The debate rages on

It’s the last day of March, and I haven’t posted anything this month. I guess if I’m gonna do it, I’d better REALLY do it. Fasten your seat belts, we’re off…

Some people will skim this and make their own decisions about who I am as a person. They will draw unfounded conclusions about me based on scant data. The digital vaccine passport is the latest buzz topic. I’ve seen well-thought criticisms and reasoned arguments for and against be reduced to replies such as “you’re and idiot.” While these attacks against discourse reveal more about the attacker than they do about the attacked, there is nonetheless public discourse about the topic.

From what I can see, there is really only one argument against the digital vaccine passport. It’s the same argument that has plagued modern society for generations: balancing the potential health benefits of legislation versus the problematic limiting of personal freedom. That pretty much encapsulates the arguments. Some will characterize voiced concerns as a desperate attempt of ideologs clinging to their backward belief system in a futile attempt to prevent the world from progressing. These people would equate racism, bigotry, sexism, and hatred to the vaccine discussion and minimize the debate.

Political ideology is the new religion (I know, this has been said before and decades ago). Misinformation is the tool and trade of the oppressor. The oppressor holds firm to no one ideology, religion, or political affiliation. They hold firm to one thing only: power. They wish to consolidate and preserve power. Sometimes this is via wealth. Sometimes this is via cancel culture. The methodology may be different, but the result is always the same: to oppress others.

Let’s get a few things straight. Vaccine passports are nothing new. Many countries require vaccines and proof of vaccine to gain entry. Let’s also touch on the ideological aspect of this: Airlines, restaurants, grocery stores, and theme parks are private entities. In the United States, they reserve the right to refuse service or entry based on anything not protected by legislation. Most employment is regulated as an at-will agreement (no one is forced to provide notice before quitting, and no one is forced to employ someone they don’t want to except for legislative protected reasons).

I see that you’re nodding along. Yeah, most people do agree with this until it directly affects their personal freedoms. Debating public good versus personal freedom is not the point of this post. Some of you are also nodding your head and have made a conclusion about my political affiliation or ideology—Stop. Don’t do that. I will tell you about my political affiliation and ideology—it may or may not surprise you.

I am a pretty staunch libertarian, but I’ve run for office as a Republican. I attend a graduate liberal arts college, but I’ve had a long career in conservative radio broadcasting. What? You thought that I was just an author? I’m afraid not. I, like most humans, am many things. I’m an artist. I’m a father. I’m a husband. I’m an educator. I’m an activist. Wasn’t it Meredith Brooks popularized by Alanis Morissette who said, “I’m a bitch, I’m a lover. I’m a child, I’m a mother. I’m a sinner, I’m a saint. I do not feel ashamed. I’m your hell, I’m your dream. I’m nothing in between. You know you wouldn’t want it any other way”? Yep, I just quoted song lyrics. The point is that there is no single way to describe me. Just because I believe in one way about one particular topic, doesn’t mean that you can generalize how I might feel about another topic. And quite frankly if you do, that’s damned offensive. Never in the history of humankind has stereotyping ever been a force for good.

The problem we have in modern society is absolutist practicum. The idea that there is only a for and against argument for any one topic or dilemma. If someone is against the COVID-19 vaccine, then they must be for everyone dying of pestilence. This strawman argument has no business in this discussion and is a frequent tool of the oppressor. I don’t fly since the events of 9/11 not because I’m mad with the surrendering of personal rights and the utter lack of effectiveness of the TSA, but because flying is damned expensive.

I’m opposed to the COVID-19 vaccine not just because forcing it on a population is a gross violation of personal rights, but because I have underlying health concerns. And who are you to criticize me for being cautious about taking a vaccine that has no history of effectiveness against a virus that has a 1.8% mortality rate in the United States? (Johns Hopkins 2021) Some of you have dismissed me as a crackpot. I imagine some of you are calling me an anti-vaxxer. Once again, absolutist practicum. Just because I question or criticize the COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t mean I’m against all vaccines. I’ve had discussions with my hematologist, oncologist, and my primary care physician about the COVID-19 vaccine. The opposite is also true, just because someone chooses to get the COVID-19 vaccine, doesn’t make them “sheeple.” There are a variety of reasons why someone would be eager to get the COVID-19 vaccine, just as there are a variety of reasons not to do so. Attacking people based on their decision helps no one and doesn’t further the discussion in any way. All it does is reinforce ideology and turn people who may have been influenced one way or the another into extremists.

When we minimize a person’s discourse on not just COVID-19 vaccines but any topic, we minimize their voice. When we minimize someone’s voice, we minimize ourselves and our ability to empathize. And let’s face it, our planet is plagued enough by apathy and selfishness. Bigotry and hatred. Intolerance and injustice. The various -isms that are hot topics in academia and the world at large. As someone smarter than I am once said, “try to be a fountain, not a drain.”

About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degrees in Computer Systems and Applications and Applied Human Behavior. View all posts by Mark Gardner

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