Dear Jenny McCarthy

Much to the dismay of public health professionals across the nation, you’ve been given a new chance in the spotlight thanks to your new co-hosting gig on ABC’s The View. Congratulations! From MTV icon in the days when they still played some music to public menace, you’ve come a long way.

We all know you’re not a fan of vaccines; some days you blame them for your son’s autism and some days you claim you just want them “safer”, but you’ve contributed to a world where fewer children are vaccinated against preventable diseases. According to there have been 118,794 cases of vaccine preventable diseases in the United States since you started telling people vaccines were scary.

And how did you make vaccines seem so scary? Did you tell people vaccines would kill their children? No, you told them vaccines would break their children, that they would make their children defective rejects – like yours. I often get offended by the way you speak about autistic children, on behalf of my son and on behalf of my autistic friends. But the way you speak about your own son makes me weep.

Whether your son is autistic or has some other condition or is an “indigo baby” like you once claimed, dear Jenny, you speak of having him as if it were some cross you had to bear. Children listen – even non-verbal children – and they pick up on how their parents talk about them. Speak to and about him kindly now, while there is time to repair some of the damage.

Accept your son. Love him for who he is. Stop publicly flogging him for failing to meet your expectations. This may not be the child you asked for or the child you wanted, but this is the child you have and you owe it to him to love him with all your heart. You brought him into this world with the intention of parenting him. You owe it to him to see this through and to do it right. He does not owe you being a different child, the one you really wanted.

I had planned to write you an angry letter, about how your attempts to use autistic children as scare tactics makes the world a more hostile place for my son and the children and adults like him. But honestly, I just worry about your son. I worry that you having a fresh new microphone on The View will only give you more opportunities to let the world know you don’t think your son is good enough.

Please reconsider everything.


Mother of an autistic son

Occupy Safely: Jail

The Occupy Movement has spread now to over 100 countries, and the total number jailed has now surpassed 3500. There are a few safety tips I guess we should discuss. One thing we all have to remember is this: Some of us are going to get hurt. It is tragic, but it is true. However, there are ways we can reduce the risks. I’ll be dividing this into four main sections: Jail, Police Brutality, Weather Exposure, and Tear Gas. Today let’s talk about jail.

For those of you who have never been to jail: It sucks. You will be cold. You will sit on “benches” made of concrete or cinder block or metal – for hours. You may sit in a police transport vehicle for hours before being booked into a jail. You will be bored, uncomfortable, and quite possibly scared. It may be more than 12 hours between your arrest and your next opportunity to have food, water, or a visit to the bathroom, much less your phone call. (So eat before the raid.)

“Food” will also be the most cost-effective substandard fare your area’s for-profit prison system can legally get away with serving. Your dietary restrictions – including legitimate fatal food allergies – may very well be ignored. There is no vegan alternative, so don’t expect it.

You will almost certainly not have access to your prescription medications, no matter how vital it is you take them at a certain time. This is incredibly important. If you need medication to maintain healthy body functioning, jail may be a potentially fatal risk for you.

You may be vaccinated against your will. In Florida, for example, all inmates are required to receive a Tuberculosis vaccine. Exemptions for health conditions that result in lowered immunity are not provided. If you refuse the vaccination, you will be placed in solitary confinement until you are released from jail. So again, if you have lowered immunity or cannot receive a jail-administered vaccination for other health reasons (like you’re on the organ transplant waiting list) try not to get arrested.

If you are female, you will likely be subjected to a urine test (possibly while someone watches you pee: more on this later) to determine if you are pregnant. If you are pregnant, you may be moved to another jail or to another section within the jail. The urine test may also be used to determine if you are guilty of “internal possession” (having evidence of prior drug use in your urine) which is a crime in some states like Hawaii.  Please be aware many perfectly legal substances such as poppy seed muffins and Ibuprofin can result in false positives for drug use (heroin and marijuana, respectively) so check to see if there are internal possession laws in your state. If you are falsely accused of a drug possession charge, get an attorney not a public defender.

Back to people watching you pee though: It’s going to happen. There is no such thing as “privacy” in jail. Your body will be examined and touched by strangers (guards) and there are no guarantees your cell mate or mates will be fellow protesters. If you’re there long enough, eventually you’ll need to defecate and for that as well you will not have privacy. If this is something you don’t think you’ll be able to handle for any reason, you may want to also consider avoiding arrest.

If you’ve decided you can be arrested in defense of your encampment (or for “failing to disperse” or whatever charge they come up with) plan ahead.

  • Eat and use the bathroom before an expected raid or camp eviction.
  • Leave your cell phone with a trusted fellow Occupier or someone who won’t be present when the police arrive. Alternatively, make sure you put a passcode on your phone so the police can’t delete videos and photos of arrests or police brutality. (It happens.)
  • Write the phone number for the National Lawyers Guild office in your city on your arm in permanent marker.
  • Whenever possible, have a non-arrested Occupy member get a list of the names and birthdates of each arrested person, and keep your Facebook and Twitter pages updated with their status. (For this using simply numbers is fine like “12 arrested last night, 7 released already, 4 getting out on bail later today, but one being held on possession.”)
  • Leave non-emergency prescription medications at home or with a fellow Occupier and for everyone’s sake please keep illegal drugs out of the encampments.

All of these points are made to encourage you to Occupy Safely, not to discourage you from Occupying. Our first amendment rights to freedom of the press, of speech, of assembly and the right to bring grievances to our government are all clearly under attack and we will not ensure by failing to fight for them.