came to be embraced as a President of the United States. And I wonder, did Ethan Lindenberger have a father? I can see hidden in the URL for the WaPo article — teen-got-vaccinated-against-his-parents-wishes-now-hell-testify-before-congress — that there were parents but the headline as written leaves us with only the mother.

Searching the article for "father," I find only this, "According to Lindenberger’s Reddit post, his father was less resistant to the idea since he was of legal age," and I infer that both parents were involved in withholding vaccination from Lindenberger when he was a minor, but dad is keeping his distance from the current public dispute. Dad sounds pliable or noncommittal or weak — leaving the mother alone as she worked her will and then leaving the boy alone when he became a man.

82 comments:

gahrie said...

Dad sounds pliable or noncommittal or weak — leaving the mother alone as she worked her will and then leaving the boy alone when he became a man.

Woman behaves badly, man at fault.

He was probably just a splooge stooge anyway.

rhhardin said...

Vaccines kill. Just not more deaths that they prevent.

Hence the need for legislation protecting vaccine makers from lawsuits for death. They don't get money back for lives they save to offset money lost to lives they cost.

Seeing Red said...

He’s 18 and legal. That was a good decision to start becoming an adult.

richlb said...

Easy. Mom is a shrieking harpy bitch. Dad is married to a shrieking harpy bitch, but does not agree with her shrieking or her harpiness.

William said...

Can you imagine such a story in a Red Diaper context?......A fair number of my great truths are utterly wrong. They were passed down to me, and I, in turn, have passed them down to the next generation. Family lay lore is what holds families together. Just ask Elizabeth Warren.

Lucien said...

Of course when a child decides to get an abortion, or change their gender, that decision is sacred— because it’s the child’s body. Just not for vaccines or tattoos.

Seeing Red said...

...His mother, Jill Wheeler, told Undark, an online science magazine that first reported Lindenberger’s story, that her son’s decision was "like him spitting on me, saying 'You don’t know anything, I don’t trust you with anything....

And she always listened to her mother. RME especially at that age.

Henry said...

...a vaccination that would give you immunity not from a medical disease but from your mother's wishes...

For Ethan Lindenberger, it was a twofer.

For young people who are already vaccinated from medical disease, tracking down the second is much harder.

Some kids leave. Some kids marry. Some kids don't marry. Some buy a motorcycle.

Inga...Allie Oop said...

Mom played with her son’s life, now she resents her son taking his own life more seriously.

Oh well.

Seeing Red said...

The measles outbreak in the Philippines is bad. And I’ve read some WC states are rethinking vaccine choice.

gerry said...

Dad sounds pliable or noncommittal or weak

Good lord, he was very likely married to a social justice warrior harpy, and he's simply exhausted and waiting for the relief of death. After a few years of woke nagging one becomes pliable, and being drunkenly noncommittal is the most that one may hope to achieve.

Meade said...

Mama, oh oh
Didn't mean to make you cry
If I'm not vaxed again this time tomorrow
Carry on, carry on...

reader said...

There was only one instance I didn’t vaccinate my son. He was little when the chicken pox vaccine was first being widely used. Our doctor (who my sister called granola) didn’t recommend it. She wanted to wait until he was ten and see if he gotten the chicken pox. If he hadn’t we’d test to see if he’d had a unnoticed case and vacinate if he hadn’t.

He ended up contracting chicken pox. He also gave it to me. Side note you can get chicken pox twice. Second time at forty was not fun.

Doctors reasoning was that they hadn’t required booster shot yet, wanted him protected during puberty, and booster if required would have been during puberty.

mockturtle said...

What I want to talk about is the fanciful idea floating from the poorly written headline — that there could be a vaccination that would give you immunity not from a medical disease but from your mother's wishes

You are probably the only one who would read it that way.

Bill Peschel said...

The headline wasn't ambiguous. I mean that in two ways. One, it didn't occur to me to see it that way. I know headlines should be clear, but no sane person would be fooled into thinking that a vaccine exists to protect you from someone else's beliefs. Since I believe that perfection is the enemy of finished, I would let that go instead of taking more time (which would mean less attention from another article) and think of a better headline.

Second, on a metaphorical level, he was inoculating himself against his mother's wishes. He thought she was a loon, wanted to preserve his health, and used his best judgment to do so.

Being a man (and a father) and capable of reasoning with cruel neutrality, I don't have a problem with either his decision and her resentment over it. Being a man, I'm also not interested in enabling my wife's delusions. Everyone has a right to go to hell in the hand basket of their choice.

Admittedly, now that I've raised my kids, I see flaws in that argument.

Michael said...

"The female of the species is more deadly than the male." (Kipling)

Inga...Allie Oop said...

“Good lord, he was very likely married to a social justice warrior harpy, and he's simply exhausted and waiting for the relief of death.”

Antivaxxers com in all flavors. A few years ago there was one of those evangelical churches in Texas that were antivaxxers and they too had a measles outbreak.

Laslo Spatula said...

"Mom played with her son’s life, now she resents her son taking his own life more seriously. Oh well."

Yep.

I do feel a SMALL amount of sympathy for some of these mothers: they believe they are doing best by their child. and that they are keeping them 'safe'.

Unfortunately, most people can't keep up with the pace of science's progress (I include myself, here), and can be susceptible to 'scare' science.

More unfortunately, there are many charlatans that take full advantage of that, often for issues related to power and control.

I am purposely trying to keep this comment apolitical: I will venture that social media has increased the paranoiac response in reaction to people sensing that strings are being pulled -- i.e., the paranoia may be warranted, but no one agrees on where it should be pointed.

God help us when we all have sharks with lasers.

I am Laslo.

Ralph L said...

The mother has a different surname. Did the marriage fail over her vaccination decision?

gilbar said...

i could have Really used that vax growing up!

Fernandistein said...

The New Maytag Repairmen?

National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

Ralph L said...

There are a lot more vaccines than when we were kids. I can see why some mothers would worry about so many in a short time (so stretch them out).

My older sister would bring something home from school, but she was so little affected, my parents wouldn't even notice until my brother caught it, then the infant I would get walloped.

Inga...Allie Oop said...

“The New York Orthodox Jewish community has seen 121 cases of measles infections since October, the New York Health Department reported last week.”

https://m.jpost.com/International/Measles-outbreaks-strike-NY-Israel-Orthodox-Jewish-communities-582333

gspencer said...

I worry more about kids getting tats with their mother's permission.

Dust Bunny Queen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ralph L said...

We're usually vaccinated 'for' disease, so if "he was vaccinated for his mother's wishes," it would have been even more confusing--but still true.

Infinite Monkeys said...

"her son’s decision was "like him spitting on me, saying 'You don’t know anything, I don’t trust you with anything"

I hate people who do this. If you disagree on one thing, they take it as though you disagree on everything. Too self-centered. Too much "don't challenge me on anything"-ness.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

What I want to talk about is the fanciful idea floating from the poorly written headline — that there could be a vaccination that would give you immunity not from a medical disease but from your mother's wishes

It is poorly written. Headlines can't be very long, just because of the space available, so the title has to be short and attention grabbing.

A couple of better options

This teen got vaccinated despite his mother's wishes.
OR
Against his mother's wishes, this teen got vaccinated.


Both require a vocabulary and the ability to use punctuation. Probably unavailable to current journalists.

Fernandistein said...

"Dr Abdul Majid Katme, head of the Islamic Medical Association, is telling Muslims that almost all vaccines contain products derived from animal and human tissue, which make them “haram”, or unlawful for Muslims to take."

Laslo Spatula said...

"Probably unavailable to current journalists."

On the plus side, I bet the journalists DO get free snacks.

I am Laslo.

mockturtle said...

My brother and I had measles, mumps and chicken pox. Rites of passage in those days.

Henry said...

Dust Bunny Queen -- Good rewrites:

I would have gone for the eyeballs:

Teen Spits on Mom, Metaphorically

Mountain Maven said...

She seems to love her folk medicine religion more that her son. I would never take a family dispute public.

Sebastian said...

"it makes me think of "Dreams From My Father" — that strange old book that created a persona who came to be embraced as a President of the United States"

Ah, yes. Brings back memories. And what a dreamy father to dream of--alcoholic bigamist wife-deserter and -beater. And what "a persona"--authenticity, if you can fake that you got it made. And "came to be embraced"--such a lovely passive formulation, including in its rhetorical embrace all who considered the persona "pragmatic," though some deplorables had been immunized against the affliction.

Fernandistein said...

Not wanting to read the WaPo and curious what sort of excuses "Congress" made to justify hearing testimony from some nondescript kid who doesn't know anything, I discovered that the phrase "vaccinated against his mother's wishes" appears in articles - not just the headlines - in Newsweek, CBSnews, SFgate, MedScape...keep counting in slightly different sentences.

I bet some of them did it on purpose and are getting a laugh out of it.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

Dad sounds pliable or noncommittal or weak...

No, he sounds like a Dad should. The kid is 18, he's an adult and can make his own decisions. I got the same treatment from my Dad when I turned 18 and that man was anything but weak.

Big Mike said...

... her son’s decision was "like him spitting on me, saying 'You don’t know anything, I don’t trust you with anything.' “


She’s right, and so is he.

SDaly said...

Letting your children grow up and make their own decisions makes you "pliable and weak"? Seriously?

Trumpit said...

I don't want to be vaccinated against my will. I walked into a doctor's office once and he immediately injected me with vaccines that I didn't want or need. I've been sick ever since. I hope he is dead. I should have killed him on the spot, but I don't think the police would have understood. SICK world we live in. Ironic that "vaxers" are trying to prevent illness, but instead cause it.

stevew said...

"like him spitting on me, saying 'You don’t know anything, I don’t trust you with anything.' "

Sounds like a mom that lacks confidence in her decisions and decision making. As I read it, he did his own research and arrived at a different decision - and acted on it as a good, sensible adult would and should. She should feel pride, not that she is under attack.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Is the ambiguity unintentional? Look at the 2 other ways they are clickbaiting:

(1) using “teen” instead of 18-year-old or adult.
(2) using “got vaccinated” which could have a meaning that it happened without his consent.

JAORE said...

Dreams from your mother... it makes me think of "Dreams From My Father" —
There was a vaccine? Why didn't someone tell me?

Now find the Bernie/AOC anti-nutter vaccine.

wholelottasplainin' said...

Even the lefty Wikipedia thinks anti-vaxxers are mistaken:

"Despite overwhelming scientific consensus[3][4][5] that vaccines are safe and effective,[6] unsubstantiated scares regarding their safety still occur, resulting in outbreaks and deaths from vaccine preventable diseases.[7][8][9][10][11][12] For example, the belief that vaccines cause autism has been widely disproven by scientific evidence, yet still leads some parents to delay or avoid vaccinating their children. The specific hypotheses raised by anti-vaccination advocates change over time,[13] but the proposed cause always remains the same: vaccines.[14]"

As for Trumpit: we've known you are sick, for a long time. Also, your story reeks of falsity: you don't go into a doctor's office for no reason, and doctors don't force you to get injections.

Rob said...

Getting vaccinated was a good first step. Now he should tell her, 'You don’t know anything, I don’t trust you with anything.” But no spitting. Be the more mature one in the relationship.

Rosalyn C. said...

"This teen got vaccinated against his mother’s wishes." I wish my father had that vaccination done. My father was unable or unwilling to break free from his mother's wishes and that was a major destructive issue in my parents' terrible marriage. Even after his mother was gone he was unwilling to respect or honor his family's wishes. On top of that he saw himself as a victim. Pretty FU'd.

John Lynch said...

He's 18. End of story. Family drama shouldn't be national news.

Howard said...

Dads need to stop this kind of damage some cat-lady wives are wont to visage on their spawn. This guy let her win this potentially fatal mistake. Being quiet now only emphasizes his shameful complicity.

RigelDog said...

Dust Bunny Queen says a better option is "Against his mother's wishes, this teen got vaccinated." Nah, would still be confusing for Yoda.

Howard said...

The national news isn't the family drama, it's the anti-VAX issue.

DUH!

RigelDog said...

Now there's a Mom with boundary issues!

Fernandistein said...

The national news isn't the family drama, it's the anti-VAX issue.

Congress is hearing testimony from players in the family drama rather than from people who know stuff because Congress likes nationalized family dramas.

RigelDog said...

Read the article and it's very interesting. Looks like the family is NOT lefty; hard to say, they could be just generally "crunchy" but there's reference to church and counseling by the kid's pastor. Also sounds like the mother's understanding of the science is very shallow; for instance, she refuses to vaccinate her OTHER younger kids against polio (!) because those vaccinations in the past have occasionally caused polio in the recipient. But, that's because long ago, in the before-time, a weakened LIVE virus was used to vaccinate. They use dead viruses now and have for many years.

Fernandistein said...

He's 18. End of story. Family drama shouldn't be national news.

Poor headline: "Like Most Other People, Some Adult You Never Heard of Got Vaccinated"

Fair headline: "This teen got vaccinated against his mother’s wishes"

Good headline: "You won't believe these 9 shocking reasons why some adults get vaccinated while wearing diapers!"

Trumpit said...

[As for Trumpit: we've known you are sick, for a long time. Also, your story reeks of falsity: you don't go into a doctor's office for no reason, and doctors don't force you to get injections.]

Nasty, idiotic comment worthy of Schlump himself. You're a troll straight out of the woodwork. Go back into your wormhole.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wormhole

mockturtle said...

For example, the belief that vaccines cause autism has been widely disproven by scientific evidence

I'm no anti-vaxxer, but this should more accurately have read, "No link has been found between vaccines and autism".

A European study years ago found a link between vaccination of children with the Hepatitis B series and childhood diabetes and other autoimmune diseases. There is a possibility that the sheer volume of vaccines children receive today might affect their immune systems long-term.

mockturtle said...

Trumpit is one sick puppy. I do hope he gets the help he so desperately needs.

stevew said...

"Now there's a Mom with boundary issues!"

Same mom that was trying to setup dates for her adult son?

Char Char Binks said...

"That there could be a vaccination that would give you immunity not from a medical disease but from your mother's wishes"

That didn't even occur to me as a possible source of confusion. You are LITERALLY nitpicking!

Joe said...

Against mother's wishes, college student majors in engineering instead of Women's Studies. Mother reports feeling like she was spit upon.

The headlines are endless.

Inga...Allie Oop said...

“False security”?

https://www.thedailybeast.com/rand-paul-sure-vaccines-are-ok-but-we-shouldnt-trade-liberty-for-false-sense-of-security/

“As we contemplate forcing parents to choose this or that vaccine, I think it’s important to remember that force is not consistent with the American story, nor is force consistent with the liberty our forefathers sought when they came to America. I don't think you have to have one or the other, though. I'm not here to say don’t vaccinate your kids. If this hearing is for persuasion I’m all for the persuasion. I’ve vaccinated myself and I’ve vaccinated my kids. For myself and my children I believe that the benefits of vaccines greatly outweighing the risks, but I still don’t favor giving up on liberty for a false sense of security.””

Rand Paul

Ralph L said...

refuses to vaccinate her OTHER younger kids against polio (!)

They'll be perfectly safe--if they don't roll in shit. That's how FDR got it.

n.n said...

Vaccines are part of a risk management protocol, not magical elixirs without side-effects (e.g. inflammatory response) and predictable performance (e.g. passive immunity, false immunity), which is why they are not generally administered or in quick succession.

Seeing Red said...

Someone’s created an anti-vaxxer game. This might get interesting.

Trumpit said...

I'd make turtle soup out of you, mock.

Ralph L said...

Trumpit is the little hard thing instead of Trump that gives us more Trump.

Jim at said...

Trumpit is one sick puppy. I do hope he gets the help he so desperately needs.

Trumpit is a she.

Quaestor said...

...that there could be a vaccination that would give you immunity not from a medical disease but from your mother's wishes

If you need a medical procedure to give you autonomy then you don't have autonomy, either before or after the procedure.

The same is true of a penis and maleness.

bgates said...

a persona who came to be embraced

This phrase led to eye-rolling.

mockturtle said...

Trumpit warns: I'd make turtle soup out of you, mock.

But it would only be mock turtle soup.

Rockport Conservative said...

I see the dad as just letting the kid grow up and make his own decisions. That's an easy one to start with. I can imagine the kid reading about measles, mumps and chicken pox outbreaks and not wanting to get those diseases. Dad says, "okay, your choice."
I do believe research shows the vaccines are less hazardous for older children and adults. Not that I can give a link to prove it.

Quaestor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

The mother is right, the father is right, their son is right, too. Both vaxxers and anti-vaxxers need to acknowledge that vaccines are part of a risk management protocol, and reject their popular portrayal as magical elixirs.

Quaestor said...

Trumpit wrote: I don't want to be vaccinated against my will. I walked into a doctor's office once and he immediately injected me with vaccines that I didn't want or need. I've been sick ever since.

All of the above is true except the second and fifth verbs.

JaimeRoberto said...

Some vaccines are no brainers, like polio. The flu shot is only 60% effective in good years. The HPV vaccine is too new, and I'm willing to let other people's kids be the guinea pigs for that. Unfortunately, our son is like this kid, and got the HPV vaccine against our wishes when he was 19. He's old enough to make decisions for himself even if I think they are the wrong decisions.

funsize said...

When one is an adult, do ones parent's wishes really matter anymore? Other than acknowledging they exist as a nicety?

SeanF said...

Char Char Binks: "That there could be a vaccination that would give you immunity not from a medical disease but from your mother's wishes"

That didn't even occur to me as a possible source of confusion. You are LITERALLY nitpicking!


It's not a possible source of confusion (and Althouse never even implied she was confused), but it's definitely a source of amusement. I find the same humor in ambiguous language, myself.

And unless you're claiming that she is physically removing insect larvae from someone's hair or skin, you're mis-using the word "literally".

Rusty said...

Blogger Trumpit said...

I don't want to be vaccinated against my will. I walked into a doctor's office once and he immediately injected me with vaccines that I didn't want or need. I've been sick ever since. I hope he is dead. I should have killed him on the spot, but I don't think the police would have understood. SICK world we live in. Ironic that "vaxers" are trying to prevent illness, but instead cause it."

How old are you? Twelve?

John Ray said...

On the issue she stated DustBunny nailed it.

There was once a blog that did nothing but poked humor at headlines -- making fun of journalists lack of language command. I enjoyed it, but sadly it no longer exists.

Being an imported human to the U.S., I was vaxxed against smallpox. Later, polio. But there were no vaccines against mumps, measles and chicken pox. I acquired all three simultaneously, was in the hospital for a month. My babes were vaxxed, by damn.

Yes it's a risk, but so is driving a convertible.

traditionalguy said...

Vaccines are true miracle makers. Ask Jonas Salk's vaccinated children of America. The 1954 trial had 300,000 families volunteer their children and when the Safe and Effective announcement was made on April 12, 1955 there was a massive celebration egual to VJ Day that was almost made into a national Holiday. I was 10, and we all knew Polio victims. It was literally the worse disease epidemic ever known to man. And Salk's courage to make his vaccine wiped it out.

Anybody can put bad vaccines out. But they are still 1000% needed.

Phidippus said...

No ambiguity. He did both.

robother said...

He'll turn 21 in prison, doin life with no parole, but too late he'll realize his momma tried.

DiGi377 said...

I had measles as a kid. This was the 70s. I remember being sick but I didn't need to be hospitalized. I'm skeptical of the promotion of the idea that a childhood illness once common like measles is an utterly devastating disease that will bring untold suffering etc. I think the real reasons vaccines are pushed so much in this country is the economic cost. Our workplaces don't offer much sick leave for parents to take care of sick children and now most mothers work full time. Lack of flexibility and few options for parents drives the push to vaccinate for every possible illness - and we are fed the narrative that every disease is always life threatening. After all this is a country where most new mothers have to return to work after a few weeks and the baby gets put in daycare to be looked after by strangers.