bookmark_borderJudge Kurt D. Engelhardt is awesome

On Friday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed a lower court’s decision to halt, temporarily at least, the immoral and authoritarian OSHA order forcing businesses with over 100 employees to force all of their employees to undergo medical procedures against their will.

Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt, who authored the decision, made some excellent points that had me pumping my fist and jumping up and down with joy while reading it. Some highlights are below:

  • “On the dubious assumption that the Mandate does pass constitutional muster – which we need not decide today – it is nonetheless fatally flawed on its own terms. Indeed, the Mandate’s strained prescriptions combine to make it the rare government pronouncement that is both overinclusive (applying to employers and employees in virtually all industries and workplaces in America, with little attempt to account for the obvious differences between the risks facing, say, a security guard on a lonely night shift, and a meatpacker working shoulder to shoulder in a cramped warehouse) and underinclusive (purporting to save employees with 99 or more coworkers from a ‘grave danger’ in the workplace, while making no attempt to shield employees with 98 or fewer coworkers from the very same threat).”
  • “The Mandate is staggeringly overbroad. Applying to 2 out of 3 private-sector workers in America, in workplaces as diverse as the country itself, the Mandate fails to consider what is perhaps the most salient fact of all: the ongoing threat of COVID-19 is more dangerous to some employees than to other employees. All else equal, a 28-year-old trucker spending the bulk of his workday in the solitude of his cab is simply less vulnerable to COVID-19 than a 62-year-old prison janitor. Likewise, a naturally immune unvaccinated worker is presumably at less risk than an unvaccinated worker who has never had the virus. The list goes on, but one constant remains – the Mandate fails almost completely to address, or even respond to, much of this reality and common sense.”
  • “It is clear that a denial of the petitioners’ proposed stay would do them irreparable harm. For one, the Mandate threatens to substantially burden the liberty interests of reluctant individual recipients put to a choice between their job(s) and their jab(s). For the individual petitioners, the loss of constitutional freedoms ‘for even minimal periods of time… unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury.'”
  • “Of course, the principles at stake when it comes to the Mandate are not reducible to dollars and cents. The public interest is also served by maintaining our constitutional structure and maintaining the liberty of individuals to make intensely personal decisions according to their own convictions – even, or perhaps particularly, when those decisions frustrate government officials.”
  • “Health agencies do not make housing policy, and occupational safety administrators do not make health policy. In seeking to do so here, OSHA runs afoul of the statute from which it draws its power and, likely, violates the constitutional structure that safeguards our collective liberty.”

To say that the vaccine mandate threatens to substantially burden people’s liberty interests is an understatement. Almost nothing violates individual liberty more severely than requiring people to undergo a medical procedure as a condition of employment.

Engelhardt is 100% correct when he writes that OSHA has overstepped its bounds by enacting the mandate. OSHA’s job is to protect workers’ safety in the workplace, not to control people’s personal medical decisions or to shape behavior in order to achieve the government’s desired public health outcomes. Although forcing all workers to get either a vaccine or weekly covid testing does reduce the likelihood of a covid outbreak at a workplace, it is clear that the motivation of Biden and his administration in enacting the mandate is not specifically to make workplaces safer, but simply to force as many people as possible to get the vaccine. In other words, Biden wants everyone to get the vaccine, and his administration determined that an OSHA standard would be the most effective (and most likely to survive legal scrutiny) means of doing that. The fact that making everyone get a medical procedure does not fall within OSHA’s purview (not to mention the fact that doing so violates everyone’s rights) doesn’t seem to matter to the Biden administration. 

Nothing makes this clearer than the fact that the mandate applies even to workers who work from home 100% of the time. If the mandate was intended to protect workers from catching covid at work, then it would grant people the option of working remotely (if their job duties allow) as an alternative to vaccination or testing. If a worker never physically sets foot in the workplace, their vaccine and testing decisions do not affect the safety of their co-workers. Forcing remote workers to undergo medical procedures does nothing to improve workplace safety, yet this is exactly what the Biden administration chose to do.

By enacting this vaccine mandate, the Biden administration has perverted the purpose of OSHA. A government agency that was founded to protect workers from the harmful actions of employers is now being used to require employers to do harmful things to their workers. Let’s hope and pray that these recent court decisions are the beginning of turning the tide back in the direction of liberty, individual rights, and human decency.

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 difference between action and omission

Majoring in philosophy in college, one of the first things I learned is the difference between action and omission. There is a fundamental difference between actively doing a bad thing, and merely failing to do a good thing. The first is morally wrong; the second is not.

Unfortunately, this distinction is lost on the mindless authoritarians whose goal is to force everyone on earth to get the Covid vaccine. Again and again, everyone is constantly bombarded by the claim that people who don’t get the vaccine are driving the pandemic, that they are causing hospitals to become overwhelmed, that they are putting their co-workers’ health at risk, that they are causing illness and death to other people, et cetera. These mean-spirited and philosophically unsound messages even infiltrate the comics section of the newspaper: while hoping to find some lighthearted humor, I recently came across a comic in which a cartoon version of “Covid” appeared at a party, the guests told him to go away because they hadn’t invited him, and Covid responded, “Well, by not getting vaccinated, you kinda did.”

No offense to Mr. Covid, but this way of thinking is wrong. Not getting vaccinated is not the same as “inviting” Covid to your party, because failing to prevent something is not the same as causing it. It’s true that by opting against the vaccine, people are not doing everything within their power to stop the spread of Covid. But failing to stop the spread of Covid is not the same as causing the virus to spread.

People are not morally obligated to take preventative measures to protect themselves or others. People are not obligated to get a vaccine, no matter how safe, harmless, or convenient you may consider the vaccine to be. People are not obligated to care for others or demonstrate love for their neighbors. People are not obligated to work to end the pandemic, to “do their part,” or to make any sacrifices for the sake of the common good. 

People are obligated to abstain from actively harming others, and that’s it. As long as they are not deliberately coughing on someone with the express purpose of giving them the virus, non-vaccinated people are not doing anything wrong.

For those who think that this is merely a philosophical distinction with no practical significance, allow me to point out that as a result of the widespread failure to distinguish between action and omission, people who have not gotten the vaccine have wrongfully been subjected to all sorts of discriminatory and punitive treatment. First of all, falsely accusing someone of causing sickness and death is harmful in itself. Non-vaccinated people have been called idiotic, irresponsible, selfish, and nearly every insult and criticism imaginable. Real harm is inflicted by treating people this way. Additionally, non-vaccinated people have suffered significant material harms as well. Increasingly, they are not allowed to work, enroll in college, attend sports games, concerts, plays, or events, visit restaurants, gyms, bars, casinos, or malls, or even get medical services. There are plans afoot to charge them more for health insurance and possibly even to bar them from interstate travel. Because non-vaccinated people are not doing anything wrong, all of this is completely unjustified and undeserved

Non-vaccinated people are not driving the pandemic; the virus is. Therefore, to punish any person in any way for opting against the vaccine is morally wrong. It really is that simple.

bookmark_border“Covid politics walloping red America”

Yesterday I was perusing the newsstand at my local supermarket, and a headline on the front page of the New York Times caught my eye.

“Covid politics walloping red America,” it read. The article was about high rates of Covid cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in conservative-leaning states.

This headline is biased for a couple of reasons:

First of all, Covid politics are not walloping anyone… Covid is. It is clear from the article that by “Covid politics,” the Times means people’s decisions to refrain from protective measures such as vaccines, mask-wearing, and social distancing, or governments’ decisions to refrain from making these measures mandatory. Such measures do, to some extent, prevent people from catching the virus and/or getting sick. But that doesn’t mean that refraining from these things causes people to catch the virus and get sick. The virus itself causes this. Failing to prevent something does not equal causing it.

Second, it makes no more sense to characterize a lack of Covid restrictions as “Covid politics” than it does to characterize the enactment of restrictions as “Covid politics.” Several different definitions of “politics” are listed on Dicionary.com, but they pretty much all have to do with the science and art of government, or beliefs and opinions about government. Debates about which actions, if any, governments should take in response to the Covid pandemic are inherently a political topic. Some people hold political beliefs that emphasize safety and the common good; these people generally support the imposition of restrictions and mandates with the aim of combatting the pandemic. Other people hold political beliefs that emphasize individual rights and liberty; these people generally oppose restrictions and mandates because they believe that respecting rights and allowing people the maximum amount of freedom is more important than combatting the pandemic. So why is the Times equating the latter type of ideology with “politics” but not the former? Refraining from getting the Covid vaccine is not “politics” any more than getting the vaccine is politics. Respecting individual rights, and refraining from forcing people to get the vaccine, is not “politics” any more than forcing people to get the vaccine is politics. If anything, it is more appropriate to characterize the decision to impose restrictions and mandates as “politics,” because this is a decision that actively interferes with people’s lives, as opposed to simply leaving people alone. 

In short, this headline is just another example of the New York Times presuming that its belief in a powerful government that controls people’s lives and tramples on individual liberty for the sake of the common good is the only possible legitimate belief. The Times does not even appear to consider the possibility that people might genuinely hold alternative views. Anyone who thinks or acts differently from them, the Times assumes, is just playing politics.

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_borderBiden’s totalitarianism reaches new lows (again)

I have been so heartbroken, furious, and disgusted by Joe Biden’s September 9 announcement that I have not been able to write coherently about this subject. Reading about and watching his speech was horrifying, and I am ashamed to be from a country that elected him president. I can confidently say that I have never in my life been a fan of Biden, but the degree of authoritarianism and disregard for individual liberty that he has demonstrated is far beyond what I ever imagined possible. For the better part of five days, I have felt completely exhausted, beaten down, and sick to my stomach. I have felt as if my chest is being crushed in a vice and a noose slowly being tightened around my neck.

With that said, here are a few semi-coherent thoughts on Biden’s reprehensible speech:

  • Biden’s comments that “it’s not about freedom or personal choice” are preposterous. The issue of whether people should be required to get Covid vaccines or testing is fundamentally a matter of freedom and personal choice; that is self-evident. Clearly, Biden does not think freedom or personal choice are important. His executive order takes these basic rights away from millions of people. But the fact that Biden is taking the anti-freedom position on an issue does not make the issue not about freedom.
  • Biden says that his “patience is wearing thin” with people who opt not to get the Covid vaccine. This makes no sense. People who opt not to get the vaccine are doing nothing wrong; therefore there is no reason for their existence to make anyone upset, angry, or frustrated in any way. I don’t know about you, but my patience has completely run out with this fascist government and its attempts to take away people’s power over their own bodies and lives.
  • The purpose of OSHA is to protect workers. Under Biden’s executive order, OSHA would require employers to require workers to do medical procedures that they do not want to do. This is the exact opposite of protecting workers, and therefore the exact opposite of what OSHA is supposed to be doing.
  • For those who argue that Biden’s executive order protects workers by lowering everyone’s Covid risk, it is true that the executive order benefits those workers whose sole concern is having the lowest Covid risk possible, and who care nothing about freedom, individual rights, or the well-being of those with different preferences than themselves. But people who have this attitude are wrong. Their desire for safety does not override the rights of others to make decisions about their own bodies. Biden’s executive order gives paranoid, anti-freedom people a benefit that they do not deserve by invading the bodies of their co-workers. This is unjust and wrong.
  • One person on Twitter equated requiring vaccination with banning people from waving a chainsaw around at work. This analogy is ridiculous. Employers have the right to make rules about what employees are and are not allowed to do while at work, and waving a chainsaw is definitely something that employers have a right to ban. Vaccine and testing requirements are different in two ways. First, they compel people to actively take an action as opposed to banning an action. Second, requiring people to undergo a medical procedure does not merely affect them during their work hours; it physically invades their body. By working for a company, people agree to give up specified amounts of time and energy in exchange for money. But bodily integrity is far more intimate and is beyond the scope of what people should have to give up in order to secure employment.
  • The fact that the vaccination/testing requirement will likely apply even to people who work from home defeats any attempt to justify it by invoking workplace safety. Clearly, the vaccination status of those who work 100% remotely has no impact on the safety of their co-workers. This demonstrates that the executive order is not primarily about protecting workers; it is about pressuring as many people as possible into getting the vaccine.
  • As for Biden’s comments that if governors will not help to beat the pandemic, he will get them out of the way, this is not only disturbingly totalitarian, but philosophically unsound. Believe it or not, there are more important things than beating the pandemic, such as individual liberty. Of course, beating the pandemic is a worthy goal, but it is never acceptable to violate people’s rights in order to do so. Individual rights must always come first, no exceptions. Governors who recognize this, and who are courageously standing up for the rights of their people, should be praised, not criticized and threatened.

A real leader would have banned businesses from requiring Covid vaccination or testing. A real leader would have instructed OSHA to draft a rule fining businesses for requiring Covid vaccination or testing, not for failing to do so. A real leader would have stood up for individual rights, not trampled on them. A real leader would have threatened to “get out of the way” those businesses and states which are trampling on the rights of their people, not those that are failing to trample.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that we now live in a totalitarian society. Biden’s executive order is the most severe violation of individual rights that has ever been enacted in the United States. Your body is the most fundamental piece of property that you own, and the right to make decisions about it is the most fundamental right there is. If people can be deprived of this right, then people are no longer free in any meaningful sense. The fact that such a thing has happened in the United States is heartbreaking, infuriating, and sickening.

bookmark_borderBiden’s totalitarianism reaches new lows

Thanks to the FDA’s decision to officially approve the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, Joe Biden got a new excuse to act like a totalitarian dictator and to trample on everyone’s fundamental rights.

In a public address, he called on all employers, including private companies, organizations, state governments, and local governments, to require their workers to get the vaccine. “I’m calling on more companies and the private sector to step up with vaccine requirements that will reach millions more people,” the president said.

It’s absolutely appalling that the president of the United States, a nation founded upon the ideal of individual liberty, used the power of his office to urge companies to take away their employees’ freedom to make their own medical decisions. He urged companies to “step up” and violate people’s fundamental rights, as if violating people’s fundamental rights is somehow a good thing. As if bringing intrusion into personal medical decisions to millions more people is somehow a positive thing that makes people’s lives better, when nothing could be farther from the truth.

To value and protect individual liberty is both the job of the president of the United States and a requirement for being a morally decent person. Yet Biden is doing the exact opposite of this. As the most powerful person in the world, he chose to use that power to advocate for a world with less freedom, less dignity, and fewer rights for individuals. He chose to advocate for a world in which more people are forced to do medical procedures that they do not want to do. I can’t think of a worse way for a leader to use his or her power. Not only is Biden by far the worst president the United States has ever had, but he is also a despicable human being and far more of a bully than Donald Trump ever was. 

bookmark_borderBishop gets it wrong on vaccine mandate

The diocese of Lexington, Kentucky recently mandated Covid vaccines for all of its employees. In a statement announcing and justifying the decision, Bishop John Stowe demonstrated a disturbing view of morality, which completely disregards the idea of individual rights and is, in my opinion, completely immoral.

“This is an urgent matter of public health and safety. There is no religious exemption for Catholics to being vaccinated, and Pope Francis has repeatedly called this a moral obligation. The health care system is now overwhelmed by a crisis caused primarily by those who refuse to protect themselves and others by getting vaccinated. This is unacceptable, and our diocese now joins those employers who have already made this basic commitment to the common good a requirement.”

(H/T Jack Jenkins on Twitter)

First of all, contrary to what Bishop Stowe and Pope Francis believe, it is simply false to say that getting a medical procedure is a moral obligation. The only moral obligation that a person has is to abstain from violating the rights of other people. No one is ever morally obligated to actively do anything, and that includes getting a vaccine.

Second, it’s wrong to say that any overwhelm of the health care system is caused by those who opt against the vaccine. It’s true that the situation could potentially have been prevented if more people had gotten the vaccine, but failing to prevent something is not the same as causing it. The virus itself is what is causing people to get sick and the medical system to get overwhelmed. The distinction between actively causing something and merely failing to prevent it is a crucial moral distinction that Bishop Stowe completely fails to make.

This leads to my next point, which is that declining to protect oneself and others (decline is a better word than refuse, because it is neutral as opposed to presuming that the person is acting wrongly by opting not to do the thing in question) is actually a perfectly morally acceptable decision. People are morally obligated not to violate the rights of others, and that’s it. No one is morally obligated to actively protect others. No one is morally obligated to protect him/herself, either. People have the right to take any health risks that they want to. One could argue that deciding not to get the vaccine is unwise, but it does not violate the rights of others; therefore it is a perfectly moral choice that people have the right to make.

Contrary to Bishop Stowe’s claim, there is nothing unacceptable about the situation. People have a right to decide which, if any, preventative measures to take with regards to Covid, and the number of people who get sick will correspond to those decisions. Of course, it is sad whenever someone becomes seriously ill, but people have a right to risk this if they choose to. There is nothing unacceptable about people making their own decisions about what level of risk they are willing to take.

As for the comments about the common good, these are completely misguided and, frankly, immoral. A commitment to the common good is not a requirement for being a moral person, and it certainly should not be a requirement for employment. You know what is a requirement for being a moral person? Respect for individual rights. Sadly, that is something that Bishop Stowe, along with numerous other employers, is sorely lacking. The contempt that Stowe demonstrates towards people who have done absolutely nothing wrong is cruel, disrespectful, philosophically unsound, unjustified, and wrong. Joining those employers who have completely failed in their moral duty to treat others with basic respect is not something that he should be bragging about.

bookmark_borderDr. Fauci gets it backwards

Dr. Fauci recently made some disturbing comments that demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of the concept of individual rights. 

“This is very serious business,” Fauci said on MSNBC in response to a question about whether teachers should be required to get the Covid vaccine. “You would wish that people would see why it’s so important to get vaccinated… I’m sorry, I know people must like to have their individual freedom and not be told to do something, but I think we’re in such a serious situation now that under certain circumstances, mandates should be done.”

Fauci has it completely backward. His position seems to be that protecting people from Covid-19 comes first, and individual freedom comes second. In other words, people should only be allowed individual freedom when safety and health concerns allow. But individual freedom, which includes the ability to decline vaccination if one so chooses, is not merely nice to have. It is not merely something that people would like. It is a fundamental right. It needs to come first. Safety is something that people would like to have, health is something that people would like to have, a low risk of catching a virus is something that people would like to have, but these things can only be taken into consideration after making sure that individual freedom is respected. 

bookmark_border“Irresponsible idiots”

Again and again, people who opt against the Covid vaccine are called morons, idiots, selfish, irresponsible, and a whole host of personally insulting nouns and adjectives. Those who spew forth these insults are essentially claiming that people are morally obligated to undergo a medical procedure for the benefit of others. This raises the question: are people who choose not to undergo a medical procedure truly selfish and irresponsible?

In my opinion, no. If anything, it is selfish and irresponsible to demand that others make the same medical decisions that you would make. The freedom to make decisions about one’s body is a fundamental right. My body, my choice, as those on the left-hand side of the political spectrum so often say with regards to abortion (although they seem to believe this principle is confined only to that particular issue). Unfortunately, the fact that the coronavirus spreads from person to person has caused a lot of people to throw the concept of individual liberty out the window. There is a tendency to believe that in situations where a person’s actions affect other people, individuals should no longer have the right to make their own choices. 

But that way of looking at things is wrong and misguided. It is true that when it comes to communicable diseases, one person’s actions have an indirect impact on others and on society as a whole by affecting the risk levels in the community. Opting not to get a vaccine does mean that a person has a higher risk of catching an illness, and therefore a higher risk of passing the illness on to other people. But there are numerous situations in which a person’s actions can affect other people. In fact, this is true in almost every situation to some degree. Riding a motorcycle creates noise which nearby people might find unpleasant; unhealthy eating can cause health problems which, if a person has insurance, can drive up insurance prices for everyone; and gun ownership carries a risk that one’s gun could be stolen and used to commit a crime, to list just a few examples.

But these are all actions that people have a right to do. To understand why, one needs to understand the difference between direct effects and indirect effects. If someone were to crash their motorcycle into your house, that would have a direct effect on you. It would destroy your property (and possibly physically injure you) and therefore violate your rights. Shooting someone would fall into the same category, as would stealing someone’s money, or giving someone Covid on purpose by deliberately coughing or sneezing on them. These actions all directly harm another person. Opting not to get a vaccine, on the other hand, does not directly harm anyone. It affects others only indirectly, by affecting the risk levels in the community. Declining the vaccine increases your risk of catching the virus, but it does not directly cause you to get it, because it is possible to decline the vaccine without catching the virus. Therefore, declining the vaccine certainly doesn’t cause anyone else to get the virus, because even if you get the virus yourself, you may or may not give it to another person. 

Your habits affect my risk level, those on the left argue, so they are my business. Your personal decisions make me less safe, so you don’t have a right to make them. But these arguments disregard the direct negative impact that is inherent in taking people’s freedom away. Being subjected to an unwanted medical procedure, or being pressured into doing something one does not want to do, violates rights and is inherently harmful. Effects on risk level and safety are not adequate justification for taking away the right to bodily autonomy and thereby inflicting direct harm. The fact that actions have indirect effects on other people does not override the concept of individual rights. If it did, then individual rights would essentially cease to exist. 

If you consider me selfish because I am unwilling to give up my right to control my own body, then so be it. I would rather be a selfish, irresponsible idiot than a mean, stuck-up, contemptuous, intolerant bully.