A reminder, exactly one year on from when I first wrote this, that many people in Ireland (and across the world) don’t seem to have a problem with medical coercion and apartheid. I still find it mind-boggling that this was actually happening, in a democracy, in my lifetime. In some ways I don’t think I’ll ever properly process it…
NOTE: this piece was commissioned a week ago by one of the Irish papers, then unrelated circumstances resulted in it not being published. So I’m throwing it up on my own website, because I think it’s a VERY important subject, here and globally.
The situation, by the way, has changed since writing, for good and bad: the vaccine pass in Ireland is (the Government says – I’ll believe it when I see it) being phased out. On the other hand, masks for children remain in place, and the authorities are still full-steam ahead on vaccinating kids against this disease that doesn’t affect them at all, for God knows what reason. Meanwhile in Germany, actual Members of Parliament are barred from entering the chamber unless vaccinated. Austria has just confirmed that vaccination is mandatory, enforceable by police. The madness continues.
Anyway, the themes here remain revelant, so read on…
Will Ireland yet see mandatory vaccination, against compelling evidence that Covid-19 appears to be dwindling in threat-level to something comparable to normal ‘flu?
Professor Karina Butler, National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) chair, this week said it should be given “careful consideration…there can be situations where making a vaccine a requirement is necessary for the overall good”.
Micheál Martin had earlier ruled it out, though experience urges a mental caveat on that: “Well, yes – for now.” If you think this is paranoia, remind yourself that throughout this ongoing horror-show, many things came to pass which we were promised would not, from masks for children and extended lockdowns to Covid passes and various intrusions on privacy and individual rights.
“Ah, that won’t happen,” Irish people say. Yet it keeps happening, all the same.
Mandates have already been introduced in several countries, from “State/health employees only” to “every adult citizen”. Frighteningly, Austria – of all places! – has gone further down the coercive rabbit-hole, incorporating teenagers. Even worse, Costa Rica introduced compulsory vaccination for five-year-olds.
So it’s going on elsewhere, and since when has Ireland made up its own mind or swum against international tides?
Indeed, I would argue that we already have mandatory vaccination: Covid passes. Refusal to submit locks you out of full participation in society, reducing you to a sub-class of unter-citizen. The pass is discriminatory, a form of medical apartheid, in contravention of Constitutional and UN rights.
And it’s coercive. Finesse it all you want with words like “persuasion” or “encouragement”, but that’s just sophistry. If non-compliance – insisting on freedom of conscience and bodily integrity – means withholding of civil liberties, you’re not being encouraged: you’re being compelled.
“Nobody’s forced to do anything,” the argument runs. “You can choose not to, but then accept the consequences.” That’s not really choice, though, is it? The man with a gun to his head can “choose” not to hand over his wallet…but then gets shot.
A “full” mandate, then, would merely amplify what already exists. And any sort of compulsion, from subtle to strong-arm, is profoundly immoral – simple as that.
There are practical arguments against mandates, as it happens. Vaccination doesn’t stop transmission; most people have a tiny chance of dying from Covid; those at risk can be easily identified and thus protected; almost everyone is vaccinated by now; the virus itself is becoming more uncontrollable but less deadly, from an already low mortality rate. And shouldn’t all this apply to ‘flu as well?
But my argument here is ethical. Forcing someone to take medicine, which they don’t need and (most importantly) don’t want, violates their physical self and basic human rights.
Your body is the only thing that’s yours, ultimately. Everyone has the right to deny interference, regardless of how justified people might think the reason.
This sanctified principle – the Biblical conceives of the body as a temple, a sacred and unique thing, manifested by divine will – is humanity’s most fundamental. Even atheists like me can see that, morally speaking, violation is anathema.
And once you do, it’s open season for State and society to insist on anyone undergoing any sort of physical intrusion, against their will, “because it’s an emergency/public safety/protect the health service” et cetera. You think that’s hyperbole? I refer back to “Ah, that won’t happen…”
Vaccine coercion violates physically – and mentally. It makes people question their sanity: how can so many others be wrong, surely it’s me? It bamboozles them with specious arguments about safety-belts, long-ago polio epidemics, malaria shots for holidays.
In some ways, the ostensibly kinder, “let’s listen to their concerns and get them thinking the right way” approach is worse than the jack-booted “submit, schweinhund!” stuff. It’s the definition of gas-lighting: “You’re not thinking straight, but that’s okay – trust me and you’ll be fine…”
Or maybe it’s more like an unscrupulous sleazeball in a bar, turning the screws on a woman who’s already expressed her choice, clearly and repeatedly: “I said no…yeah, but you don’t really mean that. I said no…come on, listen to reason. I said no…but it’s the right thing to do…”
Mandates are a disgrace to so-called civilised society. They force individuals to betray their true self, renounce their rights and – worst of all – silence that precious “still, small voice of conscience” inside their head.
“The unvaccinated” (oh hateful term) have been psychologically assailed by government and society for months: an unending onslaught of abuse, calumny and fear-mongering. Leo Varadkar called these people – your family and neighbours – “the problem”. One columnist described them as “a threat to the nation”…not to mention fascists.
The dire mental toll of all this on refuseniks is obvious. Or is it? Maybe not. I suppose it’s hard to truly understand something until it happens to you personally.
If some people really can’t grasp this elemental principle – the corporeal sanctity of the individual, no matter the circumstances – one can only wait until the day they, too, are forced to take something into their body they don’t want.
Then, presumably, they’ll understand. We learn from experience, as the saying goes.