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    • The Lack of Belief In Good
      Are humans good, bad or neutral? It’s an old philosophical debate, and not just in the West. Confucius thought they were born neutral, for example, while the later Confucian Mencius felt they were good, noting that everyone who saw a child fall into a well would be horrified. Others, including many Confucians and the Christian church, with original sin, have […]
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What is Behind the Refusal to be Vaccinated?

We keep seeing or hearing stories around the theme of, “Why are so many Americans not getting vaccinated?” We are given various supposed rationales, such as, “They just haven’t gotten around to it yet.” “They fear the physical reaction to the vaccine,” “They just don’t want to be told what to do.” None of these stories seem to help convince anyone who is refusing, to get vaccinated. And it is enervating and depressing to keep hearing about this, but of course it is important to know about.

We’ve got something like 30% of Americans who say that they absolutely refuse to be vaccinated. There are reports from medical professionals who say that people tell them that it was something they saw on the Fox “News” channels that convinced them not to be vaccinated. There are reportedly a dozen or so platforms on Facebook which are virulently anti-vaccination. When asked about it, President Biden in his typically straightforward way, said that Facebook is killing people. That of course led to the inevitable reaction. Facebook had someone write that there is some useful medical news on their platforms,, presumably along with the wrong and dangerous kind, and they are satisfied with what they are doing, since apparently they think that all reality is simply a matter of opinion (and profits), so that all viewpoints are deserving of being voiced.

The problem is that while this idea of “choice,” and “you can’t make me do it,” as a growing part of the America psyche, is a fascinating philosophical and psychological issue, “We ain’t got time for that now,” as David Byrne sang in the Talking Heads’ “Life During Wartime.” The virus is accelerating among the population, basically the unvaccinated portion. The states and the federal government have tried many things, from public officials and respected medical professionals speaking and modeling, to various enticements such as lotteries and prizes. It has not sufficiently helped.

As we all know, this causes danger to everyone, because as the virus spreads, it mutates, so that there is an increasing chance that a mutation will be able to evade the vaccine, and then we are all in terrible trouble. Otherwise, many might be tempted to say that the people who don’t want to be vaccinated should be left to their own devices, no different than people who choose to ruin their lives with drink and drugs. We care, and have empathy, but ultimately how can we stop them? However, many of these people have children, who are at the mercy of parents who refuse to let them be vaccinated, and that is beyond cruel negligence, is virtually attempted murder. But of course none of the parents will be tried for that, because they would hide behind the defense of, “We were convinced that it was more dangerous to get vaccinated, than to not be.”

Obviously, this country is one of the very lowest among the so-called developed nations, in terms of belief in science. This is something which has been cultivated among the Radical Right, which pretty obviously wants their followers to believe in nothing but what their propagandists tell them. That is certainly not going to stop any time soon. The states with some of the poorest education are the ones with the lowest vaccination rates; that seems like pure cause and effect. If people don’t believe in science, medicine, the efficacy of vaccines, you cannot convince them to get vaccinated.

Can you force them to? That is an interesting issue. One could well make a case that simply for the protection of the citizenry and public health, the government has a right to require vaccinations for the most dangerous diseases. But that would never be accepted in this country, where the concept of “freedom” has been warped and shifted to a kind of, “You can’t make me do anything I don’t want to, but I can make you do anything that I and my friends think that you should do.”

That is not an exaggeration, though of course it is not stated that way. I am amazed that very few media note that almost all of these non-vaxxers are vehemently for the banning of abortion for any reason. How can they say that a woman should not have the right to decide whether to have a child or not, but everyone has an absolute right to refuse to be vaccinated? If someone wants to argue that abortion is about fetuses, then how about the fact that these people are also behind trying to ban the marketing of birth control pills? They have taken a position for whatever reason, very likely just because it is an “our side vs. their side” thing, and will not budge from it, even though it is completely the opposite to their stand on vaccines.

Now, there are actually all sorts of things that the government, federal or state or local, can proscribe. You can’t walk down the street in the nude. The states and cities are allowed to make laws designed to protect public health and safety, even some sense of propriety. Businesses can remove people who do not adhere to reasonable dress codes.

Remember that in the 1960’s, the Supreme Court expanded the concept of “state action,” to allow them some ability to enter into the previous sacrosanct realm of businesses being able to make their own rules. If a business or any entity received some dispensation or protection from the “state,” and most do, then they were subject to federal laws prohibiting discrimination, or violation of the right of free speech. Yet even with this, the courts have not involved themselves with dress codes, and health and safety requirements established by businesses, presumably unless they were found to be egregious or discriminatory.

We accept that their are vehicle laws; you can’t drive 100 mph; you have to have working headlights. The penalty for these things is monetary, and ultimately loss of the license. It is similar to the state taking away the license of a place which sold alcohol to minors. So they can tell companies what to do, and to some extent, they can tell people what to do or not do. Why can’t you urinate on the sidewalk? Because it is considered a health risk. That was learned from the Middle Ages, when terribly unsanitary conditions led to the spread of a number of deadly diseases. The state has the right to protect itself; and in a democracy, the citizens are the state, so they can pass laws to protect themselves. In California, most counties have banned smoking in all public places. It was a struggle, but they got there. That is putting public health above “the rights of people to do what they want.”

Now, almost all of these examples involve the banning of behavior, telling people what they cannot do; not telling them what they must do, though it is sort of circular, they seem to be two sides of the same coin. I think that our government should legally have the right to require that people be vaccinated for the particularly dangerous Covid virus. Certainly businesses have been trying to require showing proof of vaccination to attend events. But the Far Right has fought every bit of it, and seek to file lawsuits terming this, discrimination against unvaccinated people.

Why are they doing this? Why are they championing the “rights” of those who deliberately or unwittingly put the lives of millions of others at risk? This while trying to find all sorts of ways to deny people the right to vote? It seems that none of it has to do with any profound philosophical belief they have about any of it. They are cultivating a large horde of people who hate government, at least the social welfare aspects of it; hate liberalism, hate science, hate any news which doesn’t comport with what they are fed on their propaganda stations.

If a fascist American leader demanded that everyone take this or that pill, or put on some kind of homing device, they would be all for it, and would demand death for those who do not accede. They even want to throw people in jail for not standing for the national anthem! So they are incredible hypocrites and liars for trying to pretend that they are somehow standing up for “American freedom, vs tyranny.”

I think that some of the Right-Wing politicians are trying to get Biden to fail; and if here is a large increase in the spread of the virus, they will blame it on him, even though it is their supporters who are largely causing it. They have no compunction about making people suffer if it serves their political ends; people are fodder to them. They all get vaccinated, but they get on TV telling people that the vaccine is bad for them, a liberal plot. This would rank them among the most treacherous people in political history, the kind who would start wars just to move up in the polls.

When I was in first grade or so, I thought we were required to be vaccinated in school, for various possible diseases like polio, smallpox, whooping cough, diphtheria. These were words which I learned, and we got our shots. Maybe they were not legally required, but I don’t remember anyone refusing to get them. In the army, various shots are required, and the soldiers dutifully line up for them. If one travels abroad, there are various inoculation shots one might be required to get.

Somehow suddenly, the Covid vaccines are what they choose to fight against. And I cannot believe that this is not all political. The Far Right will use as a target and a war cry, anything that the people they see as their enemies, are for. And then they convince their pathetic dupes and insurrectionists that they must fight to the death against the liberal forces which keep telling them things to do that they don’t want to do. They believe that they are the ones who get to tell people what to do or not do. They want totalitarianism, and people giving orders, as long it is their side running things. The declaiming about “freedom” is just a ruse, or a very warped and self-serving version of the concept.

7 Responses

  1. Let’s hope that once that when at least one Covid vaccine receives full FDA approval, insurance companies start charging the refuseniks higher rates, the way they do for smokers. At least the rest of us would not have to subsidize stupidity so blatantly.

    • You are right, they should, it would only make sense, unless they are letting their politics supersede their usual bottom line.

    • In my darker moments, I’m inclined to point out that the subsidy will be self-limiting. Stupidity, as libertarian darling Robert Heinlein once pointed out, is the only real crime against nature and its punishment is usually fatal. Even that subsidy could be eliminated by requiring them to either waive medical attention or post a bond equivalent to the average COVID treatment cost. After all, “freedom isn’t free,” as they’re fond of saying (or perhaps “TANSTAAFL” to preserve the Heinleinesque character of the discussion). Trying to “think” like a glibertarian makes my head hurt.

      Of course, then I realize that they’re not only endangering themselves but are imperiling everyone by providing a breeding ground for new variants and exposing others who might not have responded well to the vaccine. And, after all, ethical people and civilized societies don’t just let people die on the street of preventable illnesses, even if they are stupid belligerent jerks.

      Quite a conundrum. isn’t it?

  2. If Donnie Two Scoops, and other elected officials of the GOP–no, make that GRP–Grim Reaper Party–had promptly done what the experts told them to do, we probably would have gotten enough of a handle on the virus by Election Day 2020 that Donnie could have won re-election, maybe with an actual majority of the popular vote this time, and the GOP could have kept its Senate majority, and maybe even re-taken a majority in the House.

    • Yes, and isn’t that horrifying. Trump panicked and thought that he desperately needed to pretend that Covid was a hoax, and then that it would just go away if everyone went back to work. He also probably needed his stocks to go up, so his bet was on trying to keep the economy going along, an economy that he had virtually nothing to do with, but was taking credit for. As Hillary always suggested, when a crisis comes, then you see what someone’s ability is, and his was nonexistent. Of course, he never cared how many people died, as long as he was doing okay, which he almost wasn’t.

    • I’ll go further than that. If he’d done as the epidemiologists said and locked down hard with mandatory masking and travel restrictions, he would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives, been hailed as a hero and won reelection in a landslide.

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