The COVID-19 response has raised questions regarding freedom in Western societies that we thought a few years ago were settled. Are we allowed to have freedom or are we granted it? Is freedom something that we can only get rid of? Is it possible to determine the current and future status of a child who was born in slavery or a North Korean camp, or a digitally controlled society in some Western dystopia of the future?
The temptation through COVID-19 has been to use science or evidence to oppose the removal of our rights. If a student is already infected, why should they be required to travel? These approaches can be tempting because they are based in logic, and therefore hard to disprove. They serve the people who want to remove freedom, as they reinforce their fundamental demands for tyranny. These reinforce the dictator’s demand that freedom be granted on the basis of actions and status rather than the reality of one’s birth.
We are either free or not. Science and logic are not the best arbiters for that freedom.
The COVID-19 Crisis Should Awaken, Not Enslave Us
COVID-19 vaccine mandates have highlighted society’s creeping acceptance of anchoring basic human rights to medical status. As many other public health doctors, I supported the imposition of measles vaccines for school admission. Globally, measles is a deadly disease. Hepatitis B vaccines were also approved for me at work. They are both safe and effective at blocking the disease. My medical training taught me that anti-vaccination was equivalent to flat-earthers.
The COVID-19 public health response stepped this up, requiring injections as a prerequisite for both adults and children to participate in normal community activities. “Vaccination status” governed “access” to rights considered fundamental under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights–including the right to work, travel, socialize, and access education. This has also determined who can access medical care. From the underworld, medical coercion is now part of the mainstream.
The vaccine mandates were fought with logic. Demonstrating the sheer absurdity of a general mandate for a disease that targets a well-defined population group (old age and co-morbidities), that does nothing to stop spread (i.e., no protection for others), and against which most are already better protected by natural immunity is an easy argument to make.
On the back of such evidence and logic, the movement opposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates, spanning truckers, restauranters, hospital employees, and politicians, has made some in-roads in rolling-back mandates. But progress is fragile, as authorities elsewhere seek to strengthen and widen mandates, and entrench the international pandemic preparedness industry that seeks to perpetuate coercion in public health. The frequency of mandates in educational institutions should tell us that something deeper than illogic and anti-science underlies this movement.
Tactical victories that are based solely on logic won’t win wars. It will take more than pointing out logical errors if health fascism must be addressed as it was in a past era. Nazism wasn’t deemed unlogical, it was simply wrong. Because it didn’t treat everyone equally and because central authority and what was perceived as a “collective good” were placed above individual rights and equality of people, it was wrong.
This is the hill on which we must stand if we are to block the use of public health as a tool to enforce the corporate authoritarian society envisioned by the adherents of the Great Reset. It is not just about public health, it concerns the basic human condition. This must clearly deny the rights of any group to abuse or control another. I do not have the right to mandate a high-risk non-immune diabetic 80-year-old to get a COVID-19 vaccine. You don’t either.
Freedom is a Birthright and Not a Reward
If we acknowledge that “all humans are born free and equal in dignity and rights” (Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), and that there’s something intrinsically valuable about being “human,” then certain consequences must follow. Attempts were made to reflect these in the flawed declarations on human rights developed after World War II, and the earlier Geneva Convention. These principles are found in many religions, but they do not have to be. This belief holds that every person is of inherent, equal, unmeasurable and independent worth.
As an alternative approach to coercion, Nazism showed how restriction and restraint based upon a perceived “common benefit” quickly eroded societies. The road to genocide was paved by doctors, using public health as a veil for self-interest, fear, and an ability to hate.
Common good views view human beings as a collection of biological reactions. A person has no basic rights or fundamental value apart from others. Only the collective good of all makes the future meaningful. The dictates of others deciding the future for the group are the only true fundamental rights and wrongs.
Finding a middle ground. Humans are special, but they can also be valued when it is convenient.
Doesn’t hold up to deep thought. The decisions that are made in time and space cannot limit fundamental worth.
Body autonomy is a concept that leads to the notion of Genuine equality. I cannot rule you in matters concerning your body. Humans have the right to control their bodies and cannot be forced into changing it or having it broken by others. It involves the threat of removing basic rights that autonomy or sovereignty offer and it is considered a form force. If we think that we as human beings are given such inherent rights, it seeks to take away our birthright. These rights and freedoms make us more than just a biological mass. They are not the property of the masses or chattels. This is why we require free and informed consent for medical procedures where a person is in any way capable of providing it.
Freedom cannot be tied to medical conditions or the choice of medical procedures. We cannot be intrinsically free if we don’t comply. Fundamental rights cannot therefore be restricted based on medical status (e.g., natural immunity) or choice of intervention (e.g., testing) or non-intervention. These rights cannot be promoted through discrimination or stigmatization.
Opposing Mandates Based on Science Alone Acknowledges Authoritarianism
It remains tempting to take the easy route and oppose COVID-19 vaccine mandates by highlighting the obvious flaws in the science claimed to underlie them. It is useful, but the purveyors and perpetrators of lies and illogic should be exposed. It can be used to show the lies of others but not as a way to find a complete solution. The underlying cause must be treated.
Claiming natural immunity as a sole exclusion from COVID-19 vaccine mandates is no more logical than ignoring it. The risk of developing an immune response in older people is still higher than that for healthy non-immune individuals. Age-related risk varies several thousand fold (pdf), and neither vaccines nor natural immunity can bridge this gap. Is it fair to mandate that a fit young athlete be vaccinated if she has not been infected before allowing an older, more serious case such as an old diabetic who was previously infected?
If we want to reduce risk, how will thresholds for fitness and age be determined? What will be the measurement of natural immunity? How often and how much testing will you need? If the vaccine is made available in time for natural immunity, will vaccine mandates prove more acceptable? Arguments based on logic only feed the need of the ones who want to own us and make us subjection to biology’s laws, not the laws of being.
This is not freedom. It’s not freedom, no matter how well-intentioned.
Freedom Comes at a Price
Fundamentally, the respect of public health officials is not a condition for human rights. Or politicians. Or the desires of philanthropists or their preferred corporations. All people should have these rights, regardless of their circumstances, and without regard to gender, age, parentage or wealth. Or, we could be complex chemical structures with no intrinsic value. Each individual and society must make the final decision.
The COVID-19 public health response highlights the need to re-examine much of what we took for granted in health care. While individual sovereignty does not exclude the possibility of sanctions against those who intend to do harm, it is imperative that society responds to these actions. This has been the driving force behind thousands of years worth of legal development. In court, cases of malfeasance can be tested.
Protecting yourself from harm does not mean that you accept individual sovereignty. For inbound travel to high-risk areas, proof of yellow fever vaccination is required. In the event that an epidemic occurs, high mortality could occur. However, schools still require measles vaccination despite vaccines effectively protecting everyone who is vaccinated. Recent events have shown us that we must weigh these requirements carefully and transparently. We need to avoid intentional harm, while keeping the natural law of inviolability of humanity paramount.
Sometimes, it will be costly to respect the rights of others. Some people may have to accept a temporary risk. The codification of the process, legality, and law that expresses intrinsic human value give wisdom time to conquer fear. Insurance is what keeps a society’s members free. Insurance protects against occasional but unavoidable catastrophes. A medico-fascist state could make it impossible to escape from slavery. It is not right to give in.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
David Bell is senior scholar at Brownstone Institute and a US-based public health doctor. He has worked as an internist and a public health physician in Australia and England. After completing his training, he was appointed to the World Health Organization as the Programme Head for malaria at the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics in Geneva and Director for Global Health Technologies at Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund, Bellevue. His expertise is in global and biotech. MBBS, MTH, Ph.D., FAFPHM, FRCP.