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Conspiracy theorists are bad for your health
'Anti-vaxxers want to kill your babies, stage a coup and cause another lockdown'
These people are terrorists who'd happily kill us all for a false ideology, says Fleet Street Fox. Anyone who objects to vaccines, folic acid in bread, or democracy should be jailed and deradicalised
By Fleet Street Fox Columnist
13:41, 20 Sep 2021 Updated 14:22, 20 Sep 2021
Imagine if the Taliban was targeting the NHS for destruction.
Picture someone determined to live in the 14th century and drag you, your family, and your democracy back there too. What wonders that'll do for infectious disease, maternal mortality rates, and your right to vote.
It's what you'd expect from the Taliban, isn't it? And it is reasonable to say promoting those ideas, forcing them on others, or joining such a group of fatally-thick knuckledraggers is so likely to kill people that it should be a crime.
Only this isn't the Taliban. It's your mate on Facebook, or Nicki Minaj. Or Piers Corbyn, whose unrestrained Messiah Complex is all the proof we need that Britain's mental health services are seriously under-resourced.
Over the past year, these people have somehow convinced 5 million reasonably-educated British adults, including 40,000 whose actual job it is to care for the vulnerable, not to protect each other from a super-infectious strain of a deadly new disease.
They have promoted the collapse of the NHS more effectively than the most-rabid, table-chewing backbench Tory. If ISIS was using Facebook to spread lies that killed people as surely as that, they'd not only massively increase their body count but Zuckerberg would have been forced to boot them off.
They have called for a US Capitol-style insurrection, and the brother of the ex-Labour leader has suggested they need to "take down the vaccination centres, take down the town halls". If the IRA was marching around London shouting that through a megaphone, there'd be troops back in the Bogside by teatime.
And today the same sort of idiot has greeted the news that folic acid will be added to flour to protect against baby abnormalities by saying the nation was being "dosed" with "poison".
Someone calling themselves a "kind, decent family man" wrote about "medication of the masses" and "jabbing poison in the body" and "poison in the bread". A "naturopathic doctor" claimed "folic acid is poison". And many repeated conspiracy theories about how man-made folic acid is toxic to 50% of people with a particular gene, when the evidence is that it makes just about everyone healthier.
If these people were wearing swastikas and throwing Nazi salutes, the head of MI5 would be giving interviews about how the biggest threat to British lives was baby-killing fascists.
Instead, well, it's just nutters innit. And no-one stops to think about how the Taliban, the IRA, Al Qaeda, neo-Nazis and ISIS were all just nutters, once, and mostly still are.
Perhaps the difference is intent. The world's terrorist organisations aim to create terror, whereas the anti-thinking brigade do it by accident.
But the damage they do is far greater. The Lockerbie bomb killed 270, while 7/7 claimed 50 lives. Telling lies about jabs could kill thousands among the unvaccinated, and thousands more as a side-effect of lockdown. A lack of folic acid causes 800 terminations, 5 miscarriages or stillbirths, and almost 200 live births of terribly ill children every year in the UK. Telling women they should actively avoid the stuff will only increase that number.
Folic acid helps the spine form properly in the womb, and in a modern diet we just don't get enough of it. Half of all pregnancies are unplanned, and even those that are often don't get the memo about the need for folate supplements.
Aside from the avoidable damage done to children, neural tube defects cause immense grief and stress to parents and families. There is a cost to society, the NHS, and to the sanity of hopeful parents. And if it was Al Qaeda doing whatever it could to make NTDs more prevalent, we'd go to war to stop it.
We know they're not particularly bright. We know that flour has been fortified with vitamins for 70 years, that there's folic acid in Frosties, and that of all the ingredients in your breakfast cereal worth worrying about it's sugar that should be top of the list. We know that wherever they've added folic acid to the diet, deformed babies are less likely, and that it can also help the general health of men and children too.
But in the same way as terror networks have been born, a movement is growing that greets every good new thing as an evil that must be shunned. A vaccine, a vitamin, or your right to vote for who's in the town hall, is all at risk if the whackos find a way to break into the mainstream.
When they find a calm, reasonable-sounding, public relations dream to provide the relatable face for their lunacy - and they will, if not stopped - vaccines become less effective, vitamins less popular, and voting less likely.
If Britain goes back into lockdown this winter, our government and our conspiracy theorists will be equally responsible for it, and for the deaths of a winter wave. There is not a terror group or tyrant in the world capable of something that damaging, nor quite as likely to get away with it.
The 14th century was grim and brutal for everyone, whether you owned a castle or not
We place sanctions on North Korea, and freeze the assets of Vladimir Putin and his cronies. We send drones to take out troublemakers in Syria and send special forces in to the Iraqi badlands. But with homegrown idiots who are far more deadly to our health, we guarantee them freedom of speech, let them gather outside Parliament, and allow them to proselytise in plain sight.
If you abandon your country to join ISIS, you can be stripped of citizenship. If you join a proscribed terror organisation, you face 10 years in jail. And if you talk about staging a coup, encourage birth defects, or lie about a lifesaving vaccine, you're committing something terrifyingly close to murder, insurrection, and child abuse, yet go unpunished.
Spreading lies that damage the NHS, downgrade democracy, or cause child deformities is a crime against all that Britain is supposed to stand for, but it's difficult to proscribe a loose affiliation of lunatics. Updating our laws to make the spreading of harmful conspiracy theories an act of treason, though, would mean that not only could the ringleaders be shut down, they also could be deradicalised, medicated and educated. They are terrorists, and should be treated as such.
Take out the co-ordinators, and their converts could be deprogrammed. Which would leave the rest of us able to continue the important business of moving as far away as possible from the 14th century, and all its terrifying ignorance.