It’s not a right, it’s morally wrong

August 20th, 2021

Masked Child

(published in The Daily Memphian)

Please protect us from the stupidity of parents and the stupidity of our governor.

Really, please, and soon.

About a month ago – facing an alarming rise in Covid cases – Governor Bill Lee fired Dr. Michelle Fiscus, the leader for immunization in Tennessee, for encouraging teenagers to get vaccinated without their parents’ consent – which, by the way, is legal in Tennessee when public health is at risk. The mature minor doctrine allows doctors to treat patients between the ages of 14 and 18 without parental consent under a State Supreme Court ruling from 1987.

By the way, public health is at risk.

This week ­– facing an even more alarming rise in Covid cases overall and even in children – Governor Bill Lee issued an executive order allowing parents to override mask mandates for children in schools – which, by the way, is illegal in Tennessee in the six largest counties. As one of those, the Shelby County Health Department has autonomous authority over the state in matters of public health.

By the way, Covid is a matter of public health.

With breathtaking stupidity, and twice in less than the last 30 days, Governor Bill Lee has empowered parents over doctors and healthcare professionals to not only put their own children at unnecessary risk, but to put every child at unnecessary risk, and to put every one of us at unnecessary risk.

In fact, Governor Lee’s stupidity could quite literally take your breath away and the breath of those you love.

Let’s review:

Vaccinations protect against Covid. Only 41% of Tennesseans are vaccinated.

Vaccinated people can get Covid, but they are statistically 100% assured of not dying from it, and all but 100% assured of not being hospitalized because of it.

Children under 12 are not vaccinated.

Children can get Covid. Ask Le Bonheur. Ask your pediatrician. For God’s sake, ask somebody who knows.

Without getting Covid, children can carry Covid. Carry it home. Carry it everywhere they go. Masks provide protection against that spread.

Those are facts. And parents who disagree with those facts are exactly why those parents should not be making healthcare decisions for themselves, much less their children.

At the risk of repeating myself, I’m repeating myself. I wrote about this four weeks ago and, sadly, Bill Lee is a repeat offender.

As to parental control, Tennessee seems to think that one becomes wise and all-knowing by virtue of becoming a parent. The process of becoming a parent is very straightforward, and history and experience dictate that it has very little to do with wisdom, and the result of the process is often a complete surprise to those who engaged in it.

I would remind you that many of those who turned making meth into an industry up in the hills and hollers above Crossville are parents.

Many of the Tennesseans who believe child trafficking is happening right now in the basement of a pizza joint in Washington are parents.

A Memphian charged in the January 6 insurrection against our country is a parent.

The science-denying governor and many of the science-denying members of the Tennessee General Assembly are parents.

Parents are no more capable of making sound decisions based on fact and science, and every bit as capable of being stupid and irresponsible as any of the rest of us.

While anyone is free to be stupid in Tennessee and across America, no one is free to do harm, to cause injury and even death, to anyone else because of that stupidity.

In Tennessee and across America, that sort of stupidity should be criminal. Knowingly exposing children to disease is not a right, parental or otherwise. It is a moral wrong.

If our governor is not guilty of stupidity, then he’s willfully putting our children at risk from fear of losing donor support, and pandering to the votes of the far right, the conspiracy theorists, and the dangerously ignorant.

That makes him a coward.

Either way, wise parents know that Bill Lee has again failed the people of Tennessee.

I’m a Memphian, and our children have become political pawns.

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