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. 

bookmark_borderKirk Cousins and media bias about vaccines

I am a strong supporter of medical freedom, which means that in my opinion, people should be 100% free to decide which (if any) medical procedures to undergo, with no pressure or coercion from anyone else. This principle applies to the Covid vaccine as well: choosing to get the vaccine and choosing not to get the vaccine are equally good and equally valid choices and need to be treated as such. 

The media gets this concept wrong all too frequently, and this article about Vikings QB Kirk Cousins is a great example:

First of all, the article, by Ryan Young at Yahoo Sports, makes the mistake of describing Cousins as “antivax” because he chose not the get the vaccine. This has become an extremely common way of characterizing people who opt against the vaccine, but it is not accurate. To be anti-vaccine means exactly that: to be against vaccines in general or the Covid vaccine in particular. But choosing not to do something yourself is not the same as being against it. One can consider it good that something exists as an option, without thinking that everyone should be forced to do it against their will. This concept has proven surprisingly difficult for people to comprehend. I’m sure that Cousins, as well as most people who opt against the vaccine, have no problem with other people getting the vaccine if they want to. 

Secondly, I take issue with the wording that Cousins “doesn’t want to get his coronavirus vaccine.” This makes it sound as if Cousins is immaturely and irrationally refusing to do something that he is supposed to do. In reality, he is making a medical decision that he has every right to make. Absent evidence to the contrary, one should assume that Cousins made his decision deliberately and thoughtfully. Additionally, this might sound overly picky, but it’s technically wrong for people to use the phrasing, “his vaccine” or “her vaccine” or “your vaccine” when referring to someone who is not getting the vaccine. This makes it sound like there is a special vaccine dose allocated for that particular person, just waiting for him/her to come and get it. But if someone isn’t getting the vaccine, there is no such thing as “his vaccine.”

Third, it is wrong to say that the Vikings have the “NFL’s worst vaccination rate.” The Vikings may have the lowest vaccination rate, but that is not the same as worst. Getting the vaccine is an equally good choice as not getting the vaccine. Therefore, it’s just as good to have a team with 0% of the players vaccinated as it is to have a team with 100% of the players vaccinated.

The article talks about how Cousins has said he’s willing to hold team meetings outside (even in winter) and/or surround himself with plexiglass. Reporters questioned Cousins about why he “wouldn’t simply get vaccinated instead of going through such great lengths to avoid getting his shot.” But in my opinion, this is the wrong way of looking at things. To me, holding meetings outside or using plexiglass barriers are easier and less burdensome measures for avoiding Covid infection compared to getting a medical procedure. A more reasonable question would be: why would someone get a medical procedure just so that they can avoid having to practice physical distancing?

In conclusion, the media needs to respect medical freedom, as opposed to pressuring people to get the Covid vaccine. The media needs to present issues in a neutral way, as opposed to operating under the assumption that getting the vaccine is good and opting against it is bad. Too many articles essentially operate as opinion pieces, allowing the author’s presumptions about the vaccine to color the way that news is presented.

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.

bookmark_borderPeople who do not get the vaccine are not “moochers”

A recent editorial in the L.A. Times claims that people who choose not to receive the Covid-19 vaccine are “mooching off the rest of us.” I strongly disagree with this idea. 

First of all, the editorial repeatedly uses the verb “refuse” to characterize the decision not to get a vaccine. I disagree with this word choice, as it implies that the decision not to get a vaccine is a bad thing. In my opinion, it is not. People have a fundamental right to decide for themselves whether or not to get a vaccine (or any medical procedure, for that matter). Both options are equally valid and acceptable. 

The editorial criticizes Rep. Madison Cawthorn and Sen. Rand Paul, who have (in the author’s words) “defended the right not to be immunized as an exercise in individual freedom” and are “casting themselves as courageous individualists.” These two gentlemen are 100% correct. The right not to be immunized is an exercise in individual freedom, and those who defend this right are courageous individualists. 

The editorial tries to debunk Cawthorn’s and Paul’s arguments as follows: “The hazards of refusing the vaccine don’t confine themselves to the individual refuser. Vaccine resisters are putting the rest of us in danger, too. Unvaccinated people who contract COVID-19, even if they don’t become seriously ill, can pass the virus to family and friends.”

It is true that not getting a vaccine can have indirect effects on other people. But this is no reason to take away people’s freedom to choice. Every decision that a person makes has the potential to indirectly affect other people, but no sane person would argue that people shouldn’t have the freedom to decide on anything. The deciding factor is not whether a decision carries risks for other people but whether a decision violates others’ rights. In aggregate, the choice not to get the vaccine does increase the odds of catching Covid-19 for everyone in the community. But this choice does not violate the rights of anyone. There is no right to live in a world without infections diseases, or a world where one’s risk of catching any particular disease is below any particular threshold. The demand that the vaccine be made mandatory does violate people’s rights, however. Those who make this demand are essentially attempting to force medical procedures on other people, something that blatantly and unquestionably violates rights. They are arguing that the ability to live in a community with low rates of Covid transmission is more important than the ability to make one’s own medical decisions. I vehemently disagree with this claim. People have the right to make their own medical decisions regardless of what effect this has on the community’s risk level. In other words, no one has the right to demand that people be made to get medical procedures against their will for the sake of reducing their own risk or that of others.

The editorial goes on to insult Cawthorn, Paul, and others who think like them (including myself): “In fact, they’re acting as epidemiological moochers. They’re free riders, relying on the rest of us to protect them by helping the country reach herd immunity. Their relatives and friends, especially those 65 or older, should give them a wide berth. And their voters should treat them as what they are: dangerous to the health of their communities.”

I disagree with this characterization as well. No one is morally obligated to undergo any medical procedure, even if doing so would have indirect benefits to others, and no one who opts out of a medical procedure is a “moocher.” It is true that Covid-19 vaccination has what is called “positive externalities” – meaning that in aggregate it does tend to benefit society as a whole by reducing the overall amount Covid transmission. But there is no rule that if an activity has positive externalities, then everyone should be required to do it. I would be perfectly happy to live in a world where no one got the vaccine, but given that a lot of people are choosing to get it, there is no way for me to avoid the positive externalities. A moocher is someone who deliberately obtains a benefit without paying for it; therefore it is not accurate to describe people who do not get the vaccine as “moochers.” 

Additionally, although each person has the right to make his or her own decisions about who to associate with, it is intolerant, mean-spirited, controlling, and nosy to take another person’s medical decisions into account when deciding whether or not to spend time with them. I would never make a friend or relative’s vaccination status a factor in whether or not to associate with them, because it is none of my business. 

It may be true that Cawthorn and Paul are infinitesimally contributing to their communities’ virus risk. They are also bravely standing up for individual rights at a time when doing so is unpopular, and therefore desperately needed. That is far more important.