Letter: Freedom Is a Group Project


By Joe Draper


Please think long and hard before you brush off masks and vaccines as personal choices. Hairstyle is a personal choice. Diet is a personal choice. Whether or not to wear sunglasses is a personal choice. Having children is a personal choice. Driving at night with your headlights off is not a personal choice. Tax evasion is not a personal choice. Bringing fireworks onto an airplane is not a personal choice. Endangering other people, regardless of intention, is not a personal choice. Your right to throw a punch ends where someone else’s face begins.

Enjoying the benefits of civilized society entails accepting reasonable limitations to your personal freedom. Your individual decision not to wear a mask or to skip the vaccine affects everyone. When you allow your body to be an incubator for a deadly and rapidly mutating virus or needlessly take up an ICU bed, you’re prioritizing your right to be irrational and obstinate over the broader rights of your friends, family and neighbors to be safe.

I understand that using the words irrational and obstinate is confrontational, but I believe that we have crossed the Rubicon and that we need to call these conspiracies what they are — crazy.

There is essentially no disagreement among qualified experts as to the efficacy and safety of masks and vaccines. The scientific consensus is clear. Any genuine confusion or concern regarding the efficacy and safety of the vaccine is rooted in a refusal to look for information in the right places. If you’ve watched a few videos on YouTube or Facebook and have decided that the CDC, doctors and researchers are all engaged in some effort to hurt you, you are being irrational. If this irrationality is motivating you to skip the vaccine, shut down school board meetings and spread disinformation, you are being obstinate.

We’re playing an aggressively optional and incredibly stupid game with incomprehensible high stakes. Fortunately, the debate surrounding mandates is slightly saner. Even among some who accept the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, skepticism exists surrounding whether or not it is appropriate for the government to mandate it. I think that it is.

It’s important to remember that government agents will never break down your door and pin you down while they inject you — fantasies in this vain approach Alex Jones levels of absurdity. Vaccine mandates simply mean that if you refuse to take the vaccine, your access to certain spaces and activities will be limited to protect the public. Given that the downsides of receiving the vaccine are statistically negligible, I believe that the government is well within its rights to require it in certain situations.

No one is intrinsically interested in controlling you. Please don’t flatter yourself into seeing conspiracies around every corner. While I accept that large pharmaceutical companies do shady things, remember that the profit motive dictates that this vaccine be perfectly safe and effective. If it made you magnetic, Pfizer wouldn’t be able to sell as many doses. It is in their best interest to make a safe and effective vaccine.

All this aside, if the logical extension of your idea of freedom is anarchy — line-item veto power over laws that you don’t like — you are not a constructive member of your society. Freedom to should not overrule freedom from. We’re free from innumerable societal ills like pandemics, conflicts and other dangers because we’ve all agreed to accept reasonable limits to our personal freedom.

Think about the big picture and do your part to make your community safe and healthy.


— Joe Draper, University of Utah student

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