By Stu Salkeld The Stettler Independent
It was with great concern I read about not only the denial of a court appeal of a serious conviction this week, but also a pledge to take the said appeal even further.
I refer to the case of Lethbridge-area parents David and Collect Stephan whose 19-month old son Ezekiel in 2012 died of bacterial meningitis.
Instead of taking the boy to a hospital, they chose to take on the role of medical practitioner themselves, handling the meningitis with horseradish, garlic and onion, which any rational person knows are food ingredients not medicines.
Meningitis is a very serious condition, including an inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. It’s caused by a variety of factors, including bacteria, virus or others and can cause deafness, epilepsy and death if not treated properly.
According to information from their recent trial, the Stephans follow a rather strict, even religious, form of naturopathy that apparently teaches, simply put, “anything natural is good or healthy, and anything man-made, such as vaccines, is bad or dangerous.” This would explain why parents would give their deathly ill son something that belongs in a salt-shaker rather take him to the emergency room.
The Alberta Court of Appeal upheld the Stephan’s conviction for failing to provide the necessities of life to their son, but left the door open for the convicts to take the case one step further to the Supreme Court. The Alberta court turned down the appeal by a 2-1 vote, yet if there’s one dissent, the appeal can be taken to the highest court in the land.
Strange comments on David’s Facebook page appear to accuse authorities of some kind of conspiracy to ensure the Stephans were convicted. His own comments, combined with the family’s devotion to “anti-vaxxer” type philosophies and what appears to be a complete lack of responsibility for the boy’s death, portray the Stephans as victims in all this and David in particular as some sort of hero or martyr.
The nefarious government, health system, police state, or what have you is behind it all.
“Anti-vaxxer” means “anti-vaccination,” and that particular movement had been gaining steam for years after a 1998 fraudulent report linked vaccines to autism. Hollywood celebrities, who couldn’t accept the fact their child had a genetic flaw, wholeheartedly embraced said report, combining wishful thinking and scapegoating perfectly. The report has since been completely discredited but some anti-vaxxers would rather cast a suspicious eye at modern medicine rather than a report that was described by an investigator as an “elaborate fraud.” It appears the man who wrote that report did it for money.
Still, some cling to what rationalists call the “Nirvana fallacy,” a logical fallacy that states “if a solution isn’t 100 per cent perfectly the way we want it, the solution should be rejected.” Some anti-vaxxers, who look at the world through a black-and-white philosophy, claim it’s better to treat your children at home with supper ingredients because vaccines can cause harm or can even kill. Actually, they are correct to a certain extent. Some people exposed to vaccines get ill, possibly around 2 per cent. It’s not impossible for someone to die from a vaccine, but it is very unlikely. As we all know, nothing is guaranteed in life. People get injured and killed by air bags in vehicles, people get injured or killed by ice and snow sliding off rooftops.
The fact is the vast, vast majority of people will see a medical benefit from vaccines. That has been scientifically proven multiple times.
But I guess to see the truth, you’d actually have to open your eyes and look around.
Stu Salkeld is the editor of The Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the paper.