The Denver Gazette ran an editorial cartoon recently by Michael Ramirez depicting a new arrival standing in the Heavenly clouds in front of a winged admissions officer, perhaps an angelic St. Peter. The man was bewildered about the cause of his death and God’s reaction to it, leading to his premature appearance the Pearly Gates. He said, “I had faith. I took Hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin…Why has He forsaken me?” St. Peter replied, “We gave you an assortment of vaccines. What more do you want?”
If I interpreted Ramirez correctly, his point was that while the drugs the man took to treat COVID have had some success (but obviously not for him), it’s even better not to contract it in the first place, which is the role of the vaccine.
I should also note that Michael Ramirez is absolutely brilliant in his craft and stands out as the preeminent, syndicated conservative editorial cartoonist in the country, and the Denver Gazette editorial stance is proudly conservative and libertarian-leaning as am I, and we’ve both encouraged people to take the vaccine, as have other columnists in Complete Colorado. Most Americans have done just that, and it’s one of the few things, in these divisive times, about which a majority of Americans of all political persuasions agree.
Many prominent Democrats and liberals publicly opposed the vaccine when Donald Trump was president simply because an election was coming up and they didn’t want him to get the credit for it. They hypocritically overcame that reluctance as soon as Biden was elected.
While almost everyone favors the vaccine, disagreement arises over whether anyone and everyone should be required to take it. And the core of that opposition seems to be mostly on the political right. I like the Fox News Channel. I’m delighted it stands as a beacon of conservatism in the liberal-dominated TV media. But, in my view, Fox has gone overboard in showcasing those who oppose reasonable requirements to take the vaccine as a “matter of principle.” If Fox believes most of its audience expects that of them, they may be mistaken.
I emphasize “reasonable” requirements advisedly. I well understand the principle some conservatives are defending in their opposition to COVID vaccine requirements. They instinctively and sincerely don’t want to be forced to do things by the government. Neither do I. But in this case, I believe they’re taking that principle to an irrational extreme. By this reasoning, would you also refuse to fasten the seat belt in your car just because the law requires it?
George Will once noted that four vital words must always be considered when thinking about the Constitution and its protection of individual rights. Those words are: “up to a point.” Our First Amendment rights are not absolute. Free speech doesn’t extend to libel or slander, even by the press. Freedom of religion isn’t absolute; for example, it doesn’t allow human sacrifice. Peaceful assembly doesn’t abide trespassing or blockage of thoroughfares and sometimes requires government permits. Our Second Amendment right to bear arms doesn’t apply to machine guns and explosives. Our Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches without probable cause doesn’t bar the TSA from searching you at airports.
I join with those, on principle and on the law, who oppose a sweeping federal mandate on all Americans to take the vaccine. But no such mandate has been made and would likely be unconstitutional if it were. However, governments at all levels can legally require its workers to get vaccinated, as a condition of employment, in order to protect other workers and patrons, as can businesses, schools and sports teams. Workers are free to refuse but must be prepared to find another job if they do.
However, absolutism shouldn’t apply to these requirements, either. For example, exceptions can be made for those who’ve had COVID and now have natural antibodies, and for those few who’d have a known negative reaction to the vaccine, but not for disingenuous religious beliefs.
The Air Force recently discharged 27 younger service members, all in their first enlistment, for refusing a lawful order to take the vaccine. That’s unfortunate. Some may regret this later in life. At least, I was relieved to learn this won’t be treated as a dishonorable discharge on their record. Some police officers and even truckers have also resisted.
In Colorado, the unvaccinated now account for 85% of COVID deaths. The very low risk to your health of taking the vaccine is overwhelmed by the much greater risk of contracting the virus, of passing it on to a loved one, getting seriously ill, and dying from COVID or co-morbidities if you don’t take the vaccine. If you choose to shun the vaccine, risk the negative health consequences, and considerable inconveniences, like employment, airline travel and access to places of public accommodation; that’s your prerogative. For those of you on the fence, please be practical. For your own good, take the vaccine!
Longtime KOA radio talk host and columnist for the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News Mike Rosen now writes for CompleteColorado.com.
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