By now we are all aware of the risks involved with COVID-19 and how it can spread quickly and leave a trail of sick individuals, particularly the infirm. We know also that various vaccines are available. To not know these facts is to have been removed from reality over the last 18 months.
This is a way of stating that individual choice should be the defining characteristic when deciding whether or not to get vaccinated. We know the risks, so therefore we are positioned to make a decision, or decisions, based on that knowledge. Government coercion, peer pressure, or outright shaming by commentators should not be a factor.
Yet daily we hear or read about individuals who insist on browbeating those who choose not to be vaccinated. Our president even joined in by saying his “patience is wearing thin” with the unvaccinated.
CNN’s Jake Tapper recently blamed “misinformation” for COVID deaths, as if anyone who disagrees with COVID hysterics—anyone who dares offer differing viewpoints on the virus or the vaccine—is by definition engaging in misinformation and causing the demise of thousands.
A columnist whose work appeared in this newspaper (“Goodbye, and Good Riddance”) provided the typical condescension, arrogance and vitriol we’ve come to expect from those who condemn the unvaccinated.
This particular columnist, who writes for a daily newspaper in Florida, referenced a video clip from CNN that showed a man in the 1980s lamenting government intrusion with the then-new seatbelt law. I have news for the CNN anchor who showed the clip and the newspaper columnist who mentioned it—refusing the vaccine is not analogous to complaining about a seatbelt requirement. One involves injecting a foreign substance into your body; one does not.
Like with much in the public sphere these days, the truth gets murkier and murkier as pundits and talking heads repeat the same old tired nonsense day after day.
The column referenced above is dismissive of the passion others have demonstrated in refusing the vaccine. There are numerous examples of people putting their careers at stake over their refusal to be vaccinated. That alone should speak volumes about the perceived risk associated with the vaccine. That is not misinformation—it is caution born of risk calculation.
Yet the columnist bid good-bye and good riddance to those who have surrendered their careers rather than get vaccinated. He continued:
“Not to minimize any of this. A few weeks ago, a hospital in upstate New York announced it would have to ‘pause’ delivering babies because of resignations among its maternity staff. So the threat of difficult ramifications is certainly real. But on the plus side, your quitting goes a long way toward purging us of the gullible, the conspiracy-addled, the logic-impaired and the stubbornly ignorant. And that’s not nothing.”
If someone has concerns about the vaccine, commentators have no moral obligation—or expertise—to condemn that individual. The columnist’s flurry of gibberish should have been an embarrassment to his editors.
Read his column beyond the paragraph above, including the irritating double negative at the end, and it becomes clear that his argument is based on flimsy logic. For one, he states that the unvaccinated are putting everyone else in peril. Wait…isn’t he vaccinated? Does that mean the vaccine—something he obviously is passionate about—is not sufficient to protect the vaccinated? Apparently that’s the case, as his statements demonstrate a complete lack of confidence in what he is supposedly advocating. The other thing he does is compare the vaccine to other acts banned by the government or discouraged by society, including smoking in public spaces, loud music, and the banning of the Ten Commandments in courtrooms.
That last part is not flimsy logic—it’s illogical.
For the record, my wife and I have both been vaccinated. However, as I have said many times in private conversations, I have no concern whether or not the people around me have been vaccinated. It is simply none of my business. If the vaccine works, then why should I meddle into someone else’s personal decision making?
We can assume that Covid is less likely to spread as more and more people are vaccinated. We’ll call that a common sense approach, predicated on the assumption that the vaccine is effective to a reasonable degree.
Nonetheless, there are several anecdotal examples of people having negative reactions to one or another of the various vaccines. I’ve even heard of a 30-something friend of my daughter becoming sick to the point of requiring hospitalization. I’ve heard of others having adverse effects that may be permanent. I’ve heard of people who died from complications that appeared to stem from being vaccinated. Is the vaccination 100 percent safe? Apparently not. Was it rushed toward public release? Absolutely.
Yet the public shaming persists. That sad fact comes as no surprise given the condemnation we’ve seen in this country during recent years. Nothing, it seems, has been spared. That includes law enforcement, those who refuse to advocate climate hysteria, those who favor free-market principles, those who prefer minimal government intrusion into the lives of everyday citizens, and so on. The list is long.
Lest we forget the condemnation heaped on supporters of Donald Trump, it is worth noting that calling others “Trump supporters” has become the go-to, all-encompassing label heaped on those who happen to disagree with any of the dictates handed out by progressive do-gooders. The label has been applied to those shunning the vaccine, despite the simple fact that Trump’s leadership expedited the vaccine’s release in record time.
So, to borrow the tone of the columnist referenced in this space, the vaccinated should keep quiet, go to work, go to the grocery store, live life as they see fit, and leave everyone else the heck alone.
Larry Cothren has worked as a writer and editor for more than three decades. He teaches at Hickory Ridge High School and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.