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.


Marissa B.

bookmark_borderThe immorality of the Canadian government

It shouldn’t even need to be stated that the actions of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Canadian government in response to the Freedom Convoy are morally wrong. Trudeau recently requested, and the Canadian Parliament granted him, emergency powers, which give him the ability, among other things, to freeze citizens’ bank accounts and seize their funds.

I am on the email list of the Campaign for Liberty, and they (correctly) wrote in a recent email: “This has shocking implications for free speech. In an instant, Canada went from a nation that honors free speech to a nation where the government can seize citizens’ property, savings, and livelihood for even donating to an effort whose viewpoints fall outside the accepted norm… We are talking about the government taking everything from working-class families – just for supporting free speech. The chilling effect it will have is obvious – and that’s the point.”

The Canadian government’s actions do indeed violate the fundamental right to freedom of speech. For people to be punished with financial destruction for the “crime” of political dissent is despicable. But that is not the worst thing about these actions. The situation becomes even more morally problematic when one considers the fact that the protesters being targeted by these brutal measures are not just any protesters. They are particularly honorable and brave protesters, and their cause is as worthy and morally right as any cause that can be imagined. For these protesters are demonstrating against government policies that force people to undergo medical procedures against their will.

It is entirely correct to condemn the seizing of people’s money for expressing viewpoints that fall outside the accepted norm. But the even bigger problem is the fact that the viewpoints in question fall outside the accepted norm in the first place. In a morally decent society, everyone would be in agreement that the government should not force people to undergo medical procedures. In a morally decent society, the viewpoints of the Freedom Convoy and its supporters would be within the accepted norm, not outside it. In a morally decent society, support for vaccine mandates would be outside the accepted norm, and those who advocate for medical procedures to be forced on their fellow citizens would be the ones facing the possibility of having their bank accounts frozen and assets seized. 

The atrocities happening in Canada are immoral because of their chilling effect on free speech, but they are even more immoral because of the content of the speech that is being suppressed. The members of the Freedom Convoy are standing up for people’s rights to make their own medical decisions. Speech in support of this cause is exactly what the world desperately needs more of, and protests and demonstrations in support of this cause should be unanimously supported. Punishing people for expressing their views is unquestionably wrong, but punishing people for expressing these views is even more wrong. No viewpoint is less deserving of punishment, less deserving of suppression, and less deserving of being chilled, than opposition to vaccine mandates.

The fact that we live in a world where support for forced medical procedures is the accepted norm is beyond disturbing. The actions of Trudeau and the Canadian Parliament are horrific not only because they are an assault on freedom of speech in general, but also because they are an assault specifically on people who are standing up for bodily autonomy and medical freedom.

bookmark_borderCovid vaccine should not be mandatory

As Covid-19 vaccines gradually roll out, it’s a good time to revisit the topic of whether or not they should be mandatory. As someone who believes in individual rights and liberty, it is my opinion that they absolutely should not. Like any medical procedure, whether or not to get a Covid-19 vaccine should be a personal choice.

In an opinion piece in the Boston Globe Magazine a while back, Tom Keane argued that the government should require the Covid vaccine. “There’s a powerful moral argument that needs to be made,” he writes. “The vaccine isn’t about you. It’s about everyone else. Those who refuse to get the vaccine will in effect be imperiling the health and lives of their relatives, friends, and fellow citizens.” Keane personally criticizes those who oppose mandatory vaccination, calling them “cranky” and describing their position as “against all reason and morality.” He suggests that, as opposed to forcibly sticking needles into people’s arms, the government require the vaccine in order for people to go to work, go shopping, go to restaurants, or board planes.

“Indeed, the simple requirement can be that if you want to leave your house, you must get vaccinated,” he writes. “Maybe that seems intrusive. But it’s actually far less so than what we endured at the height of the lockdown from mid-March through mid-May, when the state shut down its entire economy. Maybe a few diehard anti-vaxxers will resist and simply stay forever in their homes. Fine by me. As long as they can’t mix with the general population, they won’t pose any threat. While normalcy returns for the rest of us, and we work and play as we used to, they can stay stuck inside, isolated and alone, glaring out their windows as life passes them by.”

There are numerous problems with this. First of all, I really don’t appreciate the negative characterizations of people who oppose mandatory vaccination. People with different opinions than Keane’s are not necessarily any more cranky, angry, or resentful than he is; they just have different opinions. Second, the proposed requirement that people receive a vaccine as a condition of being allowed to leave their house is, for all practical purposes, just as coercive as forcibly sticking a needle into someone’s arm. Keane makes it sound easy for someone to simply choose never to leave his or her home, but doing so is essentially impossible. Unless a person has enough money to last for the rest of his or her life, he or she must work. Even for someone who has the good fortune not to need employment, it will still be necessary to purchase groceries and other necessities, or perhaps to go to doctor’s offices occasionally. Not to mention the fact that psychologically, it would be impossible for all but the most avid homebodies to have an acceptable quality of life without being allowed even to take a walk down the street.

Which brings me to my main point: contrary to Keane’s contention that opposing mandatory vaccination goes against reason and morality, it is entirely morally permissible not to get a vaccine. It’s true that a person’s decision not to get the vaccine may have indirect effects on other people. But the key word here is indirect. The more people in a community who opt not to get the vaccine, the higher the prevalence of the virus in that community, so an individual person’s decision not to get the vaccine does contribute infinitesimally to raising the risk of infection for everyone in the community. But think about how directly a person is affected by being forced to make the choice between submitting to an unwanted medical procedure and being confined to one’s house for the rest of one’s life. People have the right to make their own decisions about which, if any, medical procedures to undergo. People also have the right to freedom of movement, meaning the ability to leave their house as frequently as they wish and to go wherever they wish to go. Therefore, people have the right to both of these things, and it violates people’s rights to force them to choose one or the other.

For those who argue that vaccination’s impact on other people justifies taking away the individual’s right to choose, it’s important to ask yourself: what is more of an invasion, to be around people who have not gotten a vaccine, or to be forced to get an unwanted vaccine in order to avoid a life sentence of house arrest? People have a right to control their own bodies, but they do not have a right to control the disease risk that is present in the environment around them, especially when doing so requires invading the bodies of others. If you are so concerned about catching the virus that you do not feel safe going outside unless you know that everyone else outside has been vaccinated, it is your responsibility to stay home. It is not other people’s responsibility to stay home in order to make you safer.

I would also add that Keane’s proposal is, in my opinion, more intrusive than the stay-at-home orders that shut down states’ entire economies. Requiring a medical procedure in order to do something is in some ways more invasive than banning the thing altogether. And stay-at-home orders, although they closed businesses deemed non-essential, did not completely ban people from leaving their homes as Keane’s vaccine mandate would do; people were still allowed to at least walk around outside and go to supermarkets and essential businesses. Plus, even if a vaccine mandate was less invasive than a stay-at-home order, that would not make it acceptable. Both violate people’s rights, and therefore neither ought to be enacted. Proving that your preferred policy is less oppressive than another policy does not prove that it is okay.

So in conclusion, people who opt not to receive the Covid-19 vaccine are making a choice that is perfectly morally acceptable. It is cruel and unusual to suggest that someone who makes this choice should receive a life sentence of house arrest.