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Recent Missouri Editorials

April 16, 2019

The Columbia Daily Tribune, April 10

There’s a cure for anti-vax ignorance

Some Missouri lawmakers are kowtowing to religious fundamentalists by supporting a bill that ignores proven science and stokes anti-vaccination fearmongering.

A panel of lawmakers heard testimony from parents claiming they were being “bullied” and discriminated against by daycares, doctors and county health departments because their children haven’t been immunized.

What these people and organizations are actually trying to discriminate against is ignorance.

A bill being pushed by Republicans would bar discriminating against children who aren’t vaccinated for religious reasons. A bill such as this one needs a shot of reality because the anti-vaxer movement is taking a toll on cities from coast to coast, and Missouri is not immune, as recent news reports have shown.

Communities in Oregon, Washington and New York have declared public health emergencies because of a rash of measles cases due to unvaccinated children. Ten cases have been reported in Missouri, with more expected to come.

Missouri already has an exemption for parents who refuse to vaccinate their children on religious grounds. This new legislative effort will accomplish little except to legitimize concerns of misinformed parents. Belief should never take priority over facts.

The measles virus was nearly eradicated in the U.S. and many other developed parts of the world. Prior to the creation of the measles vaccine in 1963, about 3,000 people contracted measles per every 1 million. By the year 2000 that number had dropped to 1 case per 1 million people, according to The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

A few years ago a new disease started spreading among parents: ignorance. Fortunately there’s a cure: scientific facts. Sadly the cure doesn’t come in the form of a shot. If it did we’d know of a few lawmakers in need of multiple doses.

Diseases like measles, polio and smallpox were nearly wiped out thanks to scientific breakthroughs. Measles is now making a comeback because too many parents would rather trust conspiracy theorists and anti-science hacks who validate fear and paranoia using misleading information.

It doesn’t matter if you can find a Google search talking about the connection between vaccinations and autism, for example. There is no conclusive proof, just speculation by misinformed people who have no qualms about leading others down a dangerous path.

You can also find “evidence” through online searches showing “proof” that the Earth is flat, the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax and Fred Trump was born in Germany. In short, you can find information on the internet to support anything, but that still doesn’t make it true.

Measles is infectious for up to four days before skin rashes appear. That’s four days that unvaccinated children may expose others who either can’t receive the vaccine for medical reasons or are too young to be vaccinated (children are typically vaccinated around 12 months old).

It’s nothing short of ludicrous for a parent to say they have a religious right to potentially expose and kill someone else’s child by infecting them with measles, mumps or any other easily-preventable disease. It’s even more ludicrous that lawmakers are indulging this way of thinking.

Let’s hope someone finds an immediate cure for these lawmakers and their misguided efforts. We said earlier one cure entails reading scientific facts. The only other cure we know of is called Election Day, but that’s more about vaccinating ourselves from the terminally ignorant.

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The St. Joseph News-Press, April 12

In January, few critics spoke up when Gov. Mike Parson circled highway funding as a primary goal for the 2019 legislative session.

Parson, who was still lieutenant governor last year at this time, has learned one thing while trying to guide his signature priority through the Legislature.

You can promise anything in January. Getting it done as the calendar turns to spring, that’s something else all together.

The governor finds a less-than-receptive audience for his bridge infrastructure plan, even among fellow Republicans. This comes after voters last fall rejected a gas-tax increase that he publicly supported.

Parson wants to borrow $350 million to repair 250 bridges in the state. He promoted the plan with a statewide tour to highlight bridges in desperate need of fixing, including one near Chillicothe with chunks of missing concrete.

Conservative lawmakers expressed a dim view of taking on more debt to pay for infrastructure improvement. As usual, Kansas City and St. Louis lawmakers struggle to support anything that benefits rural Missouri.

The governor’s proposal is effectively dead in the House. Last month, a House committee advanced a plan to use $100 million in general revenue that hasn’t been earmarked for a specific purpose.

This might save on interest payments and answer philosophical concerns about long-term debt, but this plan isn’t perfect. Colleges and universities are right to worry that tax dollars could be diverted from higher education or other discretionary sources.

The use of general revenue, rather than a dedicated funding source from the gas tax or bonds, raises questions about whether future legislatures will remain disciplined enough to continue funding infrastructure if revenue gets tight. Consider that in St. Joseph, the city may postpone some of its street resurfacing contracts to cover a budget gap that came to light this year.

While $800,000 for city resurfacing is a sliver of what the Missouri Department of Transportation needs to repair highways and bridges, the example shows how easy it will be to sacrifice long-term infrastructure to short-term budget needs.

In Jefferson City, state lawmakers said they certainly would prefer to continue pouring $100 million into Missouri’s highways in future budgets, but there’s no guarantee. We don’t like the sound of that, and neither should anyone who squeezes the steering wheel a little harder while driving across a bridge in Missouri.

Now, Missouri’s senators are moving closer to compromise that appears to provide more funding than the House plan while speeding up payments on debt. Missourians, especially those in rural areas, remain hopeful on a consensus on vital repairs to state roads and bridges.

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The Kansas City Star, April 12

At UMKC, a D-List conservative was sad to be squirted with the makings of a bubble bath ′ The Kansas City Star

BREAKING: OK, so that wasn’t bleach that one of a handful of protesters squirted on a D-List conservative speaker at a poorly attended event at UMKC on Thursday, as the speaker first tweeted.

Instead, well, it was “lavender oil and some other non-toxic household liquids,” according to a statement from Chancellor Mauli Agrawal.

The speaker, Michael Knowles, who writes for Ben Shapiro’s website, The Daily Wire, was on campus for a Young Americans for Freedom event. Video of it shows rows and rows of empty seats at his talk, “Men Are Not Women.”

Knowles couldn’t wait to claim victimhood: “This is what conservatives on campus are up against,” he said after the event. “This is the kind of violence conservatives on campus stand to face if they state plain facts and refuse to kowtow to leftist fantasy.”

Protesters with signs that said, “Trans rights are human rights” and “Trans men are men” had originally planned a silent walkout from the event.

The disruption was the event, which would otherwise have been a non-event.

Knowles later tweeted that, alas, he’d only been pelted with the makings of a bubble bath by “a hoaxer who was fine getting charged with assault but wanted to avoid a felony.”

This tiny tit for tiny tat — and no, we’re not complaining that it wasn’t a more serious attack, or that only one student was tackled, tased and charged with assault — really just shows the extent of the mutual trollery sometimes referred to as the debate over free speech on campus.

Everyone has the right to speak and everyone has the right to protest.

But at a certain point — one we passed a while ago — the outrage kabuki is not so much provocative as it is predictable.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, for one, is not yet bored, tweeting that, “This kind of behavior is unacceptable & shouldn’t be tolerated — toy guns and fake chemicals or not, these actions put ppl at risk. All students deserve free speech protections & shouldn’t be persecuted for political beliefs. Appreciate local police for defusing the situation.”

But persecution so ardently sought shouldn’t be so reliably conferred.

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