“The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them again in our lifetime.” Sir Edward Grey, 1914
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” C.S. Lewis
Darkness is indeed enveloping Europe almost two years into the global pandemic. Austria has announced full lockdowns with the unvaccinated bearing the harshest restrictions. Germany is set to follow the lead of its authoritarian neighbor. Defying Einstein’s dictum that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, France now has adjusted its definition of inoculation for the elderly to include a mandatory third shot. Globally, Australia remains an open-air prison ready on the trigger of just a few cases to retreat to restrictions of movement beggaring Orwell’s dystopic imagination.
Lest one think the United States is insulated, New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles have in place a draconian system of medical apartheid condemning the unvaccinated, many of whom are blacks already with natural immunity, to a new form of segregation. The Bank of America floated a trial balloon of putting the unvaccinated on different floors with different restrooms and eating facilities likely to house society’s scapegoats. So much for a diverse and inclusive workplace. For now, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has stayed President Biden’s OSHA mandate to choose essentially between your jab and job, but efforts to cajole and coerce the hesitant intensify. Forgive the cognitive dissonance upon hearing these edicts. For even Biden’s court scientists, led by Dr. Fauci, have now conceded that the shots do not prevent transmission or infection and that, as is the case in almost fully vaccinated Israel, protection against severe disease, hospitalization and death may be waning rapidly too. The only question left unanswered is how many boosters short of infinity will it take to set us free. Or will the madness cease once enough fully “protected” politicians contract Covid or suffer a disabling vaccine injury?
Politicians, public health officials, celebrities and the mainstream media bleat robotically that the vaccines are safe and effective. New York Governor Kathy Hochul calls the shots a gift from God and elevates the self-same pharmaceutical companies with a history of billion-dollar fines to saintly status. The drumbeat of applause grows more impassioned, if not hysterical, even as adverse events, deaths and disabling injuries reported on VAERS (the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) are multiples of all vaccines combined over the last thirty years. If a vaccine that provides limited protection and requires frequent boosters while smashing all adverse event safety records qualifies as safe and effective, just what would trigger alarm bells at the CDC or FDA?
The virus will not bend to lockdowns, masks and mass vaccinations, so identifying a scapegoat is paramount for politicians. Admitting that their Covid mitigation policies were mistaken would sound a death knell for reelection chances. The unvaccinated are now the UNDEFENDABLES, defiled, subject to house arrest in many jurisdictions, separated, marginalized and demonized. Walter Block, eminent Austrian economist and libertarian political theorist, is most famous for his two- volume book Defending the Undefendable. Therein, Professor Block profiles, with his inimitable wit and piercing logic, many of society’s vagabonds, miscreants and outcasts, including slumlords, corporate raiders and usurers. Examining these hard cases clarifies the non-aggression axiom at the core of natural rights, the animating philosophical basis of many of our founding documents. According to this philosophy, as long as force or fraud are not involved, consensual transactions, no matter how distasteful or imprudent, are not unlawful and subject to legal prohibition. Professor Block’s rogues’ gallery also brings to life some of the most important concepts of economics, including the law of unintended consequences and the seen vs. the unseen. Like the parables of the nineteenth-century French economist Frédéric Bastiat, Defending the Undefendable reveals that many of these reviled actors often play a valuable economic role and, in some cases, deserve our moral applause.
Would the unvaccinated deserve a leading chapter if there is trilogy in Dr. Block’s series? The answer is an unqualified yes. Refusing to get vaccinated or to take any drug or medical procedure is a personal choice that does not aggress upon any one’s else equal right of bodily autonomy. Informed refusal is the flip side of informed consent, no matter how dire one’s condition is. Indeed, without bodily integrity, all the other fundamental freedoms wither away. The Bill of Rights, drafted with both a smallpox and malaria pandemic in the recent rear-view mirror, did not contain an emergency or pandemic exception to the essential rights of life, liberty and property. By contrast, governmentally mandated vaccines (or any medical procedure for that matter) would seem to be the ultimate form of aggression. Suppose Dr. Block approached one of his students and forcibly injected him/her because he thought it was for the good of that student’s own health. Would we not all find that morally reprehensible and a clear case of physical assault? If Dr. Block does not have that individual right to commit such an assault, how can we delegate that right to others? That the procedure may be FDA authorized or ordered by an elected official or for the theoretical good of the injectee does not seem to alter the essentially aggressive nature of the physical intrusion.
In the current Covid crisis, the response to this line of reasoning is usually two-fold. First, what if John Doe forgoes a vaccination and infects others, or what if John Doe’s refusal puts him at higher risk of severe disease that might strain hospital resources? Regarding the first retort, it is now clear, even by the public health authorities’ admission, that these vaccines do not prevent transmission or infection and that vaccinated individuals potentially carry just as high a viral load. It is entirely possible scientifically that an asymptomatic vaccinated individual could be a riskier superspreader than an unvaccinated individual more likely to experience symptoms warranting caution.
The strain-on-hospital-resources rationale also seems to be a red herring. So few cases result in hospitalization, and early treatments, often prohibited or censored, reduce that risk dramatically. Would we now ban alcohol or tobacco consumption or restrict dietary habits in order to ease the hospital burden from those who engage in unhealthy activities? Moreover, the focus on the short- term benefits of the vaccine may be myopic. What if the policy of mass mandatory vaccination causes debilitating side effects requiring frequent hospitalizations, especially for individuals under the age of 30 who have almost zero risk of hospitalization from Covid itself? What if mandated mass vaccination leads to antibody-dependent enhancement and/or the emergence of a highly dangerous viral mutant? What if the unknown but potential long-term side effects of the vaccine strain medical resources three to five years from now? These are the unseen costs of the alleged vaccine benefit coin. We do not denigrate the sincerely held beliefs of physicians and scientists that the vaccines are beneficial. Nor do we quibble with the voluntary choice of individuals to take whatever precautions they deem necessary to mitigate the risk of contracting Covid. But medical freedom should encompass the right to say no.
The unvaccinated hence do not aggress upon others and, if anything, are subject to aggression by governments seeking to mandate or coerce them into taking an unwanted (and in some cases unnecessary or ill-advised) shot. Like some of the characters in Dr. Block’s book, the unvaccinated may deserve our commendation. They serve as a control group for the rollout of the vaccines since the drug manufacturers conveniently and prematurely unblinded their placebo group after a few months. Their defiance means someone is upholding the Nuremberg Code’s strictures against forced medical experimentation. The ranks of the unvaccinated include many nurses, EMT’s, physicians, firefighters and police officers who were especially valorous during the initial and more lethal first wave of Covid. Many contracted Covid (and hence have strong and durable natural immunity). They are now fallen angels, unceremoniously fired for their refusal to take a shot. Some of the refuseniks have sincerely held religious objections and are courageously standing up for the First Amendment freedom of religion while political tyrants eviscerate our constitutional rights. Many of the unvaccinated and brave doctors and scientists speaking on their behalf are incurring tremendous personal and professional costs. They may be our last best hope for freedom as the world descends into Covid madness.