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your body my choice?
(a deliberately provocative thought experiment)
i’m not going to wade into abortion here as that one really brings the bats down from the rafters, and will simply confine myself to one observation:
last week the world was awash with people saying that old white men had no right to impose choices upon the bodies of women. yet after last night, these exact same people are all rallying behind (wait for it) an old white man demanding that people make bodily choices they do not wish to. huh.
one might be forgiven for doubting the sincerity of their principles and suspecting that mere tribalism and preference are driving their calls to action.
that said, without invoking the tortuous arguments about the long-term effects of birthing choice and eugenics on outcomes, abortion and vaccination are tricky to map to one another because the vaccination mandate fans will invoke “social duty because your choice affects me.”
this is a staggering loser of an argument on a great many levels and can easily shown to be both invalid on its face and counter to the basic tenets of any society.
we all do things that put others at risk. my walking, skiing, driving, or even just sitting and breathing near you CAN put you in danger. positing some absolute duty to ensure that others are never in harm’s way (and placing yourself in harm’s way to do so) is just no basis for social contract. that way madness lies.
there is a further argument about primacy of the rights of the individual not to be coerced (and the failure of such rights to end where the fears of other commence) vs the demands of a nanny state declaiming that it not only knows what is best but has the right to force it upon you for that most slippery of aggregation fallacies, “the common good.”
but let’s sidestep these lines of refutation and engage with this argument upon its own terms:
“your vaccine protects the rest of us, therefore you must accept it as a form of social duty in service to the common good.”
such argument is usually then made in reference to other “mandatory” vaccines, but this has a great many holes in it. sure, many schools require an MMR vaccine. but that’s a false equivalence on several dimensions: damn near no one else does and exclusions abound.
it’s also an appeal to practice fallacy. schools also used to segregate by race. is the fact that they did so in the past an argument you would accept in favor of re-imposing such division? (thought not) this is why appeal to practice is a meaningless argument and is an objectively provable form of logical fallacy.
this lands us on the actual facts of the matter: covid-19 vaccines are nothing like MMR vaccines. MMR is highly effective, incredibly safe, and sterilizing. it prevents those inoculated from becoming infected with, carrying, or spreading measles, mumps, and rubella.
covid vaccines are near perfectly leaky. they do not stop infection, illness, or spread. they may well be making it worse. what they do seem to do is mitigate severity. however, they do this at a cost easily 100X that of MMR in terms of risks and ill effects in order to mitigate a disease that’s not even 1/100th the risk to children of measles alone. they may even be causing vast societal harm because leaky vaccines that mitigate severity allow hotter, deadlier strains of a virus to persist.
so, this argument that one vaccine = another vaccine is a clear false equivalence and an obvious loser as a line of debate. MMR is a marvel of disease suppression. mRNA looks, at best worthless to stop spread, and more likely an amplifier.
it’s a lay down hand that these covid vaccines do not stop or suppress spread.
and this is why the talking point industrial complex, still sporting their fresh black eye from having claimed the vaccines were the path to herd immunity and would stop the pandemic, have pivoted as one to vilification of this seemingly invented “pandemic of the unvaccinated” underpinned with manipulated and hallucinated statistics about “99% of those in hospital are unvaccinated” which fail to pass even a cursory smell test or fact check.
but even if we grant them their conjured fact pattern, this argument is still a massive loser.
the claim is that hospitals are overwhelmed because of the irresponsibility of the unvaccinated. biden said this in no uncertain terms last night. “our patience is wearing thin and your refusal has cost us all.”
hard to get much clearer than that on who are the good guys and which bad guys we need to round up and rehabilitate, but joe sure gave it the old college try. he went on to describe overflowing hospitals and people with heart attacks being unable to get beds because they were full of unvaxxed covid people whispering “i wish i had vaccinated” with their remorseful last breaths.
it’s powerful imagery and a cunningly evolved talking point, but it’s rank nonsense.
but again, let’s take this argument and its purported fact pattern on faith and engage with it.
the argument is now: “because you will not take a vaccine to reduce your own risk that you are more likely to need to be hospitalized and that this takes up space and resources that others need, thus you are failing in your social duty.”
and wow is this a fraught general case argument to make.
and this is where our thought experiment comes in:
if we take as a guiding principal that people must submit, even against their will, to health interventions they would not willingly choose in order to serve the common good and keep hospital availability high by not using up scarce resources so that others might have them at need, what other policies can we justify?
well, quite a few it would seem.
how about demanding that all obese people submit immediately to forced programs of exercise, dietary restriction, and even surgical intervention such as lap bands if they fail to lose enough weight to drop their risk to a societally determined acceptable level? 30-50% of health spending in the US can, one way or another, be traced back to obesity. imagine how much we could save and how much would be left for the rest of us if we took a “zero corpulence” policy to heart.
shall we declare ourselves out of patience with this epidemic of BMI and demand not just an accounting but action on what their refusal has cost us all? if not, why not?
after all, exercise and good diet have almost entirely positive side effects. what have they got to lose apart from 30 pounds and 3 comorbidities? shouldn’t the labor and health agencies force them to do what is right for themselves and all of us? the help against even covid would be profound. or is this simply a choice we have no right to force on people just because it might benefit us?
provoked yet? let’s get more provocative.
young male members of certain minority groups account for a vast share of gunshot wounds (and gunshot wound infliction) in this country. gun control has zero effect on this and seems to actually make it worse. (look at the top cities/neighborhoods for shooting deaths)
but we could almost certainly stop this with medical interventions using testosterone blockers or mood stabilizers like xanax or klonopin. do these groups owe it to us to take these drugs they do not want in order to stop clogging ER’s and surgical suites with needless wounds and inflicting such harm on others in society? we might make neighborhoods far safer and more livable as a knock on effect! or do we think maybe this is a grotesque violation of human rights and a form of presumptive punishment over what someone MIGHT or is merely statistically likely to do?
shall we deny medical care to people with diabetes who fail to take sufficient care of themselves to keep their A1C’s within safe ranges? if they will not put in the time to care for themselves, why should medicare and medicaid spend something on the order of 15-20% of their total outlays to manage the ill effects of the microvascular damage and other problems arising from poor glycemic management? if these people will not follow federal guidelines for care, why should federal funds be spent to pay for the costs of “their refusal” on all of us? or is maybe vilifying people for a medical condition and extorting them into compliance by dire threats and vicious moral opprobrium just plain evil?
i could go on and on here, but i suspect by now you get the point. if you not only assume a right but claim a moral duty to impose medical choices upon others for the good of all, you can justify all kinds of things. i mean, should we allow obese leaders to even express opinions on health much less force choices upon others to protect their own failures of personal care?
should “governor comorbidity” be permitted to keep your kids muzzled to protect himself and others like him from disease risk?
where is the morality in that?
this was the eugenicists argument as well.
it’s more than a little telling that the very same judicial ruling about mandating vaccination (albeit with a $5 fine as penalty for non-compliance) was the one used BY the eugenicists to set up the mandate for 70,000 mandatory sterilizations in the US. “3 generations of imbeciles are enough!” so this sort of thinking is FAR from academic. we’ve already lived it. the US state department forced it on 10’s of millions of women in india as a precondition for food aid during a famine. we did the same to our own native american populations.
so let’s not pretend that humans are not determined enough, self-righteous enough, or outright evil enough to impose policies like denial of medical care to those who “refuse us.”
they are. with bells on.
and let’s not pretend we’re nobler or wiser now. those forced sterilization programs were during the 1970’s, not the 1770’s.
and this is why this thought experiment matters.
no power such as this once granted to the state is ever used once or in only one way by only one group. they’ll find a new place, a new time, a new pretext, and they WILL do this again. leaving weapons like this lying around is a surety that they will be once more wielded and next time, it may be by someone you really, really hate against something you really, really love.
and that’s why you cannot let desire to see a thing happen blind you to what the granting of the power to impose that thing imperils.
it can and will boomerang and you’d damn well better be sure you’re OK with the politician you hate most wielding that power you just handed over. because one day, they will.
so, are you sure you want to tell doctors what medical choices they are required to make for themselves? are you really qualified? and will you meekly accept this same treatment when the come for your speech or your livelihood or your children next? because they will.
are you sure you want to force 10-20% of medical professionals to quit over this? because they will. will you take responsibility for the short staffed crisis this winter? because it will be your fault.
unless you’re willing to erect fat-camp gulags, dose klonopin in the water of minority neighborhoods, and deny medical care to diabetics, be very careful just what vampire you invite into your home here.
because it’s easy to let them in.
getting them out is another matter.
are you ready for another foray into eugenics? culls of groups and gene signatures that show increased risk for anti-social behavior? because the rulings and prerogatives invoked last night are the same ones these groups used to suggest doing so not so very long ago.
are you ready for lists of political enemies and outgroup roundups because they “did not heed our demands”?
do you really want a system where coercive force is wielded upon people for what they MIGHT do (like spread disease or commit murder or need a triple bypass) because distant demagogues claim it serves the common good?
is statistical likelihood a good guide to punishable culpability and loss of liberty?
because that’s the fire you’re playing with.
sure, perhaps there’s a matter of degree, but degrees have a funny habit of increasing over time. what governmental intervention that now runs riot started that way?
the income tax was a couple percent and almost no one paid it. now look. regulating business was all but non-existent. try and build a pipeline now. schools were free to teach what they liked, people to farm as they chose. there are 1,000 examples. was the CDC supposed to set rent policy or the federal reserve to simply monetize federal deficit spending? was the treasury supposed to make no recourse loans to prop up employment? none of this ever stops where those putting it into place claim it will. how many internally facing patriot acts do you really want?
this is the thin end of a VERY bad wedge and it’s pointed at your heart.
give it purchase, and you’re now just arguing about when, not if it goes further.
choose wisely. stand firm.
you are not a cog to be optimized for the collective machine. you are an individual, possessed of rights that stand paramount to any such presumptive machinations and impositions.
the government serves you, not you it and “because i don’t want to” is enough reason for anyone to say “no.”
any state demanding you say more is not on your side.
defiance of tyranny is a moral duty, and submission to it moral decay.
make the right choice.