Robert F Kennedy, Jr. was recently tapped to lead a commission on vaccine safety.
Good news, everybody: President-elect Donald Trump has reportedly asked Robert F. Kennedy, Jr to chair a federal commission on “vaccine safety and scientific integrity.” In addition to being one of the original Robert F. Kennedy’s 11 children, RFK Jr. is an activist who believes vaccines cause autism—an idea that has been roundly rejected by scientists and doctors, found to have no merit in dozens of experimental trials, and traced to one article published in Lancet 20 years ago and subsequently retracted. But what do scientists know? How many of them are Kennedys? Fucking none, that’s how many—not one Kennedy has become a scientist, because science sucks. It’s not because they couldn’t do it. Why, RFK Jr. himself went to Harvard, even after he flunked out of Milbrook. He’s just naturally right about things, the same way he is naturally rich: by being a Kennedy. I quote the Washington Post:
“President-elect Trump has some doubts about the current vaccine policies, and he has questions about it,” Kennedy said. “His opinion doesn’t matter, but the science does matter, and we ought to be reading the science, and we ought to be debating the science.”
Yeah, when are people going to start reading and debating science? We’ve left the science behind vaccines to doctors and scientists for too long. It’s time to get some famous rich people in there to straighten this out and decide whether polio should come back.
Various iterations of internet meme Pepe the Frog
A couple weeks ago in Friday links, we embarrassed ourselves by announcing that Pepe the Frog—an internet meme originating in an image by cartoonist Matt Furie and subsequently popularized on 4chan—had been co-opted by white supremacists. It turned out the Daily Beast article on which that claim was based was poorly sourced. Yet today brings sweet albeit deeply complicated vindication: Pepe the Frog has been declared a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League. Speaking as a person whose mentions have recently been overrun, I can confirm that Pepe seems extremely popular among Twitter Nazis.
A Twitter user rails against the wrong Establishment.
It’s kind of thrilling to see a Donald Trump supporter vituperate the women’s magazine The Establishment on Twitter. She has mistaken one of our most relentlessly abstract concepts for something specific and real. Can we blame her? Trump, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders, even Hillary Clinton—all the viable candidates for president rail against the establishment. No one can say exactly what it is, but we all hate it. So many of us have defined ourselves against the establishment that one can hardly believe it’s still established. The real estate tycoon who is the son of a real estate mogul isn’t part of it. Neither are the senators, nor even the former first lady. If the election continues on its present trajectory, the establishment won’t even include the president of the United States. So what is it? It’s the strategy that has ruled American marketing for decades.
A meme Slate called “kind of sexist”
Here’s a worst-outcome life: write a daily blog about things that aren’t actually sexist. When someone calls sexism on what appears to be innocuous, leaping to defend it is a low-percentage play. Part of the problem is that so many things really do turn out to be sexist, when you think about them. That’s the essence of the feminist critique. But pointing out what isn’t, in fact, sexist is also a bad risk because even when you’re right, the reward is small. You get the sweet feeling of proving someone wrong, but the person you proved wrong is invariably a defender of women. Even if logic and integrity are on your side, that sympathetic character is not. I mention this problem because Slate just said the Bernie vs. Hillary meme is sexist. By “the Bernie vs. Hillary meme,” I don’t mean the 2016 campaign for president. I mean what’s after the jump.
Yale students confront professor Nicholas Christakis over an email his wife wrote.
“I’m not politically correct,” says the person who is racially, sexually and anatomically correct. The 1990s’ favorite straw man is back, possibly for real but definitely as something to fret about. For the last several days, Yale has been embroiled in debate over an email professor Erika Christakis wrote suggesting campus administrators not supervise students’ Halloween costumes. Students were outraged, calling for Christakis’s resignation and demanding that Nicholas Christakis, her husband, apologize. “You should not sleep at night,” one student shouted at him. “You’re disgusting.” It is pretty disgusting when a man refuses to apologize for his wife saying kids should get to wear what they want. This seems like another troubling indicator that today’s college students are less interested in free speech and more interested in enforcing a simplistic ethos of identity. But what if they’re not?