Chili’s was all set for a fundraiser to benefit the National Autism Association last week, but pulled out at the last minute, citing “guest feedback.” While some are applauding this decision, others are angry and disappointed over what they see as Chili’s caving in to bullying. The goal of helping families dealing with autism has gotten lost in the crossfire over whether or not there may be a link between autism and vaccines.
The National Autism Association is one of many autism organizations that provides support, information, and practical help for families. Autism-related wandering is a very large emphasis of this particular group. According to the mission statement of the NAA Autism & Safety: Wandering Prevention Facebook Page, the goal of the group is “to reduce autism-related wandering incidents and deaths by raising awareness about autism elopement, sharing information and safety tips that will help keep children & adults with autism safe, taking action on legislative items and other initiatives, and posting ASD missing-persons alerts for wider distribution.”
Many families have received tangible help from the NAA. Because there are links and statements on the group’s webpage acknowledging the possibility of a link between vaccines and autism, a firestorm has erupted which has resulted in the restaurant Chili’s backing out of their fundraising commitment. Several business and medical publications blasted Chili’s ahead of the fundraiser, citing information on the NAA website that does not fit their views. Most of the other autism awareness groups deny any possible link between vaccines and autism.
Passionate debate and attacks have erupted on social media and in communications with Chili’s. Many on the pro-vaccination side have mocked and ridiculed anyone who even entertains the possibility that vaccines could be related to the dramatic increase in autism in recent years. There are articles and comments saying that any link has been debunked and disproven. Anti-vaccination people counter with links to articles and studies that show that there are indeed links between autism and vaccines. There is much passion on both sides of the argument.
The pro-vaccination forces, backed by the pharmaceutical industry, has grown ever more forceful in their rhetoric that no thinking person would ever question the value of vaccines, asserting that their safety is a foregone conclusion. However, there is an ever-growing alternative segment of the population that does not accept that premise, instead choosing to delay or forego completely vaccines for their children.
One side points to a large volume of studies. The other side maintains that most of those studies were paid for by those with a financial interest in the outcomes thereof, calling into question the validity of those studies. One side points to VAERS, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, which is the government’s own database co-sponsored by the CDC and the FDA.
Though it would appear from the media and from medical sources that the issue is completely settled, and only a few wackos question the veracity, it is far from being settled, and the debate rages on. There are abundant pending court cases and lawsuits, in the United States and in the rest of the world. Credibility has been called into question on both sides of the debate. And even the package inserts for certain vaccines include autism as a listed side-effect.
Into this fray comes Chili’s, a restaurant chain trying to serve the community by offering a fundraiser. Most of the funds to be raised in this campaign were to go to the Big Red Safety Box program, an outreach that provides families with resources to keep autistic children from wandering off, as well as resources for getting them back home if they do wander off. That program is out of funds at present. The Chili’s fundraiser would have enabled them to continue this very real help for families living with autism.
But the NAA will have to find another source of funding, for the crime of their website acknowledging that a possibility exists for vaccines and autism to be related. Rather than being thankful that the organization is keeping all options open, continuing to seek more information on the causes of autism, the thought police have come along to shut down any voice of dissent from the mainstream party line.
Innocent families are now caught in the crossfire.
Freedom of speech has all but been forgotten. The cherished American value of respecting the views of others has been cast aside in favor of political correctness. Though autism is without a defined cause or cure, certain lines of questioning simply will not be tolerated, and apparently must be squashed.
Chili’s has been told in no uncertain terms that “resistance is futile.” Any view of autism that entertains the possibility of a link with vaccines is apparently not acceptable, no matter how much an organization like the National Autism Association does good for the people it serves. Has vaccination become an issue where our tolerant society will only tolerate one view? It certainly appears that way at Chili’s.