Government Advocacy

For those of you who follow my public health memes Tumblr, you know I’m not a big fan of the newest The View host, Jenny McCarthy. But I’m just me, railing against the wind. But there are lots of other folks in the public health world that agree with me. But they’re just themselves. Other than our collective power, we can’t make much of a difference.

But what if someone from the government said something?

Psh, we’d never do that, right? We’re the government and we don’t get into tiffs with celebrities with more star-power than everyone in our agency.

But what if…

.@JennyMcCarthy anti-vaccine views = misinformation. Please ask @theviewtv to change their mind

Toronto PublicHeath (@TOPublicHealth) July 22, 2013

It turns out that Toronto Public Health is making that move. And why?

“Our job is to get the message out about getting vaccinated” Dr. Barbara Yaffe

Don Peat (@reporterdonpeat) July 22, 2013

Because it’s the right thing to do. Because we, in government, hold views. Spend millions of taxpayer dollars and thousands of hours of time espousing those views. Should we stand back and allow pop culture out-muscle our work? Now, of course, I’m not saying that we shut anyone down. But why shouldn’t we address our detractors? Why shouldn’t we let our points of view stand in the same arena explicitly?

But we don’t. Why?

I think it’s because we, in government, operate under an old paradigm. We operate under the assumption that people listen to the words that we say because we’re the government, and that is all the reason they need. Unfortunately, that’s not the way the world works.

We live in a meritocracy of ideas. In the cacophony of information, the public receives and measures information, then metes out their interest according to how they see the information they’ve received. Interesting, relevant, fun? Get more. Boring, staid, irrelevant? Ignore.

Jenny McCarthy is sexy, bombastic and has legions of followers. Should your public get their public health from her or us? Then why aren’t we doing something about it?

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