The French Parliament has approved a new law that effectively prevents citizens who are not vaccinated against Covid-19 from going out in public. I want to look at a couple of reports on the law and then consider whether this new law crosses a line.
No Jab? No Social Life
Euro Weekly News reports the following
Under the new law, unvaccinated French residents are barred from entering all restaurants, sports areas, tourist sites, and even trains, if they can not provide proof that they are fully vaccinated against the virus. Up until now, unvaccinated people have been allowed to enter these establishments if they showed a recent negative test or proof of recent recovery.
So unless citizens can prove they are vaccinated, they are effectively confined to their homes. The law removes the previous options of being able to show a recent negative test or recovery from the virus. This serves the purpose of banning those who made the choice to not get vaccinated (think of the decision what you will) from leaving their homes.
The following is taken from a piece in Le Parisien Magazine, which recently interviewed French President Emanuel Macron. He said
I really want to hassle them [the unvaccinated], and we will continue to do this – to the end.” He however did say that while he would not “vaccinate by force”, he hoped to encourage people to get jabbed by “limiting as much as possible their access to activities in social life”.
He said: “I won’t send [unvaccinated people] to prison. So we need to tell them, from January 15, you will no longer be able to go to the restaurant. You will no longer be able to go for a coffee, you will no longer be able to go to the theatre. You will no longer be able to go to the cinema.
Interesting, is it not? He is intentionally doing this, as he sad in another context, to ‘p*ss off’ the unvaccinated. The claim to not vaccinate by force is weasel language at its best, since he is not technically forcing them. But it does leave out rather important context, would you not agree? Moving on to his suggestion that he would not send the unvaccinated to prison, give that man the humanitarian award. Not sending people to prison for making what is supposed to be a free choice? Is he not merciful?!
There is a degree of gaslighting going on here too, since by listing a series of places these people are not allowed to go (read anywhere outside their home), he is essentially confining them to one place from which they are not allowed to leave. Just because there are no orange jumpsuits does not mean it is not prison, Monsieur President.
A quick disclaimer before moving on: I am not an anti-vaxxer. Science has illustrated time and again that vaccines aid in the protection against severe disease and death. So I do not oppose vaccines. But ‘consequences’ for not ‘making the right choice’? You might say all choices come with consequences (agreed), but a ‘choice’ made with a gun to your head is hardly a free choice. Further, the category ‘unvaccinated’ is quite broad and lacks nuance. Allow me to explain.
The law treats the unvaccinated as a monolith. It does not seem to draw a distinction between those unable to be vaccinated (immunocompromised and other medical grounds) and those unwilling to be vaccinated (the nuts). You are unvaccinated? You are under house arrest. How does this not create a two-tiered hierarchy of French Citizens? So much for Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité, Monsieur President.
I called this section Depressing Disclaimer because it is depressing that I have to make such a disclaimer saying I’m not anti-vax as I decry a vaccine mandate. The N-word and the F word are no longer what you think they are: they are Nuance and Facts. Think of this as me burning the strawman before someone sets it up and knocks it down.
Is Macron Being A Pr*ck? The Vaccine Mandate
This one is complex. France currently has tens of thousands of cases per day, and its health system is under intense pressure. Many of the patients in the ICU are unvaccinated. So I understand what he is trying to do: protect as many of his citizens as possible from this highly contagious and deadly disease. But is a mandate the way to do it? A well-intentioned idea poorly executed loses its shine, and on this, I believe the President is wrong and has crossed a line into authoritarianism.
Citizens can be encouraged to get vaccinated in many ways, not all of them using the ‘stick’ approach of punishment for non-compliance. Consider the vouchers that the NSW Government made available last year for people to use once they were vaccinated. Was that an incentive? Yes, it was. And good. Sometimes citizens need a little encouragement to do the right thing. Think of this as catching more flies with honey than vinegar.
The French President is instituting punitive measures for anyone who made the choice to not get vaccinated, seemingly regardless of why. Are the conspiracy nuts who think the vaccine is a plot to turn humans into purple cheese so Bill Gates can put 6G in the water supply and turn horses gay manifestly incorrect? Yes: they are ill-informed and seek to arrogantly substitute their judgement for that of Doctors, Epimediologists and other experts. These people have no place in the discourse and should be ignored. But house arrest? France’s vaccination rate is 90%. You can encourage, you can incentivise and you can ask.
But confining people to quarters until they ‘make the right choice’ strikes me as quite authoritarian. This may not be a popular opinion, but it is my opinion.
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