We often hear that our constitutional freedoms preclude us from having to wear masks or be vaccinated if we choose not to (e.g. Philip Catron’s  Aug. 23 letter, Gov. Hogan's divisiveness continues). I do not believe this understanding of our personal liberties is correct.

First, let me say, I am a conservative as understood by Edmund Burke, John Locke, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Disraeli, Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, Robert Dole, John McCain, George Will, David Brooks, William Buckley and Charles Krauthammer. The dogma of personal freedom trumping everything is libertarianism, a political philosophy in its own right. Donald Trump is not a “conservative.” I do not believe his approach to governing is a recognized political philosophy with a formal name, as yet.

While I do not dispute anyone’s constitutional right, neither do I not recognize a right to allow others’ nonsense to jeopardize my health. And, while I understand they believe in what they are saying and doing, and do not think it is nonsense, I similarly believe that masking and vaccination protect us all. So, why should I subordinate my opinion to theirs? As an individual you may have some peculiar right to jeopardize your life by drinking alcohol to excess and speeding. However, if you do it, you also jeopardize the lives of people who choose not to drink and speed, so we don’t allow it. So, it should be with masks and vaccinations.

In fact, our Declaration of Independence and Constitution do not place personal liberty at the pinnacle of our rights. The Declaration of Independence and Constitution are derived from enlightenment thinking which recognize that absolute freedom is the “war of every man upon every man." (Thomas Hobbes). Therefore, Rousseau wrote in his thoughts on the “Social Contract” that even though in a state of nature man is perfectly free, we voluntarily give up some freedom to the state to secure for ourselves the blessings of order and the protection of the state.

John Locke distilled this to simply saying that compliance with the law is necessary for men to be free. Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton, Madison and other American patriots were fully versed in enlightenment thinking and expressed it in practical terms in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Individual liberties are specifically enumerated in the Bill of Rights, an appendix to the Constitution. The Constitution is not a blanket endorsement of license to do exactly as we please without regard for the consequences to others. In fact, if patriotism is, as liberals assert, a conservative value, what better expression of patriotism could there be than concern for fellow citizens' health and attempting to protect it?

Expressed more succinctly: “just get the damn vaccine.”

(37) comments

MrSniper

Allowing people to opt out of medical procedures is the price paid for living in a free society. Freedom isn’t free.

NewMarketParent

@MrSniper

The problem is that the cost of that freedom is that you don't engage the medical establishment when you are gasping for your last breath.

The people that want all of that "Freedumb" don't stick to their guns when they get sick.

If you want to avoid a life saving vaccine because of "Freedumb", then by all means. Also, don't come back here begging to be saved because of "Freedumb".

If you are going to live by a code, F'ing live by it.

MrSniper

Should someone who attempts suicide be refused medical care because of their choice? How about an obese person who has made a lifetime of bad choices? What about a reckless driver that smashes their vehicle into an innocent? There is already a system in place to determine who gets treatment when care is limited. It’s called triage & all first year medical students learn about it as part of their medical ethics indoctrination. Thank goodness people like you aren’t part of the process deciding who “deserves” medical care.

phydeaux994

There are hundreds, no thousands of Laws, Mandates, Rules, etc., that restrict our personal freedoms to save others from us or us from ourselves. Vaccinations are already required for kids to enter school, to travel overseas, whatever. These “gummint can’t tell me what to do, I woke up in a free Country this morning” idiots are just that…idiots.

mamlukman

Let me know when you run for office. You've got my vote.

gabrielshorn2013

Great letter, except for the comment about Libertarians. People trying to hide their cowardice by proclaiming "personal liberties" are not Libertarians. They're cowards, using the "I don't want to, and you can't make me" adolescent philosophy. Patriotism is being willing to sacrifice for your country. This Libertarian participated in a clinical trial for one vaccine, and got the actual jabs (Pfizer/BioNTech) when it was available to me. We can alleviate ignorance with education, and assuage fear with courage, but there is no fixing stupid. As the LTE writer said "just get the damned vaccine".

Awteam2021

👍👍👍

Piedmontgardener

Superbly written - but this will fly over the heads of the MAGA folks, they aren't conservative in any way, shape or form, they are reactionary, deliberately ignorant and prefer superstition to scientific fact. What they "feel" rules them as does directed propaganda that they consume like junk food. They have a believe that America is should be a theocracy run by them. As a former Republican, I'm aghast at what my former party has become.

NewMarketParent

@Piedmongardener

At this point MAGA is fascism sneaking in under the guise of conservatism. At some point though there doesn't seem to be any way of telling the two apart because it has warped modern conservatism into full-blown fascism.

bnick467

These are the same people who are having a meltdown over teaching history in public schools. They not only choose to be ignorant, they are also fighting to keep their children ignorant.

Reader

Everyone has the right to make health decisions for themselves, based on their own risk factors. If it's not right for someone, they have the option to decline a vaccine and should not be bullied or shamed by proclamations that public health should be considered above personal health.

LAR1

Yes, everyone has the right to make their own health decisions unless those decisions could jeopardize the health of others. It does not matter if a person does not take their diabetes medicine but it does matter if that person is not taking readily available steps to prevent getting an infectious disease and spreading it to others, making them sick.

Agreed everyone does have the right to make health decision for themselves...based on their own risk factors..agree with that too, however if your health decisions affect my health decisions then whose health decisions are the correct health decisions?

Remember when we thought smoking was healthy for you? Then it was discovered that smoking wasn't healthy for you nor the person that was forced to breath in your second hand smoke...so smoking was banned in most public spaces, public transportation etc. because us non-smokers should not have to suffer the effects of your health decision to smoke. As a society we came to the decision that smokers cannot force their health decision to smoke onto the rest of us, because it affects the rest of us. Nowadays if someone makes the health decision to smoke they are pretty much shunned in society, if you choose not to get the covid-vaccine you should be shunned, you should not be allowed to participate in society because you are forcing your health decision not to get vaccinated onto the rest of us.

Why as a society should we be forced to breathe in your second hand virus that can and will kill us? Just like breathing in 2nd hand smoke can and will kill you...tell me what is the difference?

shiftless88

Everyone has the right to make drinking and driving decisions for themselves, based on their own risk factors. If it's not right for someone, they have the option to call an Uber and should not be bullied or shamed by proclamations that sober driving should be considered above personal transportation interests. ----there, fixed it for you

NewMarketParent

@Reader

The problem is that it isn't only their health. If they wanted to go off in the corner and die somewhere, that is their right.

What is actually happening is that they are refusing to protect their fellow countrymen and the most vulnerable in society. That is the pinnacle of selfishness. Don't paint it as anything other than window-dressing on unbridled selfishness paired up with Dunning Kruger. There is nothing about that behavior that has any redeemable qualities at all.

These people are jamming up the public good (hospitals) with their poor life choices and making us all pay for their stupidity and lack of judgement. They are causing unnecessary pain and anguish to medical staff (who they infect) and people seeking legitimate medical treatment by taking up resources. They are the main reason why our hospital system (in general) is closer to collapse than it ever has been.

phydeaux994

The vaccines are no more risky than any other medicine you take all the time. An adverse reaction to anything can kill you. Bee stings, peanuts, Coca Cola (our youngest daughter), shellfish, get vaccinated wear a mask avoid crowds

BigAl

Do they also have the right to keep large wild animals in their townhouse or carry automatic weapons?

olefool

Except women... Old white preachers and politicians decide for them.. Go figure....

Dwasserba

Such a dignified letter. Like a grownup might write.

Piedmontgardener

The difference between this and the supposed conservative rhetoric of Abbot, Desantis and Cruz is astounding.

Awteam2021

“Donald Trump is not a “conservative.”” He has no ideology but Trump.

American Conservatism has been hijacked by ‘White Nationalism’, buffoonery, and Trumped- up tattooed maniacs at Carni rally events. Fortunately conservatism isn’t dead but finding its way (like Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger ). The Trump cult stormed the Capitol on 1/6. Those criminals had no clue what conservatism is or cared to know.

Hello, that’s not a conservatism. That’s out right anarchism, a cult following.

Boyce Rensberger

Kudos to the editor for selecting a well reasoned and well written letter. I feel the same way about the other letter on this page as well.

veritas

The Rensberger Seal of Approval. Doesn't get any better than that!

NewMarketParent

This article is basically indirectly mentioning the idea that we all have a social contract that we need to honor.

threecents

[thumbup]NMP, Whether it says it in the constitution or not, we have a responsibility not to hurt each other if it can reasonably be avoided.

LAR1

Good LTE except the writer uses “man” and thereby excludes women. Perhaps the use of “people” would be more inclusive. For this who disagree, remember the Constitution and other founding documents wrote about rights for males and did not apply them to females, who continued to have very few rights and freedoms.

pdl603

Perhaps the administration should be giving ‘the shot’ to all the infected aliens flooding across our southern border before relocating to different states.

public-redux

Despite your insinuation, Phil Catron is not an alien who came across the southern border. So he wouldn’t have gotten vaccinated that way.

olefool

You got the "shots" piddle, so why all the blather about others getting them???

pdl603

I believe dulltool that the J&J was a single dose. You’d have to do J&J because like their immigration hearings there is a reasonable chance they won’t show up for the second. Make sense to you?

olefool

;olswkpouaflihqprouijp90qr8ujoifqp[ia[R[0QI.... Ther4e piddle, that should clear it up for you. So you took the J&J???

gabrielshorn2013

Sorry pdl603, you stretched that argument beyond the modulus of elasticity. Apples and bowling balls come to mind.

Brookhawk

Those who do not get vaccinated help the virus continue by providing it hosts to inhabit and mutate, that's why.

NewMarketParent

@PDL

I am just going to refer to you as "BS Fountain" from now on, because that is all you spew.

@NMP

Have you watched Solar Opposites on Hulu? I could see Korvo making a BS fountain and Yumyulack would no doubt put PDL in the wall.

NewMarketParent

@Polite W. Woman aka N.W. aka P.P. aka L&M

I absolutely love that show.

Vegas...vegas.

shiftless88

Classic deflection by piddle because he/she knows the logic of the LTE is unassailable.

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