bookmark_border“Just get the shot”

“Or just help yourself and people around you to stay healthy. Just get the shot.”

I recently saw this comment on a social media post. Quite frankly, this comment pisses me off. 

No, we do not have to get the shot. 

People can get the shot if they want to. People can choose not to get the shot if that is what they prefer. Both options are equally good and equally valid.

People have a fundamental right not to get the shot.

It really is not a difficult concept to understand.

How dare this person order other people to get a shot? What right does this person have to do such a thing?

How dare this person presume that he/she has the right to tell other people what they must do with their bodies?

Also, getting the shot doesn’t necessarily help a person to stay healthy. Even if it did, people have a fundamental right to decide for themselves what measures, if any, to take to stay healthy. People have a fundamental right to decide for themselves what risks, if any, to take with their health. Additionally, people have no obligation to help the people around them stay healthy. A person’s health is his/her own business, not the business of others.

The attitude demonstrated by this person reminds me of the screaming, angry rant of a sports commentator who, during the halftime of an NBA game, viciously insulted Kyrie Irving for his decision to abstain from the vaccine. “Just get a damn shot!” he shouted, as part of a stream of vitriol and abuse.

This nastiness towards someone who did nothing wrong completely baffles me and blows my mind. Why would someone feel anger towards Kyrie Irving for a medical decision that he made about his own body? The medical decisions that Kyrie makes are no one’s business but his. How could someone be angry about something that is none of his business?

I have the right to make decisions about my body. You have the right to make decisions about your body. You do not have the right to make decisions about my body.

Kyrie has the right to make decisions about Kyrie’s body. A nasty, yelling commentator does not have the right to make decisions about Kyrie’s body.

Contrary to said commentator’s claim, Kyrie actually doesn’t have to get a shot if he doesn’t want to. 

His body, his choice.

The attitude demonstrated by both the social media commenter and the TV analyst is immoral, illogical, and incomprehensible. This attitude pisses me off, and it needs to stop, yesterday.

People have a fundamental right not to get the shot.

You have no right to order them to get it.

It really is that simple.

bookmark_borderMy public comment on CDC/APIP Docket No. CDC-2022-0111

Below is a public comment that I submitted regarding the possibility of adding the Covid shot to the immunization schedule for kids, which the CDC will be meeting to discuss tomorrow. If you are so inclined, you can leave a comment yourself at this link. Please reference CDC/APIP Docket No. CDC-2022-0111.

To whom it may concern:

I am strongly opposed to the addition of any vaccines, particularly the Covid-19 shot, to the Vaccines for Children program. In my opinion, there are already too many shots, tests, and other medical procedures that children are made to routinely undergo, which negatively impacts their quality of life. The last thing our society should be doing is adding to the list of medical procedures that children are subjected to.

In my opinion, it is a particularly bad idea to add the Covid-19 shot to the list of vaccines administered through the Vaccines for Children program. Although there is some evidence that these shots reduce the severity of illness for people who get Covid-19, there is no evidence that the shots actually prevent people from catching Covid in the first place. This factor alone makes Covid shots significantly different from the other vaccines in the Vaccines for Children program, all of which prevent diseases as opposed to merely reducing their severity. I believe that every person has an absolute and fundamental human right to make his/her own medical decisions, and therefore I am philosophically opposed to making any medical procedure mandatory under any circumstances. However, I think that it would be particularly wrong to make the Covid shot mandatory because the justification of protecting the community by reducing disease transmission cannot really be used for shots that do not prevent transmission.

Another factor that weighs against routinely administering Covid shots to children is the fact that children are at very low risk for severe illness or death from Covid. Plus, from the data available so far, the risk of side effects from Covid shots appears to be quite high. It is very common for people to become sick for a day or two following getting these shots. Although this does not generally pose a threat to people’s long-term health, both the experience of receiving a shot and the resulting side effects have a negative impact on quality of life. This negative impact on quality of life should not be dismissed.

In conclusion, the drawbacks to administering Covid shots to children appear to be quite high, and the benefits quite low. Therefore, it is not clear that receiving these shots is, on the whole, beneficial to children. The moral principles of individual liberty, bodily autonomy, and medical freedom also weigh strongly against adding the Covid shot to the Vaccines for Children program. I feel strongly that children and their parents should have the freedom to weigh risks and benefits themselves and make their own decisions. I feel strongly that the Covid shot should be optional.

Sincerely,

Marissa B.

bookmark_borderFour ways in which vaccine mandates harm people

Thankfully, vaccine mandates appear to be on their way out in many parts of the world (knock on wood). Despite this, I was philosophizing the other day (as I am wont to do) about why exactly vaccine mandates are morally wrong. These are four ways that I came up with that explain how vaccine mandates harm people:

  1. Vaccine mandates violate people’s privacy rights. Many people think that if someone is vaccinated, then that person is not negatively impacted by vaccine mandates. After all, being required to get a medical procedure isn’t a problem for those people who happen to have already gotten the required medical procedure, right? Wrong. Being required to provide proof of vaccination is harmful in itself, even if someone has already gotten the vaccine and has a vaccine card or other documentation easily available. This is because the act of having to prove to another person that one has undergone a particular medical procedure is inherently demeaning and degrading. This is not the type of interaction that a human being should ever have with another human being. Additionally, it is an invasion of privacy to require someone to share the fact that they got a vaccine, the date they got the vaccine(s), and the type of vaccine(s) that they got. One might think that this type of medical information isn’t that personal – and I would agree that it isn’t on the same level as info about getting a colonoscopy or having an STD to give just a couple of examples – but it is still medical information, and no person should have to provide it if they don’t feel comfortable doing so.
  2. Vaccine mandates punish people who aren’t vaccinated. This reason is pretty straightforward and doesn’t require much explanation. Requiring a vaccine for employment, travel, events, activities, or entrance into certain places means that people who haven’t gotten the vaccine aren’t allowed to do those things. Depriving people of the ability to hold certain jobs, travel to certain places, or participate in certain events and activities is inherently harmful.
  3. Vaccine mandates coerce people into getting vaccinated when they don’t want to. In my opinion, this is the worst way in which vaccine mandates harm people. For many non-vaccinated people, the punishments mentioned above are impossible or impractical to accept. Perhaps someone cannot absorb the loss of their job, because they need the income to survive. Perhaps someone’s passion is going to art museums, or hockey games, or fine restaurants, to give just a few examples, and they feel that their life wouldn’t be worth living without these activities. Or perhaps someone is part of a friend group that regularly partakes in activities that are subject to vaccine mandates, and the person doesn’t feel comfortable revealing to their friends that they aren’t vaccinated. In these types of situations, someone who does not want to get the vaccine may feel forced into getting it anyways. Unfortunately, this has likely happened to many people over the past months. Every instance in which this happens is a tragedy.
  4. Vaccine mandates bias the decision-making process of those who are undecided. This may be the most subtle way in which vaccine mandates negatively impact people. For someone who is genuinely undecided about whether or not to get the vaccine, the existence of vaccine mandates inherently biases the decision-making process. Every time a person makes a medical decision, that decision should be made 100% freely. People should be able to decide about the Covid vaccine based solely on their weighing of the risks and benefits of the vaccine to them individually. When a person knows that some jobs, places, events, and/or activities will be off-limits to them if they decline the vaccine, this knowledge inherently tips the decision-making process towards getting the vaccine. Therefore, by implementing vaccine mandates, governmental and private institutions are interfering with people’s medical decisions. They are introducing external factors – factors other than the actual risks and benefits of the vaccine itself – into the decision-making process. This is morally wrong, because it deprives people of the ability to make a truly free decision. (Infuriatingly, many institutions that implement vaccine mandates likely view the “tipping” of the decision-making process as an argument in favor of mandates).

These four reasons demonstrate how vaccine mandates harm everyone: vaccinated people, non-vaccinated people (both those who remain non-vaccinated and those who end up eventually getting vaccinated), and undecided people.

bookmark_borderIncreased vaccination rates are nothing to celebrate

Recently I saw a video of a press conference during which, about a week after Boston implemented a vaccine mandate for restaurants, gyms, theaters, museums, and sporting events, city officials praised the resulting increase in the city’s vaccination rate. The mayor and public health officials used words such as “hopeful” and “encouraging” to describe this state of affairs.

“I would say there is quite a bit of reason to be ‘hopeful.’ For several weeks in December and into early January, our vaccination rates didn’t increase. More recently we have seen a significant increase in vaccination uptake. From the first or second week, we noticed a 36% increase…”

(source: Massachusetts Says No)

In my opinion, there is nothing to celebrate in this situation. Essentially, city leaders introduced a policy forcing people to do something, and then shortly after the policy went into effect, they brag about the fact that the policy succeeded in forcing people to do the thing. 

Forcing people to do something – or coercing people, or bullying people, or pressuring people – is not good. It is not something that anyone should be bragging about. It is not something that anyone should be celebrating. It is not hopeful. It is not encouraging.

Since May 2021, the Covid vaccine has been easily available to anyone who wishes to get it. It is highly likely that the people who received the vaccine in mid January did so not because they wanted to, but because of the mandate that went into effect on January 15.

Each and every instance of someone getting a medical procedure that they don’t really want is a tragedy. The fact that so many people seem to have gotten the Covid vaccine as a result of the city’s mandate makes my heart sick. The thought of people feeling reluctant to get the vaccine, but feeling that they have no choice but to get it, is depressing and demoralizing. No one should ever have to face a situation in which they have to get a medical procedure in order to keep their job, participate in an activity, or go about their everyday life. 

The fact that Mayor Wu and her administration consider this situation to be “hopeful” and “encouraging” is sickening, perverted, and grotesque.

bookmark_borderJustin Trudeau’s totalitarianism should not be tolerated

I saw the following quote by Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau on social media recently and found it extremely disturbing. Below, I will explain why.

First of all, Trudeau claims that people who oppose forcing everyone to get the Covid vaccine “don’t believe in science or progress.” This makes no sense. A person’s stance on vaccine mandates has nothing to do with science; it has to do with morality. Even if the science showed Covid vaccines to be 100% effective and 100% risk-free (which it does not), it wouldn’t be okay to require people to get them, because requiring people to get medical procedures is always wrong. Opposing vaccine mandates does not indicate that a person does not believe in science; it indicates that the person (unlike Trudeau, apparently) believes in moral right and wrong. As for progress, Trudeau might be correct in claiming that vaccine mandate opponents don’t believe in progress. But given the way the world has been trending over the past two years, opposing progress is not a bad thing, but a good thing! The world is moving towards totalitarianism, and further progress down this path should be opposed by all morally decent people.

Second, Trudeau claims that people who oppose forcing everyone to get the Covid vaccine are “very often misogynistic and racist.” This claim is completely unsupported by logic or evidence. The question of whether or not people should be required to get the Covid vaccine has nothing to do with gender or race; therefore people who oppose vaccine mandates are no more likely to be misogynistic or racist than people who support vaccine mandates.

Third, contrary to Trudeau’s claims, neither he nor the Canadian people as a whole gets to make a choice about whether or not to “tolerate these people.” People have a fundamental right to make their own medical decisions; therefore everyone has a moral obligation to tolerate people who make different medical decisions than they do. If by “these people,” Trudeau means not only people who opt against the vaccine, but people who philosophically oppose vaccine mandates, then his statement is even more objectionable. Opposing vaccine mandates is the morally correct stance; therefore everyone is obligated not only to tolerate people with this stance, but to support them and agree with them! For someone with a morally wrong point of view to ask whether or not he should “tolerate” people with the morally right point of view is preposterous.

The real question is whether people should tolerate those who, like Trudeau, believe that it is okay to force people to undergo medical procedures. I suggest that the answer should be no. 

bookmark_borderOpposing vaccine mandates is not “anti-vax”

It shouldn’t even need to be stated that being against forcing people to do something is not the same as being against the thing itself. Specifically, opposing forcing people to get vaccines against their will is not the same thing as opposing vaccines themselves. This is a basic and obvious concept that anyone with an IQ over 80 should be able to easily understand. However, far too many members of the media are, infuriatingly, incapable of grasping this basic concept.

For example, when actress Evangeline Lilly revealed that she attended last weekend’s anti-vaccine mandate rally in Washington, D.C., much of the media coverage was neutral, appropriate, and professional.

However, as can be seen above, the Daily Beast decided to characterize the rally as an “anti-vax protest.” This is factually incorrect and unacceptable, because being anti-vaccine mandates is not the same as being anti-vax.

Rolling Stone did an even worse job, describing the rally as not only “anti-vax” but “insane,” and adopting a shocked and outraged tone at the fact that Lilly would “brag” about having attended the event. This is beyond unacceptable. Not only is it factually incorrect to describe the rally as anti-vax, but it is morally abhorrent that someone would consider it insane to oppose forcing people to undergo medical procedures against their will. In reality, it is insane not to oppose such a thing. As for Lilly “bragging” about attending the rally, she is 100% correct in doing so, as attending a rally for medical freedom is courageous, honorable, and exactly the type of thing a person is justified in bragging about. There is no reason for Rolling Stone to find this strange or bad in any way. Rolling Stone’s actions become even more abhorrent when one considers the fact that neither news articles nor their headlines are appropriate places in which to express opinions at all.

Another example of a factually incorrect and unprofessional headline is that of The Independent, in which the Washington, D.C. rally is again described as “anti-vaxx.” The Independent’s coverage is also an example of a disturbing trend, in which the media focuses its scrutiny and negative attention on those speaking out against authoritarian policies, as opposed to the authoritarian policies themselves. It is appalling that members of the media would consider Robert J. Kennedy Jr.’s comments at an anti-mandate rally to be more worthy of “outrage” than the fact that mandates exist in the first place. The targets of outrage, scrutiny, and criticism should be policies forcing people to undergo medical procedures against their will, not the brave people speaking out against such policies.

In conclusion, any headline that uses the term “anti-vax” (or worse, “anti-vaxx” with two X’s) to describe opposition to vaccine mandates is factually incorrect, unprofessional, and inappropriate. Anyone who chooses to publish such a headline is choosing to take the side of authoritarianism and to defame heroes who are bravely fighting for freedom. Therefore, anyone responsible for such a headline deserves, at the very least, to be fired immediately.

bookmark_borderThe slippery slope of vaccine requirements

Numerous times, I’ve heard people make various versions of the following argument:

Requiring Y in order to do X is not the same thing as forcing people to do Y, because people can simply not do X.

Or, put slightly differently:

Requiring Y in order to do X is not the same thing as forcing people to do Y, because people consent to Y when they choose X.

For example…

  • Requiring the Covid vaccine in order to attend a concert does not force anyone to get the vaccine, because you can simply not go to the concert.
  • Requiring the vaccine in order to attend a Bruins or Celtics game does not force anyone to get the vaccine, because you can simply not go to any games.
  • Requiring the vaccine in order to eat inside a restaurant does not force anyone to get the vaccine, because you can simply not go to restaurants, or sit outside on the patio, or get takeout instead.
  • Requiring the vaccine in order to go to a gym does not force anyone to get the vaccine, because you can go for a run or work out at home instead.
  • Requiring the vaccine in order to go into a grocery store does not force anyone to get the vaccine, because you can order groceries using Instacart, Amazon, or Peapod.
  • For a country to require the vaccine for all incoming travelers does not force anyone to get the vaccine, because you can simply not travel to that country.
  • Requiring the vaccine in order to board an airplane does not force anyone to get the vaccine, because you can simply not travel.
  • For the federal government to require the vaccine in order to work in the medical field does not force anyone to get the vaccine, because you can work in a different field.
  • For an employer to require the vaccine does not force anyone to get the vaccine, because no one is forced to work for that particular company.
  • For a college to require the vaccine does not force anyone to get the vaccine, because no one is forced to attend that particular college.
  • For OSHA to require the vaccine in order to work at a company with 100 or more employees does not force anyone to get the vaccine, because you can choose to work at a smaller company.
  • For a local government to require the vaccine in order to work at any company does not force anyone to get the vaccine, because you can simply move to a different city, or choose not to work.
  • Requiring the vaccine in order to receive Social Security benefits, or welfare benefits, does not force anyone to get the vaccine, because you can simply forego those benefits.
  • For a doctor to require the vaccine of their patients does not force anyone to get the vaccine, because you can just switch to a different doctor.
  • For health insurance companies to charge extra to non-vaccinated people does not force anyone to get the vaccine, because you can just pay the extra money.
  • Ordering a lockdown for non-vaccinated people does not force anyone to get the vaccine, because you can simply stay locked down inside your home.
  • For the government to require the vaccine for everyone and impose fines on those who do not comply does not force anyone to get the vaccine, because you can simply pay the fine.

As these examples show, depending on what the “X” is, the difficulty of avoiding doing it, and therefore avoiding a situation in which one is required to do “Y,” varies greatly.

If one particular concert requires proof of vaccination, then it’s not too burdensome to forego the concert. If one particular restaurant or bar requires proof of vaccination, then it’s not too burdensome to choose a different restaurant or bar instead. But what if your favorite professional sports team decides to require proof of vaccination to attend games? You could, of course, stop attending games, but if you love the team, are used to attending games frequently, and really look forward to the games, this would be a big sacrifice. But still, no one needs to attend professional sporting events. It’s not an essential service.

But then what happens if your local government passes a vaccine mandate for indoor recreational spaces such as restaurants, bars, gyms, theaters, and museums? None of these things are necessary to live. You can make all your meals at home, and exercise at home as well. Perhaps in order to exercise at home you will need to invest in weights and maybe an exercise bike, because you don’t own any exercise equipment. What if you can’t afford this? One might argue that you could run outside, but what if it’s winter and it’s too cold to comfortably do so? One might argue that you could just forego exercising, and accept becoming out of shape and unhealthy, but what if fitness is very important to you? Not to mention the fact that with restaurants, bars, theaters, and museums off-limits, your recreational activities will be very limited, which will take a toll on your quality of life. Your relationships will likely be harmed as well, because you will need to either make up an excuse or explain your vaccination decision to your friends if you are invited to a get-together at any of these venues.

Then what happens if, hypothetically, vaccination becomes required in order to enter grocery stores? You could have groceries delivered to your home, but this is more expensive. What if you are very low-income and cannot afford this added cost?

On a different note, what happens if your state government requires vaccination for all large events, including weddings and family reunions? What if you are invited to the wedding of a close friend or relative? How would you feel about having to miss such a once in a lifetime event? How would you explain your absence to your friends and family, and how would they react?

Now, let’s talk professional life. What if you are a high school student applying to colleges, and all of the colleges that are conveniently located and offer your desired major require the vaccine? Should you move across the country for school? Should you choose a small, obscure college that doesn’t offer the program that you want? Or should you forego college entirely, even if you worked hard to get excellent grades and always planned on going to college? What if you planned on going into the medical field, only to find that the vaccine is now required for any job in a medical setting? You could always choose a different career field, but what if being a doctor or nurse is your calling, and there is no other career that would be as fulfilling for you?

What if you are in the process of applying for jobs? If there is a particular company that requires vaccination, then you can just avoid applying to that company, but the more companies that implement vaccine requirements, the more difficult your job search will be. You will have fewer options, your search will likely take longer, and you will face higher odds of having to settle for a job that is non-ideal in terms of pay, duties, or location. What if you need to steer clear of any company with 100 or more employees because OSHA has mandated the vaccine for all employees at such companies? Most likely you would still be able to find a job eventually, but doing so would be all the more difficult with so many options eliminated.

What if you are currently at a job that you love, and your employer implements a vaccine mandate? What if your profession requires significant amounts of education and training, and you now need to start over in an entirely new career, meaning that your education and training are now wasted?

Clearly, the more companies, activities, events, locations, and career options that require the vaccine, the more pressured, coerced, and forced people will feel into getting it. It will become more and more difficult for non-vaccinated people to plot a course through life. Avoiding the requirements will become more and more burdensome, inconvenient, and difficult and will require more and more sacrifices. The world will become more and more like an obstacle course, with more hoops to jump through and a metaphorical noose gradually tightening around one’s neck. Some vaccine requirements are clearly worse than others; for example, requiring the vaccine for a concert is not as bad as requiring it for the subway, bus, or grocery store. It is impossible to pinpoint the exact point on the continuum at which one can say that people are forced into getting the vaccine. But every vaccine requirement is a step towards that point. Any vaccine requirement is a step in the wrong direction.

That is why you should be able to do anything you want without having to get a vaccine in order to do so. People have a fundamental right to decide whether or not to get any medical procedure. If the decision to forego a medical procedure is punished by having activities, events, locations, or career options taken away, then it can no longer be said that people are truly free to decide. Some vaccine requirements violate people’s rights more severely than others, but all vaccine requirements violate rights. Some people claim, condescendingly, that vaccine mandates are not coercive but merely a matter of “the unvaccinated” facing “consequences” for their decisions. But the decision to get a vaccine and the decision not to get a vaccine must be treated equally, because both are equally good and equally valid decisions. Any disparate treatment amounts to punishing people who have done nothing wrong and is therefore unjust. No one should have to forego a job, an education, a mode of transit, a travel destination, an event, a meal, a game, or a recreational activity because of their personal medical decision. No one should have to sacrifice money, time, convenience, fitness, relationships, fun, or happiness for the “privilege” of declining a shot. Vaccinated and non-vaccinated people should have all the same activities, opportunities, and career options available. Only then will people truly have medical liberty.

bookmark_borderBiden urges companies to violate employees’ rights in response to SCOTUS ruling

In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down the federal vaccine mandate for companies with over 100 employees, Joe Biden unsurprisingly made some authoritarian comments.

Here is what Biden said:

“I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has chosen to block common-sense life-saving requirements for employees at large businesses that were grounded squarely in both science and the law. This emergency standard allowed employers to require vaccinations or to permit workers to refuse to be vaccinated, so long as they were tested once a week and wore a mask at work: a very modest burden. As a result of the Court’s decision, it is now up to States and individual employers to determine whether to make their workplaces as safe as possible for employees, and whether their businesses will be safe for consumers during this pandemic by requiring employees to take the simple and effective step of getting vaccinated. The Court has ruled that my administration cannot use the authority granted to it by Congress to require this measure, but that does not stop me from using my voice as President to advocate for employers to do the right thing to protect Americans’ health and economy. I call on business leaders to immediately join those who have already stepped up – including one third of Fortune 100 companies – and institute vaccination requirements to protect their workers, customers, and communities.”

First of all, although not the least bit surprising given that the vaccine mandate was instituted by OSHA at Biden’s urging, it’s still difficult for me to comprehend how anyone could be disappointed at a ruling protecting individual rights from an egregious violation. It’s notable that Biden made no mention of morality, individual rights, or liberty in his address. He describes vaccine mandates as “life-saving,” “common-sense,” and “grounded squarely in both science and the law.” These things might be true (although the majority of the SCOTUS justices would disagree with the “grounded in the law” part), but none of them make it okay to require people to get a vaccine as a condition of employment. Doing so violates people’s rights and is therefore morally wrong. But clearly, the rights of individuals to make their own decisions about their bodies and lives are not particularly important to Biden.

It is telling that Biden characterizes the decision of whether individual businesses are going institute vaccine mandates as a decision about making businesses safe for employees and consumers and protecting people’s health and the economy. The debate over vaccine mandates is fundamentally a question of whether or not businesses are going to violate the rights of their employees. Although health, safety, and a booming economy are all good things to have, none of these things is as important as protecting individual rights. (With regards to Biden’s point about protecting workers, customers, and communities, I believe that forcing workers to do something they do not want to do is the opposite of protecting them, as I explained in a previous blog post.) Contrary to what Biden claims, instituting vaccine mandates is not “the right thing,” but the wrong thing. Instituting vaccine mandates is not “stepping up,” as Biden characterizes it, but rather an act of aggression against employees.

Thanks to the First Amendment, Biden does have a legal right to use his voice to encourage businesses to do the wrong thing. He does have a legal right to advocate that companies violate the rights of their employees. But that does not make it morally right of him to do so. 

The most disturbing part of Biden’s comments was his characterization of the vaccine-or-test requirement as a “very modest burden.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Neither shots nor Covid tests are particularly invasive medical procedures, but that does not make it okay to require them as a condition of employment. Requiring people to provide documentation that they’ve undergone a medical procedure is demeaning, degrading, and dehumanizing. It takes away privacy, it takes away liberty, and it takes away human dignity. When an employer has the power to decide what medical interventions an individual person must get, that individual person is deprived of the right to govern his/her body and his/her life. What is at issue here is not a specific vaccine, nor the act of having one’s nose swabbed. It is the concept of bodily autonomy and self-ownership. It is the fundamental right to make one’s own medical decisions, and that includes the right to decline any medical intervention. Although getting a shot or getting one’s nose swabbed may not be a big deal in itself, the loss of the freedom to independently make medical decisions is absolutely a big deal.

To be forced to submit to medical procedures in order to keep one’s job means to lose one’s dignity, one’s autonomy, and one’s ownership of one’s body. This is far from a “modest burden.”

bookmark_borderYes, forcing people to get medical procedures is immoral

In these times of totalitarianism, one thing I am grateful for is that I am not a college student. The conditions that college students are subjected to in an effort to prevent the spread of Covid are beyond ridiculous. As journalist and commentator Megyn Kelly pointed out, using Johns Hopkins University as an example, the rules imposed on students are truly immoral. 

Unfortunately, many people disagree that the measures imposed by Johns Hopkins and other colleges and universities are immoral, as evidenced by tweets like the one below:

Contrary to what the above person claims, requiring people to undergo medical procedures in order to attend school is, indeed, immoral. People have a fundamental right to make their own medical decisions, and requiring people to receive a vaccine or undergo Covid testing – let alone both – in order to go to college violates this right. Colleges should have no such thing as a “Vaccine Management System,” as Johns Hopkins refers to in the above letter, because which vaccines (if any) students receive is none of the college’s business.

Additionally, to require a specific type of mask, or two masks, is excessive. Places have a right to require masks, but one mask is plenty, and people should be able to decide which type of mask to wear. 

So, yes, it is immoral that a school would “embrace science and take every precaution to keep students safe,” because by embracing science and safety, Johns Hopkins (along with all colleges and universities that take similar measures) is rejecting basic human rights. 

To answer the question of why someone would allow students to take an unnecessary risk, the answer is simple. People have the right to take whatever risks they want, so there is a fundamental moral obligation to allow others to take unnecessary risks. Each individual person gets to make his or her own determination of which risks make sense to take and which do not. No person has the right to tell others that they are not allowed to take a risk because it is “unnecessary.”

I fail to see how respecting students’ basic rights constitutes “ignoring” what one learned. Does the above tweeter really think that unless one forces one’s own preferences and risk tolerance onto others, one is ignoring what one learned? Does he actually think that the purpose of getting an education is to violate the rights of other people? Silly me, I thought that the purpose of education was to gain knowledge, and possibly to share that knowledge with others. Sharing knowledge with others is not the same as telling them which actions they should take, let alone requiring them to take certain safety precautions in order to be allowed to attend school. The job of professors and college administrators is to share knowledge so that students can use that knowledge to make their own decisions.

In conclusion, it does not constitute “ignoring what you learned” to respect others’ rights, and it is utterly nonsensical than anyone would claim that it does. Violating the rights of other people is not a requirement for making one’s education worthwhile as this person seems nonsensically to be claiming; it is immoral. Respecting people’s rights to make their own medical decisions is a basic moral obligation, which far too many colleges (and companies and organizations and government entities) are failing to meet.

bookmark_borderThoughts on the Supreme Court ruling

Like everyone who believes in respecting people’s fundamental rights and dignity, I was relieved by the Supreme Court’s ruling declaring unconstitutional the OSHA rule requiring businesses with over 100 employees to force their employees to undergo medical procedures. For this rule to have gone into effect would have been a tragedy, a grave injustice, and an unprecedented disaster for individual liberty. 

Here are a few of my thoughts on the ruling: 

First of all, as many people have pointed out, the ruling did not go far enough. The court upheld the federal policy requiring the Covid vaccine for all employees at medical places that accept Medicare and/or Medicaid funds. This is unjust and wrong because it eliminates an entire career field as a possibility for people who value their dignity, their privacy, and their right to make their own medical decisions. But at least the ability to work at a company with 100 or more employees is not completely eliminated, as the Biden administration was attempting to do.

Second, the ruling established merely that OSHA does not have the power to require businesses to force their employees to undergo medical procedures. The ruling does nothing to bar Congress from enacting such a policy, let alone states, cities, or individual companies. This is disturbing. In my opinion, no one has a right to require medical procedures as a condition of doing anything. Neither Congress nor states nor cities nor individual companies should be able to enact such a requirement. If the United States was truly a free country, the federal government would take the initiative to protect individual liberty by enacting a law banning medical mandates by any entity.

Defenders of the OSHA rule have argued that the provision giving employees the option of getting a Covid test every week in lieu of the vaccine addresses concerns about medical liberty. I strongly disagree with this claim. Covid vaccination and Covid tests are both medical procedures. And the OSHA rule would have required employees at companies with over 100 workers to do one or the other. Telling someone, “It’s fine not to do this medical procedure; you just have to do this other medical procedure instead ” is completely unacceptable, because it eliminates the option of doing neither. The right to decline medical procedures is fundamental and absolute. It cannot be taken away under any circumstances. Some people consider Covid tests less objectionable than vaccination. But that does not matter. People have a fundamental right to do neither. The OSHA rule would have taken that right away.

Another observation is that many people have characterized the debate over the OSHA rule as a question of employers’ rights. Many people argue that the rule violates the rights of companies by forcing them to be the “vaccine police” for their employees. This is true, but in my opinion the more fundamental problem with the OSHA rule is that it violates employees’ rights. By forcing companies to violate their workers’ rights, the federal government is certainly harming companies, but it is more fundamentally harming workers, because they are the ones being forced to get unwanted medical procedures. 

As the majority of the justices pointed out, the fundamental reason why the OSHA rule is wrong is that it invades employees’ private lives. Unlike, say, masks, respirators, face shields, goggles, gloves, or other PPE, a vaccine is not something that one puts on in the workplace and can take off when one goes home. Unlike, say, bans on smoking or carrying firearms while at work, medical mandates do not merely govern people’s conduct at work and allow them to do what their please in their own time. Undergoing a medical intervention such as a vaccine affects a person while they are at work as well as while they are at home. It affects them while on the clock and while off the clock. Medical decisions about one’s body are the most personal decisions that an individual makes. These decisions are well outside the scope of what an employer should be able to control, regulate, or even know about.

I have heard people use the word “protect” to characterize what the OSHA rule would have done to workers at affected companies. Nothing could be further from the truth. OSHA was founded to protect workers from hazards at the workplace. It was founded to prevent employers from forcing their workers to be around toxic chemicals, to operate dangerous machinery, or do repetitive motions that cause injury, for example. In other words, the purpose of OSHA is to prevent companies from doing harmful things to their workers. However, by enacting the vaccine-or-test policy, OSHA required companies to do harmful things to their workers. To force people to do something they do not want to do is inherently harmful and therefore the exact opposite of protecting them. Under the direction of the Biden administration, a government entity whose purpose is to protect workers did the opposite. 

Thank goodness that the Supreme Court (at least partially) righted this terrible wrong.