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Saying No: The Winter of My Non-Consent

The prerogative to refuse medical intervention is a basic human right

By Claire O’Driscoll | OffGuardian | January 21, 2022

As parents with young children will attest, the most frequently uttered word your toddler will use is not ‘mama’ or ‘dada’, or any word you desperately want them to say, but the word ‘no’.

At around 2 years, this word will issue from your child’s mouth at an astonishing and infuriating rate. ‘Yes’ isn’t any real competition in the pantheon of formative words for a two-year-old.

It would seem that this right to refuse is hard-wired into us, long before we develop a sense of self or begin to retreat into that private, internal landscape that becomes so important as we move away from childhood and into our teenage years.

So important is this formative word, that it has become enshrined in our laws and our culture. The right to refuse, to say ‘no,’ is the mark of a civilised, democratic society.

We had the Nuremberg trials and the civil rights movement. We said ‘no more’ and ‘never again’ to segregation, apartheid, eugenics and forced medical experimentation.

Any society that historically abused these most fundamental of human rights has been paraded in front of us (and rightly so) as a cautionary tale of what ‘not’ to do and what should ‘never’ be repeated.

In more recent history, the citizens of Northern Ireland said ‘no’ to sectarian violence and voted for the Good Friday Agreement; we said ‘no’ to homophobia and the awful violence that was perpetrated against our gay citizens.

We said ‘no’ to misogyny, sexism, ageism. We said ‘no’ and ‘never again’ to the horrific crimes perpetrated against children by those who chose to abuse their power and authority within the Catholic Church.

In fact, we said ‘no more’ to the historical interference of church within the State. We legalised contraception and divorce. Let us not forget that divorce only became legal here in 1995, a fact that often shocks those international students I teach Irish history to. And even in 1995, the ‘yes’ vote in the divorce referendum was only narrowly won with 50.3% voting in favour and 49.7% against.

This separation of church and state in an Irish context is perhaps best exemplified by the 2018 abortion referendum. Whatever your opinions may be on this subject, Irish people voted ‘yes’ for a woman’s right to say ‘no’ to a pregnancy. “My body, my choice” became the mantra of the pro-choice movement.

This referendum was won by a much larger majority than the divorce referendum of 1995, with 66.4% voting ‘yes’ to the legalisation of abortion, dealing perhaps the final blow to any significant influence the Catholic Church might have had in matters of state.

In the ever-changing world of today’s identity politics and its fluid nomenclature, it’s now ok to say ‘no’ to the gender you were born with and ‘no’ to the gender specific pronouns others label you with. I have learnt that words like ‘sex change’ or even ‘gender realignment’ are considered offensive to many trans citizens and that ‘gender confirmation’ is the appropriate description to use.

My point is that the right to say ‘no’ to something you fundamentally disagree with or which you feel is threatening to your person or liberty or identity is absolutely sacrosanct.

Or at least I thought it was, until now.

I have chosen not to participate in the Irish state’s Covid 19 injection programme.  I am not going to try and convince anybody of the merit of my reasons. I know they are sound reasons, and my decision not to participate is not based on right wing, crazy conspiracy theories as the mainstream media repeatedly and disimulatively asserts, but on many months of research: reading and listening to epidemiologists, virologists and medical doctors with different specialities (from both sides of the argument).

It is not a decision I have taken lightly, and that decision to say ‘no’ has changed my life and affected my relationships with those around me so dramatically I barely recognise it anymore.

Since July 2021 I have become persona non grata. I got my first taste of what this feels like while on holiday in Wexford at the end of last summer. Myself and my brother were refused entry into a rural pub after a long walk during which we’d worked up quite an appetite. It was both embarrassing and humiliating.

Now I can’t go into bars, restaurants, cafes, nightclubs, cinemas, theatres or even a gym to get a bit of exercise. Arranging to meet a friend in winter in Ireland is challenging to say the least.

Dublin’s hospitality is no longer extended to all citizens

Last Christmas, the twinkling lights on Grafton Street felt like a personal rebuke. I walked the streets, permitted the luxury of spending money in crowded shops, but not allowed to take a load off by sitting down and having a coffee.

I ended up getting a takeaway sandwich and eating it standing up outside, alone in the cold on Grafton Street, until I was joined by a homeless man who convinced me to buy him some cigarettes.

And it got me thinking. I am not trying to compare my situation with the horrific life of somebody living on the streets in our capital. I do have a home, and I’m not alienated from my family (as so many homeless people so sadly are), but it gave me a small taste of what it must be like: the exclusion, the judgement, the physical moving away from you, as if you’re unclean or diseased in some way.

But luckily our free, democratic and liberal society would surely never discriminate against or encourage discrimination against its citizens for a personal medical decision?

Let’s just recap what our global leaders have been saying recently, shall we?

In France, president Emmanuel Macron says if you are unvaccinated you are “not a citizen” and that he wants to “piss (you) off.”

In America, Joe Biden advises parents to keep kids away from the unvaccinated and asserts that “this continues to be a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

In Canada, Justin Trudeau blames lockdowns on the unvaccinated and claims that this group is “extremist”, “racist” and “misogynist” (this coming from a man who thought dressing up in blackface was hilarious in his student days).

Justin Trudeau (pictured above) claims the unvaccinated are racists

In Australia, Michael Gunner (Northern Territory Chief Minister) says that “work is not a reason to leave the home for the unvaccinated.”

And we all know how the world’s number one tennis player has been treated in Australia: leaving his detention centre (ahem ‘hotel’) to go to work was clearly not a good enough reason for him either.

I suppose Leo Varadkar’s remark that the 5% of the population who are not vaccinated are causing “a lot of the trouble” is relatively mild in comparison.

What is beyond dispute at this stage is that the State and mainstream media have been systematically encouraging (and applauding) vitriolic discrimination against Irish citizens for what should be a personal and private medical decision.

In March of last year, barrister and chairman of the ICHR (Irish Council of Human Rights), Tracey O’Mahony, initiated an email campaign to encourage Irish citizens to lobby Irish MEPs to vote against digital green certificates on the basis that they were unconstitutional and would potentially cause serious divisions among the population.

Irish MEPs received at that time an unprecedented number of emails from concerned citizens. Yet, we were portrayed in Irish mainstream publications such as the Irish TImes as crazed, right-wing lunatics, somehow intent on preventing others from being able to travel freely, while the same outlets totally ignored the very real human rights violations the introduction of these passes would mean.

Hindsight is a great thing as they say, so I can’t help but include a quote from MEP Billy Kelleher, who voted in favour of the digital green certificates. This is taken from his response, on 24th March 2021, to my email, which of course is a bulk response to all those who lobbied him:

Those who do not want to be vaccinated are free to choose to do so. However, for those that do choose to be vaccinated, we need a system that is secure and robust to allow those who have chosen to be vaccinated to travel unhindered.

In terms of the vaccine certificate, it should not be used for domestic purposes i.e.allowing access to gyms, restaurants etc. It should only be used for international travel purposes where a country requires an incoming traveller to prove they have been vaccinated in order to avoid a mandatory quarantine period.

So here we are, ten months later, and the use of the vaccine certificate for domestic purposes looks here to stay.

Perhaps I can look forward to being banned from public transport or a fine for every month I’m unvaccinated; locked down again and told not to leave my house; maybe my next holiday will be spent in an internment camp for the unvaccinated like in Australia, or maybe just prison. Who knows?

(Forgive me if I am not reassured by the recent vague comments made by Leo Varadkar about this matter).

Recently the ICHR published an online survey to find out if people have suffered any form of discrimination, since March 2020, arising from the Covid 19 pandemic. In only 2 weeks, 26,472 people responded.

If the Government’s figures are correct (the unvaccinated adult population of the Republic of Ireland is claimed to be somewhere between 5% – 7% by official sources), this means that between 10-14% of the unvaccinated adult population in the State responded to this survey.

The results are shocking and damning: 83.62% of those who participated (that’s 19,201 people) said they had experienced some form of discrimination arising from their health status.

Nearly 95% of respondents (22,243 people) said they believed discrimination in the provision of, or access to, goods and services has been on the rise since March of 2020, while 96% believed that discrimination based on health status has become more acceptable in this country since March 2020.

Nearly 90% (21,097 people) answered “yes” to the question “Has the prospect of being discriminated against prevented you from going about your daily life, since March of 2020?”

As Tracey O’Mahony notes in her analysis of the survey:

The government response to the pandemic has created an entirely new category of discrimination based on a person’s health immunistation status (and that) the evidence gathered through this survey suggests that it has become a virtuous act to seek out the personal medical information of strangers through uncomfortable and public interrogation.”

She says a lot more and I strongly urge anybody reading this to both read the survey and listen to Tracey O’Mahony’s astute and powerful analysis of it.

However, it is the personal descriptions of suffering that people who responded to the survey provide that for me had the biggest effect, and I’m so glad that a snapshot of these were included. It is alarming the number of references that are made to suicidal thoughts arising as a direct result of the discrimination people have experienced both personally and towards their families, and how that has seriously and negatively affected the mental health of their children.

So to read Fintan O’Toole’s article (O’Toole writes for both The Irish Times and The Guardian)  from the 11th December 2021  in which he cruelly labels “The three anti-vaccine types” as “an ascending order of purposeful malignancy: the egoists, the paranoiacs and the fascists”, really puts into context the level of prejudice encouraged by the mainstream media in relation to those who are being punished by the state for a personal medical choice.

I shall repeat those words again: “purposeful malignancy,” as though we are a cancerous scourge that needs to be removed from society. That is the kind of language usually reserved for paedophiles, rapists, serial killers or war criminals.

O’Toole begins by stating that:

Vaccine sceptics form an objective threat to society, undermining the effectiveness of public health measures and, when they get sick with the virus whose existence they do not believe in, putting a dangerous burden on the hospital system.”

O’Toole, who has often championed various issues related to identity politics, seems to have no problem labelling and othering those who make a different decision about what is best for their health to his own.

I don’t think incitement to hatred is an unfair or inaccurate description of what O’Toole is saying and I think it is absolutely disgraceful that the Irish Times ever chose to publish this bigoted diatribe. So much for ‘we’re in this together.’ It’s now abundantly clear that we most certainly are not.

I and many others like me are sick to the teeth of being scapegoated and blamed for everything.  We did not cause this crisis and we are not responsible for its continuation.

Even Doctor Fauci has admitted that a “fully vaccinated” individual with a “breakthrough infection” has a similar viral load (the concentration of infection present in the throat or nose) to an unvaccinated individual who contracts Covid-19.

In early 2021, Leo Varadkar said,

The vaccine passports don’t yet stack up scientifically or medically because we just don’t know at this stage what extent vaccines reduce transmission.”

Despite the fabulous claims made back then on behalf of Covid-19 vaccines, we know now that they do not stop transmission.

Bill Gates let this information slip during an interview with Jeremy Hunt last November, and CDC director Rochelle Walensky confirmed it last week.

Yet the vaccine certificate system remains in place, with absolutely no justification for its existance other than to coerce people into getting inoculated.

It seems to me that a person’s worth, measured in 2021 by one’s immunisation status, is now determined solely by one’s willingness to comply with the arbitrary and ever changing demands made by the State.

And that, in spite of no evidence that the domestic use of vaccine certificates offers any kind of benefit to the wider community, the act of receiving a Covid-19 vaccine is considered in and of itself the most noble of civic acts; one so righteous, in fact, that only those who have performed it are now permitted  the full benefits of Irish citizenship.

Masked up with useless pieces of cloth on our faces, kept two metres apart at all times, obediently following ridiculous yellow lines on the floor as if the whole world has become one giant institution and we, in turn, institutionalised.

The constant and neurotic testing of ourselves when we have so much as a hint of a sniffle (or our smartphones pinging to tell us we’ve been in ‘close contact’ with somebody else who has); the excited waiting with bated breath to see if that antigen or lateral flow test is positive or negative. The abject horror of realising all the shops have run out of our precious tests. What have we become? When will this ever end?

It ends with one little word: no. No to it all and never again. So keep having the courage to say it.  Keep repeating it like a two year old having a hissy fit. Don’t allow anybody to bully you or shame you, and call out anybody who thinks they can. No matter how powerful or influential they may be, you still have the power to tell them no.

January 21, 2022 - Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular | ,

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