I got into an argument on Twitter today. “Wow Jon, what a fascinating lead! Next, can you tell us about your last Candy Crush score on Facebook? And how’s that sinus infection going?” Look, I know my Twitter squabbles are boring, but I was trying to make a larger point before you so rudely interrupted me, Voice In My Head.
Anyway, Twitter peeps were going back and forth on childhood vaccination and I foolishly jumped in the middle of it. I had related the story about my children getting whooping cough from non-vaccinated children in their classroom. My kids had been immunized as babies but were nearing the time for their booster shots. As it turned out, our whole family was quarantined for a week and fed a steady diet of stomach-churning antibiotics. That experience left me less libertarian on the issue than I once had been. “Your rights end at the tip of my nose,” and all that.
One interlocutor noted that vaccinations might cause autism (they don’t). Another wondered if the State can mandate immunization (sure). But shouldn’t parents have the right to say no? (Not if they put the community at risk.) All fair questions and a fine debate to have. And so it went until one person replied with what he felt was a trump card: “That really offends me!”
Ummm… So what?
As a teenager, I was easily offended. Any perceived slight would earn an immediate “That’s not fair!” to which adults within earshot would either roll their eyes or ignore. (I didn’t think that was fair either, nor do my tween daughters today.) At 15, I became an evangelical Christian and appended this teenage whininess to my faith. When evil sinners denigrated my God or my inchoate beliefs, I would angrily condemn their blasphemies. After all the Good Book states, “God cannot be mocked.” The Big Guy upstairs needs an uptight high schooler to defend His honor!
Wednesday we had a vastly more violent reaction to religious offense. As is all too common, Islamist radicals murdered individuals who mocked not their God, but a flawed human whom they claim as a prophet. Jihadists never seem as defensive about Islam’s other prophets, be they Jesus, Moses or Jonah. No, only the scimitar-swinging Mohammed is so fragile that he cannot even be illustrated without a bloodbath of vengeance.
In the Navy and in college, I was surrounded by petulant atheists who took joy in denigrating traditional religious beliefs. By then I’d learned that God was fully equipped to protect His reputation from their silly insults.