Democracy and Wisdom

California governor Jerry Brown signed a vaccine law barring belief exemptions saying that not only is science on the side of vaccines, that on the whole the benefits of vaccines out- weights the risks; vaccines also protect the community, he said. The law was prompted by the aftermath of a measles outbreak last December that began at Disneyland and quickly spread to several states infecting 150 people. While all 50 states mandate immunizations, 20 allow personal belief exemptions. To those who were against the use of vaccines, the law is an anathema. Not only do they not believe in its reasons and substance, some see it as government infringing upon their rights. A former gubernatorial candidate, Tim Donelly, has filed paperwork for a referendum to allow voters to decide, and signatures are being gathered at the time of this writing. In addition, three days after the law was signed, several hundred opponents held a rally in Santa Monica with signs such as “vaccines kill” and “we’re not going away”,and Tony Muhammad of the nation of Islam is among those who want the law repealed.
Personally I see vaccines as necessary. I’m glad that polio is practically eradicated and no child needs grow up with its effects, and am equally glad that diseases like measles, whooping coughs et al are rare because of them. While I can’t agree with vaccines’ opponents, I recognize their efforts as part of democracy in action and celebrate the fact that they can protest and try to get their views across without fear of reprisals. Democracy is good. Democracy with wisdom is better, and placing the good of the whole over our personal beliefs is wise. Given that 82% of California voters think that vaccines should be mandatory and 87% think they are safe, it does look that wisdom may prevail after all.