Thursday, April 8, 2021

When Private Becomes Public

Taking the lead from Anne Laurie at Balloon Juice, I highly recommend this article by David Roth at Defector.

In place of any actually ennobling liberty or more fundamental freedom, contemporary American life mostly offers choices. But since most of these are not really choices at all in any meaningful way, it might be more accurate to say that we’re offered selection. The choice between paying for health insurance and running up six figures of non-dischargeable debt because you got sick, for instance, is honestly less a choice than a hostage situation. But because the second outcome is still extremely possible even if you choose to pay for health insurance, it’s more correct to say that the choice is already made, and that the decision is more about choosing from an array of variously insufficient and predatory options the one whose name or price or risk you like most. Sometimes there isn’t even that, and the choice is a binary one between something and nothing. None of this is really what anyone would choose, but these ugly individuated choices are what we get.


You will not be surprised to learn that the same people who regarded being asked to wear a mask in the grocery store as the same thing as being imprisoned in a gulag are also those most unwilling to get vaccinated. With masks as with the vaccine, some minimal personal imposition delivers both personal and broader social benefits, but they just can’t get past that first part. The result is that the vast majority of people are effectively the hostages of the most selfish people the world has ever seen. The urgency of this is new, but the situation is not.

I am pretty sure that each one of us has had an encounter in the last year with someone, be it in the grocery store or on the street, where they have been told that they refuse to comply with mask and social distancing requirements and now refuse to get vaccinated. Their reasons may vary from the strained logical to the fatuously ridiculous, but the bottom line is that buried in there is the inability to understand that their personal choices have an impact on the people around them.

I would hope that the anti-vaxxers and the virus deniers realize that there’s no difference between the Covid-19 restrictions and drunk-driving laws, but I doubt it.

Fifty years ago I was getting ready to take a trip to Europe with a student group from Canada.  I got my passport issued by the U.S. State Department, and then I went to the doctor and got a smallpox vaccine booster to go along with the one I’d gotten when I was an infant.  The doctor signed off on the proof of vaccination card issued by the W.H.O. that was required for entry to various countries in Europe.  I don’t remember anyone carrying on like their home was in a tree about their freedumb being stomped on by the globalists.  Fifteen years later when I went back to Europe, I didn’t need to carry the card because smallpox had been eradicated.  I’m not an immunologist so I can’t say that everyone being vaccinated will eradicate Covid-19 any more than a flu shot will eradicate influenza.  But at least listen to the logic and stop taking what someone says on Facebook as the medical authority of the CDC.

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