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Pitts: Goodbye and good riddance to those who would quit work to avoid the vaccine

Pitts: Goodbye and good riddance to those who would quit work to avoid the vaccine

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Arguing over vaccinations

Anti-maskers Chris Nelson of ReOpen South Florida and Anna Desenze of South Florida First argue with Broward Teachers Union members inside the Broward Schools K.C. Wright building on July 27.

“If you want to leave, take good care, hope you make a lot of nice friends out there.”

— from “Wild World” by Cat Stevens

This is for those who’ve chosen to quit their jobs rather than submit to a vaccine mandate: No telling how many of them there actually are, but lately, they’re all over the news.

Just last week, a nearly 30-year veteran of the San Jose Police Department surrendered his badge rather than comply with the city’s requirement that all employees be inoculated against the coronavirus. He joins an Army lieutenant colonel, some airline employees, a Major League Baseball executive, the choral director of the San Francisco Symphony, workers at the tax collector’s office in Orange County, Florida, and, incredibly, dozens of healthcare professionals.

Well, on behalf of the rest of us, the ones who miss concerts, restaurants and other people’s faces, the ones who are sick and tired of living in pandemic times, here’s a word of response to those quitters: Goodbye.

And here’s two more: Good riddance.

Not to minimize any of this. A few weeks ago, a hospital in upstate New York announced it would have to pause delivering babies because of resignations among its maternity staff. So the threat of difficult ramifications is certainly real. But on the plus side, those who are quitting work go a long way toward purging us of the gullible, the conspiracy-addled, the logic-impaired and the stubbornly ignorant. And that’s not nothing.

We’ve been down this road before. Whenever faced with some mandate imposed in the interest of the common good, some of us act like we just woke up on the wrong side of the Berlin Wall. “There’s no freedom no more,” whined one man in video that recently aired on “The Daily Show.” The clip was from the 1980s, and the guy had just gotten a ticket for not wearing his seatbelt.

It’s an unfortunately common refrain. Can’t smoke in a movie theater? Can’t crank your music to headache decibels at 2 in the morning? Can’t post the Ten Commandments in a courtroom? “There’s no freedom no more.” Some seem to think freedom means no one can be compelled to do, or refrain from doing, anything. But that’s not freedom, it’s anarchy.

Usually, the rest of us don’t agonize over such intransigence. Often it has no direct impact on us. The guy in “The Daily Show” clip was only demanding the right to skid across a highway on his face, after all. But now people claim the right to risk the healthcare system and our personal lives.

So if those people are angry, guess what? They’re not the only ones.

The difference is, their anger is dumb, and ours is not. Theirs is about being coerced to do something they don’t want to do. Like that’s new. Like they’re not already required to get vaccinated to start school or travel to other countries. For that matter, they’re also required to mow their lawn, cover their hindparts and, yes, wear a seatbelt. So they’re mad at government and their job for doing what employers have always done.

But the rest of us, we’re mad at those people. Because this thing could have been over by now, and they’re the reason it isn’t.

That’s why we were glad President Joe Biden stopped asking nicely, started requiring vaccinations everywhere he had power to do so. We were also glad when employers followed suit. And if that’s a problem, then, yes, goodbye, sayonara, auf wiedersehen, adios and adieu. We’ll miss all of those people, to be sure. But they’re asking us to choose between their petulance and our lives.

And that’s really no choice at all.

Leonard Pitts Jr. lpitts@miamiherald.com Copyright Miami Herald

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