Wissot: Drunk on freedom
Drinking a moderate amount of alcohol is an enjoyable pastime. Taken in moderation, drinking alcohol is a wonderful way to socialize, relax and unwind.
Drinking alcohol to the point of drunkenness is dangerous and destructive. It leads to irrational fits of anger, physical violence, and the potential for driving under the influence. Alcohol abuse is a serious threat to public safety.
Freedom is a lot like alcohol. Exercised responsibly, freedom enables individuals to pursue their own version of happiness without sabotaging the happiness of others. Unregulated freedom is like alcohol abuse: an irresponsible act of selfishness on the part of immature people who put their own wants and desires ahead of the welfare of society.
Unregulated freedom is anarchy. The immature adults who advocate for it are not freedom-loving Americans; they are American anarchists.
The complaints of the “Don’t Tread On Me” crowd that imposing mask mandates and vaccination requirements constitutes government overreach is the equivalent to the complaints of a drunk in a bar who is being forcibly removed by a bouncer because of unruly behavior.
The rights of the drunk in the bar take a backseat to the rights of the bar patrons. The rights of the anti-mask, anti-vaccine cranks pale in comparison to the rights of countless health care workers fighting to keep people alive in understaffed and overwhelmed medical facilities.
People who use the smokescreen of alleged government oppression to justify their selfish behavior are drunk on freedom and deserve to be treated like the drunks they are.
Our lives are filled with examples of rules imposed by the government, the private sector and institutionalized religion that don’t cause us to think that we are living in a totalitarian society. Driving 80 mph in a school zone could be considered a restriction on a driver’s freedom to drive as fast as they damn well please, but only by someone drunk on freedom. Falsely crying fire in a crowded theater could be considered a freedom of speech right but only by someone drunk on freedom.
Asking men to remove their hats in church and put a yarmulke on in a synagogue could be considered a symbol of religious tyranny, but only by someone drunk on freedom. Being asked to wear a shirt and shoes before entering a restaurant could be considered a fascist dress code policy, but only by someone drunk on freedom.
Employers who require their workers to be vaccinated are not violating the freedom of the employees who refuse to comply. Rather, the employers are exercising their right to fire employees who don’t comply with the conditions of employment. If the non-compliant employees don’t like the employer’s rules, they have the freedom to seek employment elsewhere.
Nurses and teachers and college students who refuse to get vaccinated don’t have an inherent right to work in a hospital, school or attend college. They can stay home and wait for the pandemic to end when vaccinations won’t be required. They have the freedom to ignore vaccination mandates from their living rooms.
Drunk on freedom misbehavior is showing up across the social spectrum. From people who get thrown off airplanes for refusing to wear a mask, to a cashier in a supermarket killed by a customer at the checkout counter who objected to being asked by her to pull his mask over his nose, to parents who inexplicably insist that their children go to school unmasked at a time that kids are winding up on hospital ventilators, drunk on freedom selfishness is spreading like the virus the nation is struggling to manage.
The excuse that the science on the efficacy and safety of vaccinations is uncertain doesn’t square with the facts on the ground. There is no rational comparison to be made between the number of people who experience ill effects from the vaccinations and the number of people who wind up in hospitals or cemeteries after contracting the latest variant of the virus.
Hesitating to be vaccinated because of unfounded reports about the safety of vaccinations is akin to someone turning down the assistance of firefighters trying to rescue them from a burning building because they fear slipping off the fire truck’s ladder and suffering injury. Choosing to be burned to death rather than rescued is as irrational as refusing to be vaccinated amid a pandemic.
In the stage version of “Peter Pan,” Peter has the Lost Boys repeat after him the lines, “I won’t grow up. I don’t want to go to school. Just to learn to be a parrot. And recite a silly rule.” Substitute the words, “I won’t wear a mask. I don’t want to get vaccinated,” and you have a similarly childish mantra voiced by the anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers living in their own version of Neverland.
There is no escape from social authority, whether it comes from the government, employers, restaurants, bars, hair salons, health clubs, sporting venues. Mature adults understand that submitting to social authority is how we protect ourselves from mob rule and the whims of barbarians. Immature adults rail against social authority like a spoiled teenager throwing a hissy fit after a parental punishment.
These sad souls are drunk on an illusion of freedom that is socially irresponsible.
Jay Wissot is a resident of Denver and Vail. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.