Features Australia

Rules are rules

The slogan of anti-democratic autocrats

15 January 2022

9:00 AM

15 January 2022

9:00 AM

Omicron has spread everywhere, smashing through multiple layers of protection. It also demolishes the case for vaccine passports and reinforces doubts about mask mandates that symbolise compliance with biofascist state diktats that lack reliable scientific backing. Hospitals have come under pressure not from the virus, but the crazy patchwork of rules to kill it that created unsustainable staff shortages because of overzealous contact-cum-isolation rules.

‘Rules are rules’, intoned Scott Morrison as his thoughtful response to the growing international embarrassment over Novak Djokovic’s wish to defend his Australian Open title. Set aside the intellectually shallow, conviction-free Morrison’s politicised violation of this dictum when he shamelessly attacked Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate for acting within existing rules. More than a rebuke of Djokovic, Morrison’s comment is an endorsement of the transformation of a vibrant democracy in which people have rights and governments have obligations, into a system of rule by, of and for the laptop class. Just as truth that may not be questioned is dogma, not science, so rules beyond challenge are anti-democratic. They are not divine commandments but the products of bureaucrats and politicians. They’ve been autocratic, arbitrary, inconsistent, often anti-scientific and sometimes downright bizarre: punishing people for trying to exercise outdoors while socially distanced, despite obesity being a major Covid risk; watching a sunset; not wearing a mask while fishing and golfing alone and the like. They’ve been enforced with conscience-shocking brutality. Interpreted with inhumane rigidity for ordinary battlers, while a conga line of chief health officers, politicians and celebrities were granted exemptions on whim.

Ordinary mortals have problems understanding the complex rules hostage to subjective interpretation by airline and border staff. Having experienced it first-hand, the Australian’s Jacquelin Magnay wrote: ‘the process is stressful, long and, at times, utterly confusing’. More than a war on the virus, lockdowns proved to be a war on the poor to protect the privileged followed by crackdowns on dissenters. It’s a sign of just how much centre-left parties have abandoned the working class that they’ve been the most insistent advocates and authors of draconian restrictions.

Vaccine mandates are a violation of health privacy, bodily integrity, and individual autonomy. In a short video clip published on 5 December, Euro MP Christine Anderson declared that Australia’s ‘once free and liberal democracy has been transformed into a totalitarian regime’ that ‘tramples on human rights’ and civil liberties. Thanks to the global coverage of one of the greatest tennis players of all time and one of the greatest contemporary athletes, that message has been amplified around the world. Given his age and supreme physical fitness, the extremely age-related and comorbidity-concentrated Covid risk, the waning efficacy of vaccines coupled with the small but real risks of side-effects, and the failure of ‘vaccines’ to prevent people being infected or infecting others, there is no medical, scientific, legal or ethical justification for the shameful treatment of Djokovic like a rabid disease-carrying criminal. Because vaccines do not stop infections in either direction, your risk of catching the virus from someone depends not on their vaccination but infection status. The latest data from the UK Health Security Agency show that in the final four weeks of 2021, double vaxxed people in Djokovic’s age group had a 2.4 times higher infection rate than the unvaccinated. The rational conclusion is that in a random group, you are more likely to be infected by the vaccinated. The paranoid delusion is that it’s all the fault of the selfish and ignorant unjabbed.

Told to get vaccinated in order to return to normality, we discover the goalposts have been uprooted and transplanted in a different, distant playing field. There is an unresolvable contradiction at the heart of the ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’ lie. If true, the vaccinated wouldn’t need protection from the unvaxxed. It’s been an extraordinarily successful ploy by governments, experts and vaccine manufacturers, to shift the blame for neglect of health infrastructure and the failure of lockdowns and vaccines onto the refuseniks. Even now, governments would do better to strengthen the resilience of institutions rather than restricting everyday lives. Stigmatising and targeting the unvaxxed for punishment has also bolstered the self-righteous virtuousness of the masked and vaccinated ‘I’ve done the right thing’ crowd.

Djokovic’s case from the top end of the global village marks a useful bookend to another one last year from main street. Anthony and Natalie Reale are proud, warm-hearted second-generation Italian Australians. They’ve never taken a government hand-out and worked hard to build Village Fix as the best coffee shop in Shellharbour. They were arrested in June, fined $1,000 each and charged with a criminal offence with strict bail conditions that left them vulnerable to imprisonment. In a reckless example of public humiliation of the non-compliant, the police gave prior notice to the Illawarra Mercury which covered their arrest and plastered their names and faces on its front page. As a result, the couple received threats and their car tyres were slashed but the locals responded by increasing their patronage. All this because of mask mandates that rely on suspect lab studies untethered to the real world in which cloth masks – routinely used multiple times, with constant fidgeting, lowering and raising – are, on balance, vectors of transmission rather than a layer of protection. The empirical evidence is clear, compelling, and pretty much universal that ordinary masks have shown no ability to halt the rising curve or accelerate the falling curve of infections. As Sir Desmond Swayne MP said: ‘I’ve decided I’m exempt from wearing a mask due to my genetic predisposition to liberty…. Every time I ask [ministers] for the evidence, I’m told it’s about sending a message. Well, I don’t like the message.’

At best, non-pharmaceutical interventions have only a modest effect on the life cycle of each viral outbreak. The various waves triggered by new variants rise and fall according to an inner logic irrespective of the severity of the restrictions imposed. They are self-limiting and eventually burn out of their own accord. The starkest illustrations of this are Sweden and Florida. Simple rules to live by? Stay home if sick, be careful around the vulnerable, wear a high-grade mask if infected and above all, treat the person not a lab result.

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