I’ve held off for about as long as I can from commentary on the silliness of the useless mask and vaccine debate that, until Afghanistan took over, had dominated the news cycle for months and has been almost completely devoid of common sense.
Here is where I am: Certain coercive measures in the interest of public health can be justified, but our presumption and basic instincts should be against them. Those who refuse to be vaccinated for COVID are primarily risking their own health, so government should not require private citizens to get the shots. With the military and public health care institutions it’s different–the government can and should require it because the health of members of the armed forces and health care workers is its direct concern. Private employers have the right and often good reason, as with cruise ships for example, to make vaccination required for passengers and as a condition of employment. Government mask mandates do not seem to be justified, but banning these mandates is a step too far, as has been recognized by a federal judge in Florida who recently ruled that Gov. DeSantis overstepped his authority when he banned mandates. And, in some of the most intense debates on the issue around the country it seems to me that, in the interest of subsidiarity, school districts through their elected boards should be allowed to make their own decisions on mask policies rather than forbid them from instituting requirements.
What we have here essentially is an issue and a debate that has become almost completely entangled with political identity in this deeply divided culture and is in need of a large dose of forbearance on both sides.