One wag replied to me that “tolerance isn’t a virtue.” And, indeed, he had a point. Most people who aren’t vaccinated aren’t the right wing crazies and conspiracy theorists, but ordinary people who harbor sincere fears and concerns. There are a not-insignificant number of physicians and nurses who have chosen not to be vaccinated. The New York Times recently noted that only 28% of people between the ages of 18 and 44 are vaccinated.
Their reasons vary from concerns about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine to more idiosyncratic views.
A construction site safety manager in Queens said that as a Black man, he was more worried about the prospect of being stopped by the police than he was about getting Covid-19.
A graduate student in the Bronx who had not gotten vaccinated said her worst fears seemed confirmed when a vaccine that the government was directing to Black and poorer neighborhoods was briefly suspended over a small number of dangerous blood clots.
And a civil rights activist in the Bronx said he grew suspicious when he heard last year that politicians were prioritizing minority neighborhoods for coronavirus vaccinations.
“Since when does America give anything good to Black people first?” said the activist, Hawk Newsome, a 44-year-old Black Lives Matter leader who is unvaccinated.
While these views may be wrong and foolish, are they not sincere? These aren’t people who don’t necessarily care about the health of others. There is nothing here to suggest they won’t wear masks or socially distance since they’re unvaccinated. But while the media has created the impression that the only people not being vaccinated are right-wing nutjobs, the reality is that most unvaccinated people are neither right wing nor nutjobs. They have what they consider to be sincere reasons for their decisions.
Tolerance isn't about people you favor or agree with you, but people you don't like and who don't agree with you.
If you can't respect disagreement, you are intolerant.
— Scott Greenfield (@ScottGreenfield) August 14, 2021
Some felt the need to state the obvious, that the decision not to get vaccinated didn’t alleviate the duty not to infect others, and they should still mask and socially distance. Others ironically assumed the worst of others.*
Instead of trying to respect their concerns and persuade them to accept the safety and efficacy of the vaccines, or in the alternative take the reasonable precautions to protect others if they choose to adhere to their choice, they are attacked. Even worse, they are under attack by idiots, whether because they assume that anyone who isn’t vaccinated must be some MAGA wacko or their capacity for reason falls slightly below that of a pebble.
I don’t go around pissing on strangers, but I respect the sincere reasons some have decided to whip out their dicks on the sidewalk and piss on perfect strangers.
Too many can’t respect anyone who practices public incontinence. This doesn’t work.
A less bizarre effort that emerged was analogizing the decision not to be vaccinated with drunk driving, seat belts and stop signs. The analogy might be apt as to those who assert their “freedom,” but fails miserably for those who have sincere concerns that the vaccine is inadequately tested and fear harm. Driving sober doesn’t implicate a concern that it will damage you or your unborn child, even if that concern is wrong and without scientific basis.
But the issue morphed from assumptive intolerance for those who had a sincere reason to choose not to be vaccinated to the more generalized notion that tolerance itself was the evil.**
The irony of “I believe in the public good and anyone who disagrees with me should die” shouldn’t be lost. There is a strong sense of this among the woke, and particularly with baby lawyers who should have been trained to reason. While some might come around to a deeper or more mature grasp of the problem of intolerance, at least in this instance, if someone explained why their shallow assumptions were false, it’s not just easy, but hip, to take a position that attacks the MAGA tribe, even if in doing so they’re blind to the fact that the people they’re really attacking range from doctors and nurses to school teachers to black people in New York City. But when your online world is a bubble of similarly situated geniuses, such simplistic idiocy wins applause from the crowd. And isn’t that what it’s all about for dumb but lonely children?
Progressive intolerance is hardly a new thing. For years now, they have fought to prevent ideas with which they disagree from being heard, to eradicate words from the lexicon because they may sound similar to slurs and to demand that heretics be canceled. Yes, the right has seized upon intolerance as well, but that doesn’t make progressive intolerance any less ugly. You can’t claim to be the side of morality and decency while flying the flag of intolerance. Or can you?
This perspective only makes sense if you think of vaccination as a matter of conscience, like religion, and not a matter of social responsibility, like (say) speed limits.
This comes not from some snarky child, but a senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU law school and former Nassau County appeals ADA. To his credit, Ames Grawert at least sees an opening for those who make a choice “as a matter of conscience,” but can’t imagine any person with a sincere, albeit wrong, reason exists. Even more concerning is that this intolerance isn’t because its mandated/prohibited by law [like (say) speed limits], but as a “matter of social responsibility.”
Unlike the dolts, Grawert is a serious person. And yet he can’t conceive of any person holding a non-religious sincere reason that’s worthy of tolerance. Not agreement. Not acquiescence. Merely tolerance.
As for me, I will continue to do what I can to persuade people to get vaccinated, because I believe its the best course for both individuals and society even if there are sincere reasons to choose otherwise. I have the capacity to respect people who disagree with me, whether they’re prosecutors or judges, and still do everything in my power to persuade. But I will not hate them, attack them, or wish them harm for not adhering to what I consider the best course of action. That’s because I still consider tolerance a virtue.
Fortunately, I’m not alone. Unfortunately, intolerance is the virtue now for progressive lawyers, and they would much rather put their efforts into attacking disagreement with their rigid ideological assumptions rather than persuading 72% of black people between the ages of 18 and 44 to get vaccinated even though their life could depend on it.
*In anticipation of the reaction that it was my failure to “explain” for the sake of the unduly passionate that I wasn’t referring to the MAGA anti-vaxxers about whom they obsess, but others, such as doctors and nurses, that’s your delusion. I’m not your therapist.
**I’ve deleted the name as the identity of who twitted this is irrelevant.