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An evidence-based resource for journalists

Autism News Beat header image 2

Is Chuck Norris the new Jenny McCarthy?

November 6th, 2011 · 3 Comments · Critical thinking, Useful idiots

You may know him as TV’s Walker, Texas Ranger, or the star of low-budget shoot-em-ups. Now Chuck Norris is venturing into new territory – self-appointed anti-vaccine spokesperson.

Blogging on the right-wing website World Net Daily, Norris takes aim at the CDC, IOM, and the FDA  in an article clumsily titled The Venom in Fed’s Vaccinations:

While most mainstream news covers presidential campaigns or economic conditions, the feds are going under the radar and your skin – literally – with something that could be detrimental to your children’s and your health. And news just broke about the cover-up, but few, if any, agencies passed along the wire.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, one in 110 children have autism spectrum disorders, or ASDs, which is strikingly higher than ratios just two decades ago. (ASDs are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause communication, behavioral and social challenges.) The National Autism Association, or NAA, calls the 644 percent increase of ASDs among all U.S. children since the early 1990s “a tragic epidemic of autism.”

The rest of his article is a potpourri of anti-vaccine urban legends and fever dreams. He quotes a press release issued by Mark Geier, the Maryland doctor known for chemically castrating disabled children, and approvingly cites the crank National Autism Association’s warning about flu vaccines. The tone is as frantic as any anti-vaccine screed, right down to the mangled syntax:

To regress, the latest correlation revelation between vaccines and autism will fly in the face (or at least may cause some confusion) because of a 2011 August report from the Institute of Medicine, the nation’s bastion of authoritative health and medicine advice, just cleared children vaccines as autism culprits.

Chuck Norris doesn’t need language. Language needs him.

In a way, Norris’ D-list movie career has prepared him well for this new role. Oddly, his film titles echo the mindset of his fellow travelers in the anti-vaccine movement: Silent Rage, Invasion USA, Code of Silence, Missing in Action. It’s as if Norris emerged fully-formed from a Generation Rescue focus group, a grotesque cartoon character ready to spread the gospel of anti-science hysteria.

None of this should come as a surprise to anyone who’s been following vaccine rejectionism over the years. To call the movement fragmented doesn’t begin to describe the hodgepodge of half-baked hypotheses, misguided beliefs, internet rumors, and double-bank shot conspiracies that have led to a resurgence of whooping cough and measles. The anti-vaccine script is a perfect fit for tough guy Norris, the story arc familiar to generations of movie goers – somebody does somebody wrong, and a reluctant, troubled hero sets things right.

It’s all so perfect. Except that we go to the movies to escape reality.


"Real men stare down contagion"




3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 John R. // Nov 8, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Chuck should be fighting diseases, not vaccines! I’m sure he means well but he’s misguided.

  • 2 Laurentius Rex // Nov 10, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    We’re doomed I tell you doomed!

  • 3 Melinda Z // Jan 25, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    Thank You for sharing this information. In all the craziness that surrounds Autism it does help to have a strong minded person take on the verity of well meaning attacks. It would be great to have a person to look to to be able to fight for us that have voices lost in the crowds.

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