by Frank Schnittger
Mon Jan 17th, 2022 at 12:45:50 PM EST
My letter in the Irish Times
Not allowing the unvaccinated into crowded places where the risks of cross-infection are high is no more onerous than not allowing the intoxicated, unlicensed, or uninsured to drive. It is done to protect the general public from a greater risk of harm. Entering a pub or stadium is no more a human right than driving a car.
Compulsory vaccination is likely to be a counter-productive policy with little benefit when over 90 per cent of the eligible population are voluntarily vaccinated in any case. But placing restrictions on where the unvaccinated can go is not an impairment of their human right to bodily integrity; it is a vindication of the human rights of others to be protected from unnecessary risk of harm.
There has been much discussion of the merits of a mandatory vaccination policy in the Irish media and around the world. Generally, the discussion features a left-right divide between libertarian advocates for individual freedom versus public health and socially minded advocates for the civic responsibility to protect others from unnecessary risk of harm. There may also be something of a young/old divide with younger people more likely to argue for greater individual freedoms.
Although the right to "bodily integrity" is not specifically enumerated in the Irish constitution, it is generally held to be covered under Article 40.3.1
"The State guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate the personal rights of the citizen."
This places any argument for compulsory vaccination on shaky legal ground, but what of the wider libertarian argument that even "Covid Passports" are discriminatory and infringe this right? Ironically the letter printed just below mine in the Irish Times
makes precisely this point:
Sir, - The right to consent is an important principle of medical ethics and the right to bodily integrity is enshrined in our Constitution. Putting restrictions on the unvaccinated amounts to paying lip-service to these rights while illegitimately seeking to implicitly coerce. This is duress and undermines the right to consent.
The Covid certificate system should be ended as soon as possible rather than being extended further. The Irish Council for Civil Liberties has deemed it to be discriminatory and the associated civil liberties concerns were widely acknowledged by Irish politicians, including the Taoiseach and Ministers, in early 2021.
The certificate system normalises the idea (and establishes the dangerous precedent) that it is acceptable to exclude sections of society.
The writer fails to note that the "right to bodily integrity" is not specifically "enshrined in our constitution" and that Article 40.1 also notes that while
All citizens shall, as human persons, be held equal before the law.
This shall not be held to mean that the State shall not in its enactments have due regard to differences of capacity, physical and moral, and of social function.
Indeed a bill to include a specific reference to a Right to Personal Autonomy and Bodily Integrity
in our constitution was defeated in the Dail in 2014. Rights conferred by the constitution are not generally as absolute as libertarian advocates like to have us believe, and are generally constrained by reference to phrases like "subject to the common good".
The writer's main point is that "Putting restrictions on the unvaccinated amounts to paying lip-service to these rights while illegitimately seeking to implicitly coerce. This is duress and undermines the right to consent." President Macron's reported comment that he wants to emmerder or "piss off" the unvaccinated are not helpful in this regard. It reinforces the narrative that the unvaccinated are the victims in all of this, and that they are being illegitimately coerced into giving up their right of consent.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Nobody wants to discriminate against the unvaccinated in any way other than to protect their own health and that of the general public. A Vaccination certificate is a reasonable and proportionate way of doing this and infringes on no fundamental human right. Hence my letter to the editor published above.
PS "Novax" Djokovic's deportation from Australia after his apparent breach of self-isolation rules while Covid positive is drawing the usual right wing suspects to his side...
Andy Murray trolls Nigel Farage over Djokovic visa row
Nigel Farage, the former leader of the UK's Brexit party, has drawn criticism on social media from Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and others after attacking Australia's treatment of Novak Djokovic and visiting the player's family in Belgrade.
Farage, who has long praised Australia's strict immigration policies and demanded the British government "take back control" of the country's borders, on Monday tweeted his satisfaction after a judge ruled a government decision last week to revoke the tennis star's visa was "unreasonable".
The decision was "a huge win for @DjokerNole this morning", Farage said, when Djokovic was released from immigration detention after winning his challenge to remain in the country and pursue his attempt at a record 21st grand slam title.
Farage also told GB News that if - as he is entitled to do - the country's immigration minister, Alex Hawke, decided to intervene and withdraw Djokovic's visa once more on different grounds, Australia would resemble a banana republic.
Britain's former world tennis No 1, Andy Murray, was one of many critics, retweeting a video of Farage with Djokovic's family in the player's trophy room and telling him: "Please record the awkward moment when you tell them you've spent most of your career campaigning to have people from eastern Europe deported."
Both before and since the Brexit referendum, however, Farage has consistently sung the praises of Australia's tough immigration system, arguing that being able to emulate it was one of the main advantages for the UK of leaving the EU.