The United States of America is famous for its protection of freedoms under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which provides more specificity than the original document.
Interpreting the freedoms spelled out in the Bill of Rights requires a bit more nuance than some people like to admit. Yet rather than admit they might be overzealous in claiming certain types of freedom for their own purposes, a host of Americans has turned the Constitution into a comfort blanket for selfish notions of what freedom is all about.
For example, the call to wear masks in public places as protection against the Covid-19 Coronavirus is in some quarters deemed a rights infringement by people claiming that their personal freedoms are denied in being asked or mandated to wear a piece of protective fabric over their faces.
The same disenfranchised crowd tends to deny the safety and value of vaccinations available to quell the spread and danger of the often-deadly Coronavirus now threatening to overwhelm health systems in an entirely new wave of the pandemic.
What do we owe the unmasked and unvaccinated, the disenfranchised and determined when their behavior endangers us all?
Some claim that it is wrong to shame or guilt those unwilling to wear a mask or get a vaccination. A Christian spokesperson Daniel Darling on the MSNBC Joe Scarborough show spoke in favor of getting vaccinated, yet went to great lengths telling viewers not to call or brand the unvaccinated “idiots” or any other derogatory term because it is counterproductive.
We’re all familiar with the long list of reasons why people refuse to get vaccinated. So-called “vaccine hesitancy” involves cultural, political, religious and individual beliefs about the safety and reliability of vaccines. The trouble with all these objections is that they avoid the central issue behind vaccine development: to protect human health and save lives.
Thus the unvaccinated, despite all their reasons and objections, remain a threat in societies where progress against the Covid-19 virus stalled because people were too fearful, stubborn, uninformed or aggressively misinformed about vaccines to protect themselves and others.
As grownups, most people develop a sense of perspective and propriety about right and wrong and its impact on personal freedoms. Even if we don’t like or agree with certain laws such as regulations on driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, responsible people respect those laws because they know that statistics clearly show the dangers of impaired driving.
That doesn’t stop some people from driving while drunk, and people die in drunk driving accidents every year. In particular, it is tragic when people too young to know the dangers of impaired driving crash and kill themselves and others. Their childish lack of judgment is further impaired by the power of drugs and alcohol to cause risk-taking behavior.
Kids often don’t like to be told what to do or how to act. They tend to complain about everything from curfews to allowances, dating practices to keeping grades up. We know that even young adults behave in childish ways until they make mistakes that actually cost them a few freedoms or create other consequences.
What we’re witnessing in America right now is a massively childish and immature instinct to claim freedoms and make mistakes that really do have fatal consequences. The unmasked and unvaccinated like to claim that they are taking responsibility for their own lives and actions, but in actuality they are not. These groups of people feed upon the meme-driven defiance of their equally childish peers, cheerleading their “cause” as some kind of superior insight about the science and safety of vaccines. In so doing, they threaten to disenfranchise the rest of us by putting public safety at risk, causing Covid lockdowns and economic pain, and forcing their behavior on the world just like a child that refuses to be disciplined in anything they do.
That raises the question as to whether the unmasked, the unvaccinated and the self-proclaimed disenfranchised are owed any respect, or does the world have the right and even the responsibility toe publicly shame them into appropriate behavior.
People addicted to certain toxic substances or habits sometimes require an intervention to wrest them out of destructive cycles. Of course they often resist, even violently, for being held accountable to the people they’ve harmed and the relationships they’ve destroyed. Much of the cultural impetus for the unmasked, unvaccinated and self-proclaimed disenfranchised is fueled by politicians who seek to gain from toxic populism because it fuels their own ambitions. These same influencers need to be subjected to public intervention as well.
That takes place at the the voting booth, and we’ve seen the outcome of America’s intervention with an out-of-control President who urged the unmasked to behave like children and seems to relish the stubborn nature of the unvaccinated because so many of them view him as a model of counterculture resistance. He appeals to the disenfranchised even as he continues to the behave childishly in denying the outcome of the election that rendered him a loser, the title he most hates to accept.
Do we owe respect to that brand of behavior? The lies? The denial. The mockery of science and the medical specialists working to save lives and get America back on a good path again?
No. What we owe the unmasked, the unvaccinated and the self-proclaimed disenfranchised is a headstrong, tough love intervention in which their childishness is called to account and revealed for what it is. A toxic addiction to selfish immaturity, willing ignorance and cognitive dissonance.
Any self-respecting person should recognize the truth in that.
Childishness: the quality of being something that would be expected of or appropriate for a child
Sources: MADD Drunk Driving Incidents in 2020