Writer (and occasional Daily Intel contributor) Ayelet Waldman is unloading on her famously confessional Twitter account this afternoon about right-wing fearmongering with reference to HPV vaccines. As we’ve noted, Michele Bachmann scored some shots against Republican front-runner Rick Perry at this week’s GOP debate by slamming his order as governor that required young girls to be vaccinated at the age of 12; Bachmann has indicated, without evidence, that the shot could cause “mental retardation.” But the very requirements Perry is being criticized for aren’t a bad thing, Waldman argues with passion and intimate confessions. “To the conservative nutjobs: I got HPV from my husband, who got it from his 1st wife. I ended up w/cancerous cervical lesions,” she tweeted, setting off a deluge of responses and barbed comebacks. (Waldman’s husband Michael Chabon is also a famous author, piquing people’s interest even more.) It’s a lot of unexpected, honest information to receive in a Twitter stream, but Waldman isn’t backing down.
“I love how the twitter-sphere thinks I should be ASHAMED of having HPV,” Waldman wrote. “Fuck you, you ignorant morons. It’s a HEALTH ISSUE. Not a moral one.” As she told one critic, who said he agrees, but questioned the appropriateness of the conversation, “If it makes one woman get her kid vaccinated, it’s a good thing, you prudish prick.” Put simply in Waldman’s terms, “Shame = DEATH.”
Supportive responses are coming in, too, but Waldman is taking sharp aim at her critics. Writer Emma G. Keller responded, “Oh God, not when I’m eating,” prompting Waldmen to shoot back, “Get a grip.”
After more than an hour, Waldman wrote that she would “check out of this discussion,” but proceeded to tweet seven more times on the issue. We’ll say this: No matter what your stance on Internet openness or the medical politics, this HPV discussion has way more substance than your average Twitter fight.
Update: Waldman is carrying on the conversation, but apologized “for overreacting” to the aforementioned “prudish prick,” as well as her husband’s ex-wife, who she implied gave Chabon HPV. “I apologize too to unnamed person, though no idea if she would care,” Waldman wrote. “Wasn’t my job to share her secret.” She added, “I probably should have been vaguer about where we got it. I think secrecy is bullshit, but that can apply only to my own.”
Update 2: Well, now there’s this: “I had to delete 1st HPV tweet, bc I gave away someone else’s info…but to recap. I have HPV. Got it in a monogamous marriage.” Unfortunately, the Internet is forever.
Ayelet Waldman [Twitter]