Photo: Excelsior Pass, via New York governor's office.

The rightwing rage-pouts about "vaccine passports" continue apace, with Republicans in Florida, Nebraska, Missouri, Ohio, and elsewhere rumbling about banning businesses from requiring customers to show they're fully vaccinated if they want to dine inside or otherwise do stuff that might be riskier if unvaccinated. As Yr Wonkette has previously noted, a lot of culture warriors think this is an excellent opportunity to cry about how requiring people to show they aren't a health threat to others is exactly like Hitler. As everyone knows, the Nazis were really big on making people wear yellow stars so they could eat at McHitlers.

Since the Biden administration has made clear it's not planning to require any kind of vaccination certification, or even build a central database for that purpose, any such scheme is likely to come either from state governments or from private businesses. That's led to goofy goober Marjorie Taylor Greene denouncing the idea of private businesses only opening up to the fully vaccinated as "corporate communism," because words mean nothing anymore.

Oh, and also, those wacky state Libertarian Party people are at it again.

That one's a real doozy, since until the moment this cumdribble clicked "tweet," Libertarians were ready to defend to the death the sacred right of businesses to discriminate against anyone they want to, as long as they're just discriminating on the basis of sex or race.


So where are we on these passports, even? The state of New York last week released the first state-supported app, called "Excelsior Pass," and Hawaii is close to requiring proof of full vaccination for travelers to the state, which is a lot easier since people can't just drive in. ("Bojack Horseman" lied to us about there being a bridge.) A couple of outfits are setting up passport systems in Las Vegas, too, but so far no casinos or other major businesses have yet announced plans to limit access to folks who've had their shots. We're all for it, especially if they make sure gamblers have been vaccinated for distemper and rabies.

The American Prospect's David Dayen makes a pretty compelling case for vaccine passports, which he notes wouldn't have to be particularly high-tech at all: You could just laminate your vaccination card, for instance (although archivists wish you wouldn't, since lamination plays hell on documents and makes them harder for future researchers to use). As he points out, we're at a weird point in the pandemic: Even as more and more Americans are getting vaccinated, we're also likely on the verge of a new wave of infections, particularly from the B.1.1.7 variant, which is especially nasty.

But thanks to the vaccines, we also have "a large and growing segment of the population that doesn't need to be locked down, that can return to mostly normal activities without fear." So while we work on getting as much of the population vaccinated as possible, it makes a lot of sense that people who have been vaccinated not have to face another lockdown, which we haven't really done here anyway. And if "everyone in a theater or bar is vaccinated, based on the latest science they won't be transmitting the virus to each other, and therefore not to the rest of the people they encounter once they leave."

For that matter, Dayen asks, would a passport absolutely have to be technological at all?

Everyone vaccinated gets a card with a record of their shots. Just laminate that and we're good to go. Yes, they can be forged, but the reality is that very few people, relatively speaking, will go through that trouble. If it takes that much effort to sit down in a McDonald's, you'll probably go to the drive-thru.

Whatever shape passports take, he says, the point is that while we work on building up herd immunity through vaccinations, a passport system

allows businesses to reopen and workers to return safely to cater to a large population of the vaccinated. It's completely legal and less intrusive than a vaccine mandate, which would also be legal.

The other option right now is a mass lockdown, which is actually far more inequitable for essential workers that are disproportionately people of color, and the overwhelming majority of seniors who now have the ability to go about their lives.

That, Dayen argues, is a far better conception of freedom than the rightwing worry that vaccine passports would result in totalitarianism.

And for all Gov. Ron DeSantis's bluster about never ever ever allowing vaccine passports in Florida, The Atlantic's David Frum notes that DeSantis hasn't said a peep about the Miami Heat sportsball team's plans, starting today, to allow only vaccinated customers into special sections of their arena, where they can cheer and drink and carry on without masks or social distancing.

DeSantis is not stopping that. And if DeSantis will not force the Heat to drop its rules, how much less likely is he to battle mighty Disney if it decides that a vaccination policy will speed the recovery of its business?

But the point is not to win the fight, or even really to fight the fight. The point is to announce the fight, and to keep raging about it, even if you do not in fact fight it very hard.

Frum's thinky-piece about vaccine passports is very much worth using one of your monthly free reads; he notes that in the post-Trump GOP, a lot of stuff Republicans used to say they cared about have been thrown overboard for the sake of endless culture war. Frum argues that, where Republicans used to consider business and property rights sacrosanct, post-Trump Goops' "version of freedom puts greater priority on right-wing cultural folkways than on rights of property and ownership."

You, a business, want to put limits on my ability to come in and breathe on you? Or to carry an AR-15? Or to spout nonsense on your privately owned social media platform? NO FAIR, that is COMMUNISM. And as many practitioners of the politics of trolling know damn well, it's all about making the base know their anger is shared — not that Republican pols will actually do anything, because often they can't, or won't. In February, DeSantis proposed a state "Transparency in Technology" law so he could threaten tech companies for banning great Americans like Donald Trump, but DeSantis knows damn well that tech platforms can't be held accountable to state laws anyway. DeSantis's little bill, Frum says, is "legal vaporware—a press release, not a law."

Even Greene's weird "corporate communism" makes a kind of sense, Frum says:

It sounded crazy. But if you understand that she interprets communism to mean "any interference in the right of people like me to do whatever we want, regardless of the rights of others" — then, yeah, the property rights of corporations will indeed look to her like a force of communism.

A sizable minority of Americans want to use airplanes belonging to others, theme parks belonging to others, sports stadiums belonging to others—without concession to the health of others or the property rights of owners. With guns, with COVID-19, with tech, the new post-Trump message from the post-Trump GOP is: Private property is socialism; state expropriation is freedom. It's a strange doctrine for a party supposedly committed to liberty and the Constitution, but here we are.

And indeed, it means that businesses who want to serve vaccinated patrons are also Bull Connor now.

[American Prospect / Atlantic / USA Today / Vox]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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