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TASK Complete an analysis of the article, “In opposing the anti-vaccination movement, a sledgehammer cannot win battle of the needle” that presents a point of view on an issue. Using this article, write a language analysis of at least 500 words addressing how the audience is positioned through language, structural and visual techniques. You should aim to include relevant evidence and examples to support each idea presented.
WORD LENGTH Written Analysis: At least 500 words
Analysis of how language and visuals are used to present a point of view
Awareness of how readers are positioned
Evidence selected to support analysis
Controlled and effective use of language appropriate to the task
Expressive, fluent and coherent writing
Cohesive and logical structure
In opposing the anti-vaccination movement, a sledgehammer cannot win battle of the needle
April 17, 2015
Waleed Aly We can only win over those who refuse to vaccinate by using persuasion and guile, not by withdrawing welfare.
Illustration: Matt Golding Let me be clear. I am no fan of the anti-vaccination movement. I can't stand the free-riding hypocrisy that, under the protective, disease-free cover of everyone else's dutiful vaccination, affords itself the luxury of a "personal choice" to abstain. I shudder at the easy suspicion of profit-hungry "Big Pharma" that somehow vanishes at the feet of essential oil merchants or alternative therapists, despite their own bulging profits.
I detest the unprincipled scepticism of medical science that so brazenly rejects the prevention vaccination offers, but the moment something strikes, rushes to the emergency ward with total trust, seeking a cure. And the sheer quackery that, even after the most thorough scientific discrediting, persists in connecting vaccination to autism? As the father of an autistic son, this stirs in me a uniquely furious revulsion. I lack the words for it, and words are kind of what I do.
But rage is the enemy of wisdom. It delivers no understanding of the anti-vaccination problem (which it greatly exaggerates), and no insight that might solve it. It feels good to vent rage, but frankly, whatever we decide to do about vaccination, the aim shouldn't be to make me feel good.
That's what we decided to do this week with our "no jab, no pay" policy. There's something purging about attacking welfare payments. This is how we express who we hate. When we condemn someone to a life without welfare we're doing more than denying them money: we're sending them into a symbolic exile. Welfare is our way of expressing whatever tiny residue remains of social solidarity. To be ineligible is to be outcast, excluded from the social contract. That's why we so gleefully withdraw it from people we feel have violated the pact – lately, terrorists and anti-vaxxers. It's as though it's the final site of moral judgment left in our post-moral society. It is therefore where we begin the ritual stripping of rights.
Is that the aim, though? Are we looking for a symbolic excommunication here? Or are we trying to get more people immunised? Our political class (of almost every stripe) will admit only to the latter, but if we take them at their word, we run into problems. As several health experts agreed this week, withdrawing welfare from anti-vaxxers is unlikely to make much practical difference for the very simple reason that they aren't typically on welfare in the first place. If this policy has any benefit at all, it is likely to be where people have simply forgotten to get their vaccinations up to date. And that's great. But there is surely a less punitive and more effective way to achieve this. You know, one that doesn't mean only rich people have the right to forget.
We're failing to understand that vaccine refusal isn't some garden variety act of neglect or parental irresponsibility. It's not mere thoughtlessness. It's a conviction. It fits within a world view, and is alloyed to a broader politics. These politics are diverse, and change through the years, but they've always been there, ever since the first attempts at compulsory vaccination in the 19th century.
Back then many anti-vaxxers were from the working class. For them, vaccination was a form of class oppression: it was the ruling class treating their inferiors as the very personification of disease; as though poor people were themselves contagious. Theirs was a protest not just against vaccine, but against the idea of policing and dominating the working class. Their middle-class counterparts objected more on libertarian grounds. Like many of today's American anti-vaxxers, they simply held the government has no business being in our lives and rejected outright the idea of being policed through medical treatment.
If there is a truly modern strain of anti-vaccination, it is the New Age objector; suspicious of the whole enterprise of medical science, entranced by the human body's ability to heal itself, forever celebrating the natural over the synthetic. For them, health is not granted by chemicals. It is, instead, socially determined. It's about your diet, your environment, the depth of your friendships. But this, too, reflects deeper political convictions that object not merely to the act of vaccination, but the whole onslaught of capitalism. This posits a world where the irresistible power of money and politics combine to turn every human problem into a profit; where products we don't need are forced upon us and our humanity buried beneath mounds of branded debris. This is not a politics of selfishness. It is instead a politics about power.
It is only when you recognise that this is a problem of politics – rather than a battle of wills – that you can see where the "no jab, no pay" approach might lead. Perhaps you will never convince the hardcore anti-vaxxers who will happily sacrifice some welfare payments for their principles in the rare case it comes to that. But between the hardcore groupings are those who are more sceptical of mass vaccination than irascibly opposed. They're the ones broadly sympathetic with the libertarian or anti-corporate concerns at play, but perhaps unsure about the application of these ideas to vaccination. They're the ones who, with the right handling, might just be persuaded.
But what would someone like that make of this latest piece of political theatre? If you're on the verge of believing this is some form of government control, is anything more likely to tip you over the edge than the government resorting to force? That's the way radical politics works. It gains its strength from the very fact of its mainstream isolation.
You don't win such political debates with a sledgehammer. You win them with persuasion, and occasionally guile. Some American states have had success by allowing broad grounds for refusal, but requiring burdensome paperwork from anyone seeking to refuse. That whittles refusal down only to the true believers who can be bothered, which greatly reduces the threat to public health.
What it doesn't do, is take away people's rights, thereby encouraging those with alternative politics to harden their positions. What it doesn't do, is transform a public health issue into trench warfare. And that's ultimately what we need, because if there's anything worse than a war, it's one waged mainly to gratify ourselves.
Waleed Aly is a Fairfax Media columnist and winner of the 2014 Walkley award for best columnist. He also lectures in politics at Monash University.
Relevant and mostly effective use of appropriate metalanguage.
Confident and cogent use of highly appropriate metalanguage.
Clear written expression.
Generally expressive, fluent and coherent writing.
Expressive, fluent and coherent writing.
Highly expressive, fluentand coherent writing.
A clear introduction and conclusion are included. Paragraphs are formed around a central idea (such as the use of persuasive techniques).
The introduction contains all the essential components and provides an accurate understanding of the writer’s contention, suggesting how readers have been positioned. The body paragraphs are formed around how this has been achieved.
The introduction contains all the essential components and provides a clear understanding of the writer’s contention, along with a succinct overview of how readers have been positioned by language and visuals. The body paragraphs follow a clear direction by elaborating on this overview. The analysis is organised and clearly linked.
The essay cohesively and logically develops an insightful interpretation, focusing on how readers have been positioned by the use of language and visuals. The analysis is very well organised and effectively linked.