Opinion

Anti-vax death cult rampages through Kansas politics, with Sen. Mark Steffen out in front

January 28, 2022 2:45 pm

Patients who died of COVID-19 are seen in the University of Kansas Health System’s morgue. (KU Health System)

Anti-vaccine forces in Kansas are a death cult, and Sen. Mark Steffen is doing his best to lead them.

How else can you interpret the extraordinary events of this week? The Hutchinson anesthesiologist introduced legislation that would allow medical providers to prescribe ineffective — or harmful — COVID-19 treatments without fear of reprimand from officials or pushback from pharmacists. At the Wednesday hearing, Stefen admitted to prescribing ivermectin to patients and being under investigation by the Kansas Board of Healing Arts.

The two-page bill serves two purposes: It gets Steffen out of potential trouble with the board and allows him to keep making money from fanatics. Call it a grift. Call it self-delusion. Call it whatever you like, but Steffen wants to serve patients eager to die from COVID-19.

State medical professionals reacted in horror and outrage.

“That’s a pretty slippery slope to a pretty dangerous place,” said Salina Regional Health Center chief medical officer Robert Freelove. “If we’re going to require something, why not require something that we know works, which is vaccines?”

“Does that not sound ridiculous?” said Jennifer Schrimsher of Lawrence’s LMH Health and deputy public health officer for Douglas County. “If I prescribe something that has a critical drug interaction with medication that I had no idea that patient was on, the pharmacist is the last line of protection for that patient.”

Sen. Mark Steffen told Kansans gathered to oppose COVID-19 mandates that he would fight for expanded access to early treatment options like ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, both considered by the FDA to be dangerous treatment methods for COVID-19. (Noah Taborda/Kansas Reflector)

Their words, however, fulfill every expectation of the science-rejecting cult. These pointy-headed experts are keeping us from what really works. They’re in the pockets of big pharma and Dr. Fauci. Malaria and antiparasitic pills will hasten our glorious reward.

None of the cultists’ beliefs make sense. In the early days of the pandemic, they argued COVID-19 wasn’t real, then they claimed hydroxychloroquine cured it all, then they decided on ivermectin. At various points they’ve also advocated inhaling hydrogen peroxide and drinking your own urine. If any one of these points were true, if any one of these treatments stopped the virus in its tracks, why would they need the others?

In the same way that appeals to logic and reason fall on deaf ears when you try to reach a cult member, facts about COVID-19 and effective treatments don’t reach these people. Meanwhile, their family members die.

Kansas Reflector’s Sherman Smith highlighted a piece of testimony from Wednesday’s hearing: “Andrea Erickson told lawmakers her unvaccinated grandmother died from COVID-19 on Jan. 22 in Topeka. She wondered why it was OK for doctors to give her grandmother antibiotics, steroids, psychiatric medications and morphine — a concoction that left her confused and lethargic — but not ivermectin.”

How about we all just take the free and widely available vaccines?

At the same memorable hearing, with 60 of his acolytes in attendance, Steffen challenged KU Health Center chief medical officer Steven Stites to a public debate in Hays. That gives the game away.

Any sort of debate would suggest that the grifters and cultists of the anti-vaccine movement have a genuine case. They don’t. Vaccines save lives. Hydroxychloroquine does nothing. Ivermectin does nothing. Every reputable doctor in the state, county and world will tell you two things: The COVID-19 pandemic is real, and you should get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee plans to vote on Steffen’s bill Thursday, and members may send it along to the full Senate. That doesn’t make the proposal good public policy or even coherent. It merely means the death cult has spread further and faster than anyone thought possible.

If you’re a true believer, there is help available. Talk to your physician. Visit a pharmacy or grocery store or doctor’s office for a vaccine. Protect yourself and those you love. You don’t have to die to prove your dedication to a cause.

The cause is dumb, and your children and friends are laughing at you.

Get the shot. Leave the cult. Wake up to reality.

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Clay Wirestone
Clay Wirestone

Clay Wirestone has written columns and edited reporting for newsrooms in Kansas, New Hampshire, Florida and Pennsylvania. He has also fact checked politicians, researched for Larry the Cable Guy, and appeared in PolitiFact, Mental Floss, cnn.com and a host of other publications. Most recently, Clay spent nearly four years at the nonprofit Kansas Action for Children as communications director. Beyond the written word, he has drawn cartoons, hosted podcasts, designed graphics, and moderated debates. Clay graduated from the University of Kansas and lives in Lawrence with his husband and son.

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