Punishing the Noncompliant

Noam Chomsky has joined the rising chorus of those who would like to use the pandemic as an opportunity to push the world toward Chinese-style totalitarianism, suggesting that the most suitable way to manage the “problem” of unvaccinated individuals is for the community to isolate these people and, if necessary, let them starve.

Referring to the prospective condition of the unvaccinated after they have been isolated from society in the manner he recommends, until and unless they accept vaccination, Chomsky bluntly observes: “How can we get food to them? Well, that’s actually their problem.”

(The Italian government has built Chomsky’s tired-old-coward rant into national policy, ruling that no Italian may work for pay or visit any public establishment without his Star of David armband — oops, I mean without his vaccine passport, cutely called a “green pass.” Notice how nicely that name will be reusable when the system is broadened to enforce any other global governance mandates du jour.)

So many voices are talking with increasing brazenness about “getting tougher” on the unvaccinated. Why tougher? Why punitive? Why hateful? Because for all the talk, from the same voices, about how “we’re all in this together,” such people do not really believe that. Or to be more precise, when they say “we,” they mean those who agree with them in all things, which is to say the compliant. The unvaccinated are therefore the noncompliant; hence, what these advocates of greater “toughness” are calling for is nothing less than summary social ostracism — ostracism unto starvation if need be — for the noncompliant. 

It is not enough to disapprove of their choices and argue with them. It is not even enough to pass targeted mandates to shrink their available options for social existence. No, it is nowhere near enough to persuade them, or even to push them. They must be publicly reviled for the sin of noncompliance, which, to be specific, means in this case the sin of dissent; the sin of doubting the received opinion of the moment; the sin of questioning the motives or methods of the powers that be; the sin of fearing for their health and long-term well-being with regard to any threat other than the one officially-permitted threat of the moment, namely Covid-19. The sin of disagreeing. For these sins, they must be reduced in the mind of the general public to something less than citizens in full standing, something less than humans worthy of the full dignity of the species — as dispensable people. They must be exploited as examples of the proper and inescapable fate of all noncompliance.

Imagine the furor from the mainstream if anyone suggested that Marxism is too dangerous to be allowed to run freely on university campuses, and therefore that any instructor or administrator caught presenting or applying these ideas apologetically or sympathetically should be forcibly removed from the classroom and denied reentry for life, or that anyone caught advocating or applying progressive tenets in childhood education, from pre-school on up, must be fired immediately and permanently denied any employment in the education field. And yet, if we were to step back and consider the value of any form of social well-being other than bare physical health, it would be clear that totalitarian notions of social control are far more serious dangers in the long run than even the most insidious and deadly virus (which Covid-19 most certainly is not).

But for merely harboring concerns about the trustworthiness of the government’s health declarations, or about the health risks of powerful new medicines being imposed even on those members of the population (the younger half) who are known to have a relatively tiny risk of serious illness or death from the virus itself — for being uncertain, and unwilling to submit to medical treatments mired in questions they do not think have been satisfactorily answered — the dissenting minority is being condemned by influential voices to open expulsion from civic life (and from life itself if it comes to that) without so much as a sympathetic hearing, let alone any evidence of intention to cause harm.

That last point is significant. The unvaccinated are not being accused by anyone of trying to endanger others. They are being accused of not believing what they are supposed to believe, and not acting as everyone has been told to act. That is enough today to consign a person to unpersonhood.

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