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Turning the “freedom” bullshit around on anti-vaxxers

The Atlantic: “If we can recognize that the real gift [Marjorie Taylor] Greene is offering [her fans] is not misinformation so much as it is freedom, we might be able to approach the problem of misinformation differently, particularly surrounding COVID-19 and vaccines. Researchers have known for years that shaming people to get vaccinated often ends up backfiring, and that much of this is because vaccine resistance is heavily correlated with notions of personal liberty.”

“The people we’re trying to reach are not motivated to act on behalf of others, and they won’t respond to exhortations of civic responsibility. If Greene’s supporters want freedom without repercussions, focusing on consequences for this freedom might give us more leverage than we might think, particularly if we can shift the focus from ‘freedom versus obligation’ – the way conspiracists like Greene prefer to frame the issue – to differing kinds of freedom. Vaccines offer us the freedom to participate, the freedom to circulate back in the world, the freedom to be human again. The Washington Post, for example, reported on one vaccine holdout who got her shot so she could attend New York Yankees games in person. When The Dallas Morning News asked prominent citizens of North Dallas why they got vaccinated, some spoke in terms of obligation and protecting others. But others spoke of the possibilities associated with the vaccines. Robert Jeffress, the pastor at First Baptist Church, echoed Greene’s line at first, stating that ‘we are not trying to force anyone to be vaccinated – that is a personal choice,’ but he went on to say that vaccination is ‘the quickest way for Christians to come back to church safely so that we can enjoy the encouragement we all need that comes from worshipping together.’ It’s a tricky but promising rhetorical move: You can choose to do whatever you want, but the rest of the world is waiting for you if you choose to get vaccinated.”

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