The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer and not of the Davis Clipper.
When it comes to selecting this column’s topic, it is often too early to grab the low-hanging fruit.
This week, for instance, I could have sarcastically jabbed People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for requesting a memorial highway sign for turkeys squashed in a truck accident.
Or I could have scorned Senate Pres. John Valentine for his latest liquor law fiasco allowing licenses to be bought and sold on the open market, thereby making them available to large corporations but out of reach for small local operations.
But, instead of these easy targets, I was intrigued by a small international story. The prime minister of South Korea offered to resign over the government’s handling of the tragic ferry sinking.
The prime minister wasn’t the ship’s captain nor was he responsible for the ship’s communication or steering. But as he said, “I thought I should take all responsibility as prime minister since there have been so many varieties of irregularities that have continued in every corner of our society.”
This is akin to Gov. Gary Herbert saying, “Someone murdered a neighbor over a bad loan in Southern Utah. This worship of money is endemic in our culture so as the leader of our society, I will resign.”
Where should responsibility end? Should Pres. Obama resign because of the State Department’s failure to save the lives of four Americans in Benghazi? Should Pres. Kennedy have resigned after the Cuban invasion flop? Should Pres. George W. Bush have resigned because the federal air traffic controllers didn’t react fast enough to stop the Twin Towers collapse? Should Sen. Mike Lee resign for the economic damage caused by his vote against paying the government’s bills? Should the president of General Motors resign over the deaths from design failures caused by a previous leadership? Should a school principal resign because some of her students got bullied?
I am not suggesting that any of the above should resign; but the concept of accepting responsibility doesn’t relate only to those in high places. We all must take responsibility for actions that impact others.
And that brings me to those parents who refuse to have their sons or daughters immunized but continue to send them to mix with other children and pregnant women in public schools and playgrounds.
The result is an increase in the outbreaks of diseases from measles to whooping cough.
Utah is one of 19 states allowing parents to have their children opt out of required vaccinations for school admission. The fear of vaccines has been spread by rumors and Internet “facts” that have since been discredited by almost every researcher in the scientific community.
Today’s young parents cannot remember the scourge of polio prior to the Salk vaccine. In the past 25 years, the World Health Organization’s vaccination project has led to a 99 percent drop in polio cases worldwide.
Still, a growing number of parents are denying the positive effect of vaccines, and their fear is creating health problems not only for their children, but their schoolmates as well.
So I suggest a possible solution. Parents should take a similar responsibility to that of the South Korean prime minister. If their non-vaccinated child causes illness to others, they should pony up the medical costs for all affected children. They should also be liable for “lifetime damages” (blindness, deafness, brain damage, etc.).
I support parental rights, but with rights come responsibilities. Just as I wouldn’t want Sean Penn dissecting our country’s foreign policy, neither should a TV actress be the “point person” on disease prevention.