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The Right Wants to Freedom Us to Death

Conservatives in the pandemic era have revealed that their bizarre concept of liberty is incompatible with human life.

A close up of Ron DeSantis speaking to an audience in front of a red background.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

As if having one Weiss to endure weren’t enough, I see now that Bari has a younger sister, Suzy, who took to Substack last week to offer up a sympathetic account of frontline health care workers who don’t want to get vaccinated. I’m not going to link to it. I have enough stuff weighing on my conscience without adding helping to spread ridiculous propaganda to the list. Suffice it to say that sentences like “In New York City, for example, the city-wide mandate appears to have prompted 18,000 public school employees to get the vaccine, bumping the inoculation rate up to 95 percent” are introduced not as evidence of tremendous progress against the pandemic but rather as an indication of how forcefully the state’s remorseless jackboot has landed on the necks of the free-thinking.

The Madness in the House of Weiss is one thing. But when actual people in actual power share such reasoning, then we have a real problem. And so we see Ron DeSantis, who runs a state that’s home to 21.5 million people, declaring in the face of the omicron variant that “we are not, in Florida, going to allow any media-driven hysteria to do anything to infringe people’s individual freedoms when it comes to any type of Covid variants.” Florida has seen more than 60,000 Covid-19 deaths and ranks tenth among the states in deaths per capita. DeSantis has been more aggressive than any other governor in the county with respect to banning mask and vaccine mandates for teachers and firefighters and the kinds of nurses Weiss wrote about. And we got word just a few days ago that he wants to raise an army that reports solely to him, I suppose in case some busybody local public health official gets crosswise with him. (Yes, this is a real thing.)

Future historians—that is, if future historians are actual historians and not a bunch of hired-gun fascist stenographers cranking out hagiographies of Ivanka—will have, I’m sure, a lot to say about a society that redefined freedom as the right to get other people sick and prop up a pandemic. But lately I’ve been thinking. Why stop here? Why stop with the right to cough on strangers in a public place and give them a disease? I mean, if we’re going to redefine freedom, let’s really go for it.

From this day on, I hereby announce that I shall prefer driving on the left-hand side of the road. I’ve always been kind of an Anglophile anyway. It just feels right to me. Also, I have decided that red means go, and green means stay. If other motorists don’t like it, too bad. If freedom doesn’t include the freedom to make my own traffic rules, then it is in fact slavery.

I’ve also come to hold the conviction that mild hallucinogens are good for people, so I’m going to start carrying around a couple of vials of ground-up magic mushrooms, and whenever I’m in a restaurant and see the chance, I’m going to sprinkle some on strangers’ plates and give them a meal like they’ve never had before. They’ll thank me later, I’m sure of it.

And while this one doesn’t pertain to me personally, it should be obvious to freedom-loving people everywhere that anyone with a sexually transmissible disease should be able to shag whomever they want without telling them about their condition. I mean, you start punishing people for that, next thing you know we’re living in a new Soviet Union.

Naturally, these are four preposterous examples of what happens when we follow the path offered to us by such daft reasoning, except that—they’re not. This is precisely the logic of DeSantis and nurses—nurses, for God’s sakes—who won’t get vaccinated. In the Weiss article, one woman said she wants to have kids soon and isn’t sure about the consequences for pregnancy and breast-feeding and so on. Well, I guess if Facebook threads are what you use in place of Gray’s Anatomy, you will encounter some confusion on the matter. Everything I’ve read from actual public health authorities says the vaccine is completely safe for pregnant and nursing mothers. In fact, according to this Harvard Medical School expert, while Covid-19 cannot be passed from mother to infant via breast milk, some of a vaccinated mother’s immunity against the disease can!

I know, I know. “Authorities” and “expert” and “Harvard” are all dirty words, and my invocation of them merely demonstrates yet again what a gullible liberal sheep I am, rushing silently to my slaughter by the relentlessly burgeoning nanny state. So please, don’t take it from me. But how about you trust, oh, doctors? Doctors are hardly a bunch of socialists. And 96 percent of them, according to an American Medical Association survey, are fully vaxxed. Shouldn’t that tell us something?

Historically, doctors as a group have been far more Republican than Democratic. But bless you, Google, because I learned something researching this column. A survey came out in 2019 showing that doctors were, for I believe the first time, more Democratic than Republican: 36 percent independent, 35 percent Democrat, 27 percent GOP. Among the reasons cited is the fact that the vast changes in the business of health care have made more doctors employees of large organizations rather than self-employed small-business people.

I don’t doubt that that’s true, but I feel pretty confident that the change also has to do with the fact that the Republican Party is full of people who think man walked with dinosaurs and who have spent the last 20-odd months in the embrace of a death cult. And in fairness to our nation’s nurses, who have been heroic for the most part, 88 percent are vaccinated. If the general population followed their example, we’d be close to herd immunity, probably, and pending what we learn about omicron, perhaps on a trajectory back to something like normal life. That’s what freedom really is—a condition of civic harmony to which we all contribute and from which we all benefit. We’re a long way off from that and getting further with each passing week.