bookmark_borderMy message to those who are “traumatized” by January 6

Over the past year, numerous people have stated that they are “traumatized” by the protest that took place in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021. Social media posts like the below (via @BeingLibertarian) abound. I find it to be incomprehensible, unreasonable, and unjustifiable for anyone to react this way to a futile protest against the installation of an authoritarian government. 

In reality, the installation of Biden’s authoritarian government, not the protest against it, is a true reason to be in shock, crying, throwing up, and traumatized.

The people who claim to be “traumatized” by the January 6 protest are people who have gotten their way on essentially everything over the past two years. They have nothing to be traumatized about, nothing to be shocked about, nothing to be in tears about, nothing to throw up about, and nothing to be upset about.

Here is my message to anyone who is upset about the January 6 protest:

Every name, every flag, and every holiday that you dislike has been removed, and every statue that you dislike has been destroyed. The Constitution has been shredded and fundamental rights trampled in order to fulfill your demand for complete safety from a virus. Also due to your demands for safety, the electoral system was changed in a way that favored your preferred candidate. Because of those changes, the totalitarian dictator that you support became the winner of the presidential election.

After all this, you are in shock, crying, and throwing up because some protesters entered the Capitol building? You are traumatized and to this day haven’t recovered? Really?

To those traumatized by the events of January 6, I ask you to attempt an exercise in perspective-taking. I ask you, how the heck do you think people on the other side of the political spectrum feel? How do you think we have felt over the past two years, as your side has gotten its way on essentially every policy issue and we have gotten our way on nothing? How do you think we felt learning that Biden was declared the winner of the election, and seeing an endless stream of your nauseating posts taunting and insulting us and crowing with vicious joy about the narrow victory? How do you think we feel about the all-out war that the Biden administration has relentlessly waged against our fundamental rights? 

Turning to an issue that is very personal to me… how do you think I feel about the fact that every statue, place name, flag, and holiday that represents my identity and my values has been obliterated? How do you think I feel given that my interest in history is the most important thing in my life? How do you think I feel knowing that I now have no choice but to live the rest of my days in a society in which everything I love has been erased? How do you think I have felt over the past two years as I have watched everything that makes my life worth living be destroyed?

I was shocked and traumatized when I found out that the Christopher Columbus statue that I used to walk past every day had been brutally beheaded. I have cried and felt sick to my stomach more times than I can count seeing image after image of statues representing my values and my identity being smashed to pieces, set on fire, cruelly hacked with sledgehammers, and lynched from streetlights.

These are the things that are truly traumatic. Along with those who share my views, I am a person who can truly say, after nearly two years of being ridiculed and insulted, having my rights violated, and watching the people I love and admire being smashed to pieces in statue form, that I have not recovered.

You have gotten your way on essentially 100% of policy issues, violating people’s rights and destroying what makes their lives worth living in the process. The few people who had the audacity to protest against all this were immediately and ceaselessly condemned, attacked, and arrested by the hundreds for the crime of expressing political dissent. But apparently that still isn’t enough for you. You seem to believe that you have the right to a world in which every single person shares your viewpoint, a world in which everyone willingly sacrifices their rights and freedoms for safety, a world in which everyone is content to see irreplaceable works of art viciously destroyed. The mere existence of people with dissenting views causes you to be in shock, crying, and throwing up. The fact that people actually had the guts to stand up to you for once is enough to make you feel traumatized and like you will never recover.

To say that this is a ridiculous reaction is an understatement. Anyone who claims to be traumatized by the January 6 protest is an intolerant bully with no sense of fairness, logic, or justice and no regard for the rights or perspectives of other people.

bookmark_borderJanuary 6, 2021

One year ago, Ashli Babbitt was killed by a police officer while protesting against the installation of a totalitarian government.

Starting immediately, and continuing without pause up till the present moment, Babbitt and her fellow protesters were attacked and personally insulted – with a brutality, viciousness, and utter unprofessionalism that was nothing short of breathtaking and sickening – by those whose job is to be neutral.

Worse, hundreds of Babbitt’s fellow protesters were arrested and jailed for the crime of engaging in political dissent.

The way that the January 6th protest was handled and reacted to by the media establishment and the political establishment represented an all-time low for both establishments.

I use the term “January 6th protest” deliberately.

The events of January 6, 2021 were not a riot. They were not an insurrection. They were not an attack. They were not a coup attempt. They were not an act of domestic terrorism. They were a protest.

Even if the events of January 6 were an insurrection, the fact that someone would use this as an insult is proof of that person’s authoritarianism, moral bankruptcy, and cowardice. The United States is a nation founded upon the idea of rebelling against authority. Whatever word you use – whether it be rebellion, revolution, uprising, treason, sedition, or insurrection – fighting back against authority is something that Americans should value and celebrate, not use as an insult. Anyone who contemptuously pontificates about the “assault on our democracy” by “traitors” or “insurrectionists” is a mindless, morally bankrupt coward who values compliance with authority more than liberty, individual rights, human decency, or justice.

The actions of the Biden administration over the past year have proven that Babbitt and her fellow protesters were 100% correct and 100% justified.

From today onwards, I will think of January 6th as the day that Ashli Babbitt was unjustly killed. I will remember Ashli as a veteran, a patriot, and a brave person who put herself in harm’s way to stand up for what she believed in.

January 6th is Ashli Babbitt Day.

bookmark_borderNothing says “resistance” like taking away bodily autonomy

Check out this new possible candidate for the dumbest tweet ever, in which someone with the word “resisting” in their username addresses fellow “resisters” and then proceeds to express sentiments that are the antithesis of resistance:

Let’s go over everything wrong with this.

  1. Withholding Social Security benefits from those who choose not to get the Covid vaccine is morally abhorrent.
  2. Requiring people to prove that they’ve gotten the vaccine in order to vote is even more morally abhorrent.
  3. Requiring people to prove that they’ve gotten the vaccine in order to vote is utterly hypocritical, given that people on the left-hand side of the political spectrum have spent the past two years loudly and repeatedly condemning the idea of requiring an ID to vote as racist and anti-democracy.
  4. People who choose not to get the vaccine are not the same thing as “anti-vaxxers.” Choosing not to participate in something oneself is not the same as being against the thing entirely.
  5. Expressing one’s opposition to something is not the same as “freaking out.” Using the term “freaking out” presumes that the person in question is acting unreasonably, but it is entirely reasonable and correct to oppose conditioning receipt of Social Security checks upon undergoing a medical procedure.
  6. This shouldn’t even need to be stated, but hating socialism does not require that one happily go without Social Security benefits after having spent years paying into the system. This is particularly true when the denial of SS benefits is based on a personal medical decision and therefore unjust and discriminatory. Those who oppose the Social Security system think that people shouldn’t have to pay into it in the first place. They don’t think that people should have to pay, and then be unfairly and discriminatorily denied the benefits that they have paid for. Given that the SS system exists, people have no choice but to receive SS cards at birth and have deductions taken from their paychecks. There is no inconsistency in opposing this system while also expecting to receive the benefits that one has paid for, given that the system exists.

In conclusion, it is beyond despicable to suggest that people who have done nothing wrong be punished by having their right to vote or their Social Security benefits taken away. I simply do not understand why so many people are so cruelly and viciously intent on browbeating, bullying, pressuring, and coercing others into getting a vaccine that they do not want. It is disturbing that such mean-spirited, nasty, discriminatory, and intolerant sentiments are so widely and so strongly held. A world in which eligibility for benefits, or the ability to vote in elections, is contingent upon undergoing a medical procedure is a world in which life is not worth living. To suggest that this is in any way a good thing is completely unacceptable, and to suggest that people ought to be fine with this because they “hate socialism” is moronic. The fact that a human being would actually tweet such sentiments is a sad commentary on the state of humanity, and the fact that said person characterizes him/herself as a proponent of “resistance” makes things even worse. The only thing this person is resisting is other people’s right to make their own medical decisions… which of course makes him/her the authority and his/her opponents the true resisters.

bookmark_borderVaccine mandates are the opposite of diversity and inclusion

Many people who support vaccine mandates have cited, as a reason for their support, the fact that the mandates keep non-vaccinated people out of their cities. For example, when I have expressed my opposition to the city of Boston’s requirement that people present proof of vaccination in order to enter restaurants, bars, theaters, and gyms, people have responded by telling me that I had better stay out of “their” city, and that people like me are not welcome there. When mandate opponents declare their intention to stop visiting restaurants, bars, theaters, and gyms in Boston, they are ridiculed by those who assert that the entire purpose of the mandate is to keep people like them out anyway.

On a moral and philosophical note, comments like these are wrong. There is simply no valid reason to dislike, exclude, stigmatize, or look down on people who opt against vaccination. People have an absolute right to decline medical interventions, and in no circumstance is the decision to get a medical procedure morally superior to the decision not to get one. Any government policy whose purpose is to “keep out” people who have done nothing wrong is unjust and discriminatory, and anyone with human decency would oppose such policies, not cheer them on.

On a personal note, these comments are hurtful. I have always considered Boston my city just as much as anyone else’s. Although I do not live in the city itself, I have lived in the suburbs of Boston all my life. I am a fan of all the Boston sports teams, have a Boston accent, and consider myself to be from Boston. I worked in Boston for many years. Since childhood I have enjoyed visiting museums, attending Bruins, Celtics, and Sox games, enjoying special events in the city, and eating and drinking at its restaurants and bars. As I became a young adult, I learned how to navigate on the “T.” Exploring the different Boston neighborhoods and taking photos of the buildings, statues, and landmarks became one of my biggest hobbies.

But the city has changed. Over the past two years, it has become increasingly apparent that Boston is no longer a place where people like me are welcome. The statues, monuments, and holidays that honor my culture and reflect my values have been abolished and removed, replaced by those honoring other people’s cultures and values. And now, because I believe in privacy and medical freedom, I am barred from participating in public life. People, many of whom are likely younger than me and who likely have lived in the Boston area for less time than I have, are telling me to “stay away” from “their” city and are bragging about policies designed to “keep out” people like me. 

The destruction of the Christopher Columbus statue, the abolition of Columbus Day, and now the requirement that people show proof of vaccination in order to go about their lives – each of these losses was a punch to the gut. The city that I loved, and that I considered a part of my identity, is no more. Now, when I hear or see the word “Boston,” I feel sick to my stomach. Something that once filled me with joy and pride now makes me feel visceral disgust.

I wrestle with the question of what is the best thing to do about this unfortunate situation. Should I hold out hope that the mandate will eventually be repealed, and pray in the meantime that it does not spread to additional types of businesses or other cities and towns? Is there a chance that Boston might one day return to being a city where I feel included as opposed to hated? Should I identify myself with the specific suburb than I live in, as opposed to the Boston area? Or should I move to a different state or perhaps a different country, where people of my values, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and medical status might be more welcomed?

The answers to these questions depend on how the situation unfolds: whether courts uphold vaccine mandates or strike them down, whether or not mandates spread to the Boston suburbs, and whether or not they are repealed as covid numbers decrease. As someone on the autism spectrum, it is difficult to have my future up in the air. When I bought my home, I operated on the assumption that it would be where I would live for the rest of my life. When I started my job, I assumed that I would continue with it until I reached retirement age. The possibility of having to uproot myself and establish a new life in a completely new location is daunting. But it may be the only option if I wish to once again have a life that is worth living. Existing in the Boston area, where my history and culture are condemned as racist, where human dignity is not valued, where individual rights are ridiculed, and where I am treated as an outsider despite having lived here for my entire life, is not tolerable for me.

The discriminatory and exclusionary sentiments of vaccine mandate supporters are even more objectionable when one considers the fact that, to a large extent, these are the same people who have so vocally supported the ideas of diversity, tolerance, and inclusion in other contexts. When it comes to the pandemic, however, these values are thrown out the window. Demanding that everyone make the same choices as you is the antithesis of diversity. Condemning people for their personal medical decisions is the antithesis of tolerance. And eagerly calling for people to be kept out of “your” city is the antithesis of inclusion. 

It is my opinion that those whose opinions dominate our public discourse do not truly believe in diversity, tolerance, or inclusion at all. Instead, they only value people who are like them, and believe that anyone who is different deserves to be shamed, ridiculed, and punished. This way of thinking is similar to that of popular kids in middle school who bully and exclude anyone who dresses differently, talks differently, or thinks differently. I never expected that as an adult, I would once again be living in a world dominated by a mentality that people used to mature out of by the time they reached high school. How pathetic that those who hold positions of power in our society are no better than middle school bullies.

bookmark_borderThe protesters are not the problem

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s decision to require covid vaccination as a condition of entering restaurants, gyms, concerts, and sporting events is truly despicable. What is equally despicable is the fact that many in the media treat the people with the audacity to protest against this totalitarian policy as the problem, as opposed to the policy itself.

For example, the Boston Globe put out an article entitled, “Racist, misogynist vitriol continues against Wu after vaccination policy announcement.” The fact that the Globe would choose to do an article dissecting and scrutinizing opponents of the mandate, as opposed to dissecting and scrutinizing the mandate itself, is disturbing. The article, by Danny McDonald, details the allegedly racist and/or sexist content of protesters’ signs, calls to the city’s 311 system, and online comments. The article criticizes the fact that non-racist and non-sexist people who oppose the mandate have not spoken out against their allegedly racist and sexist compatriots. And the article provides examples of other female politicians of color who have allegedly received racist and/or sexist comments, including U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins, who calls criticism of both herself and Wu “exhausting” and “distressing.” You know what is exhausting and distressing? Being subjected to a government policy that requires you to undergo a medical procedure in order to exist in public, and then being treated as if you are the problem for expressing your dissent. Opponents of the vaccine mandate are not perfect. There may indeed be some racist and sexist people among our ranks. But that is true of people on every side of every issue. By focusing so much negative attention on the opponents of the mandate, and the fact that some of them have expressed their opposition in non-ideal ways, the Globe completely ignores the entirely legitimate underlying grievance: the fact that the mandate is morally wrong. It is twisted and backwards that the Globe considers a few discriminatory comments (and the failure to actively condemn these comments) to be a bigger problem than a policy barring people from public life because of their personal medical decisions.

Continuing with the theme of criticizing mandate opponents for not actively condemning alleged prejudice in their ranks, WGBH also did an article about the alleged racist and sexist comments that Wu has received. Wu made some truly objectionable comments in the article, which I will discuss in detail in another blog post, but it is also notable that the article condemns “abusive” anti-Wu comments containing “slurs and threats” that people made on gubernatorial candidate Geoff Diehl’s facebook page. WGBH reporter Adam Reilly apparently interrogated Diehl about these comments despite the fact that the people who made them are private citizens who have nothing to do with the Diehl campaign. “The standard that a politician should denounce public commentary on social media by people not connected to his campaign is not a standard that you, or most in the media, would apply to any other politician, and, as such, we are expecting that it not be applied to the Diehl campaign either,” his campaign manager correctly pointed out. Like the Globe, WGBH fails to acknowledge that the vaccine mandate itself is the bigger issue here, not the manner in which its opponents express their views. Forcing people to undergo a medical procedure in order to participate in public life is far more abusive than a few politically incorrect social media comments. 

Another example of treating mandate opponents as the problem is the article and accompanying tweets by Boston news website Universal Hub about the press conference at which Wu announced the authoritarian vaccine requirement. 

As you can see, Adam Gaffin, the author of Universal Hub, refers to protesters against Wu’s policy as “yahoos” and “screamers.” It is unprofessional for what is supposed to be an objective news website to refer to anyone in such blatantly derogatory and insulting terms, particularly protesters speaking out against a totalitarian and immoral policy. 

In both the article and the tweets, Gaffin comes across as annoyed, irritated, and perturbed at the fact that anyone would protest against a policy that violates people’s rights. The possibility of being annoyed, irritated, and perturbed at the actual policy itself, which would make a lot more sense, apparently does not occur to him. Gaffin tweets about his desire to visit the humorous website zombo.com to take a break from his stressful day, as if the existence of people with dissenting views is something to be exasperated about. This is infuriating and demonstrates a lack of empathy. The mayor of Boston enacted an unjust and immoral policy that Gaffin obviously supports, and he is stressed and exasperated that people had the audacity to express dissent? How about the people who are being harmed by Wu’s authoritarian policy? How about the people whose rights are being violated? How does he think we feel? How does he think the protesters feel about the fact that the mayor enacted a policy that violates their rights, and the media are personally insulting them and treating them as the problem? We are the ones who have a right to be upset, not those who support the policy that was just enacted.

This tweet is, frankly, beyond the pale. An immoral policy that violates people’s rights was just enacted, and Gaffin again decides that the best thing to do in this situation is to personally insult and ridicule those who are protesting against said policy. God forbid that he actually, you know, criticize the immoral policy. That would be too right and make too much sense. Instead, he insults and ridicules those who are (correctly) opposed to the policy and also makes completely unsupported and bizarre generalizations about their gender, family status, and living arrangements. 

He does the same thing in this article at Universal Hub in which he refers to opponents of Wu’s policy as “dregs of the suburban earth” and accuses them of having “stubby little fingers” and “spittle-flecked keyboards.”

This brings me to my next point, which is that many in the media seem to hold the belief that, somehow, living in a suburb of Boston disqualifies one from having an opinion about the fact that the mayor of Boston decided to violate people’s fundamental rights. I wasn’t aware of any rule requiring one to live in the city of Boston in order to be allowed to have an opinion about what is happening there. Why is it relevant that Geoff Diehl and Tony Federico, whom Gaffin names as being among the protesters at City Hall, live in the suburbs as opposed to the city itself? Why does Adam Balsam, another alleged journalist, mention that people who called/emailed the city’s 311 number to criticize the mandate are not residents of Boston? People who live in suburbs near Boston and who work there, eat at restaurants there, visit museums there, attend Bruins, Celtics, or Sox games, or go into the city for any reason, are directly and substantively harmed by the mandate. More importantly, if something is unjust, then criticizing it is always the correct thing to do, regardless of whether or not one is personally affected by the injustice.

Also lost on Balsam is the fact that a policy specifically intended to keep people out of a city because of their personal medical decisions is cruel, discriminatory, reprehensible, and despicable. He is so busy criticizing those who intend to stop visiting Boston because of the mandate that he apparently doesn’t think to criticize the policy that is “SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED TO KEEP THEM OUT” in the first place.

In conclusion, it is infuriating that the media reacts to a totalitarian, unjust, and immoral decision not by criticizing the decision itself but by criticizing those who oppose it. When a policy is implemented that requires people to undergo a medical procedure in order to exist in public spaces, everyone on earth should join forces in doing whatever they possibly can to fight against the policy and get it repealed. Yet many “journalists” not only openly support such a policy but also ridicule and personally insult the few brave people who voice dissent. It says a lot about today’s society that protests against a totalitarian policy are seen as the problem, as opposed to the policy itself.

bookmark_borderRestrictions are imposed by the government, not by the virus

“Somehow, we have to keep convincing people that this is not something being imposed upon them by the government. It’s being imposed on them by the virus. And we don’t want the virus to win.”

These are the words of Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health. This quote stood out to me when reading this article about the Covid pandemic and the possibility that it might finally be winding down. Collins is claiming that restrictions on individual liberty – such as stay-at-home orders, mask mandates, Covid testing requirements, and vaccine mandates – are not being imposed by the government but by the virus itself.

This sentiment is common. Since the pandemic first began, we have been told that if we just comply with the rules and diligently follow public health advice, then the number of positive cases will go down, allowing restrictions to be lifted. We have been told that vaccination is the way to get life back to normal, and that mask requirements allow schools to remain open for in-person learning. Until recently, signs at my local park implored people to maintain social distancing so that the park would be able to remain open.

But this way of thinking is false. The decision to impose restrictions on individual liberty in an effort to combat the virus is just that – a decision. When restrictions are imposed, they are imposed by governments (or whatever institution is imposing the restrictions, whether that be a university, employer, or other organization), not by the virus.

This might be a revolutionary concept to some people, but not imposing restrictions is always an option. The city government could have left the park open regardless of whether or not people were practicing social distancing. Stay-at-home orders could have been lifted regardless of the number of positive cases or, even better, could have not been imposed to begin with. Many people will say that abstaining from imposing restrictions is a bad option. Most likely this option would result in more people catching the virus, more people getting sick, and more people dying. And many people believe that preventing these outcomes is of paramount importance, no matter how badly people’s rights must be trampled on in order to achieve this.

As anyone who has visited my blog knows, I do not subscribe to this point of view. But regardless of what you believe about the relative importance of safety and liberty, the choice to prioritize one over the other is just that – a choice. When someone says that they have no choice but to impose restrictions because doing so is necessary to combat the virus, that person is unfairly avoiding responsibility for his/her actions. That person is also treating his/her opinion as fact and denying the possibility that alternative opinions might exist. The decision to impose Covid restrictions results from the belief that fighting the virus is more important than respecting individual rights. Even if you agree with this belief, you cannot just presume it as fact and then blame the restrictions on the virus.

When political leaders, and others who hold positions of authority, choose to prioritize safety over liberty, they must acknowledge that this is indeed a choice that they have made. Restrictions are not imposed by a virus. They are imposed by the government, and the government needs to take responsibility for this.

bookmark_borderThe MA state house and “vaccination certainty”

Last month, the Massachusetts state legislature passed an order requiring all members and staff to receive Covid vaccines. 28 courageous representatives (all Republicans) stood up for individual rights and voted against this authoritarian requirement. Naturally, they have faced criticism for doing so.

This article from CommonWealth Magazine outlines the arguments that took place at the state house. I’ll go over some of the highlights and explain why I believe the Democrat-controlled legislature was wrong to institute the vaccine mandate.

“Vaccines are essential to fulfill our responsibility to care for our staff, each other and the public, and represent the quickest path to a full and safe reopening,” said Rep. William Galvin, according to the article. 

This statement reflects two false presumptions. First of all, people do not have a moral duty to care for each other; people have a moral duty simply to refrain from violating other people’s rights. By forcing state legislators and their staffs to get a vaccine, the mandate order violates this moral duty. Second, this statement presumes that safety is required in order for the state house to be allowed to open. This is also false. There is no requirement to ensure that something is safe before allowing it to happen. The best option is to simply open the state house. That way, people who feel that it is safe enough to go there in person should be welcome to do so, and those who feel that in-person attendance is too risky should be welcome to attend via zoom or some other type of video conferencing. 

Your vote against providing vaccination certainty is a vote that tells your friends, your colleagues, and our collective staff you value their health less than your political talking points,” said Rep. Michael Day.

This statement rubs me the wrong way for a couple of reasons. It is wrong of Day to reduce standing up for individual rights, bodily autonomy, and medical privacy to “political talking points.” This denies any possibility that the dissenting representatives genuinely believe in the stand that they are taking, which is insulting both to them and to everyone who shares their opposition to vaccine mandates. Additionally, I found it somewhat disturbing that Day spoke of “vaccination certainty” as something that is important for people to have. Essentially, Day is implying that people have a right to be certain that the people around them have gotten the vaccine. This is not true at all. What medical procedures the people around you have or have not gotten is, quite frankly, none of your business. No one has a right to control, or know about, other people’s medical decisions.

The CommonWealth Magazine article also says, “Democrats portrayed votes against the policy as a vote against vaccine acceptance.” This argument is off-base as well. Votes against the policy are votes in favor of the right to choose whether to get the vaccine or not. Both options are acceptable and should be treated as such. Voting against vaccine acceptance would be voting for a policy banning state representatives from getting the vaccine, something that (obviously) is not under consideration. Instead, votes for the policy are votes against allowing the option of declining the vaccine, which is tyrannical and authoritarian. Votes against the policy are votes in favor of maintaining both options as acceptable, which is exactly the way it should be. 

Adding insult to injury, Rep. Mindy Domb posted the below tweet, in which she presumes that if something is effective at preventing transmission, illness, and/or death, then everyone needs to be forced to do it. This is completely wrong. No person or government has any right to force people to do things against their will, regardless of how effective those things are at preventing virus transmission, illness, or death. Additionally, by calling for “education,” Domb is equating holding a different opinion than hers with lack of education. Believe it or not, it is possible for someone to have the same amount of knowledge and education as Domb does, but to hold different moral and political views. What a revolutionary concept.

Adding further insult to injury, the order also allows representatives who do not get the vaccine to be cited for an ethics violation. This is the exact opposite of what they deserve. Choosing not to get the vaccine, given the amount of bullying, pressure, and coercion in the current political environment, demonstrates courage and the ability to think for oneself. Anyone who makes this choice should be lauded for his/her bravery and good character, not penalized with an ethics violation. 

Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante, who shared that she is immunocompromised due to treatment for pancreatic cancer, argued that violating individual rights is justified in order to protect vulnerable people. But But Rep. Michael Soter made a good counter-point. Noting that he is immunocompromised as well, he participated in the debate via zoom because “I know what my limitations are.” 

This is the right way of looking at things. I don’t want to sound un-empathetic towards people who are battling cancer or other medical conditions that affect the immune system, but the fact is that being immunocompromised does not give you the right to take away the freedom and privacy of other people. If you are immunocompromised, it is your responsibility to avoid situations that are too dangerous for you (or to incur the risk that the situation poses). It is not other people’s responsibility to undergo a medical procedure for your benefit, and it is not your right to require them to do so.

bookmark_border“I’m sick of catering to them”

During a Twitter exchange last week about Joe Biden’s decision to implement totalitarian restrictions taking away people’s rights to make their own medical decisions, I was particularly struck by the following comment:

“I’m sick of catering to them, too.”

This comment was a response to someone who was complaining about people who have chosen not to get the Covid vaccine. The commenter was expressing frustration about the extent to which society has allegedly catered to non-vaccinated people.

My first response was… what a preposterous comment. Non-vaccinated people have been criticized, insulted, called murderers, called irresponsible idiots, barred from activities, places, and occupations, and with increasing pervasiveness and severity been pressured, coerced, bullied, mandated, and required to get the vaccine that they do not want. All of this is the exact opposite of catering to non-vaccinated people.

But then I thought some more about this comment, and the more I thought about it, the more disturbed I became. Our society has never, in any way, shape, or form, treated people who haven’t gotten the vaccine better than people who have. At best, vaccinated and non-vaccinated people have occasionally been treated equally and granted equal rights and privileges in some situations. The vast majority of the time, in the ways enumerated above, non-vaccinated people are treated worse than their vaccinated counterparts.

How could someone look at this state of affairs and see a world that caters to those who have not gotten the vaccine?? 

I realized that this Twitter commenter seems to believe that anything short of actually forcing people to get the vaccine constitutes catering to the unvaccinated. In other words, he/she thinks that merely respecting the fundamental rights of non-vaccinated people, merely allowing them to exist, constitutes catering to them. This is deeply wrong. Catering to someone means deliberately structuring things around their needs, wishes, and preferences. Respecting someone’s fundamental rights is not catering to them. Allowing someone to exist is not catering to them. Abstaining from forcing unwanted medical procedures on someone is not catering to them. 

When this commenter expressed being sick of catering to the unvaccinated, what he/she was actually saying was: “I’m sick of allowing people who are different from me to exist.”

It’s hard to imagine a more intolerant or authoritarian way of thinking than that. But unfortunately, this way of thinking has become increasingly dominant in today’s society. From the forcible imposition of Covid mitigation measures, to the violent destruction of statues and monuments honoring unpopular historical figures, to the vicious negative reaction to the protest that took place at the Capitol building on January 6, our society largely operates on the belief that the preferences and values of the majority ought to be imposed on everyone. 

Therefore, the majority – in this case those who support mandatory vaccination and/or mandatory Covid testing – are the ones who are truly being catered to. It is their needs, wishes, and preferences around which society is structured. But in their intolerant zeal to obliterate diversity and freedom of choice from the world, they do not see this. They are tired of tolerating the existence of those who are different from them. Already possessing more power and control than they deserve, these bullies view any tiny remaining shred of liberty for the minority as an offense. 

A popular slogan among those on the left-hand side of the political spectrum is: respect existence or expect resistance. It’s time they live in accordance with those words.

bookmark_borderOn “politicizing” the response to Covid

I often hear the claim that the response to the Covid-19 pandemic is being “politicized.” Almost always, this claim has been made by those who support authoritarian restrictions on people’s freedom to slow the spread of the virus. And now this claim is being made by those who support the authoritarian position of pressuring, requiring, mandating, and/or forcing people to get the Covid-19 vaccine.

According to Dictionary.com, political means “of, relating to, or involving the state or its government.”

Therefore, it seems to me that the question of what policies the government should adopt with regards to the virus (or any topic for that matter) is inherently a political question. Which rights people have, to what extent (if any) freedom should be sacrificed for safety, and what types of restrictions the government has the right to enact, are all political topics. When those who argue (correctly, in my opinion) that restrictions violate individual rights are told to “stop politicizing the virus,” they are essentially being told that the concept of individual rights should be ignored. Authoritarian-leaning people urge governments to adopt whatever policies are likely to produce the best public health outcomes, while ignoring the fact that the decision to prioritize public health outcomes over individual liberty is itself a political judgment. 

Accusing your opponents of politicizing an issue is a form of presuming the truth of what you are trying to prove. To equate caring about liberty and individual rights with “politicizing” an issue is to presume that liberty and individual rights do not matter. This is arrogant and intellectually dishonest, not to mention deeply wrong.

For the government to impose authoritarian measures such as stay-at-home orders, mask mandates, and vaccination requirements is inherently a political act. Given the definition of “political” that I cited above, one could actually argue that the people urging coercive state or governmental actions are those who are truly politicizing the virus. If either side is treating the virus as a non-political issue, it is the side that is advocating for the state to stay out and allow people to make their own decisions.

bookmark_borderThe distinction between action and omission

In the seemingly never-ending debate about Covid-19 and which regulations (if any) are appropriate to combat it, many people make the mistake of erasing the distinction between action and omission. Far too often, I see tweets, comments, and editorials that equate refraining from taking a helpful action with actively taking a harmful action. 

For example, I have seen numerous people equating the decision not to receive a vaccine with “spreading disease,” and derisively characterizing the right not to get a vaccine as “the right to spread germs.” I have read editorials accusing a hypothetical person who gets on a bus while having an asymptomatic case of the virus of “killing” a hypothetical elderly person who subsequently gets on the bus and contracts the virus. I have seen tweets accusing governors of “killing” their states’ residents by lifting restrictions. 

Statements like these are based on a fundamental error in logic. People are not morally obligated to take any action; they are morally obligated only to refrain from harming others. In other words, as long as someone’s actions are not actively and directly harming others, they are doing nothing wrong. Failing to take an action that would benefit others, failing to actively help one’s community, these things are perfectly okay. People have the right to do their own thing and pursue their own goals; they are not required to contribute to the greater good.

Therefore, refraining from getting a vaccine is not the same thing as spreading disease. Nor, for that matter, is refraining from taking other risk-mitigation measures such as staying home or wearing masks. Spreading disease means deliberately infecting others with germs, on purpose. Failing to actively stop the spread is not the same as actively spreading. Diseases spread from person to person. People are not to blame for the transmission of a virus; the virus itself is.

It’s even more ridiculous to accuse leaders of killing people when they lift restrictions. Doing so presumes that restrictions are morally required, which is as far from the truth as it is possible to get. Taking away people’s freedoms for the sake of fighting a virus is morally impermissible, and therefore the restrictions never should have been enacted in the first place. To equate respect for fundamental rights with “killing” is preposterous. 

It’s understandable that proponents of mandatory vaccination, mandatory wearing of masks, and mandatory staying at home would conflate the failure to take these actions with taking a harmful action. It’s a lot easier to argue that a harmful action should be banned than it is to argue that people should be compelled to do something. Banning the spreading of disease and the killing of people sounds a lot more reasonable than banning minding one’s own business. But these attempts to justify totalitarianism are based on faulty logic. They erase the fundamental moral distinction between action and omission.