Personal freedoms vs. ethical questions


I’m waiting for a call back from Alaska Airlines, as we are having to cancel our plans to travel to Seattle for Thanksgiving. The Washington governor has issued orders for any persons traveling from out of state. After a 14-day quarantine, the turkey is likely to be a little dry.

This pandemic has a farcical air of positive tests, possible contacts, threatened shutdowns, and tussles over masks, not to mention the inevitable polarization along political lines.

Like you, I have major pandemic fatigue. The only positive I see is the generation of intriguing ethical questions.

Let’s say draconian shut-down measures are necessary to prevent the spread of the virus. Do we essentially kill off restaurants, theaters, travel, lodging, etc. to decrease the health consequences? What if this lingers for a year or two?

Public health versus individual freedom is not a new discussion.The Montana sensibility of personal freedom means no motorcycle helmet law, which requires the taxpayer to pick up the tab for the many uninsured head injuries. The rolling catastrophe of our choices regarding drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and general porking out are all threatening to crush the health care system. If your Body Mass Index (BMI) is greater than 30, can the state mandate that McDonald’s deny your credit card?

Do we get rid of high school sports because of the stream of fractures, torn ACLs, and concussion protocols? If you have fathered six kids you don’t support, can the state order you fixed?

All fascinating questions. As for me, I am a profound believer in personal freedom, as long as I don’t have to pay for anything.

For now, I will wear my mask (hopefully remembering it before I get all the way across the parking lot), wash my hands, and keep my distance. I guess we do that until the vaccine comes along.

Usually it takes years for a vaccine to be developed, this one happened in months. If we are all walking around a year from now with green antlers, we certainly won’t be able to wear a helmet.