Hodge headshot

Brian Hodge

Last week Kay Ivey was cornered and made to feel guilty by a reporter about Alabama’s low vaccination rates. In her moment of vulnerability she lashed out. There is nothing more she could do, she said. It is time the unvaccinated, not her, should be blamed for the spread of the disease she said. But of course a great many of Alabama’s unvaccinated, all those kids under 12 years old,  couldn’t get the shot even if they wanted it.

   What Ivey meant to say is there is nothing more she can do and it is the fault of unvaccinated adults and their risky behavior that is endangering the state. But of course Ivey supports the crackdown on risky behavior everyday. Practically every week someone in Alabama is ticketed, or worse arrested, for possessing marijuana, speeding, and disorderly conduct - none of which, in and of themselves, kills anybody. It is Ivey’s and the Alabama Legislature’s political hesitancy that moots the argument over vaccine requirement. For them this is a political problem, not a practical problem.

   I have taken the vaccine. But I am not for a vaccine mandate. I think generally that mandating or banning things through the legislative or executive process is a bad idea. Whether it is heroine or hand grenades, merely possessing something probably shouldn’t be illegal; and I don’t think Americans should be required to take a vaccine anymore than they should be required to eat their vegetables. If we are going to live in a world where people are given the choice to be responsible, we are going to have to accept that some people are going to be irresponsible by choice.

   There is a palpable irony surrounding the Covid vaccine in so far as the fierce debate over the vaccine pits the Republican Party’s chief interest, State control over one’s body and personal decision making, against the Democratic Party’s chief interest, State control over one’s body and personal decision making. The GOP is taking the mantra of abortion access, “my body, my choice” and turned it towards the Democrats declaring that it should be up to people to assess their own levels of risk when it comes to whether or not to take the shot(s). Many Republicans would rather some women upend their lives rather than terminate a fetus that technically isn’t even an American citizen yet. But when it comes to the vaccine they don't give a rat's ass about how many American citizens die because they refused a simple shot in the arm.  The Democrats on the other hand are quick to defend a woman’s right to choose, but are increasingly apathetic to a woman’s right to choose not to take the vaccine.

   Some lines of a perpetually dividing kidney cell from an aborted European child from 30 years ago were used in the testing, not production, of some of the vaccines. Upon learning about this connection to abortion, which is so remote even the Pope says there is no morally shaky ground here, some hysterical pro-lifers are using this excuse to refuse the vaccine on moral grounds. In fact a lot of people are contorting themselves to find all sorts of nutty reasons to justify not taking the vaccine: Bill Gates has put nanobots in it to track you;  Whitey has got it in for people of color; or it is actually a mind control device that will force America to elect Kamala Harris when the day comes. None of this is necessary, the only reason you need is: “I don’t want it.”

   I personally believe that far more people have caught this virus and weathered it than has generally been reported. But if I am wrong about that then encouragingly far more Americans have been vaccinated than have ever caught the virus. This is good news.

    Notwithstanding children under 12, who can’t legally be given the vaccine under it’s current emergency use authorization,  if supposedly irresponsible adults want to chance the virus maybe we should let them. We are all going to die, if they die of Covid for lack of having the vaccine to prevent it, is that not their choice? Even Ivey, and Anthony Fauci, have said this is a disease of the unvaccinated at this point.

   I think what makes many people resistant to this idea is guilt. Many believe that if we have the ability to require vaccinations and choose not to do so, then we are responsible for those who, in their ignorance and obstinacy, died needlessly. I don’t feel this way anymore than I feel guilty when some college student in Panama City Beach jumps off a balcony during a drunken bacchanal. Authoritarianism, be it for a vaccine mandate or not, is not the answer. You cannot Nerf the whole world and seeing some bad examples helps to encourage others to modify their behavior. You can’t have an omelet without breaking a few eggs, and you can’t have a free society without allowing a few idiots to break themselves.