Turning COVID-19 and vaccinations into political issues has made for some weird sights and sounds over the past two years.
Politicians and voters on the left normally believe individuals' rights are paramount over the majority and social norms, while those on the right traditionally blame the rise of individuals' rights (as formalized in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms here in Canada) for the erosion of tradition, excessively rapid social change and the division that has come with it.
COVID has upended that generalization. The centre-left now have no problem with vaccine mandates and oppressing the rights of a minority opposed to vaccinations for a variety of valid reasons while the centre-right are suddenly standing up for protecting individuals from the oppression of governments and the majority.
John Horgan, Justin Trudeau and their supporters should have been the ones demanding protection of the rights of people unwilling to be unvaccinated while Erin O’Toole, Jason Kenney and Doug Ford should have been the ones calling out people who won’t get the shot as selfish wimps.
Clearly, COVID hasn’t just changed social interactions, it’s destroyed any sense of irony.
Here in warped COVIDland, anti-vaxxers shamelessly adopt the pro-choice slogan of “my body, my choice,” conveniently ignoring the fact that nobody is going to get a highly contagious and potentially fatal disease from spending time with women who have had an abortion or the doctors and nurses who provided that service. Meanwhile, the vax crowd seem to have no issue with public shaming and social media trolling anti-vaxxers, using the same tactics they say are dangerous and unethical.
The political leaders and public health officials have made – and continue to make – mistakes through this crisis. Masks weren’t recommended in the spring of 2020, now they’re required to enter any public space. It’s now painfully obvious that the COVID-19 vaccines are more effective at preventing people from dying or getting seriously sick than they are at stopping people from getting COVID. Congregating in shopping malls and hockey arenas is OK but attending religious services isn’t? Having thousands of people under one roof to watch professional sports is OK but it’s not for the performing arts? Preaching transparency while withholding community data on infection and transmission rates is also a doozy.
That’s just human error or incompetence, depending on perspective. So how does one take the leap from all the politicians and doctors are stupid beyond belief to somehow being convinced they’re all clever enough to secretly work in cahoots to take over the world? Good question for the next person who sends you an email or text with a link to “what’s really going on.”
There is one thing, however, that hasn’t changed. Whatever individual choices we make as adults always come with consequences we must bear, regardless of whether those consequences were foreseen or not, are fair or not.
That’s not COVID, that’s life.