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Editorial: On the ethics of liberty and safety
The events of the past week have left quite a few people on unsettled footing as far as their job and basic livelihood goes. While much of my audience probably does not agree, a president issuing a weird sort of federal mandate requiring all federal employees to be vaccinated just screams totalitarian regime. When people seek me out and say, “time to write something that matters to the student body,” then it is time to write just that.
First, let’s talk about this “executive mandate” for federal employers. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go inform yourself, because this stuff is so, so important. If you do know what I’m talking about, then here is a fairly obvious statement: It directly violates basic human rights. I think the past two years have made it clear most federal politicians do not care about said human rights. And yet, it doesn’t surprise me that an entire roomful of people that can’t sit quietly and respectfully through a convocation about the Kansas State Constitution would think that there is anything wrong with this.
My point is that this “mandate” (like the others) is not in the enumerated powers of the president (See Article II of the U.S. Constitution). Nor is it an enumerated power delegated to the general government. Only Congress can make laws, and those laws must be pursuant to the U.S. Constitution. Otherwise, it is in the hands of individual states (See Amendment X of the U.S. Constitution), and I am so proud of those that are standing up to protect their people. Additionally, no general government official can violate a state’s constitution. The Kansas State Constitution both protects religious liberty/religious exemption (Amendment VII) and cites citizens as the ultimate source of authority (Amendment II).
It is imperative that citizens keep their power. What is sacrificed now, will require a lot of fight to get back. I would rather not have to fight, thank you very much.
Now that this groundwork is laid, Bethel students might be thinking: “Why does this matter?”
While no one can make you take a vaccine, the school accepts federal funding. Your “private” institution takes so much money from the federal government that it’s likely the administration will feel pressured to force all student and faculty workers to vaccinate, test weekly, or lose their jobs.
If you thought this could never be a reality, think again.
As far as exemptions go, I’m at a loss as to why they are suddenly not a “good enough” reason to get this vaccine. Know that if anything about this vaccine is against your religious, medical, philosophical or any other conditions and convictions, you are more than entitled to a “no.” As for employers, it is not within the federal government’s power or right to make you enforce this mandate or refuse exemptions. You can and should grant your employees exemptions. Also, it is important to note that you will have to pay your employees Workman’s Compensation and can be sued in the event of adverse reactions.
Exemptions are important because they are foundational to values, to personal experience, and to critical thinking skills. I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered a time in my life when people were so quick to discredit and dismiss others’ incredibly legitimate perspectives. It’s honestly horrifying and the complete antithesis to one of the primary focuses in my Bethel humanities courses: Empathy.
Here’s a thought: Once a vaccine is mandated and everyone has taken it (willingly or unwillingly) regardless of medical, philosophical, or religious exemptions, who gets to pick up the pieces? Who takes the liability for the damage done? Who gets to decide what other medical procedures are mandated?
I apologize for my bluntness, but who gets to decide? If this moves forward, it will probably not be you.
Recently, a professor of ethics in Canada was told that she must vaccinate. Her decision? She chose to educate her students one last time on the power of ethical decision making and personal choice before her university fired her and banned her from campus. The video of her final class was then censored from Youtube. I understand it is within human nature to want to control what we think we can control, but sometimes that is not the ethical decision to make. You cannot force one medical procedure and not expect it to spiral out of control from there.
The point of this editorial is not to argue about the effectiveness of vaccines, hospital procedures, alternative remedies and natural immunity. That’s not the point of this editorial. The point is to make you think about how much we have compromised as a society. Let us not compromise any more, for the love of all things good and holy.
As a parting note, one of the most profound quotes of the founding era comes from Benjamin Franklin. He said "Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety," which to me is a very clearly defined statement despite a difference in context. For those who call these words irrelevant in the twenty-first century, I don’t really care. Franklin’s statement rings truer now than it did two hundred and fifty years ago; the ability to choose a medical procedure rather than have it forced upon you is one of these liberties. Would you sacrifice that for temporary security?