Sadly, the local daily paper can't measure up to the standard set by the free weekly paper.
Case in point: A pox on them: Parents slam school; officials say they are following law, in the Sentinel of course.
This incredibly sloppy and biased piece of stenography (it's certainly not journalism) brings to mind all the things that are wrong not just with the Sentinel, but with so many news outlets in general.
It's a simple story of an incredibly dumb woman who refuses to vaccinate her children and whines that the school treats her unfairly because she's just too stupid to understand what's going on.
Genna and Felix Velazquez made a decision to avoid immunizing their two elementary school-age daughters against Varicella disease, more commonly known as the chicken pox.Oh no! Mean old school! They're saying her kid can't be in school because there's an outbreak of Varicella!
The Velazquez family is now concerned their 8-year-old daughter Dianelis Velazquez is being unfairly singled-out by Reingold Elementary School officials because of their decision.
The school's decision is based on a state statute that allows schools to quarantine students exempt from immunizations if their [sic] is an "outbreak."Oh, I guess it isn't such a mean old school. It's a school that follows the law (and common sense) by not exposing her child to disease and turning her into a likely vector who can then go around infecting everyone else.
"Basically, it isn't up to the school to determine this policy," Roy said Thursday. "It is the Department of Public Health who dictates the policy."
The law requires a number of immunizations before a child can enter school. If 'sincere religious beliefs' exempt a child from receiving immunizations, the law permits schools to quarantine the student if they are susceptible to an illness.
I guess we need to change the headline then, because the original was misleading. I suggest: "A pox on them: Parents whine about law; officials follow it".
The whole article is at this same level. Velazquez is bafflingly portrayed as some sort of victim, instead of properly being mocked for being a whiny idiot who chooses to endanger her children because of some moronic religious belief.
Let's look at a few examples.
First is the most obvious one. Velazquez has absolutely no basis for her claim that she's being treated unfairly. Which makes me wonder why the article was even written in the first place. But unfortunately it was, so here are some more examples of sheer ineptitude on behalf of the reporter.
Reingold Elementary officials told the family that Dianelis Velazquez must be out of school from April 11- 22, according to Genna Velazquez.That time would fall in the middle of school vacation, meaning Dianelis Velazquez would be away from school for nearly three weeks in a row.Huh?
April 11th is this Friday. School vacation takes place from April 21-25. Which means the kid misses a grand total of 6 days of classes. That doesn't sound too bad though, so the reporter chose to focus on the far greater but totally meaningless measure of time "away from school," as if weekends and vacation time should be significant. Even taking that nonsensical measure, the kid's going to be "away from school" from April 11-27, or 17 days. That's two weeks and three days, which no sensible person would call "nearly three weeks."
Velazquez herself is clearly not a very bright woman, and asks lots of questions in the article.
Genna Velazquez knows of two students in her daughter's class that had chicken pox. The family didn't receive notification the first time a student came to school with red pox associated with Varicella, Velazquez said.The reporter didn't bother to find an answer to this question. Nor did she even confirm that the child with the confirmed case (the only one that matters) was actually at school.
"The nurse told me the first case was unconfirmed and that's why they didn't call me," she said. "If this second case is confirmed, why was the student at school today (Wednesday)?"
If the infected student was at school, s/he probably shouldn't have been. But we have no way of knowing if that's even the case. Not that it matters one bit to Velazquez's crazy-ass claim anyway. It's just irrelevant whining, meant to make you think there's some sort of vast conspiracy to keep Velazquez's daughter out of school.
Another bit from Velazquez that goes without response:
"Anyone who can't prove immunity should go home," Genna Velazquez said. "Why are we protecting students who are immunized if the vaccine works?"I count three problems in that one quote!
- Velazquez's kid is the only one who isn't immunized. Everyone else can prove immunity, because doctors keep records!
- They're not "protecting students who are immunized"! They're protecting your daughter because you failed to do so! They're also protecting anyone your potentially infectious daughter comes into contact with.
- The "if the vaccine works" bit is clearly meant to make the reader believe the vaccine doesn't work. That's stupid. No vaccine works 100%. The varicella vaccine itself has an efficacy of about 88.5%, and those who do get chicken pox anyway usually only get a mild case. The vaccine works just fine.
On to more problems!
Genna Velazquez called the state Board of Health. They simply explained that a child is contagious after six days of being exposed to the chicken pox.Another unchallenged quote. If the stenographer had bothered to go to the Mass. Department of Public Health website she could have found the exact recommendation (pdf) that applies here. Which is:
"She has already been exposed to students with chicken pox," she said. "They are making us take her out at the end of next week, it just doesn't make sense."
Susceptibles shall be excluded from work or classes from the 10th through the 21st days after their exposure to the case while infectious with rash (not including the prodrome).So yeah, that's about the right timeframe, dumbasses.
Okay, I've criticized Velazquez a lot in this post. And she deserves it. Not immunizing your child is one step from child abuse, as far as I'm concerned. Not immunizing your child for religious reasons is a half-step. The poor kid gets no say in any of this, she's just the innocent victim of ridiculously stupid parents and a government that allows virtually any stupid behavior to pass if it's part of your religion.
But Velazquez isn't the real problem. She's just a whiny idiot, nobody cares about her. I feel bad for her (and far worse for her unfortunate children).
The problem is the Sentinel's absurdly horrible article about her. It has all the hallmarks of trying to stir up another pointless controversy, it lacks the most basic fact-checking, it's clearly biased in favor of Velazquez, and it should be an embarrassment to the person who wrote it.
Worst of all, the article exists. This is not a news story. Velazquez doesn't have a legitimate complaint worth reporting on. She's a not-very-bright woman who doesn't understand that when you neglect to immunize your children there may be consequences.
The Sentinel should have done the smart thing and never run this story. If Velazquez contacted them, they should have said "We're sorry, but you're terribly confused" and sent her on her way. Instead they wrote a big horrible article about it, presenting her side almost exclusively, and making themselves look like total idiots in the process.
What you don't print is as important as what you do. The Sentinel has a long history of ignoring the actual news and printing this kind of tripe. Sadly, articles like this are in no way a surprise. Just a huge disappointment.