Lock up the anti-vaxxers

See updates through August 7, 2021, at end of post.


According to the Washington Post, “Messaging experts counseled for months that blaming unvaccinated Americans would only backfire.”[1] But it’s apparent that it is not my patience alone that has been exhausted:[2]

[Frank] Luntz said he understands the growing frustrations about vaccine holdouts, particularly after a recent focus group with the de Beaumont Foundation. Participants were recruited after they claimed they were considering getting the shots — but then deflected all the pro-vaccine arguments, Luntz said.

“I got very agitated during my last focus group, and I don’t get agitated,” Luntz said. “I’m a living example of this frustration.”[3]

A restauranteur in Huntington Beach, California, has posted signs refusing service to the vaccinated:[4]

Last week, Basilico’s Pasta e Vino in Huntington Beach posted signs requiring proof of being unvaccinated in order to enter, according to social media posts. The restaurant previously banned wearing face masks during the pandemic.

“We have zero tolerance for treasonous, anti-American stupidity,” the signs read.[5]

The restauranteur claims to have defied COVID-19 restrictions throughout the pandemic.[6]

That restauranteur is also far from alone; a number of politicians embrace a similar line[7] and it’s clear that the effort to get more people vaccinated in the U.S. is encountering hardline opposition[8] even as cases, hospitalizations,[9] and deaths rise.[10]

My red line for bullshit is when the bullshitters start killing people. I detest bullshit anyway, but when people are dying, it’s way past time to stop.

Because there is no definition of “freedom” that includes mass homicide. This behavior needs to be treated as criminal because it is criminal. Lock ’em up.


Update, July 27, 2021: While details of the revised guidance seem sparse and it strikes me that the places where this guidance should apply are the same places that are least likely to enforce it, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging people in some counties to resume wearing masks indoors.[11]

New guidance issued by the nation’s top health protection agency said fully vaccinated people who live in places with high or substantial transmission of the virus should once again wear masks in public indoor spaces, while emphasizing that Covid-19 vaccines remain effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death.[12]

This news reached me after I had already published a the original post above and, further, it is even more clear today than yesterday that people are entirely fed up with assholes who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19.[13]

“Nobody wants to go backward but you have to deal with the facts on the ground, and the facts on the ground are that it’s a pretty scary time and there are a lot of vulnerable people,” said Robert Wachter, chairman of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. “I think the biggest thing we got wrong was not anticipating that 30 percent of the country would choose not to be vaccinated.”[14]

So you want “facts on the ground?” The facts on the ground are that this is all due to assholes who refuse vaccination,[15] whether it’s politic to say so or not.[16] So, hell yes, I’m blaming the unvaccinated. And hell yes, I think they should be locked up.[17] They can cry fascism all they like;[18] it’s my freedom they’re impinging now because I’m required to wear a mask all day long driving for Uber and Lyft and it’s my trip to visit my aging and vulnerable mother that’s in ever increasing doubt. They can all fuck right the hell off.


Update, July 31, 2021: Erika D. Smith reminds[19] me of what I wrote earlier this year, about how Black people have an entirely different experience with the medical system, including truly terrifying and appalling experience, that makes many of them more reluctant to be vaccinated.[20] She points to many of the same factors that appeared in reporting[21] when I wrote that post.

The trouble is that what I feared at that time appears to have come true. With the delta variant, we have a virus that is more contagious, even among the fully vaccinated, even though the vaccines continue to provide strong protection against serious illness.[22] The emergence of this variant does not, by any stretch of the imagination, preclude the appearance of even worse variants in the future. The trouble also is what I wrote more recently, that when people are dying, it is long past time to stop with the bullshit.[23]

While Black fear[24] cannot be so easily dismissed as white fealty to Donald Trump,[25] the fact is, as Smith acknowledges, people, including Black people, are dying.[26] A chart (figure 1) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention illustrates the problem:[27]


Fig. 1. Screenshot of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention breakdown of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths by race and ethnicity,[28] taken by author, July 31, 2021, public domain.

Of the groups shown (figure 1), and relative to white people, only people of Asian descent are at less than or equal risk of infection, hospitalization, or death. Other groups, the indigenous, Latinx, and Black, are all at elevated risk. Vaccine hesitancy is, in effect, white supremacy. I’ll say it again: When people are dying, it is long past time to stop with the bullshit.[29]


Update, August 7, 2021: Todd Zywicki is a capitalist libertarian law professor at a capitalist libertarian-very-friendly school. The former is suing the latter over the latter’s vaccine mandate, claiming he has “natural immunity.” His claimed claims about the risks of the vaccines[30] seem exaggerated and alarmist. I am profoundly suspicious that his lawsuit is not so much about fear of the vaccine as it is to score a capitalist libertarian ideological point and thereby to embolden those who refuse the vaccine for whatever reason.

As I’ve previously argued, when people are dying, it’s way past time to stop with the bullshit.[31] I’m not saying what the courts will do, in part because I’m not a lawyer, but what they should do is throw out Zywicki’s lawsuit and throw him in prison. Because this bullshit is killing people. And when the law fails to address that very fundamental harm, that people are dying from misinformation and a dangerously and maliciously misguided sense of “freedom,”[32] it is the law that is at fault rather than my understanding of what the law should be.

  1. [1]Dan Diamond and Tyler Pager, “‘Patience has worn thin’: Frustration mounts over vaccine holdouts,” Washington Post, July 23, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/07/23/anger-targets-vaccine-holdouts-delta-surge/
  2. [2]Dan Diamond and Tyler Pager, “‘Patience has worn thin’: Frustration mounts over vaccine holdouts,” Washington Post, July 23, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/07/23/anger-targets-vaccine-holdouts-delta-surge/; David Frum, “Vaccinated America Has Had Enough,” Atlantic, July 23, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/07/vaccinated-america-breaking-point-anti-vaxxers/619539/; Paul Waldman, “I’m tired of being nice to vaccine refusers,” Washington Post, July 27, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/07/27/im-tired-being-nice-vaccine-refusers/
  3. [3]Dan Diamond and Tyler Pager, “‘Patience has worn thin’: Frustration mounts over vaccine holdouts,” Washington Post, July 23, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/07/23/anger-targets-vaccine-holdouts-delta-surge/
  4. [4]Summer Lin, “Got your COVID vaccine? Stay out, says California restaurateur decrying ‘stupidity,’” Sacramento Bee, July 26, 2021, https://www.sacbee.com/news/coronavirus/article253039643.html
  5. [5]Summer Lin, “Got your COVID vaccine? Stay out, says California restaurateur decrying ‘stupidity,’” Sacramento Bee, July 26, 2021, https://www.sacbee.com/news/coronavirus/article253039643.html
  6. [6]Summer Lin, “Got your COVID vaccine? Stay out, says California restaurateur decrying ‘stupidity,’” Sacramento Bee, July 26, 2021, https://www.sacbee.com/news/coronavirus/article253039643.html
  7. [7]Tim Fitzsimons and The Associated Press, “Top Tennessee health official says she was fired after efforts to get teens vaccinated,” NBC News, July 13, 2021, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/top-tennessee-health-official-says-she-was-fired-after-efforts-n1273887; Brett Kelman, “Tennessee abandons vaccine outreach to minors — not just for COVID-19,” Nashville Tennessean, July 13, 2021, https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/health/2021/07/13/tennessee-halts-all-vaccine-outreach-minors-not-just-covid-19/7928701002/; Ed Kilgore, “The Willfully Unvaccinated Are the Newest Republican Martyrs,” New York, July 13, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/07/the-willfully-unvaccinated-are-the-newest-republican-martyrs.html; Hannah Knowles, “DeSantis sells ‘Don’t Fauci My Florida’ merch as new coronavirus cases near highest in nation,” Washington Post, July 14, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/07/13/desantis-fauci-florida/; Jeremy Kohler, “GOP Legislators in Missouri Oppose Vaccine Efforts as State Becomes COVID Hotspot,” Pro Publica, July 21, 2021, https://www.propublica.org/article/missouri-legislators-oppose-vaccine-efforts-as-state-becomes-covid-hotspot; Bryan Pietsch, “Twitter suspends Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene for spreading covid-19 misinformation,” Washington Post, July 20, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/07/20/marjorie-taylor-green-twitter-suspended-covid/
  8. [8]Dan Diamond, Hannah Knowles, and Tyler Pager, “Vaccine hesitancy morphs into hostility, as opposition to shots hardens,” Washington Post, July 15, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/covid-vaccines-biden-trump/2021/07/15/adaf6c7e-e4bd-11eb-a41e-c8442c213fa8_story.html; Greg Sargent, “A vile new Trump-GOP claim about vaccines suggests trouble ahead,” Washington Post, July 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/07/19/vile-new-trump-gop-claim-about-vaccines-suggests-trouble-ahead/
  9. [9]Melanie Evans and Julie Wernau, “Unvaccinated Americans Are Behind Rising Covid-19 Hospitalizations,” Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/unvaccinated-covid-19-hospitalizations-11626528110; Ed Pilkington and Lauren Aratani, “US seeing ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’ as cases rise in every state,” Guardian, July 16, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/16/covid-19-us-delta-variant-unvaccinated
  10. [10]Rob Stein and Selena Simmons-Duffin, “The Delta Variant Will Drive A Steep Rise In U.S. COVID Deaths, A New Model Shows,” National Public Radio, July 22, 2021, https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/07/22/1019475669/delta-variant-will-drive-a-steep-rise-in-covid-deaths-model-shows
  11. [11]Yasmeen Abutaleb, Joel Achenbach, Dan Diamond, and Adam Taylor, “CDC urges vaccinated people in covid hot spots to resume wearing masks indoors,” Washington Post, July 27, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/07/27/cdc-masks-guidance-indoors/; Sabrina Siddiqui and Tarini Parti, “CDC Urges Vaccinated People to Resume Wearing Masks Indoors in Some Areas,” Wall Street Journal, July 27, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/cdc-to-urge-vaccinated-people-to-resume-wearing-masks-in-public-indoor-spaces-11627399286
  12. [12]Sabrina Siddiqui and Tarini Parti, “CDC Urges Vaccinated People to Resume Wearing Masks Indoors in Some Areas,” Wall Street Journal, July 27, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/cdc-to-urge-vaccinated-people-to-resume-wearing-masks-in-public-indoor-spaces-11627399286
  13. [13]David Benfell, “Weeding out the stupid,” Not Housebroken, July 27, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/07/23/weeding-out-the-stupid/; Dan Diamond and Tyler Pager, “‘Patience has worn thin’: Frustration mounts over vaccine holdouts,” Washington Post, July 23, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/07/23/anger-targets-vaccine-holdouts-delta-surge/; David Frum, “Vaccinated America Has Had Enough,” Atlantic, July 23, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/07/vaccinated-america-breaking-point-anti-vaxxers/619539/; Paul Waldman, “I’m tired of being nice to vaccine refusers,” Washington Post, July 27, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/07/27/im-tired-being-nice-vaccine-refusers/
  14. [14]Yasmeen Abutaleb, Joel Achenbach, Dan Diamond, and Adam Taylor, “CDC urges vaccinated people in covid hot spots to resume wearing masks indoors,” Washington Post, July 27, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/07/27/cdc-masks-guidance-indoors/
  15. [15]Max Boot, “Republicans are preventing America from reaching Biden’s vaccination goal,” Washington Post, July 6, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/07/06/republican-antivaxxers-biden-vaccination-goal/; Philip Bump, “A third of White conservatives refuse to get vaccinated — a refusal shown in polling and the real world,” Washington Post, July 6, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/07/06/third-white-conservatives-refuse-get-vaccine-refusal-shown-both-polling-real-world/; Adam Cancryn and David Lim, “Biden administration likely to miss July 4 vaccine target as new Covid strain surges,” Politico, June 22, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/06/22/biden-july-4-vaccination-target-495485; Jenny Deam, Ryan Gabrielson, and Bianca Fortis, “‘Don’t You Work With Old People?’: Many Elder-Care Workers Still Refuse to Get COVID-19 Vaccine,” Pro Publica, July 23, 2021, https://www.propublica.org/article/dont-you-work-with-old-people-many-elder-care-workers-still-refuse-to-get-covid-19-vaccine; Dan Diamond, “153 people resigned or were fired from a Texas hospital system after refusing to get vaccinated,” Washington Post, June 22, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/06/22/houston-methodist-loses-153-employees-vaccine-mandate/; Dan Diamond, Hannah Knowles, and Tyler Pager, “Vaccine hesitancy morphs into hostility, as opposition to shots hardens,” Washington Post, July 15, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/covid-vaccines-biden-trump/2021/07/15/adaf6c7e-e4bd-11eb-a41e-c8442c213fa8_story.html; Jackie Drees, “Vaccine passports: 23 states with bans, limitations & green lights,” Becker’s Healthcare, May 26, 2021, https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/digital-transformation/vaccine-passports-10-states-with-bans-limitations-green-lights.html; Chandelis Duster, “Fauci: ‘We’re going in the wrong direction’ on Covid-19 cases,” CNN, July 25, 2021, https://edition.cnn.com/2021/07/25/politics/anthony-fauci-covid-19-unvaccinated-cnntv/index.html; Melanie Evans and Julie Wernau, “Unvaccinated Americans Are Behind Rising Covid-19 Hospitalizations,” Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/unvaccinated-covid-19-hospitalizations-11626528110; Courtney Ann Jackson, “Mississippi doctors still urging folks to get vaccinated as Delta variant becomes dominant COVID strain,” WLBT, July 5, 2021, https://www.wlbt.com/2021/07/06/mississippi-doctors-still-urging-folks-get-vaccinated-delta-variant-becomes-dominant-covid-strain/; Peter Jamison, “Their neighbors called covid-19 a hoax. Can these ICU nurses forgive them?” Washington Post, July 6, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2021/07/06/appalachian-covid-deniers-nurses-virginia/; Dhruv Khullar, “One half of America is protected. The other is approaching a perilous moment in the pandemic,” New Yorker, June 23, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/science/medical-dispatch/the-delta-variant-is-a-grave-danger-to-the-unvaccinated; Ed Kilgore, “The Willfully Unvaccinated Are the Newest Republican Martyrs,” New York, July 13, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/07/the-willfully-unvaccinated-are-the-newest-republican-martyrs.html; Apoorva Mandavilli, “Reaching ‘Herd Immunity’ Is Unlikely in the U.S., Experts Now Believe,” New York Times, May 3, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/03/health/covid-herd-immunity-vaccine.html; Chris Megerian, “Biden’s coronavirus success threatened by political divisions he pledged to heal,” Los Angeles Times, April 27, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-04-27/bidens-coronavirus-success-threatened-by-political-divisions-he-pledged-to-heal; Luke Money and Rong-Gong Lin, II, “Tougher tactics targeting the unvaccinated needed to stop new COVID-19 spike, experts say,” Los Angeles Times, July 14, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-07-14/to-slow-covid-19-rise-door-to-door-vaccine-outreach-and-workplace-requirements-could-help; Ed Pilkington and Lauren Aratani, “US seeing ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’ as cases rise in every state,” Guardian, July 16, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/16/covid-19-us-delta-variant-unvaccinated; Kevin Rector et al., “Many L.A. cops and firefighters aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19. Is this a public safety threat?” Los Angeles Times, June 19, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-06-19/vaccination-rates-lag-among-california-public-safety-workers-drawing-concern; Paul Waldman, “Right-wing anti-vaccine hysteria is increasing. We’ll all pay the price,” Washington Post, July 8, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/07/08/right-wing-anti-vaccine-hysteria-is-increasing-well-all-pay-price/; Katherine S. Xue, “Coexisting With The Coronavirus,” New Yorker, July 21, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/science/annals-of-medicine/coexisting-with-the-coronavirus
  16. [16]Dan Diamond, Hannah Knowles, and Tyler Pager, “Vaccine hesitancy morphs into hostility, as opposition to shots hardens,” Washington Post, July 15, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/covid-vaccines-biden-trump/2021/07/15/adaf6c7e-e4bd-11eb-a41e-c8442c213fa8_story.html; David Frum, “Vaccinated America Has Had Enough,” Atlantic, July 23, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/07/vaccinated-america-breaking-point-anti-vaxxers/619539/
  17. [17]David Benfell, “Lock up the anti-vaxxers,” Not Housebroken, July 27, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/07/27/lock-up-the-anti-vaxxers/
  18. [18]Philip Bump, “Vaccine skepticism and disregard for containment efforts go hand in hand,” Washington Post, April 2, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/04/02/vaccine-skepticism-disregard-containment-efforts-go-hand-in-hand/; Ron Kampeas, “In latest Nazi analogy, Marjorie Taylor Greene invokes ‘medical brown shirts’ in decrying vaccination outreach,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, July 7, 2021, https://www.jta.org/quick-reads/in-latest-nazi-analogy-marjorie-taylor-greene-invokes-medical-brown-shirts-in-decrying-vaccination-outreach; Hannah Knowles, “DeSantis sells ‘Don’t Fauci My Florida’ merch as new coronavirus cases near highest in nation,” Washington Post, July 14, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/07/13/desantis-fauci-florida/; Grace Panetta, “GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert calls Biden’s door-to-door vaccinators ‘needle Nazis,’” Yahoo! News, July 8, 2021, https://news.yahoo.com/gop-rep-lauren-boebert-calls-130015902.html; Greg Sargent, “A vile new Trump-GOP claim about vaccines suggests trouble ahead,” Washington Post, July 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/07/19/vile-new-trump-gop-claim-about-vaccines-suggests-trouble-ahead/; Daniel Villarreal, “Matt Gaetz Says Anthony Fauci ‘Has Blood on His Hands, And Now the Country Knows It,’” Newsweek, June 4, 2021, https://www.newsweek.com/matt-gaetz-says-anthony-fauci-has-blood-his-hands-now-country-knows-it-1597853; Laurel Wamsley, “Florida Gov. DeSantis Rejects Vaccine Passports As ‘Completely Unacceptable,’” National Public Radio, March 30, 2021, https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2021/03/30/982837517/florida-gov-desantis-rejects-vaccine-passports-as-completely-unacceptable
  19. [19]Erika D. Smith, “I wish I could be angry with the unvaccinated. Being Black makes that complicated,” Los Angeles Times, July 28, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-07-28/getting-angry-covid-vaccine-holdouts-white-privilege
  20. [20]David Benfell, “Medical apartheid and COVID-19 vaccinations,” Not Housebroken, May 3, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/03/26/medical-apartheid-and-covid-19-vaccinations/
  21. [21]April Dembosky, “It’s not Tuskegee. Current medical racism fuels Black Americans’ vaccine hesitancy,” Los Angeles Times, March 25, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2021-03-25/current-medical-racism-not-tuskegee-expls-vaccine-hesitancy-among-black-americans
  22. [22]Brianna Abbott, “CDC Says New Mask Guidelines Informed by Cape Cod Outbreak,” Wall Street Journal, July 30, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/cdc-says-new-mask-mandate-informed-by-cape-cod-outbreak-11627664465; Yasmeen Abutaleb, Carolyn Y. Johnson, and Joel Achenbach, “‘The war has changed’: Internal CDC document urges new messaging, warns delta infections likely more severe,” Washington Post, July 29, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/07/29/cdc-mask-guidance/; Anne Flaherty and Arielle Mitropoulos, “CDC mask decision followed stunning findings from Cape Cod beach outbreak,” ABC News, July 29, 2021, https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/cdc-mask-decision-stunning-findings-cape-cod-beach/story?id=79148102; Carolyn Y. Johnson, Yasmeen Abutaleb, and Joel Achenbach, “CDC study shows three-fourths of people infected in Massachusetts coronavirus outbreak were vaccinated but few required hospitalization,” Washington Post, July 30, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/07/30/provincetown-covid-outbreak-vaccinated/
  23. [23]David Benfell, “Lock up the anti-vaxxers,” Not Housebroken, July 27, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/07/27/lock-up-the-anti-vaxxers/
  24. [24]April Dembosky, “It’s not Tuskegee. Current medical racism fuels Black Americans’ vaccine hesitancy,” Los Angeles Times, March 25, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2021-03-25/current-medical-racism-not-tuskegee-expls-vaccine-hesitancy-among-black-americans; Erika D. Smith, “I wish I could be angry with the unvaccinated. Being Black makes that complicated,” Los Angeles Times, July 28, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-07-28/getting-angry-covid-vaccine-holdouts-white-privilege
  25. [25]David Benfell, “Messaging against malice,” Not Housebroken, July 28, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/07/28/messaging-against-malice/
  26. [26]Erika D. Smith, “I wish I could be angry with the unvaccinated. Being Black makes that complicated,” Los Angeles Times, July 28, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-07-28/getting-angry-covid-vaccine-holdouts-white-privilege
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  29. [29]David Benfell, “Lock up the anti-vaxxers,” Not Housebroken, July 27, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/07/27/lock-up-the-anti-vaxxers/
  30. [30]Todd Zywicki, “Why I’m Suing Over My Employer’s Vaccine Mandate,” Wall Street Journal, August 6, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/vaccine-mandate-natural-immunity-lawsuit-covid-19-coronavirus-11628281507
  31. [31]David Benfell, “Lock up the anti-vaxxers,” Not Housebroken, July 31, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/07/27/lock-up-the-anti-vaxxers/
  32. [32]David Benfell, “On ‘freedom,’” Not Housebroken, March 14, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/13/on-freedom/; David Benfell, “Messaging against malice,” Not Housebroken, July 28, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/07/28/messaging-against-malice/