Full of Shit: Billy Corgan’s Flu Rant

Blurt says, regardless
of how the Smashing Pumpkin dude tries to make you paranoid, please go out and
get your flu shot.


By Fred Mills


haven’t visited Billy Corgan’s spiritually-themed Everything From Here to There website all that often since he
launched it a little over a month ago. That’s not a reflection of any lack of
spirituality on our part; it’s just that we’re not that into celebrity blogs,
regardless of what their beliefs are. And as far as musicians doing blogs,
well… we’d probably be bored stiff by a blog by Dylan, come to think of it; we
buy his records because we want to hear his songs, and how he combines words
and music, not because we want to
read an essay or a dissertation.


Anyway, regarding Corgan (who, after all, has as much right
to do a blog as I have right to do this news item and opinion piece), his heart,
initially, did seem to be in the right place of course, when he described the
site thusly: “This is not a place of judgment, nor a place of making proof. We
begin with the idea that there is a God. We begin with the undying belief that
there is a unifying intelligence that manifests itself in Every-thing.”
Sounds good; we all want to think that something links us, and that as a human
race we share a collective intelligence – that’s what makes us human, after


So thanks, then, to Pitchfork for tipping us this morning to
Corgan’s new entry regarding the H1N1 vaccine that the government is racing to
get into the hands of medical personnel before the swine flu spreads further. You
may have heard about H1N1: it’s already causing scores of school closings, and it’s
likely that everyone reading this knows of someone who’s contracted the virus.
Speaking personally, I can add that I got a chill the other night when I was at
my kid’s Cub Scout pack meeting, wondered why it was so sparsely attended, and
then learned that several kids and one den leader were out with the swine flu.
Would they have contracted the flu if the vaccine had been available locally in
time? Who knows; it’s a moot point, though, when all credible news and
governmental reports (both national and at a state level) suggest that the
virus is moving speedily through the population.


You may also have heard how some folks are expressing
reservations about getting vaccinated, with reasons given ranging from
skepticism over how extensive the flu will actually be, to vaguely-expressed
fears over introducing a relatively new vaccine into their bodies, to an
outright belief that there’s some broad conspiracy afoot, probably
government-helmed, relating to H1N1.


Yes, and AIDS was introduced into the population in order to
kill all the homosexuals, and crack cocaine was a scheme of some governmental
Caucasian cabal to flood the ghetto and keep African-Americans “down.” Oh, and
Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin were all murdered by the CIA,
almost forgot that one too. Hold on a moment, I need to put on my aluminum foil


Add Corgan to the chorus of the anti-flu vaccine crowd.
Writes the Smashing Pumpkins frontman in a blog entry titled “Health and A


“There is something
mighty suspicious about declaring an emergency for something that has yet to
show itself to be a grand pandemic. Our American President Obama has declared a
national emergency about this virus, which he in his own words said was, at
this point, a preventative measure. So, why declare an emergency if there isn’t


Fair enough, although Corgan conveniently sidesteps the
semantic import of “emergency” in this context: do you think people would think
swine flu was much of a big deal if Obama had declared “a national
wait-and-see” situation? A couple of paragraphs later, Corgan’s paranoia begins
to kick in:


“I have friends that have gotten the
swine flu. All of them told me they felt very, very sick, and that it was
awful. So I’m not in any way suggesting that the H1N1 virus is not real. I
would suggest however that it is possible the virus is not a naturally
occurring virus. I have read reports from people who say (as doctors) that
there is evidence to suggest this virus was created by man; to call it Swine
Flu is then a misnomer, as it really is Swine Flu plus some other stuff
stitched together. These doctors said such genetic mutation was impossible in


Sure – ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE, Billy. H1N1 could be one of
those rogue lab viruses some madman was fucking around with late one night when
he got drunk and accidentally flushed it down the toilet when he was taking a
whiz, thereby introducing the virus into the water supply – it’s possible.
Oops. For that matter the Phillies might all get sick with swine flue and the
Dodgers might have to be called in to play the Yankees – that’s possible, too. And
sure, ANYONE CAN WRITE A “REPORT” designed to counter a set of information,
even information, documented endlessly over the years, about genetic mutations
that occur in nature. (Hey, what did Darwin
know, anyway?) Regardless, Corgan’s comments roughly fall under the heading
“moot point” as well, because if the swine flu is making people as sick as
Corgan describes – NO MATTER HOW IT OCCURRED IN THE FIRST PLACE – then everyone
else needs to take precautions.


Then Corgan delivers the punch line, the coup de grace:



“I for one will not be
taking the vaccine. I do not trust those who make the vaccines, or the
[sic] behind it all to push
it on us thru fear. This is not judgment; it is a personal decision based on
research, intuition, conversations with my doctor and my ‘family’. If the virus
comes to take me Home, that is between me and the Lord. I have put up some of
these links to inspire the question in you, so that perhaps you can make a
better decision for yourself. That is what holistic life is about: a
willingness to look at all the facts or opinions.”



Absolutely. It is absolutely the right of the individual to
determine what is put into his or her body, based on what personal fact-finding
you’ve undertaken. And we salute Corgan for championing an ideal that we, also,
hold very dear: to look at ALL THE FACTS before arriving at an opinion.


However, a holistic life does not imply to look at ALL THE
OPINIONS, because some of those opinions may be WRONG if they were arrived at


One reason people need to get vaccinated as soon as H1N1
vaccines are available at their doctor’s office or local health department is
to protect the rest of the population from them – that is, you need to increase
the odds that YOU will not get infected so YOU don’t in turn infect someone
else. That’s called living a “holistic life”: making sure that you don’t act in
an ignorant or inconsiderate manner towards your fellow human beings; acts of
omission, in this context, are just as wrong as acts of commission.


My kid got his regular seasonal flu vaccination the other
day at his school, and as soon as the H1N1 medicine is available, he’ll get
that too. The former was a flu mist; he wasn’t too happy to learn that the
latter will be a shot. But I took the time to educate him on what was at stake,
and talked to him a little about how life was when I was a kid in the ‘60s – getting
polio vaccine on sugar cubes while learning the reason why one of my friends
had to wear leg braces; America not having a vaccine yet for measles and my
missing an entire four weeks of second grade when I contracted the measles (it
was absolutely miserable and traumatic, trust me), etc. So he understands, I
think. Getting him to wash his hands several times a day has been tough, I’ll
admit. But he’s trying. I think the news about his fellow Cub Scouts the other
night bothered him a little, too.


Required reading: the new (November 2009) issue of Wired magazine. The cover story “Fear”
by Amy Wallace does a pretty handy job of debunking all or most of the claims
of the anti-vaccine crowd. It’s now posted online so I don’t need to summarize
it, other than to say that it’s a shame that the high-profile celebrity likes
of Jenny McCarthy, Jim Carrey and now Billy Corgan command such an audience,
because through their efforts there’s at least a small chance that we’ll all
return to the Stone Age – or, more accurately, the disease- and plague-ridden
Middle Ages – as more and more folks swallow their half-baked arguments against
vaccines. Seriously, go read the article, examine the statistics that are
cited, and if you don’t come away with a new appreciation for what science and
the medical profession are doing for us despite the McCarthy-esque efforts of
Jenny McCarthy, I’ll eat this op-ed piece.


To Corgan: Billy, you’re not being holistic; you’re being a
dickhead. You’re too young to remember some of the things I remember from my
childhood, so I can understand your reluctance to take a vaccine in a situation
where all the facts, for you, aren’t in just yet. And I also think it’s good
not to just rely on a single source for information as important as that which
relates to our health. Please continue your process of self-education. In the
meantime, though, please don’t spread ill-informed propaganda related to H1N1
because a lot of impressionable people who are fans of you might decide that
since it is YOUR OPINION then it will be THEIR OPINION too and they won’t need
to look into the matter further.


To the rest of you: Get
your damn flu shots, people, and don’t be such selfish, paranoid idiots. The
rest of us are depending on you to stay healthy.




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