As I’ve been saying for some time, the problem with our policy is that we are not doing enough to place the burden of non-vaccination squarely on the voluntarily unvaccinated. That is both the most equitable and the most effective approach. Here though we can see that public authorities’ effort to work around the problem of the irresponsibility of the unvaccinated actually manages to bring them into a sort of public contempt. The science clearly has changed with the Delta variant. It’s much more transmissible. But the problem remains that Delta is spreading like wildfire among the unvaccinated and it’s lapping up onto the shores on vaccinated America.
So just as we’ve gotten the balance off by having the vaccinated shoulder the burden created by the unvaccinated, we now have public health authorities bringing their own authority into contempt because of too aggressive coddling of the unvaccinated. So now they’re picking up the burden for the unvaccinated too – not at the cost of daily inconveniences but at the cost of their public authority. We all suffer for that.
We need to be placing the burdens on non-vaccination on the unvaccinated. And we need to be clear with the public that the problem is the non-vaccinated. They’re at fault. They’re to blame. And even more, the public influencers, celebrities and political actors who’ve driven resistance to vaccination are to blame.
Climate change is a perfect example of a hyperobject. The change in degrees of warming feels so small and yet the scale of the destruction is so massive that it’s difficult to comprehend in full. Cause and effect is simple and clear at the macro level: the planet is warming, and weather gets more unpredictable. But on the micro level of weather patterns and events and social/political upheaval, individual cause and effect can feel a bit slippery. If you are a news reporter (as opposed to a meteorologist or scientist) the peer reviewed climate science might feel impenetrable. It’s easiest to adopt a cover-your-ass position of: It’s probably climate change but I don’t know if this particular weather event is climate change.
Hyperobjects scramble all our brains, especially journalists. Journalists don’t want to be wrong. They want to react proportionally to current events and to realistically frame future ones. Too often, these desires mean that they do not explicitly say what their reporting suggest. They just insinuate it. But insinuation is not always legible.