LETTERS: Freedom has many meanings

To the editor:

I am writing to you today to address the tone of discourse online when the subject of COVID-19 is mentioned in any way.

I have two concerns. One is that some people are horribly misinformed, endangering their own health and the health of their loved ones. Another is that loud, rude insistence on “being heard” makes others cower in fear of confrontation. My larger concern is that this is the intended effect.

On the information front, millions have received the vaccine and there has been no high incidence of side effects. Vaccinations have a long history of eradicating deadly diseases without a high incidence of side effects, and the COVID vaccines continue that history in spectacular fashion. Republicans such as former President Donald Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have both encouraged everyone to get vaccinated. This is not a partisan issue.

For those who say “but vaccinated people still catch COVID,” I would point out that those people overwhelmingly do not end up hospitalized. They can manage their symptoms at home. Where there has been a vast deluge of hospitalizations, those are the same areas where vaccination rates are low.

On the “personal freedom” front, I completely agree that nobody should be forced to be vaccinated. However, employers have labor rules to follow and they are subject to litigation for failing to maintain a safe workplace. They have every right, reason and incentive to conclude that vaccinations are safe and effective, and to insist that their employees get vaccinated. In other words, if you defend personal freedom, then defend the rights of these businesses to make health and safety related decisions for themselves.

Freedom is a term that can be applied in many different ways. Would we be a free nation without a mandatory draft? We sacrifice individual freedom every day in many ways to keep our nation free and to preserve the common good, and if anyone has missed the connection between a runaway virus and a threat to freedom, I’d be happy to discuss it with you.

Behaving in the common good is what keeps us all free.

Thank you.

Walt Bennett,
South China


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