A simple rule change could trigger mass vaccine demand plus head off other insurrections

What property-driven, rights-oriented society allows protesters to both spread disease AND violate sacred boundaries?

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Demand street protesters be vaccinated—or detained, even face inoculation

Facing new pandemic surges, even lockdowns, Covid-19 overseers and health-minded providers of goods and services will up the ante for users to prove Covid protection. Clearer thresholds not only corral the pandemic but clarify who gets in and who gets barred. This week, after France initiated new Covid-19 thresholds (proof of vaccination or negative test) for entering bars, restaurants, long-haul trains, or malls, “a record number of French people” rushed to find injections. The early bird, getting past barriers, gets the worm.

Just as social networkers may banish rule defiers, so businesses, non-profits and governments may pro-actively shield the health, welfare and freedom of prospects. With venues like ball parks favoring masks and protections, common sense, community spirit and top research all coalesce: contagions hate mass vaccinations. But nasty viruses love death cult deniers eager to walk the pandemic plank. Thus the benighted negate germ theory, evolution, climate change, the age of the solar system, or trust in scrutinized elections. “Survival of the sanest,” anyone?

Benefits accrue from this form of positive segregation – which simply rewards the prudent. If rule-makers simply insist all protesters (especially looming criminal mobs) be vaccinated, that instantly blocks hardcore anti-vaxxers who disrespect law, order and strict boundaries. Favoring the immunized informs the non-vaccinated they cannot force their germs on strangers, like police who impede destructive violence, even the hanging of vice presidents. Scoffers who threaten public safety should not just invite arrest but the prospect of shots – just like universally required 1950’s polio treatment or for repeat sexual predators mandated chemical interventions.

Why are healthy vaccination thresholds (on close contact in big crowds) different from lawful state and federal drug oversight, rules for safe consumer products or work conditions, or EPA water quality testing. We regulate car licenses, alcohol limits, traffic laws, seat belts and motorcycle helmets – all in the name of public safety. If drunk driving menaces thousands of innocents, why not outlaw the malicious fomenting of disease that’s taken hundreds of thousands of lives in this country alone?

Simple rule, comprehensive payoffs

As the most fixated anti-vaxxers will resist injections, thus be refused admission, mob shrinkage alone lowers potential damage. Perhaps half the protesters means less stress on transport venues, even air pollution, if not accident rates. Taxpayers would save millions in arrest, trial, court and prison expenses. Whoo hoo for gutting government waste. Delighted D.C . staff and elected officials could do their jobs without dreading bodily injury – or worse. Nationally, more vaccinations will save billions in medical and emergency costs plus relieve high pressure on hospital beds.

If nothing else, sensible health policies dramatize the contradictions plaguing the rightwing death cult: global contagions are never private matters. No person (or mammal) is an island during contagion. Not getting vaccinated thus qualifies as knowledge-averse, anti-social deviation. The license to sicken the healthy is not “freedom of choice” but contempt for family, neighbors, friends and the species.

A win all around, I’d say, with the chance to reteach democratic values. Less chance to trash the Capitol might drive a few Trumpers to stay home and work the political trenches – urging skeptical voters to back racism, white supremacy, minority voter subversion, blunt, strongman rule, and laughable election fraud whoppers. Real-world activism is far more daunting than a few hours busting through doors and windows. As with the forward pass, elections are zero sum games designed above all to distinguish winners from losers, a radical thought apparently to ignorant Trumpers trying to elevate tantrums over legitimate elections.

What property-driven, rights-oriented society allows protesters to both spread disease AND violate sacred boundaries? By definition, violent insurrections even betray what the right holds dear: the Ten Commandments. Aside from disowning murder and theft, dishonoring your parents or bearing false witness (on unproved election fraud), one commandment forbids worshiping false idols (the cult of Trump perfection) – as opposed to the genuine article: law, democracy, majority rule, and fair elections. Where in the fundamentalist Bible does God endorse breaking commandments to sicken others, bash officials or overthrow legitimate governments – then double-down with more false witnessing that nothing really bad happened? Gosh, literalists don’t even know their own book, let alone the Constitution.

And no extra cost

Best of all, this new rule requires no Congressional approval, nor costly research or medical standards. Protesters follow all sorts of local rules to get permits. Not getting vaccinated, unless you live alone in the woods, is an anti-social, disruptive political act. Protesting while contagious not only endangers others but shows disrespect for all high school biology teachers, failing badly on conveying totally uncontroversial germ theory.

On top of which, anti-vaxxers who get vaccinated will endure serious cognitive dissonance. Their bodies, if not twisted minds, must acknowledge scientific expertise, if not a safer life-style. Vaccines provide better protection (especially against variants) than getting Covid itself. Conscious or not, ingesting the latest medical marvel spurs socialization, even taking responsibility for your own place in the world. This could be a life-changer for some pitchforkers, exchanging outrage for a measure of satisfaction: they will no longer infect loved ones and be rewarded: access (with masks) to selected bars, ball parks and tattoo parlors.

No one doubts more violence is on tap. When Trump exhausts his other inexcusable tactics to regain relevance (an uphill battle as national electability wanes), the wannabe autocrat will have to spur more dead-end theatrics. Repeating the Jan. 6 debacle won’t wash as immunized officials – and a sane president – will bring sufficient force to bear, especially without a co-conspirator in power. Outrageous insurrectionists may not have to fear the mortal sting of the pandemic. 

The best thing about strictly monitoring the health of street participants doesn’t inhibit proper, legal, smarter protests. We only need set minimum standards which balance the exercise of rights with the trade-off that all freedoms demand. Detaining criminal protesters only further reminds them that insurrection hardly pays, unless you’re a craven politician who gets off scot-free. By now many in jail realize conviction is opposite to their well-bearing, let alone all those freedoms they yammer about. After all, criminal insurgents slavishly follow unbelievably bad Trump advice that costs them big-time. Imagine the improvement to America when millions obey undeniably good advice.

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Robert S. Becker
For over a decade, Robert S. Becker's independent, rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, history, implications, messaging and frameworks. He has been published widely, aside from Nation of Change and RSN, with extensive credits from OpEdNews (as senior editor), Alternet, Salon, Truthdig, Smirking Chimp, Dandelion Salad, Beyond Chron, and the SF Chronicle. Educated at Rutgers College, N.J. (B.A. English) and U.C. Berkeley (Ph.D. English), Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, then U. Chicago) for business, founding SOTA Industries, a top American high end audio company he ran from '80 to '92. From '92-02, he was an anti-gravel mining activist while doing marketing, business and writing consulting. Since then, he seeks out insight, even wit in the shadows, without ideology or righteousness across the current mayhem of American politics.

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