With Covid Vaccine Coming, Will Ohio Legislature Still Insist on Our ‘Freedom’ to Kill Others?


  • Republican Ohio State Rep. Christina Hagan, Ohio House of Representatives

Compared to Covid, the Vietnam War was a Chagrin Falls cat fight. It took the virus just nine months to kill five times the number of Americans that Vietnam took in 11 years.

Now vaccines are on the way. Ohio, with 7,400 dead and counting, may soon see respite. If only the Legislature doesn’t decide we have the right to go on killing each other.

As you may know, this august body is a hotbed of anti-vaxxers. Much like the anti-mask brigade, they’re insta-experts, the kind of people who see a FirstEnergy truck drive down the street and think it makes them master electricians. They believe it’s their right to defy medicine. Even if it makes others sick and dead.

It’s called the “Medical Freedom” movement, fashioned after that modern version of “freedom,” which oddly resembles a child screaming on the floor of the toy aisle. It’s led by Health Freedom Ohio.

Go to their website, and you’ll be treated to a parade of crackpottery. Who knows if legislators actually believe any of this. What we do know is that wherever the gullible gather, politicians will feast on their ignorance.

Take Rep. Christina Hagan (R-Alliance), whose work as head tennis coach at Marlington High makes her an expert in airborne pathogens. She’s pushed a bill that would ban employers from discriminating against people who refuse vaccinations. In other words, a distrust of science gives you the right to sicken all around you.

The late Rep. Don Manning (R-New Middleton) wanted to force schools to inform parents how easy it is to opt out of vaccinations. The freedom to imperil their children should also extend to yours.

Then there’s Rep. Scott Lipps (R-Franklin), whose career in mattress sales naturally made him chairman of the Ohio House Health Committee. In an April conference call, just as Covid was raging, he warned freedom fighters that Big Medicine was coming for their health. “We’re gonna face a couple bills that this group does not like,” he told them. “And I have to have energy to stop this vaccine shit that’s coming.”

The conspiracy theorists aren’t just consigned to the drooling section of the legislature. In March, the GOP’s second in command, House Speaker Pro Tempore Jim Butler (R-Oakwood), spoke of the growing anti-vax movement in Columbus during a Health Freedom town hall.

“I’ve been around a long time, almost 10 years now,” Butler said. “From when I started to now, there are a whole lot more legislators who believe in medical freedom.”

Normally, one need not worry about the performance artists of voter exploitation. While they make for great talk show guests, they’re usually consigned to the back benches of the Halls of Reality to bleat and bicker. Nature draws a strict correlation between the shrill and the incompetent. Though President Trump has convinced 72 percent of Republicans that the election was stolen, he’s compiled a 1-55 court record proving his case. These are the Cincinnati Bengals of public policy.

The problem is that Trump has assigned states to direct the Covid vaccine rollout. Though Gov. Mike DeWine has attempted to keep Ohio safe from the plague, he’s faced insurgency from his own party, which has threatened his health director and fought masks and distancing at every turn. In the eyes of the Ohio GOP, Freedom: The Narcissist’s Edition means not just endangering oneself. It means trying to kill everyone around you.

This is not hyperbole. The University of Oxford compared states with the least Covid restrictions (freedom) to those with the tightest (hate freedom). The states with the highest positivity rates are a fashion show for the forces of liberty. (Ohio ranks 9th.)

Soon, the great minds of Columbus will decide who gets the vaccine, and who can opt out for reasons of “conscience” – i.e. “Jesus wants me to kill Grandma” – or fear of science (“My customers should be honored to die for my rights.”).

If the past nine months are any indication, that likely means Ohio’s next pandemic won’t be a virus. It will be a plague wrought by tennis coaches and mattress salesmen who believe we should go on killing each other – if only so they can play the starlets of freedom.

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