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Age of Unreason
What Novak Djokovic’s experience says about fear and power in the time of Covid
14 Jan, 2022
Novak Djokovic (Photo: Getty Images)
UBLIC OPINION IS mounting against the world’s leading tennis player Novak Djokovic for having the temerity to not take a vaccine and still think he has the right to participate in public life. Public opinion, as usual, is wrong. As with the sly cunning of mainstream narratives in these times, the original sin which Djokovic fought against—his visa not being honoured in order to play in the Australian Open, something a court ruled in his favour for being a wanton act by the government there—has now been set aside as irrelevant. Now, it is about how he broke quarantine when he had tested positive and made a misrepresentation of his previous travel in documents that needed to be submitted to immigration. But did the Australian government know any of this when it first decided to not permit him to stay in the country? No. Its action was the authoritarian whimsicality you see happening across the world in the name of Covid, and it is still undecided on whether to let Djokovic stay despite the court order.
Fear of Covid has become a free pass to create a whole new class of unvaccinated social pariahs. In ordinary times, an ordinary man would have been reviled to be part of such an enterprise. Now, he participates with glee because he thinks there is a greater good happening. He is, as usual, wrong. Most of the vaccinated are convinced there are only two options on the table—get the two doses or be forced into it. That it is possible for someone to believe in vaccination while being opposed to forcing everyone to be vaccinated seems unthinkable. It is not only a perfectly reasonable position to take but the right one. Consider the fallacies one ties oneself up in otherwise. If vaccines prevent serious damage, then there is no reason for the vaccinated to fear the unvaccinated. If vaccines don’t do that, then the unvaccinated have a point about efficacy. It gets more telling. No one, not even those who manufacture vaccines, now believes that it stops transmission, especially of Omicron. The vaccinated and unvaccinated are both able to transmit the virus. What then is the point of forcing unvaccinated people out of public spaces? Governments do it because they need to be seen doing something, and this is a low-hanging fruit to pick and smash.
The fundamental premise on which modern society is built is that every human being is the owner of his own body. You can’t force him to take vitamins or do 20 push-ups every day even if it is good for him. This right can only be taken away if he poses a real self-evident danger to others. So far, at least not being vaccinated has not been proven to do that. Countries that have had three to four doses for most of their population are still seeing waves. Governments however have tasted blood, the ability to rule by diktat using the label of “public safety.” This is why when cases go up, politicians will ask private offices to shut down but enthusiastically participate in elections.
About The Author
Madhavankutty Pillai has no specialisations whatsoever. He is among the last of the generalists. And also Open chief of bureau, Mumbai
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