By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) Marshawn Lynch’s silence is too deafening for crusty media. Josh Gordon and Johnny Manziel are a disgrace to themselves. What’s with all these idiot broadcasters paying for sex?
There are lots of hot takes out there regarding the NFL and non-football-related behavior. Nine times out of ten when it comes to telling grown men who play sports for a living how they need to behave when not entertaining their audience, it’s at best opinions suggesting they stop making people uncomfortable and at worst coded paternalistic lecturing. Ethics in some writers’ idea of gentlemanship, if you will. Rarely is it about curbing any tangible danger to others.
Yet Jay Cutler has largely escaped criticism for behavior that actually poses a threat to the well-being of others. See, Cutler and his wife, professional famous person Kristin Cavallari, don’t vaccinate their children.
While his play as the Chicago Bears’ quarterback has left much to be desired, Cutler receives a lot of undue criticism that usually amounts to people projecting their hatred for his personality into their football analysis or assessment of him as a human being. To his credit, he hardly has ever seemed to break apathetic stride regarding haters — even when his wife openly and cluelessly invites haters to come into their world and dump on the guy for having a tough day as a dad that every parent has gone through.
Most parents vaccinate their children against very preventable diseases, though, so that they, their kids and the rest of civilization has fewer bad days without things that evil science had pretty much eradicated at the turn of the century — like, oh, say, measles.
We might be inclined to not be too alarmed at the thought of that disease because next to none of us has probably ever had it. That’s because of vaccines. To then eschew those vaccines isn’t repeating the same phrase over and over in a postgame press conference or missing a team meeting because of a hangover. It’s pain and possibly pneumonia or brain damage or death that you’re willfully putting other people at risk for. Your own children and other people’s children — none of whom can make choices regarding his or her health — most of all.
“You know, at the end of the day, I’m just a mom,” Cavallari said last year. “There are very scary statistics out there regarding what is in vaccines and what they cause — asthma, allergies, ear infections, all kinds of things. We feel like we are making the best decision for our kids.”
Telling some to vaccinate their children isn’t telling someone how to parent. (Telling someone not to name a son “Jaxon Wyatt Cutler” would be doing that.) Despite what some politicians might say — because of course let’s politicize preventable diseases for campaign purposes — vaccinating a child shouldn’t be a choice. A child’s religious upbringing, education and terrible hairstyles get to be parental choices. None of those literally put me at risk for serious rash and fever.
“Just how nonsensical is the idea of ‘choice’ when it comes to vaccinations? For that, I defer to this ‘opinion’ piece from the Onion, titled, brilliantly, ‘I Don’t Vaccinate My Child Because It’s My Right To Decide What Eliminated Diseases Come Roaring Back.’
“The joke here plays on the concept of herd immunity: When enough people in a community are vaccinated against a disease, the entire population — including those too young or immunocompromised to receive the vaccine — is protected, because the virus is no longer able to find enough hosts through which to sustain itself. The more transmissible an infection, the higher the level of herd immunity needs to be to keep it at bay. And measles is one of the most transmissible infectious diseases: In an unprotected population, one infected person can pass the disease on to anywhere between 12 to 18 people. That’s known as its basic reproductive number, or R0. The R0 for Ebola, in comparison, is 2.”
This sort of actual logic doesn’t permeate the holistic brains of anti-vaxxers like Cutler and Cavallari, though. Because, like, scary books and stuff.
“Listen, to each their own,” she said. “I understand both sides of it. I’ve read too many books about autism and there’s some scary statistics out there. It’s our personal choice, and, you know, if you’re really concerned about your kid get them vaccinated.”
If Cutler claimed some work he and Cavallari had read caused them to make a “personal choice” to teach their children that homosexuals are inferior people, the backlash would be immense, and he’d likely be penalized by his employer. But reading actually debunked pseudoscience that’s making itself a nice little cottage industry preying on really stupid parents and literally threatens the physical health of society seems to get the big media shoulder shrug. After Cavallari exposed herself and Cutler as awful parents and awful member of Team Humanity, they took heat in column inches for about a week in March 2014. Then the news cycle moved on.
Now anti-vaxxers are big news again because Disneyland is full of measles, and rather than actually read credible medical evidence or incredibly logical arguments, the obtuse are doubling down with conspiracy theories, snake oilers and Internet message board gospel.
To be fair, Cutler has never publicly made vaccination skepticism his talking point. At the same time, when has he really been taken to task for it? Not during “Jay Day” just prior to the next Bears game. Not on his weekly radio show during the season.
And even if Cutler hasn’t been a vocal anti-vaxxer, his wife more than once has made it known that the decision to willfully expose their children and other people to pain and possible death is both hers and Cutler’s (as any choice — even a passively bioterrorist one — between two parents should be).
Cutler’s therefore complicit in really irresponsible behavior that threatens innocent people. That isn’t a bad audible or a forced interception.
The media doubles down on guys like Manziel, Gordon and Lynch, supposed detriments just to themselves and the sanctity of the sport and none of whom pose much of a threat to anyone’s actual physical health other than some middle-aged gag reflexes.
But where’s the pressing of Jay Cutler, professional sports’ punch-me-face of anti-vaxxing and someone, quietly or not, who is engaged in actual bad behavior?
Follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe.