Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently gave a disturbing speech justifying his decision to implement vaccine passport systems. Here’s an excerpt (via Turning Point USA):
“We’re paying for the provincial vaccine passports to make sure that when someone comes into a restaurant, they’ll know they won’t be sitting beside a table of people who are unvaccinated. When you go into a gym, when you go to a movie theater, you need to know that if you’ve done the right things, you get to be safe, you get to be rewarded, for having done the right things. That’s what it’s all about. And those people who still hesitate, who still resist, well, they won’t get to enjoy the same things as those who’ve done their part for others. It seems like a very logical thing. It seems like a very obvious thing.”
It is deeply wrong to treat basic activities such as going to restaurants, movies, and gyms as privileges reserved for people who have done some allegedly virtuous deed to earn them. Trudeau’s reasoning on vaccine passports is wrong for several reasons:
- Getting the Covid vaccine does not equal “doing the right thing.” It is morally neutral. Getting the vaccine and not getting the vaccine are both perfectly valid and acceptable choices; both are equally right. People who get the Covid vaccine are no more deserving of being rewarded than people who opt not to get it.
- People do not have a moral obligation to “do their part for others;” in fact there is no such thing as “their part for others.” No one is morally obligated to actively contribute to the health of others or to the greater good. The only moral obligation that people have is to refrain from violating other people’s rights. Simply doing nothing, and minding one’s own business, is a perfectly morally acceptable option.
- Because no one is morally obligated to take any actions for the benefit of others, people have a fundamental right to “hesitate” or “resist” getting the vaccine. Those who “hesitate” or “resist” getting the vaccine are not doing anything wrong at all, and Trudeau has no right to speak about them in a critical or disparaging manner.
- No one has a right to know about the vaccine status of the people around them. Trudeau seems to be implying that it’s important for people, when going to a restaurant, to know that the people at nearby tables have gotten the vaccine. But actually, the vaccine status of people at nearby tables (or even at your own table) is none of your business. The right to make one’s own medical decisions, and to keep those decisions private, outweighs any desire to minimize the Covid risk that is present in one’s environment. In other words, an inherent part of going out in public is that one may come into contact with people of varying health statuses and vaccine statuses. If this poses a level of risk that is unacceptable to you, then stay home.
- Basic, everyday activities such as going to restaurants, gyms, and movie theaters are rights, not privileges. Being allowed to do these things is not a “reward” for (allegedly) good behavior; it is a fundamental right. It is beyond disturbing that activities nearly universally considered rights two years ago have morphed into privileges.
In conclusion, contrary to what Trudeau claims, requiring people to undergo a medical procedure in order to participate in life is not a logical thing, nor is it an obvious thing. It is logically unsound, morally wrong, and totalitarian.
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.