Health News and events

Your liberty doesn’t trump everyone else’s rights

Happy end of lockdown, Melbourne!

On a related note:

Last week Texan Republican senator Ted Cruz weighed into the news that the NT government will mandate vaccines for public-facing workers:

I heard similar sentiments from an Australian recently, in the context of Victoria’s vaccine mandates for permitted/essential on-site workers.

Here’s my view on this, if you want it.

This is one of those times when I think the Australian quality of looking after your mates is far more important than individual liberty.

Individual liberty has limits. Republican Texans might disagree, but your individual liberty doesn’t get to trample over the rights of everybody else.

You can’t drink and drive, and we in Australia have gun control. These limits on individual liberty are to protect everybody in society.

COVID-19 has killed millions worldwide, and there are multiple effective vaccines available that have been safely used by billions, including most Australians – noting that there are some people with legitimate medical reasons not to be vaccinated.

You can still choose not to have the vaccine. But that may mean you don’t get to fully participate in the society you don’t care about protecting.

That’s your choice – don’t blame anybody else for it.

NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner had his own response:

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

17 replies on “Your liberty doesn’t trump everyone else’s rights”

One of the weirdest things about this pandemic has been Americans protesting for my ‘rights’. We cannot deny the fact that the lockdowns in Melbourne have been hard for so many, but im so proud of the vast majority of us looking after each other.

While I have criticisms of certain aspects of covid policies that our state and federal governments had, I would rather be here than in the US anytime during this pandemic!

And for Ted Cruz (who’s being considered as a contender for 2024) to suggest we are “the Texas of the pacific”? Hell no! We aren’t even close to being anything like the US (thankfully) if anything I’d say we are the Canada of the pacific (in a good way).

Don’t Americans have better things to worry about instead of how other countries are handling Covid? Surely they could address the fact they have no universal healthcare system which played a big role in why so many Americans died, or the skyrocketing house prices across that country, or the prohibitive costs of going to Uni or TAFE?

I remember when travelling required a Small Pox vaccination, there were no arguments about personal liberty. Likewise hospital staff already need Hepatitis vaccination and have for years without and issues.

Did not see anyone care about the deaths and chaos influenza brought upon Victorians in 2017. Was Bowen preaching lockdowns when an 8 year old died? How about a 30 year old? Influenza in Victoria killed more younger people than Corona has for the whole of Australia in 2 years.

@Bobman. I see people trot out the ‘influenza has killed more people in Australia than…” all the time. We don’t have thousands of deaths precisely BECAUSE we have had lockdowns and social distancing – it makes those sets of stats completely redundant as an argument. I can accept that some people might legitimately argue that the cost of lockdowns outweighs the benefits (i don’t accept this argument, but i understand that it is subjective), but there are a myriad of examples around the world of countries with similar cultures/economies/health care systems around the world that it is very clear what the scale of human life loss would have been without lockdowns, and now without vaccinations.

@other Daniel B: I find it fascinating that in some countries, some medical staff have objected to COVID vaccinations. I wonder if that’ll happen here in any great numbers. Hope not.

@Bobman: I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Not necessarily related to the party but just my rant. I received my vaccine in March in China where I’m stranded, without a choice of their manufacturers, which happened not to be Sinovac. As I already have two doses on the record, the Chinese health authorities cannot give me another set of Sinovac jabs over concern of medical contradiction. So I’m not even given the option of complying with the requirement for the quarantine free entry into NSW.

I think the rhetoric uses the wrong words. There is no mandatory vaccination. Just like there are no mandatory driver’s licenses. Or MyKis (to keep on topic). But if you choose to drive, you need a license. You want to use PT, you need to pay. Sure, from a moral point of view, it feels mandatory given the wide ranging activities you can’t do without it. But it’s not. It’s a choice. Until such time as immunity is high enough that the unvaccinated are a manageable part of the population, they need to live with their choices. Nobody is forcing anything on anybody. Sure, they’re making it really difficult to make a certain decision compared to the other. But the same is true of driver’s licenses. And driving is essential for some people in order to earn money. And if the choice can with even the most non-negligible of risks, my opinion may be different. There is no mandate. That would contravene international law. Nobody is forcing needles into the arms of anybody. Participation is voluntary.

I don’t think he’s wrong about the tyranny of it. I am especially alarmed by the total disdain in Australia shown toward those protesting and challenging the ongoing State of Emergency. Those who enjoy the new laws and suspension of liberties should at least be grateful to those who don’t for pushing back and challenging and ensuring laws don’t get more and more restrictive. If no one pushes back, everyone loses.

@Louis C your entire argument starts from a point of falsehood, in which lies the problem (and funnily enough, the usual tactics of people who often argue this point).

Framing anyone who disagrees with protestors as people who “enjoy the new laws and suspension of liberties” is the falsehood to which I refer. Most people I know loathed and hated restrictions, and still are frustrated by the ones that remain post-lockdown (self included). Complying with them for the greater good does not equate to “enjoying” them, it just means that we’re aware that what we’re doing is likely saving a lot of people from getting sick and dying in the numbers we’ve seen in other countries.

Having restrictions and whatnot doesn’t serve the leaders/governments in Australia well anyway – if it did they’d be less accountable in the sense we wouldn’t see them front the press daily or fronting hearings at the corruption bodies in various states. They don’t want to have to do this, because it takes time away from them doing normal government business. It pisses their donors off (on both sides) too. I hate to be the one to tell you but they don’t want this pandemic any more than the rest of us.

If we’re talking about police tactics and response – an issue connected to (but largely separate from) the government, then I would tend to agree we have some issues around tactics and guidance. But none of it equates to tyranny.

I think one problem is people throw around the word tyranny far too easily.

Lockdowns are harsh, but done for a reason: public health. If you’re disputing the presence or severity of the virus, you only have to look overseas to see how it played out without those types of measures.

No government wants to shut down the economy. They love the tax revenue – and unless they’re going to completely subvert democracy and halt elections, in the end they want to keep people happy.

And no tyrannical government voluntarily lifts harsh measures like Victoria and NSW have just done. (And as Tim indicates, tyrannical governments don’t hold daily press conferences… though of course the conspiracy theorists think the media is in on it too.)

If Ted is going to claim that compulsory vaccines for certain workplaces or public settings is tyranny – what is the motivation of a government to do that? It’s not about exerting power over people, it’s a public health measure.

One can certainly debate the effectiveness of different measures, but I’d be far more concerned if our government cared so little for public health that they didn’t do anything to help keep people safe.

This is the internet so I won’t bother saying anything more than: I appreciate your view, but I think you undervalue liberty and personal responsibility…

Even as a privileged person lockdown was not easy. It must have been so hard for so many. Lockdown was for my good and the good of the community. We had a couple of warm days recently and it is not easy to breath through a mask when you are old and taking exercise. I’ve always thought that if I can do it, then younger people can too. It is not nice. Some things in life aren’t nice.

Frankly I will call the unvaccinated idiots, or need sympathy, understanding and treatment for their mental health issues, but they have no right to endanger my health and the general health of society because of their stupidity about being vaccinated against a terrible disease that they may pass on to me or others. I got me rights too.

@TimP, personal responsibility works for many things. But It doesn’t work for a virus that someone may not know that they have caught and are spreading to others.

I completely disagree with you. “You can still choose not to have the vaccine. But that may mean you don’t get to fully participate in the society you don’t care about protecting.” This is such a perverted, emotional and fundamentally selfish view to take. Who are you to tell anyone they need to give up their bodily autonomy to protect you? That’s NOT YOUR right. Your health is a personal responsibility and you have every right to take steps to protect yourself whether it be via vaccination or some other means (like staying home) BUT that doesn’t and cannot involve removing someone else’s right to freedom. The sheer glee that you and others have in taking some kind of moral high ground about protecting others is grossly misplaced and overstated.

To claim that wanting to protect everyone from a deadly virus is “selfish” is an interesting view.

I’m glad the majority of Australians are willing to get vaccinated, and that those who refuse are in the minority.

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