Ideas about liberty have evolved, thankfully.
Egas Moniz, a Portuguese neurologist, received a Nobel Prize for performing lobotomies on his vulnerable, unconsenting psychiatric patients—or, rather, victims. Today, he is the just recipient of the contempt of decent mental-health practitioners. (Those who do not hold him in contempt are not decent.)
The same fate may await Alan Dershowitz’s status as a constitutional scholar given his coronavirus jurisprudence. Dershowitz has declared that the state has the power of precedent to drag you to a doctor’s office and plunge a vaccine-filled syringe into your veins.
Inconvenienced vs. Violated
Contra Dershowitz’s forced-vaccination violence, and contrary to the opinions of many of my friends on the Right, social distancing and masking are mere inconveniences. They are not rights-infringing. Being inconvenienced is not the same as being unfree.
That you are asked to sanitize, suit-up, and give people space means only that you are inconvenienced. It means that you are being requested not to encroach upon others—not to rub-up against them, or expel sputum on them. This is but an inconvenience.
In the context of a pandemic, these are quotidian requests, to be associated with civility and comity. They crimp your style, not your rights. The thing that infringes on your natural rights to sustain life and liberty is the lockdown.
Sequestering you so that you cannot feed yourself and your dependents is a violation of both natural and constitutional rights.
But ordinary acts of prevention? Please.
Prevention is about delayed gratification. When you go out on the town or to work, you have to make an effort to protect others.
After all, isn’t asking members of society to cover-up and keep their distance about as non-invasive a request as one can get? Give it some thought.
Real men use prophylactics: Remember that ad campaign?
The Mañana Mentality
Who can deny that we Americans have developed a mañana mentality? Consume in the present; worry not at all about tomorrow.
The defining characteristic of the United States today is debt—public and private, macro and micro. America is a debtor nation. Ours is a credit-fueled, consumption-based economy, not one founded on savings, investment, and production.
This creed pivots on instant gratification, on the Pleasure Principle. Unless something is pleasurable, it excites suspicion and is deemed unworthy of pursuit.
Mañana certainly epitomized the state of our pandemic preparedness reserves when the Wuhan flu arrived.
Without going into the perverse incentives operating in the safety-net hospitals, “Making the case for investments in material and hospital planning has long been challenging as most people have difficulty envisioning a major disaster,” admits Dr. Eric Toner, an authority on pandemic preparedness, from Johns Hopkins University. “Hospitals are also under pressure to keep margins thin and eliminate spending on staff and supplies that aren’t used all the time.”
Even if the U.S. government were as enlightened as Singapore’s, which distributed reusable masks to all households—too many Americans would refuse to wear them on the grounds that you can’t take a good selfie, or that it’s momentarily inconvenient.
Look good today, worry about COVID-19 tomorrow. And, “my rights”? If something is not pleasurable, it is often mistakenly considered an infringement of rights.
To equate liberty with petulant incivility is a mistake; it cheapens liberty.
Let us, then, suspend the mañana mentality and think beyond pleasure and convenience. And let us all retain a redeeming belief that, in America, your body is your property alone and nobody can pump you with potions without your consent.