Sunday, September 25, 2005

Stupid People

I'm copying this in whole cloth from another blogger, who is definitely quite articulate. He also knows how to frame an argument, so sit back and watch in awe.

Thanks, Driftglass.


Stupidity cannot be cured with money, or through education, or by legislation. Stupidity is not a sin, the victim can't help being stupid...”

That’s the start of a quote by Robert Heinlein that came to mind as I read this from the L.A. Times

A Mother's Denial, a Daughter's Death
By Charles Ornstein and Daniel Costello Times Staff Writers
Sat Sep 24, 7:55 AM ET

Christine Maggiore was in prime form, engaging and articulate, when she explained to a Phoenix radio host in late March why she didn't believe HIV caused AIDS. The HIV-positive mother of two laid out matter-of-factly why, even while pregnant, she hadn't taken HIV medications, and why she had never tested her children for the virus. "Our children have excellent records of health," Maggiore said on the Air America program when asked about 7-year-old Charlie and 3-year-old Eliza Jane Scovill. "They've never had respiratory problems, flus, intractable colds, ear infections, nothing. So, our choices, however radical they may seem, are extremely well-founded."
Seven weeks later, Eliza Jane was dead.
The cause, according to a Sept. 15 report by the Los Angeles County coroner, was AIDS-related pneumonia. These days, given advances in HIV care, it's highly unusual for any young child to die of AIDS. What makes Eliza Jane's death even more striking is that her mother is a high-profile, charismatic leader in a movement that challenges the basic medical understanding and treatment of acquired immune deficiency syndrome. Even now, Maggiore, a 49-year-old former clothing executive from Van Nuys, stands by the views she has espoused on "The Ricki Lake Show" and ABC's "20/20," and in Newsweek and Mothering magazines. She and her husband, Robin Scovill, said they have concerns about the coroner's findings and are sending the report to an outside reviewer.
"I have been brought to my emotional knees, but not in regard to the science of this topic," said Maggiore, author of an iconoclastic book about AIDS that has sold 50,000 copies. "I am a devastated, broken, grieving mother, but I am not second-guessing or questioning my understanding of the issue."
One doctor involved with Eliza Jane's care told The Times he has been second-guessing himself since the day he learned of the little girl's death. Dr. Jay Gordon, a Santa Monica pediatrician who had treated Eliza Jane since she was a year old, said he should have demanded that she be tested for human immunodeficiency virus when, 11 days before she died, Maggiore brought her in with an apparent ear infection. "It's possible that the whole situation could have been changed if one of the doctors involved — one of the three doctors involved — had intervened," said Gordon, who himself acknowledges that HIV causes AIDS. "It's hindsight, Monday-morning quarterbacking, whatever you want to call it. Do I think I'm blameless in this? No, I'm not blameless."
Mainstream AIDS organizations, medical experts and ethicists, long confounded and distressed by this small but outspoken dissident movement, say Eliza Jane's death crystallizes their fears. The dissenters' message, they say, is not just wrong, it's deadly. "This was a preventable death," said Dr. James Oleske, a New Jersey physician who never examined Eliza Jane but has treated hundreds of HIV-positive children. "I can tell you without any doubt that, at the outset of her illness, if she was appropriately evaluated, she would have been appropriately treated. She would not have died.
"You can't write a more sad and tragic story," Oleske said....
"Would I redo anything based on what happened?" she asked rhetorically during an interview this week. "I don't think I would. I think I acted with the best information and the best of intentions with all my heart."
...Word Is Getting Out
Since Eliza Jane's death, Maggiore and her husband have kept a relatively low profile, her friends said. But word is slowly reaching HIV dissidents around the country. Though shaken, most of them say they continue to support Maggiore and her contention that HIV is not the cause of AIDS. For her part, Maggiore said that her daughter's death has taken a toll on her health; she's had trouble eating, sleeping and, this past summer, simply breathing. She's treated her symptoms with Chinese herbs, walked five miles a day and practiced yoga, and is now feeling better, she said. She went to a sympathetic doctor, she said. "If I had gone to a regular AIDS doctor and told them I was HIV-positive, I have no doubt they would have blamed it on that." In the weeks after Eliza Jane's death, her parents created a website, , in her memory. Maggiore wrote lovingly of her daughter, wavering between despair at her loss and acceptance that Eliza Jane had simply chosen, as Maggiore put it, to "go home." She struggled most with the whys. "Why our child — so appreciated, so held, so carefully nurtured — and not one ignored, abused or abandoned?" she wrote. "How come what we offered was not enough to keep her here when children with far less — impatient distracted parents, a small apartment on a busy street, extended day care, Oscar Mayer Lunchables — will happily stay?"

Why did I lead off with that Heinlein quote?
Because it ends like this.
“...But stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentence is death, there is no appeal and execution is carried out automatically and without pity." Robert Heinlein – “Time Enough for Love"

This, in one tragic nutshell, is what is so wrong and incredibly dangerous about True Believers, and why they should never, ever be allowed anywhere near the levers of power. True Believers look like anybody. Once nice woman who was with the Heaven’s Gate cult reminded me a whole lot of my Mom. Cheery woman, very sweet, enthusiastic and jokey, giddy that she had found such a nice bunch of young people to keep company with...and looking forward to the arrival of the Mothership like a five-year-old on Christmas Eve waiting for Santa Claus. Just like my Mom, but with a single, blown chipset -- the one that keeps her from believe fatally crazy gibberish and stepping blissfully off into the grave -- and that woman is dead now, along with 38 others, who committed mass suicide in 1997.
Harlan Ellison, who has spend most of his life fighting this fight, wrote an essay about Heaven's Gate. About the lethal chasm between a rational approach to the Real World and the abyss of superstitious, magical thinking hysteria into which the True Believers all around us try to drag us. He writes here specifically of the distinction between “science fiction” and “sci-fi”, but lets face it, icky-dumb atavistic hate-religion allied with fake science is more on the march than ever. The news is daily filled with the spectacle of adults throwing litigious tantrums demanding that infantile crap like Creationism be taken seriously and stories of pharmacists refusing to fill the birth control prescription for consenting adults on the basis of their “faith”.
Their faith seems to consist largely in the belief that slavering, pinheads speak for God Almighty because said pinhead are holding a Bible, have excellent hair and a Confederate accent and preach a faith that insists God’s Grace requires that you be born stupid and hateful, you stay stupid and hateful and you die stupid and hateful. In such a world as this, Harlan’s essay seems more timely than ever. Here’s a snip.
...And that is the dichotomy of science fiction, as opposed to the tabloid mentality of UFO abductions, triangular-headed ETs, reinterpreted biblical apocrypha, and just plain bone stick stone gullibility. It is obscurantism and illiteracy, raised to the level of dogma. It requires that you be as ignorant today as you were yesterday, that you be no brighter than the sap who keeps playing three-card monte on a street corner with a hustler who will never cut you a break. "Sci-fi" is what the Rancho Santa Fe sleepers bought, in that flashy but adolescent shell-game called Waitin' for the UFO. They were philosophical suckers who turned away from the genuine wonders of the real world and all its solvable mysteries, to embrace the sophomore horse-puckey of astrology and government conspiracies and recastings of Jesus as a deep-space navigator. That has nothing to do with the problem-solving and curiosity of science has everything to do with the monster fear and dread produced by the dumbness of "sci-fi."

If you wonder why I have such an intractable loathing for Conservative Fundamentalists, this is what it comes down to. The simple fact that they are nothing more than Heaven’s Gate multiplied by a million, and in control of a nation armed with atomic weapons. The fact that, in addition to any number of hateful and bigoted doctrines, these people work for, pray for and deeply believe in the extinction of Life on Earth as a Good and Godly final coda to this wicked world. They want the whole of humanity dead and the planet reduced to a rubble-strewn funeral pyre because then Jebus will come and take them away to Heaven, and they are as serious as cancer about doing their level best to trigger the end of the world. And for sordid political gains, a certain political party in the country keeps giving these people -- who are adamantly pro-Armageddon -- more and more power and letting them inch closer to control over US Foreign Policy and the nuclear launch codes. When they succeed, True Believers usually end up dead and/or killing a lot of others: either way, they are Terminalists, believers in Final Answers and Last Chapters, and when the hour reaches Zero and the tumblers in their head all click into place, bad shit is about to come raining down on everyone in the blast radius.
That is the moment when, at a minimum, they’ll drag their kids out to Highway 61 for the Big Goodbye Sacrifice that the God of the True Believer always exacts in exchange for the keys to the Kingdom.
That is the moment you can be damned sure that somebody’s going to die. Sometimes whole countries or peoples.
Sometimes 913 human beings in the jungles of Guyana.
Sometimes 39, dressed in their dorky purple capes and Nikes, believing that their souls would thumb a ride to Nirvana aboard the UFO they were convinced was trailing along in the wake of the Hale-Bopp comet.
Sometimes it’s just one child.
And that's when they succeed.
When they fail, they never learn. They cannot learn. Since they have abandoned the very concept of reordering their beliefs according to Reality, they have left themselves nowhere else to go but further down the rabbit hole. They have cut out any self-correcting mechanism they might've once had, because the need for correction implies fault. Which implies doubt. And since True Believers cannot abide doubt in even trace amounts, they are left with:
"I am a devastated, broken, grieving mother, but I am not second-guessing or questioning my understanding of the issue."
They fall deeper into Psychotic Narcissism – which was all their True Belief ever was -- and maunder on about:
"Why our child — so appreciated, so held, so carefully nurtured — and not one ignored, abused or abandoned?" she wrote. "How come what we offered was not enough to keep her here when children with far less — impatient distracted parents, a small apartment on a busy street, extended day care, Oscar Mayer Lunchables — will happily stay?"
Listen to how utterly sick and self-absorbed this unhinged bitch has become. In her deluded theology, children die because they opt to, and children remain alive – even when faced with the unimaginable horrors of “extended day care, Oscar Mayer Lunchables” – only because they decide to “stay”. When things don’t go according to plan – which is always -- True Believers never question themselves. They blame God or their Victim for somehow, magically, overriding their Perfect Dogma, and end up believing:
“...that Eliza Jane had simply chosen, as Maggiore put it, to "go home."
How fucking insidious.This woman has fallen so fanatically in love with her own Perfect Dogma that she has destroyed any ability to judge whether or not her Dogma might possibly be in error. And since her HIV Cult God cannot possibly be wrong...some alternative theory -- no matter how objectively monstrous and evil -- must be true. It wasn't depraved indifference. It wasn't homicidal negligence. No, her daughter just “chose” to die for mysterious, magical reasons.
To which I can only add that it would be a great good if Ms. Maggiore would seriously consider “choosing” a "trip home" herself in the very near future. Before her stupid True Belief kills anyone else.


Blogger Worthington said...

EXCELLENT post. That woman murdered her daughter... pure and simple. Dying for your faith is one thing... sacrificing a little girl on the altar of ignorance is QUITE ANOTHER. You might like my essay on fundamentalism at

7:13 PM EDT  
Blogger aikane said...

A couple who moved from TN to FL and were accused of abusing foster children were found guilty and recently sentenced to prison.

The judge wasn't convinced that god had anything to do with withholding food, using cattle prods and ripping out toenails with pliers. He sentenced them to 15 years in the slammer.

Part of their court testimony:

"It is true that we live under our god and we are firm believers in the god almighty. There are things that we did because of what we were taught by the Biblical principals," John Dollar stated.

Judge sentences couple

9:34 PM EDT  
Blogger Walt said...

Ah, yes, the Dollars. Great people, who should be disembowelled with red-hot pincers (in accordance with Biblical principles).

10:15 PM EDT  

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