Vaccine Mandates Are the Antithesis of Liberty

Vaccine Mandates Are the Antithesis of Liberty

For months now the public has been held in thrall to measles hysteria. Mainstream media outlets have provided breathless, selective coverage of this “crisis” by stoking fear in a fact-free and reckless manner, implying that the entire country is on the verge of a devastating repeat of the Plague, and that death would be a likely outcome for the child unlucky enough to contract the infection. These reports are never complete without the mention of the rise in unvaccinated children, the result of parents who have been hypnotized by anti-vaccine “misinformation”. “Anti-vaxxers” are to blame for the outbreak, or so we’re told, though we strangely never get to hear from them on the mainstream news outlets.

Over 1,200 U.S. citizens have contracted measles thus far, a fact unhesitatingly reported by the corporate media. But what they seem very reluctant to also point out is that virtually every one of those infected has made a full recovery. Measles is self-limiting; the infection lasts less than a week and then it’s gone.  And all those who have been previously infected are now immune for life, another fact that never seems to make it into the corporate broadcasts of the teleprompter parrots. 

Much to the dismay of many in power, no great measles epidemic has occurred. The infected didn’t begin disintegrating in the streets. Instead, they recovered within a few days. And at least some members of the public have begun to realize that they’ve been subjected to a colossal  campaign of fear, pushed by the media, regulators, and the government, with the volume turned up to 11 during state legislative sessions, while various vaccine mandate bills were on the table. Some state legislatures, like California, succumbed to the paranoia. Others, like my home state of Oklahoma, did not. 

But what is odd about the media-induced measles paranoia is how similar it all sounds. In fact, the tone has been almost identical to the hyperbolic fearmongering that the corporate media engaged in during the most toxic days of the War on Terror, when we were led to believe that waves of attacks by Mideastern terrorists were imminent, and that if we don’t “do something”, fresh attacks would result in the deaths of thousands of innocent U.S. citizens. Out of that paranoia emerged a host of liberty-destroying legislation, new wars abroad, and domestic surveillance operations at home. The manufactured hysteria surrounding the War on Terror fueled the growth of a massive bureaucracy and industry, becoming a glorified jobs program for hundreds of thousands of government employees.

This brand of fear-mongering is now being used to sell vaccine mandates. Instead of the spectre of terrorism, the germ threat is upon us, and now we are told that our only hope of avoiding civilizational collapse is high vaccine uptake. So says the television. The mandates are apparently necessary because too many people are refusing to succumb to the manufactured fear, and government logic dictates that the only option is the Pharma equivalent of a military draft. And while a deferment can be obtained via a medical exemption, some states are considering eliminating this as well. All in the name of public safety, of course. California, in effect, accomplished this recently with SB 276, when it announced it would begin investigating doctors issuing vaccine exemptions despite never having found a single example of a fraudulent exemption. 

The corporate stenographers in the media, including the titans of social media, are on board with the domestic campaign, and can harbor no dissent. As in wartime, censorship is touted, and critics of the war effort are excoriated, labeled as threats to public health and safety, with the goal of marginalization, censorship, surveillance, and the disbanding of dissenters, lest their criticisms of current vaccine policy spread. You can sense the approach of the phrase, “We are at war!”, oft-repeated to justify one of the many prolonged military occupations by the United States.

Many major internet platforms have joined in the anti-vax purge, with either outright de-platforming, or a severe limitation on the reach of anti-vaccine content. Facebook and Amazon began a crackdown on this content at the urging of California congressman Adam Schiff. 

While it is within the rights of a private company to do what it pleases with its platform, is a company really private when it is on the verge of winning a $10 billion contract with the Pentagon, or manufactures facial recognition tech for the police? Is a company still private if it develops artificial intelligence for military drones, the way Google has done through Project Maven? Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and others, have become a veritable Tech Industrial Complex, companies willing and able to construct an all-encompassing Surveillance State at the behest of the federal government, and many of these companies are about as “private” as Lockheed Martin.

Despite this campaign of manufactured fear, and despite the array of powerful actors working in concert against them, the “anti-vaccine” movement has grown at a rapid rate across the country. Why? Probably because, despite the lifetime of pro-vaccine propaganda, the idea of legislating the forced injection of a pharmaceutical product into children is offensive at a primal level. They want no part of it, and realize that they are the ones that have to stop it.

The forced injection of a pharmaceutical product is a clear violation of liberty. It’s difficult to believe that anyone could find a compatibility between the two. But when the “public safety” propaganda is seductive enough, it can con a surprising number of reasonable, thoughtful people. “I’m normally anti-war, but…”

Even libertarian luminary Walter Block seems to think that mandating vaccination is somehow consistent with libertarian theory, in what sounds like a “magic wand” theory of public health intervention. If a magic wand existed that, when waved by government, would somehow make society safer, Block appears to believe that it would be consonant with libertarianism to grant government that wand. He appears to forget that freedom of choice is so valuable precisely because voluntary choices will lead to far better public health outcomes than what would be reached through government force. But if a vaccine were perfectly safe, and provided perfect immunity, is there any doubt that vaccine uptake would be high? And would it even be a topic of controversy?  Block gives as an example “Typhoid” Mary Mallon, an asymptomatic carrier of the typhoid fever pathogen, who infected a great many, three of whom died. Mallon, though, seems to be the exception, an emergency situation, not the rule. Should every germ be treated as on par with typhoid? And should a sprawling bureaucracy be built, legislation passed, and liberty diminished, based on the fear that it may conceivably happen again in the future? Does a sneeze in public warrant arrest? Do we need a vaccine for everything? It seems less a slippery slope than a freefall. 

The real question seems to be by what route should we achieve as clean a public environment as possible? The progress made possible by liberty has resulted in a rapidly increasing standard of living, an abundance of clean food and water, widespread lavatory access, and an all-around rise in sanitation. Libertarians are rightly opposed to coercive intervention by the State, not only because the intervention is a violation of liberty, but because it almost always achieves the polar opposite of its stated intention. So why should we believe that government coercion would be effective in this one particular realm of vaccine policy? 

We shouldn’t. 

Liberty has always and everywhere achieved what government coercion could not. 

It has done, and will do, the same in the realm of public health. Vaccine mandates are the clear antithesis of this liberty. They are a violation of the dignity of the individual in the extreme, and, if the history of government intervention teaches us anything, they will result in disaster.

One question that is never asked is how many vaccines will be enough? How many vaccines, developed to combat minor infections, will be forced upon us once mandates are in place? Is polio really on par with chickenpox? “Rotavirus”? And will they all be mandated equally? Parents residing in a free society should have a say as to whether their children are injected with a pharmaceutical product. If vaccines are truly safe and effective then no mandate would be necessary. People would line up to get them. And most people do, without a government stick ever making an appearance. The wonderful thing about liberty is the value placed on persuasion. If you can’t persuade someone to buy what you’re selling, then it might just be that you’re peddling a bad product. Liberty of choice is a vastly underrated virtue, and we disregard it at our own peril.




Deadly U.S. Police Culture: Barney Fife Thinks He’s the Punisher

Deadly U.S. Police Culture: Barney Fife Thinks He’s the Punisher

Barney Fife, of the celebrated 1960’s sitcom The Andy Griffith Show, was the lovable, bumbling deputy with a heart of gold. His clumsiness was endearing and provided a large portion of the comic value of the show. Even when his gun accidentally discharged, the audience would chuckle, and no one ever got hurt. Yet Sheriff Andy Taylor, clearly aware of Fife’s inadequacies, allowed him only one bullet, and kept him on a tight leash. Taylor, for his part, knew the damage such an accident-prone bumbler could cause when allowed too much power, even one as pure-hearted as Fife.

If only every police department employed an Andy Taylor, someone with keen judgment and an understanding of the real human cost of a jittery, paranoid cop. Unfortunately, in the real world, departments are utterly devoid of anyone approaching the character of a Taylor, but what they do have is more than their fair share of Barney Fifes. These cops mirror all the worst of Fife’s character flaws, while devoid of the save grace and purity of heart that the fictional Fife exhibited. Instead, this legion of Fifes appear to have been trained to see themselves as another fictional character: the Punisher.

The Punisher, most of us know, is a guns-blazing, mass murdering vigilante, branded as a dealer of justice against those who get off too easily in a court of law. No due process for any of his victims, they all get cut down equally in an unending barrage of gunfire and explosions. Many cheer him on in his rampages. Too many, in fact. This also includes cops and members of the military, and their sick worship of this murderous character is a telling sign of the state of mind of the armed enforcers who patrol our communities.

Instead of consequences, these Barney Fifes are given a union card, a plush pension, steroids in many cases, and “qualified immunity. And the results are about what you’d expect: around one thousand Americans killed each year, many more beaten to a pulp, harassed, and subject to frivolous arrests by the thousands.

The problem? In the real world, Fife is taught to see himself as a soldier deployed in a warzone, stationed deep within hostile territory, lethal threats around every corner. How else to explain completely unnecessary confrontations like the murder of a sobbing, crawling Daniel Shaver by Philip Brailsford? Who was cleared of murder, by the way. Another perk for the real-world Barney Fife: commit murder while on the job and you’ll get off scot free.

One tell-tale sign of a real-world Barney Fife is their extreme sensitivity to sleights to their authority. Whether real or perceived, any challenge to their power is met with escalating hostility up to the point of getting shot, tased, or choked to death. Fife is taught to say that he feared for his life after the fact, when sitting in the courtroom, but the bullets fly and the beatings commence because commands, screamed by an emotionally overwrought agent of the State, weren’t obeyed quickly enough. How else to describe the completely avoidable murder of Terence Crutcher by female Fife, Betty Shelby? It’s “contempt of cop”, a phrase that could only exist alongside a police force composed of Barney Fifes who believe they’re the Punisher. Shelby was also cleared in Crutcher’s death.

They’re deadly sensitive, these cops.

Entire SWAT teams of Barney Fifes kick down the doors of U.S. citizens by the thousands each year, and god help the unsuspecting residents and their pets inside. These trigger-happy, paramilitary-style units adorn themselves in military cosplay, except that, for these cops, their machine guns and grenades are real. Amped up on fear and adrenaline, these cops barrel through the door, pointing their guns at adults and children alike, gunning down any family pets that happen to appear while acting out some childhood war fantasy.  A SWAT team of Fifes creates tragedies such as the Houston raid that left a middle-aged couple and their pets dead, a raid based on a lie made by another Fife cop, Gerald Goines. Goines has been charged with murder, but we know what the outcome will be.

Fife’s real-world analog also cannot apparently deal with the mentally handicapped without killing someone. A harmless autistic man was shot to death by an off-duty Fife in a Costco earlier this year. His parents, who were with him at the time, were also shot.

Tony Timpa, who suffered from schizophrenia and depression, was suffocated by three gleefully murderous Fifes in Dallas in 2016. He’d called the police for help from a parking lot. They showed up, and now Timpa is dead. While he lay dead, the three cops chuckled about his plight. They had apparently slaked their desire to rough someone up for the hell of it. Timpa’s story, though, is a recommendation on the strict use of body cameras, because without them we’d never know the real story of his death.

A study published by the Treatment Advocacy Center found that people with an untreated mental illness were 16 times more likely to be killed by the police.

The Barney Fife of the real world is also terrified of dogs, particularly ones that pose no threat at all. He’s so terrified that he will apparently draw his gun and fire in wanton fashion, regardless of the consequences to bystanders. The phenomenon of police killing family pets is so common that the term ‘puppycide’ has been created just for it. The stories are horrible, and are so endless that it would be impossible to adequately catalogue. Suffice it to say that it takes a special kind of sadist to kill a family pet unnecessarily, but those are the kind that now go in for police work.

Recently, a Barney Fife employed by the Arlington PD fired wildly at a loose dog, only to kill 30-year old Maggie Brooks in the barrage. Brooks, the owner of the dog, was apparently in the process of restraining her pet when she was shot. It’s a familiar story to many pet owners, and they are rightfully terrified of a chance encounter between their pet and the police.

U.S. citizens encounter Barney Fife on a daily basis, and it is a terrifying experience for many. What has happened in the way of reform? Nothing substantial. Police unions haven’t been abolished, neither has qualified immunity. Cops have been given bodycams, but even that tech, that was supposed to provide a modicum of accountability, has been perverted. Law enforcement want those cameras equipped with facial recognition capability, which would transform an officer into a walking avatar of the Surveillance State. Thankfully, a major manufacturer, Axon, has so far refused to equip their bodycams with facial recognition, citing the inaccuracy and bias inherent in the technology.

But there has been no effort to reform the attitude of these police, to screen for signs of empathy, for signs that within the prospective employee resides an actual human being. It’s an epidemic of impunity, and bad cops are being protected at the expense of public safety. When I say ‘bad’, I mean: emotionally unhinged, short-fused, sociopathic, devoid of empathy, etc. The kind of cop that chuckles with his cop buddies while the person they just beat dies before their eyes.  Until the Barney Fifes of the real world are restricted to one bullet, fired outright, or barred from employment with the local PD, the public will continue to be victimized by the people ostensibly hired to protect them.

The reflexive escalation of every single situation on the part of the person with the badge and gun has to end. This inability on the part of police to handle even simple situations without escalation is absurd, and an outrage, and must be stopped.

“Shane Smith is a writer hailing from Norman, Oklahoma. He blogs at Liberty is his religion.”

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