One in four American adults have yet to receive even one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. To explain the risk they pose to themselves and others, we propose an analogy: The choice to remain unvaccinated is equivalent to driving while intoxicated.
Some might balk at this comparison, but here are the similarities. Both causes of severe bodily harm are largely preventable — covid-19 through vaccination, and drunken driving by not driving after drinking alcohol. Both are individual decisions with societal consequences.
Both can cause substantial mortality, though deaths due to coronavirus far outstrip those due to drunken driving. About 10,000 people die per year in impaired-driving accidents in the United States, less than the number who died from covid-19 last week alone. More than 650,000 Americans have succumbed to the virus thus far, which is more than all recorded intoxication-related fatalities in the last 40 years combined.
If you decide to remain unvaccinated and are still going out, unmasked and unconstrained, to restaurants, gyms, bars and concerts, that no longer affects only you — similar to if you decide to get behind the wheel of a car while impaired. Your right to remain unvaccinated stops when you interact with those who did not choose to become exposed to a potentially deadly disease.
With the pandemic raging here, the United States should look to France, Israel, Italy and other countries that have instituted vaccination requirements in public settings. Awareness campaigns and stricter laws have reduced drunken-driving-related deaths by half. Analogous measures applied to the 80 million unvaccinated people in the United States can save many lives from covid-19 as well.
Saying there’s a “right” to go unvaccinated while engaging in public activities is like saying surgeons have the “right” to operate on you with the silverware they just used for dinner at Ruth’s Chris.
George W. Bush may think that a war against Iraq is the solution to our problems, but the reality is, it will only serve to create far more.
This war will not put an end to anti-Americanism; it will fan the flames of hatred even higher. It will not end the threat of weapons of mass destruction; it will make possible their further proliferation. And it will not lay the groundwork for the flourishing of democracy throughout the Mideast; it will harden the resolve of Arab states to drive out all Western (i.e. U.S.) influence.
If you thought Osama bin Laden was bad, just wait until the countless children who become orphaned by U.S. bombs in the coming weeks are all grown up. Do you think they will forget what country dropped the bombs that killed their parents? In 10 or 15 years, we will look back fondly on the days when there were only a few thousand Middle Easterners dedicated to destroying the U.S. and willing to die for the fundamentalist cause. From this war, a million bin Ladens will bloom.
And what exactly is our endgame here? Do we really believe that we can install Gen. Tommy Franks as the ruler of Iraq? Is our arrogance and hubris so great that we actually believe that a U.S. provisional military regime will be welcomed with open arms by the Iraqi people? Democracy cannot possibly thrive under coercion. To take over a country and impose one’s own system of government without regard for the people of that country is the very antithesis of democracy. And it is doomed to fail.
A war against Iraq is not only morally wrong, it will be an unmitigated disaster.
No It Won’t
No it won’t.
It just won’t. None of that will happen.
You’re getting worked up over nothing. Everything is going to be fine. So just relax, okay? You’re really overreacting.
“This war will not put an end to anti-Americanism; it will fan the flames of hatred even higher”?
“It will harden the resolve of Arab states to drive out all Western (i.e. U.S.) influence”?
“A war against Iraq is not only morally wrong, it will be an unmitigated disaster”?
Sorry, no, I disagree.
“To take over a country and impose one’s own system of government without regard for the people of that country is the very antithesis of democracy”?
You are completely wrong.
Trust me, it’s all going to work out perfect. Nothing bad is going to happen. It’s all under control.
Why do you keep saying these things? I can tell when there’s trouble looming, and I really don’t sense that right now. We’re in control of this situation, and we know what we’re doing. So stop being so pessimistic.
Look, you’ve been proven wrong, so stop talking. You’ve had your say already. Be quiet, okay? Everything’s fine.
The hysterical reaction on the right to Joe Biden’s eminently moderate vaccine mandates provides a kind of textbook example of what I will call the sociopathic style in American politics.
I’m alluding here to Richard Hofstadter’s famous essay on the paranoid style, and, following his usage, I don’t pretend to be making some sort of formal clinical diagnosis. In any event, sociopathy isn’t, strictly speaking, a formal concept in contemporary psychology; rather it is a variety of what psychologists call anti-social personality disorder.
And that is exactly what American right wing thought, and its avatar the contemporary Republican party, have both become: an elaborately rationalized form of anti-social personality disorder. Take for example this reaction from rising Republican star Dan Crenshaw:
People who haven’t given themselves over to the sociopathic style will find it difficult to understand what Crenshaw is even arguing for here. This is because, to people who haven’t fetishized individual liberty as being the one moral value that always trumps all other moral and practical considerations (important caveat: note that this commitment only holds when this value is being exercised by the right sorts of people), arguing against these sorts of mandates must seem inexplicable.
And it is inexplicable, from any reasonable — which in this context simply means non-sociopathic — point of view.
The position of the Republican party is that individual liberty is always and everywhere (again, note the caveat above) of such overwhelming importance that people should suffer no negative consequences whatsoever for refusing a free, safe, and highly effective vaccine, in the midst of a global pandemic that has killed millions around the world, and that by the end of this year will have, directly and indirectly, killed more than one million Americans.
This is merely a particularly vivid example of how contemporary right wing ideology in America consists of defending the indefensible, via arguments that no reasonable (again, non-sociopathic) person could possibly accept.
It’s also an example of, when you state a core right wing political belief in straightforward terms, it sounds like some sort parody. I mean surely they’re not arguing for that, are they? Surely some nuance, some complexity, is being omitted by the hostile polemicist here.
No: this is quite literally their position. People should be free to acquire and transmit to others a deadly and extremely communicable virus, that is causing a catastrophic pandemic, even though this catastrophe could be avoided completely if people chose to take a free and safe vaccine. Furthermore, it’s morally wrong for the government to engage in even the mildest coercion to nudge people toward getting vaccinated, because such coercion interferes with individual liberty, which is always the highest social value in every circumstance.
This is the sociopathic style in action. In contemporary conservative thought, anti-social personality disorder is, via the magic of ideology, transformed into an all-purpose political doctrine. In its cruder forms, as illustrated 24/7 by the workings of the nation’s massive right wing mass media propaganda complex, this ideology manifests itself as a kind of oppositional defiant disorder, as millions of chronological adults are encouraged to behave like cranky toddlers, whenever they are asked by the Liberal Conspiracy to perform the political equivalent of picking up their toys and going to bed on time.
In the tonier regions of the right wing ideological bubble, emotionally stunted sociopathy is tarted up constantly with ponderous (and highly selective) citations to Burke, Hayek, Orwell, Milton Friedman etc. But in both the Limbaughverse or the Buckleyverse the idea is the same: the invocation of the word “freedom” is supposed to cut off all higher cognitive function, just as surely as the word “God” is supposed to do in some adjacent ideological zip codes.
Thus the sacral status of Individual Liberty requires allowing countless individual choices to wreck the ecosphere via what economists refer to primly as the failure to take into account unpriced externalities, while elementary schools are shot up by semi-automatic weapons, and millions of Americans have no income other than food stamps, even as multi-billionaires rig the tax code ever-more in the favor, because that what Freedom means, according to the Constitution or the Bible or possibly both.
Of course the dictum You’re Not the Boss of Me is not a sustainable basis for even the most tenuous society. The concept of a sociopathic society is an oxymoron on its face, as the right wing is more than happy to acknowledge implicitly when it undertakes all sorts of vigorous steps to make sure that Individual Liberty means the Individual Liberty to live in an authoritarian ethno-state. Yet the apparent contradiction between the sociopathic style and the authoritarian personality is resolved easily enough when we remember that, to those who long to make America great again, freedom means freedom for me and not for you.
But perhaps the most crucial aspect of the sociopathic style is that it’s dedicated to not remembering that — which is easy enough to do when an ideology has no allegiance whatsoever to rational discourse, intellectual consistency, or any other form of honest argumentation. Expecting such things from the sociopathic style represents a fundamental failure to understand what that style is all about, which of course doesn’t stop plenty liberals, centrists, and delusional center-right conservatives to continue to expect them.
At this point in American history, sincere engagement with the nation’s right wing in general and the Republican party in particular is about as advisable as going on a blind date with Ted Bundy. And the otherwise inexplicably bizarre reaction of these people to even the mildest vaccine mandates makes perfect sense when we remember who we are actually dealing with.
Hi, if you are reading this essay then congratulations, you are still alive. And if you are alive, then you have either gotten the COVID-19 vaccine, or you still have the opportunity to get the vaccine against COVID-19. And holy fuck, if you aren’t fucking vaccinated against COVID-19, then you need to get fucking vaccinated right now. I mean, what the fuck? Fuck you. Get vaccinated. Fuck.
The fucking vaccine will not make you magnetic. Are you fucking kidding me? It just fucking won’t. That’s not even a fucking thing, and that lady who tried to pretend the vaccine made her fucking magnetic looked like a real fucking fuckwad and a fucking idiot, so get fucking vaccinated. Jesus. Fuck.
The vaccine also doesn’t have a fucking 5G chip in it. What the fuck do you think a fucking 5G chip is, fucknuts? You think it’s like some invisible nanotechnology they can suspend in a liquid and then just put in your fucking blood and then it what, exactly? Fucking floats around in your body going on Instagram and telling the government you went to the grocery store? No one fucking cares where you go, you absolute fucking fuck-barf. Fuck off with that. Fuck.
Oh, you’re afraid of fucking side effects? Fuck you. You know what has fucking side effects? Fucking aspirin, fucking Tylenol. You could be fucking allergic to pineapple, you fucking fuckwit. Everything has side effects. You’re being a big fucking baby with a huge diaper full of fucking diarrhea, complaining about maybe feeling slightly tired for a day or two while your asymptomatic COVID case you get and pass to some innocent fucking kid could wind up killing them or someone else. Fuck you, you fucking selfish fucking shit-banana, you unredeemable ass-caterpillar, you fucking fuck-knob with two fucks for eyes and a literal poop where your heart should be. You want a two-month-old to wind up on a fucking ventilator instead of you, a fucking adult, getting a fucking sore arm for a day? What are you, a pitcher for the Yankees? A fucking concert pianist? An arm model? Get the fuck out of here! Fuck you. Get vaccinated. Fuck. Fuck you!
You think vaccines don’t fucking work? Oh, fuck off into the trash, you attention-seeking fuckworm-faced shitbutt. This isn’t even a point worth discussing, you fuck-o-rama fuck-stival of ignorance. Vaccines got rid of smallpox and polio and all the other disgusting diseases that used to kill off little fucks like you en masse. Your relatives got fucking vaccinated and let you live, and now here you are signing up to be killed by a fucking disease against which there is a ninety-nine-percent effective vaccine. You fucking moron. Go in the fucking ocean and fuck a piranha. Fuck. Fuck that. Fuck you. Get vaccinated.
Oh, you say you have a genuine allergy or medical condition that prevents you from receiving a fucking vaccine? That’s fine. I’m clearly not talking to you. I fucking love you. Fuck.
Look, if you have been forwarded this essay from a friend or loved one, then there are two possibilities. Either you are a normal, regular, sensible fucking person like me who got fucking vaccinated at the first possible moment, and this essay channels all your fucking rage and sadness and is therefore cathartic OR, and I really hope this isn’t the fucking case, you AREN’T fucking vaccinated, and someone sent it to you because you fucking fucking fuck, you need to get fucking vaccinated. And rather than being fucking offended that someone is trying yet again to get you to take the fucking vaccine, you should understand that someone fucking loves you enough to try one last motherfucking time to get you to take the fucking vaccine before you fuck off to heaven, or hell, or some in-between place that’s just like a fucking mall or something where everything is free, including and especially the soft pretzels. So, congratulations! There is ONE person remaining in your life who wants to fucking save you from drowning in your own fucking lungs, you fucking fuckshit fuckdick, so for god’s sake, get your fucking ass out of your chair, go to the fucking pharmacy, and get a fucking vaccine, you absolute conscienceless fucking fuck fuck fuck. Get it. Get the fucking vaccine. Fuck you. Fuck fuck fuck. Fuck. Fuck you. Fuck!