Wearing a mask or receiving a Covid19 vaccination is a “personal decision,” we are told in tones that imply it is some cosmic truth.
It is not.
Perhaps the decision is a personal one, but it is not an unfettered one. Society regularly regulates personal behavior that can harm others. There seems to be little justification for exempting those who choose not to wear a mask or to be vaccinated from the same kind of consideration.
For instance, a person may spend the afternoon drinking margaritas before driving home, a personal choice. The potential harm to others, though, is enough for society to penalize that behavior. The intoxicated driver might make it home safely (without getting caught); the unmasked, unvaccinated person might not contract Covid-19. The intoxicated driver might kill someone on his way home. The unmasked, unvaccinated person might contract the virus and spread it to vulnerable people, some of whom might die.
The intoxicated driver who causes death would be punished. The unmasked, unvaccinated person who spreads the virus and causes deaths would not. Yet the victims in each case would be equally dead as the result of someone’s personal decision.
Anatole France observed, “If a million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing. More than a million people are saying foolish things about masks and vaccinations. Many of them fancy themselves leaders. They are not.