First it was “staying home saves lives.” Then, it was masks. Now it’s the Covid vaccines. Over and over, we’re told we need to obey public health bureaucrats without question for the good of other people. Conversely, to disobey their “guidance” and exercise our inalienable right to liberty is “selfish.”
Charles Barkley, who is often refreshingly independent-minded, is the latest to parrot this mantra.
Memories are short these days. In early 2020, the use of tents for hospital overflow was breathlessly reported as if it were unprecedented, when tents had been put up for precisely the same reason just two years before, during a heavy flu season.
In April 2020, no one remembered this. Instead, it was, “OMG, tents!”
It’s much the same story with lockdowns, masks, and the vaccines. Every one of these was first presented to the public as protecting oneself. Then, when significant people resisted, the narrative changed to “you’re doing it for others.” Forget two years, most of the public didn’t remember the previous narrative two days later.
It’s like a nightmare.
At the center of the “freedom is selfish” allegation is a misunderstanding, deliberate or not, of liberty and legitimate power. The right to liberty, like the rights to life, acquiring possessions, and pursuing happiness, all rest upon an understanding of what legitimate powers one person can exercise over another. And those powers are very few.
The right to life isn’t the right not to die under any circumstances. When someone drowns to death or gets struck by lightning, we don’t say his right to life was violated. No, the right to life is specifically the right to not be killed by another person other than in self-defense.
The right to life is rooted in the proposition that no one person has any legitimate power to deliberately deprive another of life. The right to liberty similarly rests upon the proposition no one has any legitimate power to deprive another of liberty.
If no individual has these powers, then they cannot delegate them to a government. I didn’t just make that up; it is a bedrock concept in the essay Thomas Jefferson said represented “the general principles of liberty and the rights of man, in nature and in society” generally approved by the citizens of both his state of Virginia and the United States generally.
“Inalienable” means cannot be taken away, not even by majority vote. That’s the reason for all the so-called “checks and balances” in our system. It’s the reason we have Bills of Rights in our federal and state constitutions. All these protections are there to ensure democratically elected officials don’t violate these inalienable rights, regardless of what majorities think or want.
Politicians, bureaucrats, and the useful midwits who blindly follow them will be quick to point out that “with rights come responsibilities.” That’s true. But the corresponding responsibility to a right is not to immediately surrender the right. That would be absurd. No, the corresponding responsibility to the right to liberty, for example, is to respect the right to liberty of others.
In other words, you can choose to take a vaccine or not to take it, and live with the consequences, as long as you do not infringe upon the rights of others to make the same decision for themselves. This is the very essence of “a free country.”
“But there are limits to liberty,” say the statists. That’s also true, but those limits are very narrow. “No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another; and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him,” said Jefferson in an 1816 letter. Similarly, he said the government should “restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free” in his first inaugural.
The government and its minions weren’t completely unaware of this concept. That’s what made Covid-19 oh-so convenient. With just a small false equivalency, it seemed to check all the boxes necessary to restrain liberty on a massive scale.
First, we were told the disease was much deadlier than it turned out to be. Even then, the sensible approach would have been for people with symptoms to stay home. That’s why it had to spread asymptomatically, an article of faith among the Covid Cult that the evidence shows is virtually unfounded.
A December 2020 study found that even for people living in the same household, the “secondary attack rate” (rate at which an infected member of the household transmits to another member) was .7% for asymptomatic cases, as opposed to 18% for symptomatic cases.
.7%. In case you’re having trouble reading, that’s less than 1%. And this is for people living in the same household. How much smaller would the risk be for mere passersby on the street or even fellow diners in the same indoor restaurant?
Yet, without significant asymptomatic spread, there was no need for lockdowns or mask mandates. That’s why minions of the regime go on talking about asymptomatic spread as if it were a fact when the most rigorous studies say it’s miniscule, if it occurs at all.
The “studies” offered to refute this usually assume that because a large percentage of people in a defined group tested positive and are asymptomatic, that asymptomatic people must be spreading it, which clearly does not follow for a highly virulent pathogen.
But let’s say that asymptomatic spread is significant, evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. Does that give anyone the power to forcibly confine others to their homes or force them to wear masks? No.
The limit on the right to liberty is the prohibition on aggression or injury, both of which mean deliberate harm. That you may pose a risk to others does not equate to aggression. Society is impossible without accepting the risks posed by others. There are too many. They are all preventable to some extent with sufficient oppression, but then you no longer have a society at all, much less a free one.
Everyone has the right to stay home themselves to avoid the risk of viruses. But to claim a right to confine everyone else to their homes until that risk disappears is the truly selfish position, not to mention insane.
The same reasoning applies to the vaccines. There is a good amount of gaslighting regarding their effectiveness in preventing transmission of the disease, even after the CDC Director herself said they don’t. But whether they prevent infection and transmission or merely lessen the severity of the symptoms, there is no case for vaccine mandates.
If they prevent infection and transmission, then those who choose to be vaccinated are safe from those who don’t. If they merely lessen the symptoms, but don’t prevent transmission, as the CDC Director said, then declining the vaccine harms no one but oneself.
If they don’t do either, as increasing anecdotal and some clinical evidence suggests, then there isn’t much reason for anyone to take them at all, much less mandate them.
No one honest with himself can possibly believe governments and the media are being honest about Covid-19. But even holding their statements in the most charitable light possible does not justify any of the measures we’ve endured over the past 19 months. And none of it would be possible without support from at least a significant minority of the people.
All those not only tacitly accepting but championing the governments’ closing businesses, locking people in their homes, mandating masks, or forcibly requiring anyone to take a drug, no matter how effective, all for the purpose of marginally reducing risk to themselves from a virus with a 99.5% survival rate, is monstrously selfish. Shame on them.
Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.