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The Right to be Left Alone

Someone asked on a message board the other day of a person who wasn't vaccinated, "What makes you think you can do anything you want?" It's a philosophical question worth answering. 

The Founding Fathers believed the people had rights, through God or Nature. They described them in the Constitution and later the Bill of Rights--and they are basically rights to be left alone. I don't have the right to go cough on the person who asked this question, but she doesn't have the legal or moral right to insist that healthy people stay home or take an experimental medicine, nor is she entitled to a risk-free life. 

This question made me start imagining what it might be like if the shoe was on the other foot.

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Photo from Pixabay.

Imagine it's April 2022. Another new variant is going around, but the vaccines aren't stopping it. In fact, everyone getting sick has had a vaccine and rumors start flying that the illness is, in fact, a long-term side effect. But clinical studies show that the vaccines aren't causing the illness, they just aren't preventing it. As it turns out, natural immunity from exposure to the wild virus is highly effective at preventing the new one. 

Leaders know that people won't go through another series of lockdowns, distancing, and so on--nor can most countries afford it. New vaccines are at least a year off. They decide that come June, when it's warm in most of the US, they will start pushing vaccinated people to get exposed to the virus at a time of year when they're the least likely to end up in the hospital. This time, the old and frail will be protected.

But after two years of quarantines, masks, Zoom meetings and social distancing, decorum has gone out the window. "Hey, Miss Prissy!" kids yell at anyone, man or woman, wearing a mask. At the theater, where several employees have been voluntold to go get exposed, unaccompanied women get groped. Bars and clubs are rowdy and police are too busy to show up. Dogs are able to pass on the virus, and getting a few licks from one doesn't sound that bad, until you read that people have had their faces bitten. A few people even had to have surgery. "Those are rare cases!" people comment, before FaceBook takes down the story and fact checkers say there's no evidence the dogs weren't provoked. 

That's not all you read about: while the new virus is usually no more than a mild cold, some people are getting very ill from it, and it's not clear why. You don't want to get this virus and you're tired of being called a Nervous Nellie, you're tired of being nudged, you're tired of hearing, "Wait six months! You'll be in the hospital!" The people with natural antibodies are immune--why is it any of their business whether vaxxers infect each other or not? 

Meanwhile, Cuba isn't letting anyone stay home--they've ordered everyone to stay outside for two weeks to kill the virus. All manner of mayhem ensues.

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There used to be an expression: I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it. The spirit of that saying is that it's rights, not agreement, that's important. It also implies that it's good to stick up for each other: you help me when it's my ox being gored, and I'll help you when it's yours.

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