Wow, The Federalist's Ben Domenech Really Makes Some Excellent Points About Vaccine Mandates

coronavirus

If there is one thing I feel strongly about, it is giving people credit when they are right, even if they are a person who is normally wrong about things. In fact, especially if they are a person who is usually wrong about things. As much as I get the bitterness about not wanting to give people cookies for basic human decency, I am happy to give out all of the cookies on earth if it makes people better.

And I would like to dole out a dozen cookies to Ben Domenech for his wise and cogent statements about vaccines and vaccine mandates. Honestly, I'm just so very impressed. Let's take a look at some of these very fine quotes from his article in The Federalist titled "The Insane Vaccine Debate," shall we?


  • [V]accination is not about protecting the vaccinated so much as it is about protecting others from disease-carriers. Vaccines are properly understood not on the basis of narrow self-interest but as a defense of the human species.
  • Fundamentally, the protection against life-threatening plague is one of the original reasons government exists.
  • We've had mandatory vaccines for schoolchildren in America since before the Emancipation Proclamation. The Supreme Court has upheld that practice as constitutional for over a century, and only the political fringes believe there ought to be a debate about such matters. This is one of the few areas where government necessarily exercises power.
  • [C]onceding that parents have the right to delay these shots is not the same as saying they should have the right to prevent such vaccination altogether without consequences.
  • If you choose not to vaccinate, private and public institutions should be able to discriminate on that basis. Disneyland should be able to require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry, and so should public schools.
  • You shouldn't be compelled to vaccinate your child, but neither should the rest of us be compelled to pretend like you did.

I've just gotta pause here because wow that is just what I was saying earlier today. The unvaccinated want to enjoy the benefits and the freedom of being vaccinated without getting vaccinated themselves, and that's just not right. It's not fair to the rest of us who did the responsible thing and got vaccinated.

  • If the decline in [...] vaccination continues, perhaps the federal government could take the step of making access to the child tax credit contingent upon vaccination. If we're going to have redistributive social engineering in the tax code, it may as well be for children who aren't carrying disease around Disneyland.

That is certainly an idea!

Domenech also shared a very interesting quote from Richard Epstein, writing for the rightwing think tank The Hoover Institute, noting that it is the government's responsibility to protect citizens from communicable disease in this manner, as citizens have no other legal recourse against those who infect them with communicable diseases:

The basic soundness of the constitutional recognition of a police power to deal with communicable diseases is beyond dispute. Even in a free state, quarantines are the only reliable remedy to protect the health of the public at large from the spread of disease. It is sheer fantasy to think that individuals made ill could bring private lawsuits for damages against the parties that infected them, or that persons exposed to imminent risk could obtain injunctive relief against the scores of persons who threaten to transmit disease. The transmission of disease involves hidden and complex interconnections between persons that could not be detected in litigation, even assuming that it could be brought in time, which it cannot.

He also shared another quote from a conservative thinker, writing for Reason magazine, bolding mine:

Oliver Wendell Holmes articulated a good libertarian principle when he said, "The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins." [...]

Some people object to applying Holmes' aphorism by arguing that aggression can only occur when someone intends to hit someone else; microbes just happen. However, being intentionally unvaccinated against highly contagious airborne diseases is, to extend the metaphor, like walking down a street randomly swinging your fists without warning. You may not hit an innocent bystander, but you've substantially increased the chances. Those harmed by the irresponsibility of the unvaccinated are not being accorded the inherent equal dignity and rights every individual possesses. The autonomy of the unvaccinated is trumping the autonomy of those they put at risk.

Wow, again, those are just some really great points. Isn't it nice when we can find common ground?

Unfortunately, all of these quotes are from an article Domenech wrote during a measles outbreak in 2015, when he associated anti-vaxxers with the Left, noting that "i]t's telling that refusing to get your kids vaccinated is the trendy thing among the California elite, even as they decline to embrace other aspects of the Amish lifestyle." All of them are just as true today as when he wrote them six years ago — the only thing that has changed is Domenech himself, who now frequently claims that vaccine passports, like the one he suggested one might use at Disneyland, "are a violation of individual freedom and a dangerous privacy risk regardless of the entity mandating their use."

Oddly enough, Domenech now claims that that there is no discrepancy between what he believed then about vaccines and what he believes now, but that the Biden administration is doing something totally different from what he was talking about. Sadly, only noted scooter anthropologist Robby Soave was able to distinguish the difference.

Domenech is now trying to make the case that the difference is that it is one thing for public or private institutions to require vaccine passports, but another for public institutions to compel private institutions to require them. This might be a point if the Biden administration were doing that, but they are not. The only workers required to get a mandate in order to keep their jobs are federal workers or those who work for federal contractors that are free to give up their federal contracts should they prefer not to comply with that rule. Other companies with more than 100 employees are simply required to test unvaccinated employees every week, which seems like a fairly reasonable request when we are talking about a virus that kills people — and people can skip that weekly testing if they are vaccinated.

There is no universe in which someone capable of understanding why vaccines are necessary and why the government has a compelling interest in protecting people from communicable diseases cannot understand why these measures are necessary. For someone like Domenech, opposition to these measures has more to do with being a team player for the Right than any sincerely held belief he might have about anything. It would be lovely if he could at least be as consistent with his support of vaccines as his wife is in supporting a woman who funded her glam squad with money she and her husband stole from burn victims, but alas, he is clearly not that evolved yet.

[The Federalist]

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse

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